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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

What happened in Wentworth?

The 20 October 2018 by-election in the NSW division of Wentworth, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was notable for a number of reasons. These included the large number of candidates, the high personal vote of former member Malcolm Turnbull, and the victory of an independent candidate in the Liberals’ fifth safest seat. It was also notable for how the seemingly convincing margin of victory early on election night narrowed markedly over the course of the count as pre-poll and postal votes were included.  Read more...

Australia's leadership in the Montreal Protocol

The release recently of the special climate change report by the IPCC triggered further debate around global environmental protection measures and the issue of international participation. In this context, an example often given of effective global cooperation is the regime to protect and restore the ozone layer, recently marked by the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Australia played a significant role in developing the international negotiation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and its amendments. This flagpost gives some background on this history. Read more...

Pregnancy and childbirth's impact on work

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the next instalment of data from the survey of Pregnancy and Employment Transitions. This little known survey is conducted every six years as a special topic in the November Labour Force Survey. The first survey was undertaken in 2005 and the most recent survey in 2017. The current release provides comparisons to 2011 data, where relevant.  Read more...

Quick links: Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Sure Every State and Territory Gets Their Fair Share of GST) Bill 2018

On 18 October 2018 the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Sure Every State and Territory Gets Their Fair Share of GST) Bill 2018 (the GST Bill) into the House of Representatives. This FlagPost identifies some quick links to assist parliamentarians. A Bills Digest on the GST Bill is forthcoming.   Read more...

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill), introduced in the Senate on 6 December 2017, amends the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act). The Act sets out a scheme for the claiming, granting, control and management of Aboriginal land in the NT. It was closed to new claims in 1997. The Bill adds parcels of land within the Kakadu National Park, the township of Urapanga, and (in proposed amendments to the Bill) Anthony Lagoon station to the listing in Schedule 1 of the Act, enabling them to be granted as Aboriginal land, and makes other amendments to do with Kakadu's status as a National Park.  Bills which recogni... Read more...

New Bill to accelerate tax cuts for small and medium sized businesses

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Lower Taxes for Small and Medium Businesses) Bill 2018 (the new Bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 16 October 2018. The new Bill seeks to implement the Government’s announcement of 11 October 2018 that it would bring forward by five years the implementation of tax cuts for small and medium sized incorporated businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million per annum. The changes would mean that small and medium businesses will face a corporate tax rate of 25 per cent from 1 July 2021, rather than 1 July 2026.  Read more...

Proposed amendments to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

The Senate is expected to debate the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (the Bill) in the sitting week beginning 15 October 2018. The Bill has a somewhat complex history, with the original Bill released in July 2017. Following considerable public debate, and a JSCEM advisory report, the Government announced proposed amendments to the Bill. On 20 September 2018 the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) announced an inquiry into the proposed amendments. Read more...

Strong and responsible: can encryption be both?

When introducing the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 (the Bill), Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, stated ‘New communications technology, including encryption, is eroding the capacity of Australia's law enforcement and security agencies to investigate serious criminal conduct and protect Australians’... With the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) now reviewing the Bill, it is worth examining how end-to-end encryption works and some of the technical means by which access might be obtained to encrypted communications.   Read more...

Discount rates for Commonwealth infrastructure projects

In the Building Up and Moving Out report tabled in Parliament in September 2018, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities recommended the adoption of a 4% discount rate for the appraisal of Commonwealth infrastructure projects. This FlagPost explains the use of discount rates and provides context for the Committee’s recommendation. Read more...

Parliament responds to the strawberry contamination crisis

On 19 September 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter announced that amendments to the contamination of goods offences in the Criminal Code Act 1995  (Cth) would be prioritised in the Parliament. This announcement was in response to a number of incidents across Australia where strawberries and other fresh food products are alleged to have been contaminated with sewing needles. While there are existing offences that would likely address this conduct, the Government proposes to change the fault element to capture conduct that is reckless as to the consequences of the contamination of goods. Doing this, as well as increasing the penalties for the offence... Read more...

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