Archive for the ‘Parliamentary Library of Australia’ Category

Australia’s foreign debt: a quick guide

December 27, 2014 Comments off

Australia’s foreign debt: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This quick guide looks at the level of Australia’s foreign debt, the interest liability on foreign debt and how these have changed over time. It also looks at foreign debt as a component of net foreign investment, the other component being equity investment. Finally, given that Australia’s gross foreign debt is now bigger than its annual gross domestic product (GDP), the quick guide also considers whether our foreign debt level is too high.

AU — Online shopping and potential changes to the low value threshold: costs and benefits for government, consumers and retailers

November 25, 2014 Comments off

Online shopping and potential changes to the low value threshold: costs and benefits for government, consumers and retailers
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Australians spent $15.7 billion in the year to August 2014 buying online from both international and Australian retailers. Online shopping by Australians has increased over time, and is likely to continue doing so. A significant portion of Australian purchases online are from Australian retailers.

Australian Government Assistance to refugees: fact versus fiction

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Australian Government Assistance to refugees: fact versus fiction
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Introduction In recent years a series of emails have been widely circulated throughout Australia claiming to describe the social security entitlements of refugees compared with those of other Australian residents. A common claim in these emails is that refugees in Australia receive higher social security benefits than age pensioners. Some also suggest that refugees receive free gifts such as houses. Claims of this kind are erroneous and appear to have caused some confusion in the community. They are often brought to the attention of senators and members by their constituents.

This Research Paper describes the current situation with regard to refugee entitlements to social security and other assistance in order to clarify this issue.

The assistance to refugees and asylum seekers described in this Research Paper is longstanding and has bi-partisan support. Such support is consistent with the overall obligation and commitment by Australia to provide protection for refugees and resolve refugee situations.

AU — Defence: a quick guide to key internet links

November 13, 2014 Comments off

Defence: a quick guide to key internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia
Categories include:

  • Australian Parliament
  • Australian Government
  • Military history
  • Strategic studies
  • Australian think tanks and non-government organisations
  • International think tanks and organisations
  • Foreign defence

Australian Governments and dilemmas in filtering the Internet: juggling freedoms against potential for harm

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Australian Governments and dilemmas in filtering the Internet: juggling freedoms against potential for harm
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Executive summary
• The Internet is a revolutionary source of information and its dissemination; and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals without regard for geographic location.
• Since its inception, however, concerns have been raised about the potential for unsavoury characters to use the Internet as a vehicle for distributing pornography and material of a violent nature to young or otherwise vulnerable individuals.
• Governments across the world have attempted to deal with such activities by various means and to varying degrees. These have included imposing mandatory filtering at an Internet Service Provider (ISP) level and optional filtering at the computer level.
• In Australia there has been considerable debate about what degree of filtering (if any) should be mandated.
• The Howard Government favoured an approach which emphasised self-regulation by ISPs combined with a legislative component and education and freedom for families to choose between either computer or ISP filtering based on a list of unacceptable content.
• The Rudd and Gillard Governments preferred the option of a mandatory ISP level filter, although this too was to be based on a ‘blacklist’ of prohibited content.
• Both options have been criticised as being expensive and inefficient. In addition, it has been argued that the Rudd/Gillard option would have had a detrimental impact on Internet speeds and that it would set a precedent for future governments to widen filtering to other forms of expression.
• The Howard Government’s programs were largely discarded by Labor after it was elected in 2007. However, Labor’s own filtering option was abandoned prior to its defeat in the 2013 election.
• In conjunction with their filtering options, both Coalition and Labor Governments have supported education and information campaigns to assist people, particularly children, to deal with online predators and both have introduced successful programs.
• The current Coalition Government’s policy on Internet filtering appears to favour light-handed legislation combined with education and information programs. This paper examines the iterations of internet filtering policies from the 1990s to 2014 and discusses some of their ideological underpinnings.

AU — Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Access to and retention of internet ‘metadata’
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

On 5 August 2014, the Government announced its intention to update Australia’s telecommunication interception laws. This is part of broader efforts to enhance powers available to security agencies ‘to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas’. This includes developing a mandatory ‘metadata’ retention system.

Whilst having a period of mandatory metadata retention would be new, the collection of metadata by telecommunications companies and government access to it is not new and is governed by the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA). Whilst the need for such a scheme was linked to combating terrorism, it is worth noting that Australian and European experience suggests that the most common law enforcement use of metadata will be in non-terrorism criminal cases.

AU — Crime and law enforcement: a quick guide to key Internet links

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Crime and law enforcement: a quick guide to key Internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides key Internet links to websites with information on crime and law enforcement arrangements and issues. Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department —the lead Commonwealth agency for criminal law, law enforcement policy, crime prevention and anti-corruption. Key pages include:
– crime and corruption—overview and links to more specific information including legislation and policy on organised crime, money laundering, people smuggling, human trafficking, cybercrime, foreign bribery, anti-corruption, illicit drugs and federal offenders
– crime prevention—information on the government’s crime prevention initiatives, including grants programs and
– international crime cooperation arrangements—information on extradition, mutual assistance and international transfer of prisoners processes and arrangements with other countries.