Abstracts of Current Issues Briefs published 2003-04


Current Issues Briefs Index

2002–03 Redistribution of Commonwealth Electoral Boundaries [HTML][PDF 602KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 13 2003–04
Gerard Newman Andrew Kopras, Statistics Section
18 June 2004

Redistributions of Commonwealth electoral division boundaries occurred in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia during 2002–03. The redistribution in Victoria was triggered by the ‘seven year’requirement while the redistributions in Queensland and South Australia were triggered by a change in the states’entitlements to representation in the House of Representatives. This paper describes the redistribution process and provides an analysis of the electoral consequences of the redistributions. (21 pages)

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Inside outcasts: prisoners and the right to vote in Australia [HTML][PDF 228KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 12 2003–04
Jerome Davidson, Law and Bills Digests Section
24 May 2004

Should prisoners have the right to vote? This question is being debated in the Australian Parliament in relation to a proposal to deny the vote to all prisoners. This Current Issues Brief considers the arguments commonly used for and against the disenfranchisement of prisoners, both in Australia and internationally. The question gives rise to a more fundamental one—whether, and to what extent, the right to vote is protected under the Constitution. (16 pages)

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Superannuation ready reckoner: taxation and preservation rules for 2003–2004 [HTML][PDF 230KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 11 2003–04
Graeme Selleck, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Section
3 May 2004

This paper, updated for the 2003–2004 financial year, is designed to provide readers with a 'ready reckoner'—a simple, easy to use summary of superannuation taxation and preservation rules. It includes summaries of the latest changes to the superannuation system by the Government, as well as the Government's remaining proposed change to the taxation of superannuation from the 2001 election and the latest policy announcement concerning the interaction of the superannuation and old age pension systems. (15 pages)

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Petrol pricing in Australia: issues and trends [HTML][PDF 657KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 10 2003–04
Mike Roarty Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Section
Stephen Barber Statistics Section
29 March 2004

Petrol pricing remains a contentious issue facing motorists in Australia. This Brief provides a background to petrolpricing issues and looks at the international and domestic factors involved. Some of these factors are: crude oil and refined petroleum products prices; exchange rates; retail competition and price cycles; government policies; and taxation. Australian petrol price data are discussed including dissection into components, city/country price differentials and international comparisons. (26 pages)

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Taxable income and tax paid in Commonwealth electoral divisions, 2000–01 [HTML][PDF 8,165KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 9 2003–04
Stephen Barber and Andrew Kopras, Statistics Section
22 March 2004

This paper takes recently published postcode taxation statistics and aggregates them to an electorate basis. Summary information on such items as taxpayers, taxable income, tax paid and net tax ratio are shown for each electorate in
Australia. Six tables ranking the electorates by various taxation categories are provided as well as two choropleth (colour coded) maps. (7 pages)

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Queensland election 2004 [HTML][PDF 1,187KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 8 2003–04
Scott Bennett, Politics and Public Administration Section
Gerard Newman, Statistics Section
22 March 2004

Several interesting issues can be seen flowing from the 2004 Queensland election. The Nationals’ vote of 17 per cent was its third-lowest vote in twenty elections since 1950, causing some observers to speak of the party gradually slipping into oblivion—or perhaps into the position of a rump party whose strength will be found in the seats of western Queensland. For the Liberal Party the election saw a small step from the near-oblivion suffered in 2001. For the party to regain any strength in state elections, though, it has to build on its Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast seats
and to break back into Brisbane. The problem for the party is working out how to regain the support of many people who vote for it in Commonwealth elections—the so-called ‘Beattie Liberals’. The Greens are positioned well for the next Senate poll, and the election may well have been the last hurrah for One Nation in a Queensland election. (47 pages

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Foreign investment and the Australia United States Free Trade Agreement [HTML][PDF 153KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 7 2003–04
David Richardson, Economics Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
8 March 2004

This is one of a number of Information and Research Services Products being developed to address various facets of the proposed Free Trade Agreement and which will be progressively released over coming weeks. (7 pages)

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Socioeconomic Indexes for Electoral Divisions: 2001 Census [HTML][PDF 15,144KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 6 2003–04
Gerard Newman and Andrew Kopras, Statistics Group
10 February 2004

The Census collects data on a broad range of social and economic aspects of the Australian population. While it is possible to compare electoral divisions on each data item it is often more useful to compare divisions on the basis of a summary of related data items. This paper provides data on four summary indexes derived from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. The paper shows each electoral division ranked on the basis of each index. The paper also includes choropleth maps of electoral divisions for each index. (23 pages)

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Redefining NGOs: The Emerging Debate (updated May 2004) [HTML][PDF 390KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 5 2003–04
Dr Ravi Tomar, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Section
31 May 2004 (first published 1 December 2003)

In July 2003, the Government released an exposure draft of legislation (Charities Bill 2003) which seeks to redefine what constitutes a charitable organisation. It also asked the Board of Taxation to conduct a public enquiry to determine the criteria for organisations to be given charitable status. The report of the enquiry wassubmitted to the Treasurer on 19 December 2003. This Current Issues Brief, initially released in December 2003,explains the background to the debate on the definition of a charity and noted that there are many issues to be resolved.It has been updated to include the Government's decision not to proceed with the draft Charities Bill. (9 pages)

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Labour Force Status of Families: Electorate Rankings [HTML][PDF 356KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 4 2003–04
Tony Kryger, Statistics Group
1 December 2003

This paper provides an analysis of certain labourforce characteristics of families from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing for Commonwealth Electoral Divisions. It seeks to measure the extent of labour market disadvantage experienced by families by providing a basis on which to make comparisons between electorates. Data for each labour force characteristic are presented in two tables. The first table lists eachelectoral division alphabetically and shows the value of the characteristic. The second table ranks each electoral division on the relative value of the characteristic, expressed as a percentage of total. (29 pages)

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Ministerial Discretion in Migration Matters: Contemporary Policy Issues in Historical Context [HTML][PDF 407KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 3 2003–04
Dr Kerry Carrington, Social Policy Group
15 September 2003

This brief analyses the current conundrum surrounding the exercise of ministerial discretion in migration matters in historical context. The machinery legislation of the 1901 and 1958 Migration Acts conferred wide discretionary powers upon the Minister. In 1989, reforms to the Migration Act 1958 removed most of these discretionary powers by creating legally binding statutory rules for visa categories, but allowed the Minister a residual public interest power to grant a visa in individual circumstances.

As initially conceived, these discretionary powers were meant to balance what is an otherwise inflexible set of regulations. However in practice ministerial discretion has undergone an evolution, from being an informal mechanism used sparingly, to a systematised administrative process employing more than 50 staff to manage thousands of requests on an annual basis. This brief considers the contemporary policy implications that have arisen in this context and questions whether the current formulation of ministerial discretion is sustainable. (22 pages)

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Fuel Taxation Proposals [HTML] [PDF 296KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 2 2003–04
Richard Webb, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
21 July 2003

The Government, in the 2003–04 Budget, proposed changes to the way some fuels are taxed. The proposals, if implemented, would have important consequences. This Brief examines the background to the proposals and their possible consequences. (15 pages)

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Fertility: A baby bounce for Australia? [HTML] [PDF 291KB]
Current Issues Brief No. 1 2003–04
John Paice, Statistics Group
16 July 2003

Australia has had a baby boom and a baby bust. Some key facts, reasons for the baby boom and bust, and international experience are covered. The conclusion is drawn that a baby bounce is unlikely in the near future and the decline in Australian fertility is likely to continue. (5 pages)

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