Foreword by the Parliamentary Librarian

Welcome to the 44th Parliament.

As we do for each new Parliament, we present this volume of short, strategic level snapshots of some of the big issues affecting Australia which are expected to figure in the early months of the new Parliament.

The articles have been written to provide senators and members a high level perspective of key public policy issues, and to give relevant background, context and legislative history, and to discuss possible new policy and legislative directions.

The volume is organised in themes, beginning with a chapter that shows in words and charts aspects of contemporary Australia. Subsequent chapters show how Australia is faring in its economy, its public finances, and in the welfare, health and rights of our citizens. It concludes with a chapter examining Australia’s relationship with the wider world, our allies and our trading partners.

As this document illustrates, the world of public policy—and thus the Parliament—continues to be a crowded and busy place.  In this environment, Senators and Members are deluged with information and opinions. The Library exists to provide a trusted, expert and impartial source of information. Importantly, our service is entirely confidential.

The Briefing Book also aims to showcase something of the breadth of expertise of the Library’s specialist researchers, which include scientists, economists, lawyers and policy analysts.

Senators, members and their staff are also able to draw on the extensive information services offered by the Library, including breaking news services, tools for the analysis of social media, as well as databases and journals. The Library works for you alone—we are here to provide you with the information and advice you need, tailored to the length and detail you need.

Our products can also be delivered in a range of formats to most suit your work style: from e-books read on tablet devices, to customised maps, traditional bound volumes or verbal briefings. I encourage you to use this Briefing Book as a springboard into the Library’s services and to make use of our full range of our expertise, collections and information.


Dr Dianne Heriot

Parliamentary Librarian