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Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The unsustainable federal budget outlook will inevitably push entitlement reform to the forefront of the national policy debate. As America’s leaders consider reform options, they will have much to learn from the experience of other developed countries, several of which have recently enacted far-reaching overhauls of their state pension systems that greatly reduce the long-term fiscal burden of their aging populations. Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate places America’s aging challenge in international perspective, examines the most promising reform initiatives in nine other developed countries, and draws practical lessons for U.S. policymakers.

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AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

Major superannuation and retirement income changes in Australia: a chronology

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Major superannuation and retirement income changes in Australia: a chronology
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

The purpose of this chronology of key events is to provide an historical context with which to understand the evolution of superannuation and retirement income policy in Australia. More specifically, the chronology is intended to:

  • provide a quick reference guide to what happened and when
  • facilitate access to relevant documents and
  • complement other sources on changes to retirement income policy by providing an account that focuses on government decisions, reports and legislation.
  • The chronology focuses on key events in the development of superannuation and retirement income policy including:
  • major milestones and changes relating to the Age Pension
  • the development and implementation of mandatory and voluntary retirement income arrangements and
  • the development of, and changes to, taxation arrangements applying to superannuation generally.

The number of possible entries in a chronology of this kind is very large. By outlining only key events, the chronology is intended to convey the character of change since 1901. An important criterion in determining whether an event warranted inclusion was whether secondary sources referred to it.

AU — ‘That’s it, you’re out’: disorderly conduct in the House of Representatives from 1901 to 2013

March 24, 2014 Comments off

‘That’s it, you’re out’: disorderly conduct in the House of Representatives from 1901 to 2013
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Executive summary

  • Of the 1,093 members who have served in the House of Representatives from 1901 to the end of the 43rd Parliament in August 2013, 300 (27.4%) have been named and/or suspended or ‘sin binned’ for disorderly behaviour in the Chamber. This study outlines the bases of the House’s authority to deal with disorderly behaviour, and the procedures available to the Speaker to act on such behaviour. It then analyses the 1,352 instances of disorderly behaviour identified in the official Hansard record with a view to identifying patterns over time, and the extent and degree of such behaviour. It does not attempt to identify the reasons why disorderly behaviour occurs as they are quite complex and beyond the scope of this paper.
  • The authority for the rules of conduct in the House of Representatives is derived from the Australian Constitution. The members themselves have broad responsibility for their behaviour in the House. However, it is the role of the Speaker or the occupier of the Chair to ensure that order is maintained during parliamentary proceedings. This responsibility is derived from the standing orders. Since its introduction in 1994, the ‘sin bin’ has become the disciplinary action of choice for Speakers.
  • With the number of namings and suspensions decreasing in recent years, the ‘sin bin’ (being ordered from the chamber for one hour) appears to have been successful in avoiding the disruption caused by the naming and suspension procedure. However, as the number of ‘sin bin’ sanctions has increased, it may be that this penalty has contributed to greater disorder because members may view it as little more than a slap on the wrist and of little deterrent value.
  • Most disorderly behavior (90%) occurs during Question Time and in the parliamentary proceedings which often take place during or just after it. Such behaviour also tends to increase daily as the sitting week progresses.
  • Front benchers and parliamentary office holders account for about 57% of instances of disorderly behaviour. Opposition members are sanctioned 90% of the time no matter which party occupies that role. No prime minister has been sanctioned for disorderly behaviour but two deputy prime ministers and seven opposition leaders have, although not all have been ordered from the House. Christopher Pyne leads the list of members most disciplined on 45 followed by Anthony Albanese on 34. Women members have accounted for 15% of disciplinary actions since they first entered Parliament in 1943.
  • Members were disciplined most frequently under the Speakership of Peter Slipper followed by Anna Burke, David Hawker and Harry Jenkins.
  • On four measures of disorderly behaviour (number of disciplinary actions, number of sitting weeks in which a member was disciplined, number of days when four or more members were disciplined, number of different members disciplined), the Rudd/Gillard Parliaments (42nd and 43rd, 2008–2013) were more disorderly than the Howard Parliaments (38th to 41st, 1996–2007). The most disorderly Parliament was the 43rd.

Preschool Education, Australia, 2013

March 20, 2014 Comments off

Preschool Education, Australia, 2013
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This publication presents results from the 2013 National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (the Collection). The Collection is a data development activity under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NP ECE). The publication contains episode and unique counts of children enrolled in and attending a preschool program, and episode counts of workers delivering a preschool program across Australia in 2013.

See also: National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013
See also: National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide, 2013

Non-marital pregnancy and the second demographic transition in Australia in historical perspective

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Non-marital pregnancy and the second demographic transition in Australia in historical perspective
Source: Demographic Research

Background:
Australia has remarkably detailed data on non-marital pregnancy dating from 1908. They both offer insight into long-term trends in childbearing resulting from non-marital sexual activity and reveal in historical context key features of the second demographic transition and its genesis.

Objective:
Trends are traced in rates of non-marital conception of children ultimately born both outside and within marriage. A range of related indices is also presented in examining how demographic behaviour surrounding non-marital pregnancy (i) helped generate the second demographic transition and (ii) unfolded as a component of it.

Methods:
Core indices are rates of non-marital conception partitioned into additive components associated with marital and non-marital confinement. Data on non-marital and early marital births (at marriage durations 0-7 months) are lagged back 38 weeks to a date of and age at conception basis to facilitate a common, unmarried, population at risk.

Results:
Post-war weakening of parental oversight of courtship was a fundamental trigger to the broader rejection of normative and institutional values that underpinned the second demographic transition. In tandem with denying the unmarried access to oral contraception it generated rampant youthful non-marital pregnancy, which undermined Judeo-Christian values, especially once abortion law reform occurred.

Conclusions:
Childbearing following non-marital conception transitioned rapidly after the 1960s from primarily the unintended product of youthful intercourse in non-coresidential relationships to mainly intended behaviour at normative reproductive ages in consensual unions. Family formation increasingly mixed non-marital births and premaritally and/or maritally conceived marital births.

Global gas markets: The North American factor

February 28, 2014 Comments off

Global gas markets: The North American factor
Source: McKinsey & Companies

Cost curves, which array blocks of supply according to their expense, can clarify the dynamics of supply in commodity industries. They are particularly useful when multiple new sources compete to serve a finite market. Such a situation exists today for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Exporters from North America—now among the world’s low-cost gas producers, given recent advances in recovering shale gas—aim to export LNG in competition mostly with projects in Africa, Australia, and Russia.

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014
Source: Towers Watson

This is a study of the 13 largest pension markets in the world and accounts for more than 85% of global pension assets. The countries included are Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The study also analyses seven countries in greater depth by excluding the six smallest markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa).

The analysis includes:

  • Asset size, including growth statistics, comparison of asset size with GDP and liabilities
  • Asset allocation
  • Defined benefit and defined contribution share of pension assets
  • Public and private sector share of pension assets.

AU — Education News, February 2014

February 21, 2014 Comments off

Education News, February 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

The theme for this edition is Multiculturalism.

CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (updated)

February 19, 2014 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

Migration, Australia, 2011-12 and 2012-13

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Migration, Australia, 2011-12 and 2012-13
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This publication brings together statistics on international migration into and out of Australia, internal migration within Australia (including interstate and intrastate) and information on overseas-born residents of Australia.

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013

January 13, 2014 Comments off

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.

This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.

OECD countries covered

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

Non-member economies covered

Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand

AU — Better marketing standards for training providers

December 18, 2013 Comments off

Better marketing standards for training providers
Source: Australian Skills Quality Authority

ASQA has released a major review of the marketing practices of selected registered training organisations in Australia.

The review makes eight recommendations aimed at improving marketing and advertising practices and curbing practices by some training providers that potentially mislead consumers.

ASQA Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson said the review found a disturbing number of registered training organisations were marketing qualifications they claimed could be achieved in an unrealistic time frame, while others were marketing superseded qualifications.

AU — Police Shootings of People With a Mental Illness

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Police Shootings of People With a Mental Illness
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

The decision to use a firearm in a police operation is one of the most critical a police officer can make and ‘no other single issue has the potential to destroy the relationship between the police and the community like the use by police of deadly force’ (McCulloch 1991: 160).

All fatal police shootings are subject to internal review, a mandatory coronial inquest and are also monitored by the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP). The NDICP collects detailed information about the circumstances and nature of such incidents, with the view to informing the ongoing development of policy and procedure.

The AIC has recently released a special monitoring report that commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This report contains detailed analysis of the 2,325 deaths in custody since 1 January 1980 (which includes 905 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations). This report also examines fatal police shootings that have occurred in Australia since monitoring of these incidents began in 1989–90.

One issue that frequently arises with regard to police shootings is proportionality, or more simply, whether the threat or potential threat posed by the alleged offender was sufficient to warrant police using a firearm. This issue is tested through coronial inquests in which the presiding coroner will make a determination about whether the shooting was justified.

This issue becomes much harder to resolve when the mental capacity of the alleged offender is impaired, such as by drugs and/or alcohol, a mental illness or both, as the ability to understand or appreciate the consequences of potentially life-threatening actions may be undermined.

Points-Based Immigration Systems

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Points-Based Immigration Systems
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report discusses the points-based selection processes used by Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom within the context of the immigration systems of these countries. The individual country surveys reveal that Australia operates a hybrid system for skilled migration that involves employer sponsorship and a points-based visa program that was revised in 2012. The UK’s points-based program, introduced in 2003, provides for five different immigrant tiers. Canada uses a points-based selection process for its Federal Skilled Workers Program, which is one of several programs within its “economic class” of immigration. The specific criteria considered within the points-based programs of the countries surveyed vary but can include such factors as the applicant’s age, educational background, language abilities, experience, employment arrangements, and general adaptability, among others. All of the countries surveyed appear to emphasize labor market needs in their current selection processes.

Cloud Computing for Small Business: Criminal and Security Threats and Prevention Measures

November 13, 2013 Comments off

Cloud Computing for Small Business: Criminal and Security Threats and Prevention Measures (PDF)
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

Compared with large organisations, small businesses operate in a distinct and highly resource-constrained operating and technical environment. Their proprietors are often time poor, have minimal bargaining power and have limited financial, technical, legal and personnel resources. It is therefore unsurprising that cloud computing and its promise of smoothing cash flows and dramatically reducing ICT overheads is attractive to small business. Cloud computing shifts the delivery and maintenance of software, databases and storage to the internet, transforming them into Pay-As-You-Go services accessed through a web browser. While providing many benefits, cloud computing also brings many risks for small business, including potential computer security and criminal, regulatory and civil liability issues. This paper, undertaken as a collaborative partnership with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University, identifies these risks and offers a perspective on how they might be contained so that the benefits of cloud computing do not outweigh the risks for small businesses in the 21st century.

Deaths, Australia, 2012

November 11, 2013 Comments off

Deaths, Australia, 2012
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This release brings together statistics on deaths and mortality in Australia. Data refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown, unless otherwise stated. State or territory relates to state or territory of usual residence, unless otherwise stated.

AU — Payments to support victims of overseas terrorism

October 16, 2013 Comments off

Payments to support victims of overseas terrorism
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently announced that victims of past overseas terrorist attacks would be entitled to an Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment (AVTOP), worth up to $75,000. The AVTOP was created in 2012 under the Gillard Government. Many of those affected by previous attacks have received some form of assistance from the Australian Government including coverage of medical costs and counselling/rehabilitation—the AVTOP provides a new formal mechanism for delivering monetary assistance. While there is strong community support for the scheme, a number of issues have been raised in regards to its design.

How the payment works The AVTOP is a one-off, lump-sum payment intended to provide financial assistance to those affected by a ‘declared overseas terrorist act’. The following events have been declared as overseas terrorist acts under the Social Security Act 1991:

 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States  2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia  2005 bombings in Bali, Indonesia  2005 bombings in London, United Kingdom  2006 bombings in Dahab, Egypt  2008 attacks in Mumbai, India  2009 hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia and  2013 armed assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Under the Social Security Act, to qualify for an AVTOP, an individual must have been in the place where the terrorist attack occurred and have been harmed as a direct result (a primary victim), or be a close family member of a person who died as a result of the terrorist act within two years of the attack occurring (a secondary victim). Close relatives of those involved in the commission of the attack cannot qualify for the payment. To qualify, an individual must be a permanent Australian resident on the day the attack occurred. The Attorney-General can make a determination so that certain non-residents may qualify—for example, expatriate Australian citizens resident at the site of the attack.

While the maximum amount of the payment is $75,000 (based on the amount available under state and territory victims of crime schemes), lesser amounts may be paid. Amounts are determined according to factors such as the extent of injuries, the impact of the attack on primary and secondary victims’ lives and the circumstances in which injuries or death occurred (such as whether victims ignored travel advice from the Australian Government on the high risk of a terrorist attack in the place the attack occurred).

AU — Directory of Family and Domestic Violence Statistics, 2013

October 10, 2013 Comments off

Directory of Family and Domestic Violence Statistics, 2013
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Family and Domestic Violence is a community-wide problem that requires involvement from all levels of government across the health, welfare, family and community services and crime and justice sectors. The multi-disciplinary nature of Family and Domestic Violence service provision and information collection/research has meant that much of the data relevant to this field has remained invisible, under-utilised and distributed across sectors, jurisdictions and levels of government.

The Family and Domestic Violence Directory, 2013 (Directory) aims to improve awareness, and ultimately the use of Family and Domestic Violence-related data, collected by or on behalf of Australian governments. The Directory provides researchers, policy analysts and practitioners with a single place to identify information about Australian and State and Territory Government sources of publicly available statistical information related to Family and Domestic Violence.
The information provided can be used by readers to:

  • better understand the purpose, collection methods and outputs available from each data source;
  • inform an assessment of whether data from a particular source are likely to meet their information needs; and if so,
  • locate published data sources or contact data custodians to request data, where available, via the contact details and hyperlinks included.

AU — Young women lag behind young men on numeracy skills, but perform well on literacy

October 9, 2013 Comments off

Young women lag behind young men on numeracy skills, but perform well on literacy
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Young women have lower numeracy skills than young men, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

However, ABS Director Myles Burleigh said that when it comes to literacy skills, young women were doing just as well as young men.

“The survey measured participants skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology-rich environments and assigns them to a number of different levels.

“The higher the level, the better your skills, so Level 2 represents higher skill levels than Level 1, and so on. Level 3 or above for literacy and numeracy represents relatively advanced skills.

“For numeracy, 45 per cent of young men aged 15 to 19 ranked at Level 3 or above, compared with 39 per cent of young women.

“However, for literacy, 56 per cent of young women and 53 per cent of young men ranked at Level 3 or above.”

Mr Burleigh said that the survey also found that Australians with a non-school qualification are much more likely to have high levels of literacy and numeracy than those without a qualification.

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