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Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018

This Bill seeks to extend the Cashless Debit Card to the Federal electorate of Hinkler in Queensland, an area that includes Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. As well as specifying the location of the new trial site, the Bill sets out criteria that determine which income support recipients will be required to participate in the trial. It also sets out details of how the trial will be administered in the Hinkler trial site. The Bill also makes some changes that affect the Cashless Debit Card Scheme as a whole. It includes provisions that will ensure merchants are able to decline Cashless Debit Card transactions where the cardholder tries to use the card for gambling, alcohol, or gift ca... Read more...

International film investment in Australia: the Location Incentive Funding Program

The Australian Government has recently announced funding of $140 million over four years from 2019–20 to establish the Location Incentive Funding Program. A total of $35 million will be made available each year to ‘attract international investment to sustain Australian jobs in the film production and related industries’. This money will be administered through a competitive incentive program and will support, on average, two to three large budget international productions each year. The new Location Incentive Funding Program will complement the Location Offset, one of three existing tax incentives for screen production introduced in the 2007–08 Budget by the Howard G... Read more...

The Racial Discrimination Act: Insults, Timing and Debate

The varying nature of insults and their context, along with a question as to whose standards they should be judged against is discussed in the Parliamentary Library’s recently issued Research Paper ‘The Attorney-General’s suggested changes to the Racial Discrimination Act’. One of the changes proposed by the Attorney-General would change the standards by which insults are to be evaluated. The law as it stands takes into account the perspective of the racially distinct person being insulted when considering the impact of that insult, whereas the proposed changes would confine judges to considering the ‘ordinary, reasonable’ Australian with no reference to a... Read more...

The 'nanny state' and freedom of choice

In recent times, a number of Australian Government policy initiatives have been criticised as ‘nanny state’ or ‘paternalist’ policies. Describing policies in this way resonates with concerns held by many that there should be limits to the extent to which governments should protect people from the consequences of their choices. But are there circumstances in which some help from ‘nanny’ can be justified? This week the tobacco industry launched a nation-wide media campaign in an attempt to stop the Government introducing plain packaging for all tobacco products sold in Australia. The industry has based its campaign around the idea that the policy is a ‘nanny state’ measure. The campaign has be... Read more...

When is government paternalism justifiable?

A core assumption of liberal societies is that individuals are the best judge of their own interests and therefore are best placed to make choices about how to live their lives. But what if a choice—say, to take adictive drugs or to smoke—is likely to be detrimental to the person involved? Can governments be justified in interfering with individual choices in the interests of the person concerned? This question is examined in the new Parliamentary Library Research Paper, Paternalism in social policy—when is it justifiable?  The paper argues that paternalist policies may be considered justifiable under circumstances where: high stakes decisions are involved the decisions being made by individ... Read more...

Attitudes to same-sex marriage

The Federal Parliament is currently debating a motion on same-sex relationships moved by Adam Bandt—the recently elected Australian Greens party member for the seat of Melbourne. The motion notes there is ‘widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community’ and calls on ‘all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality’. As a result of this and other related debate, there is currently great interest in what public opinion polls may be able to tell us regarding changing attitudes towards same-sex marriage.Not surprisingly, public opinion polls on this issue, as on any other, can differ markedly depending on the questions asked, the conte... Read more...

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