Archive

Archive for the ‘Gov – AU’ Category

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.

About these ads

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

Profiling parental child sex abuse

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Profiling parental child sex abuse (PDF)
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

Public policy initiatives to redress parental child sexual offenders have been hindered by the absence of an offending profile that characterises this core group of intrafamilial offenders. Drawing on data from a sample of 213 offenders, this study augments knowledge about sex offender typologies by identifying ten key descriptive features of parental offenders.

The findings revealed that parental sex offenders have a distinctive profile unlike that of other child sexual offenders and are more criminally versatile than presupposed. This may provide useful information to support clinical practice and preventive interventions aimed at increasing offender desistance and reducing threats to the safety and welfare of young children and their families.

Ukrainian crisis—a quick guide to key resources

March 14, 2014 Comments off

Ukrainian crisis—a quick guide to key resources
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides Parliamentarians with a list of key resources and commentary about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

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.

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.

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.

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.

AU — Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport

September 25, 2013 Comments off

Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport (PDF)
Source: Australian Crime Commission

Despite being prohibited substances in professional sport, peptides and hormones are being used by professional athletes in Australia, facilitated by sports scientists, high-performance coaches and sports staff. Widespread use of these substances has been identified, or is suspected by the ACC, in a number of professional sporting codes in Australia. In addition, the level of use of illicit drugs within some sporting codes is considered to be significantly higher than is recorded in official statistics.

The ACC has also identified that organised crime identities and groups are involved in the domestic distribution of PIEDs, which includes peptides and hormones. If left unchecked, it is likely that organised criminals will increase their presence in the distribution of peptides and hormones in Australia.

The ACC has identified significant integrity concerns within professional sports in Australia related to the use of prohibited substances by athletes and increasing associations of concern between professional athletes and criminal identities.

Further key findings, summarised into relevant topics are outlined below.

UAVs: a vital part of Australia’s future?

August 14, 2013 Comments off

UAVs: a vital part of Australia’s future?
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

The increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in recent years has greatly heightened their public profile but also generated controversy because of their ability to attack military targets remotely and conduct covert surveillance. Nevertheless, a recent seminar, Drone Power: protecting Australia with drones, suggested that these controversial aircraft are set to play a key role in Australia’s civilian and military future. Despite a somewhat rough inception, UAVs are assuming an increasingly prominent role within the global defence arsenal and in other areas such as law enforcement, agriculture and environmental analysis. Indeed, the 2013 Defence White Paper calls for further integration of UAVs into the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Defence Minister has formally requested confidential information from the US Government regarding the performance of the long-range Triton UAV.

In layman’s terms, UAVs are simply remote-controlled aircraft. They range from small hand-launched devices to the much larger MQ 4C Triton, and the MQ9 Reapers and MQ1 Predators currently used by the US in Afghanistan. They range in cost from hundreds of dollars to many millions of dollars. The ADFP 101-ADF Glossary defines UAVs as: Powered, aerial vehicles that do not carry a human operator, use aerodynamic forces to provide lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry lethal or non-lethal payloads. Their capability has rapidly evolved and new uses are becoming apparent on a regular basis. In addition to law enforcement and military uses, UAVs have been trialled with, for example, surf-lifesaving, search and rescue, and in mining. They can be fitted out with a range of weapons and different types of imaging and detection equipment, depending on their purpose. Generally, UAVs are operated from a central headquarters to ensure the safety of the operators…

AU — Profiles of Disability

August 13, 2013 Comments off

Profiles of Disability
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Profiles of Disability provides an overview of the characteristics and activities of people with disabilities in Australia. It is designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of different aspects of living with disability in Australia that are addressed in the 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) – the main source of data for this publication.

When complete, the publication will examine a variety of areas including:

  • the characteristics of people with disabilities that belong to particular interest groups (e.g. children, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds);
  • the disabling nature of some long-term health conditions (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons disease);
  • the impact particular impairments can have on people’s abilities to do everyday tasks (e.g. vision or hearing impairments);
  • how well people with disabilities are able to engage both economically (e.g. employment) and socially and issues relating to accessibility (e.g. transportation use, computer use); and
  • an analysis of the people who need and receive assistance with everyday activities and who provides that assistance.

AU — Vehicle fuel efficiency standards

July 12, 2013 Comments off

Vehicle fuel efficiency standards
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Fuel efficiency pertains to the conversion of chemical fuel energy into vehicle movement, whereas fuel economy is the energy efficiency of a particular vehicle. Larger vehicles, for example, typically have lower fuel economy than smaller vehicles, although their efficiency may be higher. While vehicles have tended to become more fuel-efficient over time, with improved vehicle specifications, the growth in sales of larger types has resulted in little change to overall fleet fuel economy. Fuel consumption in litres per 100 kilometres (km) is actually the reciprocal ratio of fuel economy in kilometres per litre, a semantic difference perhaps, but a subtlety that belies the complexity of the standards used. Fuel efficiency, whether measured per km or per litre, can be divided into engine and total vehicle efficiency, also links to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions (divided into carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-CO2 GHGs).

This paper provides an overview of mandatory vehicle CO2 emission (mandatory fuel efficiency) standards adopted overseas and the standards adopted by Australia. Fuel efficiency links also to air quality emissions (which this paper is not discussing) and issues of fuel quality supply and other combustion emission standards such as those for toxic gases and air particulates are not considered. The paper concerns itself with an emphasis on reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, not on improving general air quality by reducing emissions of oxides of nitrogen and sulphur (NOx, SOx), unburned hydrocarbons (HC), and carbon monoxide (CO). The paper does not cover the possible effects of and trends for these pollutant chemicals.

In considering the fuel efficiency standards which are evolving in Australia, the paper discusses a range of questions, some of which have an automotive industry focus—concentrating on passenger car, rather than light truck or heavy vehicle, limits. The central question to be answered is what standards Australia should adopt. Some of the difficulties to be overcome may be summed up as:

The process of developing new fuel economy standards is inherently more complex than can be done justice in a short paper. The timing of standards … is clearly a crucial element of any new standard—redesigning vehicles is a time-intensive and very expensive process that requires large engineering teams. Redesigning the large part of the new vehicle fleet will require at least a decade, and automakers must proceed cautiously in introducing new technologies to avoid maintenance and operational disasters.

AU — New psychoactive substances: Key challenges and responses

July 9, 2013 Comments off

New psychoactive substances: Key challenges and responses
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

As outlined in an earlier FlagPost, the availability and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) have increased globally over the past decade. This has created new public health and law enforcement challenges that existing frameworks have failed to address, prompting a search for workable alternatives.

False sense of safety associated with use NPS are often marketed as ‘legal highs’ and professionally packaged, which can give the impression that they are safer to use than illicit drugs with similar effects. However, very little is known about their health impacts, partly due to the dynamic nature of the market and because the content and concentration of different batches of the same branded product may vary. A NSW Parliamentary inquiry was advised that synthetic cannabis products could actually be more harmful than cannabis itself, and that NPS may present a higher risk of overdose.

Number of NPS entering the market The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) observed in June 2013 that ‘the multitude of new psychoactive substances and the speed with which they have emerged in all regions of the world is one of the most notable trends in drug markets over the past five years’. In a submission to the NSW inquiry, one forensic science facility stated that new products claiming to be legal highs were submitted for testing every week. The NZ Ministry of Health advised that it had classified 31 NPS, but knew of around 2,000 cannabis mimics, ‘with the potential for there to be tens of thousands more’. Ease of evading prohibitions To date, measures to address NPS internationally and in individual countries have mainly involved their listing as prohibited substances. This has proven ineffective. A 2011 UK report outlines a typical example:

Despite the broad chemical generic ban on psychoactive cathinones imposed in April 2010, suppliers were able to find some loopholes, and within days a naphthyl derivative, Naphthylpyrovalerone (commonly referred as NRG-1) which lay outside the generic scope was offered for sale by internet retailers – advertised as “the legal alternative to mephedrone”.

When NSW prohibited seven synthetic cannabinoids in July 2011, ‘manufacturers quickly re-synthesised their products, replacing banned compounds with other synthetic cannabinoids not covered by the ban’. WA had the same experience in June 2011, with alternative synthetic cannabinoids on the market within days of its ban. Availability NPS are widely available through tobacconists, adult stores and online. In a UNODC survey, 88% of countries with a domestic NPS market indicated that the internet was a key source for NPS. Monitoring by an EU agency identified 693 online stores in 2012 selling NPS within Europe (up from 314 in January 2011 and 170 in January 2010). Between July 2011-July 2012, Australian researchers similarly identified:

+ 43 unique online stores selling stimulant/psychedelic NPS to Australian consumers • 212 unique products with purported stimulant/psychedelic effects and • 86 unique chemical substances.

Recent and proposed Australian responses Recent measures at the national level include:

+ the decision in February 2012 to create a group entry in Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substances) of the Poisons Standard, covering all synthetic cannabinomimetics except those separately specified (the Standard represents recommendations to States/Territories on the level of control that should apply to a substance)

+ moving the list of substances to which the Commonwealth’s serious drug offences apply from the Act to regulations in May 2013 to facilitate faster listing of NPS and • on 18 June 2013, a national interim ban under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 on 19 named products and products that contain any of 20 substances already prohibited under the Poisons Standard (following interim bans on the same products in NSW and SA).

On 16 June 2013, the Government announced plans to ban the importation of NPS based on a ‘reverse onus of proof’ under which ‘new drugs coming onto the market are presumed to be illegal until the authorities know what they are and clear them as safe and legal’. The announcement states such a system already operates in Ireland and is due to begin in NZ in August 2013, but the Irish and proposed NZ systems are actually quite different. The NZ Bill would allow psychoactive substances to be legally sold where the manufacturer can demonstrate they present no more than a low risk to users. The Irish system instead represents a prohibitionist approach. Advocates for a public health-based response, including representatives of the Australian National Council on Drugs, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the Greens health spokesperson, are hoping Australia’s response will resemble NZ’s. The Government also announced a national drug monitoring system that will ‘[make] use of existing intelligence sharing networks and information sources from around Australia and internationally’. This sounds like a more modest version of the EU’s Early Warning System, which the NSW Parliamentary inquiry recommended be replicated in Australia.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 772 other followers