Foreword by the Parliamentary Librarian

Welcome to the 46th Parliament.

Since 1901, the Parliamentary Library has been providing high-quality information, analysis and advice to support parliamentarians in their legislative and representational roles.

We offer confidential, impartial and authoritative responses to your research questions and publish research on topical issues and detailed analyses of legislation before the chambers.

The Parliamentary Library Briefing Book provides short analyses of issues that may be considered over the course of this Parliament. Each article gives a high-level perspective of significant public policy issues, covering background, context and legislative history, as well as some of the policy and legislative directions raised in the public debate.

Its contents reflect the complex and significant challenges facing Australia and this Parliament. Changes to the global political and security environments will continue to influence Australia’s principal international relationships, with our Indo-
Pacific region being particularly dynamic.

At the same time, climate change and emerging technologies are predicted to have significant impacts on Australian society, industry and employment. Both are characterised by high technical complexity, and uncertainty.

In recognition of the significance of these issues, the volume devotes its first two chapters to the digital world and Australia’s environment. Subsequent chapters cover Australia’s prosperity, society and place in the world. While the articles aim to identify key issues, there is an inevitable degree of arbitrariness in the selection of topics—as always, there are many more issues that we would like to cover with the luxury of more space!

We recognise that in all areas of public policy, parliamentarians are confronted with a multitude of (often conflicting) information sources and opinions.

What then does the Parliamentary Library add to the work of universities, think tanks, or media commentators?

First and foremost, the Parliamentary Library exists exclusively to serve the Australian Parliament and our focus is to answer the research questions of parliamentarians. We do our utmost to deliver information, analysis and advice tailored to the specific needs of the business of Parliament. We deliver our products to meet the often difficult timeframes required by parliamentary business. And in doing so, our legislated role requires our professional advice to be impartial and independent without advocating any policy agenda.

The Briefing Book serves to highlight something of the breadth of specialist expertise among the Library’s researchers.

I encourage you to discuss your needs with our staff, as well as explore the wide range of information services offered by the Library, including news services, academic and technical journals, and—of course—books.

Dr Dianne Heriot
Parliamentary Librarian

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