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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

Commemorating Alfred Deakin

On the afternoon of 7 October 1919, Prime Minister Billy Hughes announced in the Federal Parliament the death of Alfred Deakin that morning, describing him as ‘a man whose name has entwined itself about our history. He was one of the makers of Australia’. After a stint as a barrister and a longer period as a journalist with the Melbourne Age, Deakin served for over thirty years in both the Victorian and Federal Parliaments, including three terms as Prime Minister across the first decade after Federation. (Notably, his first speech in the Victorian Parliament in 1879 was also the setting of his principled resignation due to concerns expressed over the election). After Hughes&rsquo... Read more...

Foreign interference—neither new nor limited to China

Expanding on his oft-stated warning that espionage and foreign interference is increasing, the outgoing Director-General of ASIO cautioned in a speech on 4 September that it was ‘by far and away the most serious issue going forward’, with the potential to be an ‘existential threat to the state’. Federal government MPs Andrew Hastie and Dan Tehan were among those who expressed their concern at a report last month that authorities in China warned the family of a student who participated in anti-China protests in Australia about the potential consequences of the student’s actions. But while foreign interference may be on the rise, reports of intimidatory tactics ar... Read more...

Tensions rise in the Persian Gulf

Early on 14 September 2019 two of Saudi Arabia’s most significant oil facilities, the Abqaiq plant and the Khurais oilfield, came under coordinated attack, causing the largest-ever disruption to global oil supply and raising concerns about a further escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf. As assessment of the global fallout continues, this is what we know so far.   Read more...

Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (the Bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 24 July 2019. The Bill is substantively similar to an earlier Bill (with the same name) which lapsed with the dissolution of the 45th Parliament. The Bill will mainly amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code). Schedules 1–6 introduce a series of new offences into the Criminal Code. Schedule 7 will make amendments to the Crimes Act 1914, the Customs Act 1901 and the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to reconstitute the terms ‘child abuse material’ and ‘child pornography material’ into a single definitio... Read more...

Equal gender representation in the Senate

With the swearing-in of Sarah Henderson on 12 September 2019 to the Senate to fill the casual vacancy created by the resignation of Mitch Fifield (Lib., Vic.), the Senate now comprises 38 women and 38 men. This is the first time in the Senate’s history that it has had equal gender representation. Read more...

100th anniversary of the Parliament's Bible

On 12 September 1919, Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson presented to the Commonwealth Parliament a Bible and lectern on behalf of the Victorian branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The 100th anniversary of this occasion falls on 12 September 2019.  Read more...

Creating unemployment benefits

With the Senate Community Affairs Committee holding an inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and an ongoing debate over the cashless debit card, it’s worth revisiting the origins of unemployment benefits in Australia. Read more...

Director-General of Security—ASIO and MI5 compared

The appointment of Mike Burgess (currently the head of the Australian Signals Directorate) as the next Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation continues a pattern over ASIO’s 70-year history of appointing a male Director-General from outside the Organisation. The second of ASIO’s 14 Directors-General, Peter Barbour (1970–75), remains the only career ASIO officer to have been appointed Director-General. In comparison, the UK’s Security Service (MI5), ASIO’s much older British equivalent on which it was modelled, has a somewhat different pattern of appointments for its 17 Directors-General over the 110 years since it was founded in 19... Read more...

France's Digital Services Tax

France recently became the first major European economy to legislate a Digital Services Tax (DST), resulting in the following response on Twitter from US President, Donald Trump.   This Flagpost discusses the broader implications of France’s actions and Australia’s current position on a DST.  Read more...

Compensation Payments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Two recent court cases, one ending in a High Court decision and the other in a settlement agreement, may have significant implications for compensation payments from Australian governments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Read more...

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