FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

Diplomatic expulsions from Australia

In a joint statement on 7 April 2022, the Labor Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, called on the Morrison Government to act ‘in lockstep with European partners’ and expel Russian diplomats from Australia in response to ‘the reported atrocities’ and ‘sickening abuses’ by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Government’s consistent position has been that it is important to keep lines of communication open, but that the issue remains under review and expulsion remains an option. Outlined below are some recent past examples of diplomats from different countries who were expelled from Australia. Read more...

The People's Liberation Army engages with New Zealand
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The People's Liberation Army engages with New Zealand

On 21 January 2022, a report appeared on the website of the Chinese embassy in New Zealand noting that, on 19 January, General Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department under China’s Central Military Commission, had held talks via video link with Andrew Bridgman, New Zealand’s Secretary of Defence. Li Zuocheng is an influential PLA officer and is the official to whom US General Milley spoke just before the 2020 US presidential election and, again, after the 6 January 2021 Capitol riot. Li was also a participant in the 2019 China-Japan talks to de-escalate the Senkaku/Diaoyutai dispute, and the officer with whom outgoing UK Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, ... Read more...

60th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens being granted the right to vote in Federal elections

On 21 May 2022, Australians will go to the polls to vote for the next government. The date is also the 60th anniversary of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being granted the right to vote in federal elections. Receiving Royal Assent on 21 May 1962, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 granted all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the option to enrol and vote in federal elections. However, it was not until 1984 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included with other eligible electors under compulsory enrolment requirements. Read more...

Candidate eligibility for federal elections

With less than a week remaining in the federal election campaign, there have been multiple instances of candidates facing eligibility issues. Section 44 of the Constitution lists five grounds that disqualify a person from ‘being chosen or sitting’ as a senator or member: allegiance to or citizenship of a foreign power; being convicted of offences punishable by imprisonment for a year or more; bankruptcy; holding an office of profit under the Crown; and having a pecuniary interest in an agreement with the Public Service. The High Court has ruled that these disqualifications apply from the time of nomination, not election. Since 2016, 18 sitting parliamentarians have been found to ... Read more...

Pandemics and attempts to reform the WHO

An issue that has arisen on the campaign trail is whether there is a need to strengthen the World Health Organization’s (WHO) role in responding to pandemics, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. This Flagpost will explain key reforms currently under negotiation and the potential impact on Australia’s public health prevention, preparedness and response measures.  Read more...

The price of democracy: how much do elections cost and who pays?

Federal elections are expensive. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) reported that the 2019 federal election cost around $303 million to run (excluding public funding, which is discussed below). This included about $103 million was for staffing (with an additional $38 million on labour hire), $22.5 million on advertising and $32 million on post and freight. The likely cost to the AEC, and thus the federal budget, of the 2022 federal election is difficult to currently estimate. The AEC received total appropriations of around $458 million in 2021–22 and is budgeted to receive around $241 million in 2022–23. Most of the election costs will be spread over the two financial yea... Read more...

Telephone voting for coronavirus affected voters at the 2022 federal election

Voters who are blind or sight impaired have been able to vote remotely by telephone in federal elections since 2013 through a call centre service offered by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Around 2,000 votes were taken this way at each of the last two federal elections. In 2020 electoral legislation was changed to allow Australian voters in Antarctica to also use telephone voting. Read more...

Early voting at the 2022 federal election: what has changed and what to expect

Australians have embraced early voting with considerable enthusiasm over the last several federal elections. At the 2019 federal election, early votes—mostly driven by the steady rise in pre-poll ordinary votes (votes before election day cast at a pre-poll or early voting centre)—constituted over 40 per cent of all votes. If the trends continue, up to half of all votes might be cast before the election day in 2022.  Read more...

Student safety: the roles and responsibilities of universities

On 23 March 2022, the Social Research Centre (SRC) of the Australian National University released the results of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey (NSSS). Funded by Universities Australia (UA) through its Respect. Now. Always. initiative, the NSSS examines the prevalence and experiences of sexual assault and harassment among university students in a university context. This includes off-campus experiences where university students or staff are present, and university organised or supported places and events. Read more...

NATO’s options in Ukraine

With war raging in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy has urged NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and its member states for assistance. If NATO states are to adhere to international law, what options are there? And what limits are there to such actions? This article outlines how NATO has and is responding to the conflict in Ukraine and considers ways forward for the alliance as pressure mounts on it to respond with its considerable military strength.  Read more...

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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