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Filter by September, 2017

Voting by the crossbench in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 45th Parliament

30 August 2017 marked the completion of the first year of the 45th Parliament. In that time there has been continuing interest in the voting records of the Independent parliamentarians and minor parties in both Houses, particularly in the Senate where the Government requires eight out of the 19 crossbench votes (including the seven Australian Greens)  to pass legislation. The Parliamentary Library has compiled some statistics on the voting records of the minor parties and Independent MPs in both Houses in that time.  Read more...

100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood

Today—26 September 2017—is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, which took place in Belgium. This battle was part of the wider ‘Third Battle of Ypres’ campaign on the Western Front, which occurred from July to November 1917. In his official account of the war, historian Charles Bean recorded that 5,744 Australians were killed during the Battle of Polygon Wood, in which Allied forces reportedly captured less than four square miles of ground. Five of the Australian contingent who served at Polygon Wood went on to become federal parliamentarians: Charles Brand, Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliot, John McCallum, William Spoone... Read more...

Authoritarianism ascendant: Cambodia’s politics and Australia’s dilemmas

The recent decisions by the government of Cambodia to arrest opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason  charges, force the closure of a major English-language daily (as well as over a dozen radio outlets), expel a US funded pro-democracy group, and place new strictures on political parties do not bode well for the country’s already frail democracy. Many analysts, civil society groups and human rights activists view these decisions as portents of a further move toward one-party rule under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) government ahead of national elections scheduled for 2018. For its part, the CPP has&nb... Read more...

Dividing the pie: release of new data on economic inequality

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released selected results from their two-yearly Survey of Income and Housing in their publication Household Income and Wealth, Australia, 2015–16 (cat. no. 6523.0).  Read more...

On the fringe of the labour market

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released updated estimates of the extended labour force underutilisation rate in Participation, Job Search and Mobility, February 2017. This measure extends on the unemployment, underemployment and underutilisation rates, which are already produced on a regular basis. The rate provides further information on people whose labour is not being utilised, by adding two extra groups to the underutilisation rate. These two extra groups are outlined below. Read more...

The “Think (quickly) before you speak” Bill – the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017

The Government announced on 8 August 2017 that, if its plebiscite proposal was again rejected by the Senate, it would hold a voluntary survey on the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The survey is being conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with the final result to be known by 15 November 2017. The Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017 was introduced and passed both Houses on 13 September 2017. Once the Bill commences, the same-sex marriage survey process will be able to proceed with protections and safeguards that are normally afforded to the federal election process, in addition to provisions against vilification. The Governm... Read more...

70th anniversary of Australian Peacekeeping Week 11–16 September 2017

This week will see a number of activities commemorating the contributions of more than 80,000 Australians who have served as peacekeepers over the last 70 years. The centrepiece of the week will be a commemorative dedication service at the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on 14 September 2017.  Read more...

National Threatened Species Day

September 7 is National Threatened Species Day in Australia. The date commemorates the death of the last known thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus) in 1936. It is believed to have died from the cold after being locked out of its sleeping quarters in Hobart Zoo. Although neglect killed the last individual, the species had already received its death sentence despite being common in Tasmania before European settlement in 1803. Thylacines are believed to have been driven to extinction predominantly by hunting, with habitat destruction and disease also believed to have played a role. Since 1936, other species have followed the Tassie tiger down the extinction path; National Thr... Read more...

Western Australia: a state of secession?

According to media reports earlier this week, the State conference of Western Australian Liberals this weekend will consider a motion to establish a ‘WAxit’ committee to examine the ‘costs, benefit and merits’ of their state’s membership of the Australian Federation. If the motion succeeds, the committee would present its (non-binding) recommendations next year.  The proposal has not been warmly received. However, while the preamble to the Australian Constitution speaks of ‘one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth’, the idea of secession has been a recurring theme in Western Australia even before Federation. Read more...

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