Abstracts of Current Issues Briefs published 2001-02


Current Issues Briefs 2001-02

Multifunctionality and Agriculture: Why the fuss? [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 13 2001–02
Dr Els Wynen, Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Group
4 June 2002

This Brief examines the 'multiple functions' of agriculture and the debate underway for the present World Trade Organization Round. It considers the parties to the debate, summarises the underlying issues and discusses the components of multifunctionality-putting all of this into the context of existing WTO rules. The paper concludes with some thoughts on the implications for Australia if multifunctionality is accepted as a basis for expansion of domestic subsidies in the WTO. (10 pages)

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The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme: Options for Cost Control [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 12 2001–02
Maurice Rickard, Social Policy Group
28 May 2002

This Brief investigates the nature and extent of the cost increases recently experienced by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It distinguishes problematic from non-problematic drivers of PBS growth, and examines the considerations for and against some of the leading proposals about how PBS costs can best be controlled. (24 pages)

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Superannuation Vesting Scales: The Revival of an Old Issue [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 11 2001–02
David Kehl, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
15 April 2002

This paper explains what vesting is, how it works, the recent interaction between vesting and the superannuation surcharge, and previous reform options for minimum vesting standards.
(17 pages)

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Liability Insurance Premium Increases: Causes and Possible Government Responses [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 10 2001–02
David Kehl, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
19 March 2002

This Current Issues Brief explains issues arising in liability insurance and outlines some possible responses. (17 pages)

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Superannuation Ready Reckoner: Taxation and Preservation Rules for 2001-2002 [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 9 2001–02
David Kehl, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
12 February 2002

This paper, updated for the 2001-2002 financial year, is designed to provide readers with a 'ready reckoner'-a simple, easy to use summary of superannuation taxation and preservation rules, as well as the Government's proposed changes to the taxation of superannuation. (11 pages)

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The Right of Self-Defence under International Law-the Response to the Terrorist Attacks of 11 September [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 8 2001–01
Angus Martyn, Law and Bills Digest Group
12 February 2002

In October 2001, the United States commenced military operations in Afghanistan in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The United States justified these operations as being consistent with the doctrine of self-defence under international law. However, this area of international law remains relatively ill-defined, particularly when circumstances differ from the classic 'state vs state' conflict. This suggests there is a real need for the United Nations International Law Commission to codify exactly what are the international principles applying to the doctrine of self-defence. (16 pages)

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Mutual Misperceptions: The Historical Context of Muslim-Western Relations [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 7 2001–02
Gary Brown, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
16 October 2001

This is a paper as much about perceptions and beliefs as about historical truth: not all perceptions are justifiable in fact but, true or false, they can have the power to inform or inflame popular reactions and even influence the policies of governments. The paper provides basic historical background, and seeks to explain how this background has led to the mutual misperceptions which bedevil relations between the Muslim world and the west. (34 pages)

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Indonesia and Transnational Terrorism [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 6 2001–01
Chris Wilson, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
11 October 2001

Following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, speculation has mounted as to the involvement of transnational terrorist networks in Indonesia the world's largest Muslim country. This paper examines the possible terrorist threat that these organisations pose, and the likelihood of connections between these groups and transnational terrorist networks such as Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. (6 pages)

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Refugee Law—Recent Developments [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 5 2001–02
Nathan Hancock, Law and Bills Digest Group
18 September 2001

This Current Issues Brief considers the recent court decisions in Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v Victorian Council for Civil Liberties Incorporated (MIMA v VCCL) and Parliament's likely response during the next two sitting weeks both through debate and legislation. The issues include excising certain areas from the migration zone, the definition of 'persecution' within the Migration Act 1958-particularly Australia's protection obligations under the Refugees' Convention and Protocol, border control, detention of people arriving unlawfully and, finally, deterrents and punishment for people smugglers. (48 pages)

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Indonesia's New Government: Stability at Last? [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 4 2001–02
Dr Stephen Sherlock, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
30 August 2001

Indonesia now has a new Government, following the election of Megawati Soekarnoputri to the presidency (on 23 July) and her selection of a new Cabinet. This paper reviews the composition of the new Government, its major economic and political challenges, and the growing debate in Indonesia on the need for reform of the Constitution, to foster workable relations between presidency and the legislature. (11 pages)

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Upside Downside: ANZUS After Fifty Years  [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 3 2001–02
Gary Brown and Laura Rayner, Foreign Affairs and Trade Group
28 August 2001

This paper attempts to flag the principal costs, benefits and challenges of the ANZUS Treaty relationship at its fiftieth anniversary, and to give readers a range of perspectives. It is in two main sections, benefits and costs, each of which seeks to emphasise and maximise the case it is arguing. This presents readers with an encapsulated summary of the alliance and the principal issues surrounding it. (50 pages)

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Some Issues in Fuel Taxation [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 2 2001–02
Richard Webb, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
28 August 2001

This paper provides background to the inquiry into fuel taxation by examining why governments tax fuels and how well current taxes meet the traditional criteria for assessing taxes, namely, economic efficiency, equity and simplicity. (14 pages)

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A Digital Divide in Rural and Regional Australia? [HTML] [PDF]
Current Issues Brief No. 1 2001–02
Dr Jennifer Curtin, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
7 August 2001

This paper addresses the issue of why, despite a significant growth in country peoples' access to the Internet in recent years, they still make less use of it than people in the capital cities. This reflects the fact that rural and provincial electorates have fewer young, tertiary educated people and high income earners than city electorates—factors which determine Internet usage. Internet access is also generally more expensive in rural and regional Australia.(21 pages)

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