Parliamentary Committee Recommends Referendum On Local Government

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government has recommended that a referendum on financial recognition of local government be held in conjunction with this year’s federal election.

The Committee recommends that Section 96 of the Constitution be amended to read:

…the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State or to any local government body formed by State or Territory legislation on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.

The report argues that uncertainty arising from the High Court’s Pape v Commissioner of Taxation (2009) and Williams v Commonwealth of Australia (2012) cases creates a “moment for action” that should result in a referendum this year.

The Joint Select Committee is chaired by Labor MP Michelle Rowland. Its Deputy Chair is Liberal Senator David Bushby. The Committee’s 12 members consist of 5 Labor, 4 Liberals, 1 Nationals, 1 Greens and 1 Independent. Seven members are from the House and five from the Senate.

The Coalition members of the Committee issued a dissenting report. They argued that the Coalition supports financial recognition of local government in the Constitution but that conditions laid down by the Expert Panel which preceded the Joint Select Committee’s formation had not been met.

The Expert Panel recommended that the Commonwealth negotiate with the States to achieve their support. It also recommended that the Commonwealth adopt steps suggested by the Australian Local Government Association to achieve informed and positive public engagement with the issue.

The Coalition members argue that there is insufficient time to satisfy these conditions and this will decrease the chances of the referendum succeeding.


Swan Continues Attacks On Campbell Newman Cuts

For the second day running, Treasurer Wayne Swan has focussed on Queensland government budget cuts and their effect on unemployment and the national economy.

Swan

At a Brisbane media conference, Swan quoted from Queensland Budget papers which itemised $3 billion worth of cuts to health funding and 2,754 full-time job losses.

  • Listen to Swan’s media conference – transcript below (14m)

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  • Listen to Swan’s media conference yesterday on the CPI figures (19m)

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Transcript of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s Brisbane media conference.

TREASURER:

I wanted to say a few things about the World Economic Outlook which has been released by the IMF overnight. They have expressed cautious optimism about future growth in the global economy and certainly cautious optimism is justified if policy makers get the big decisions right over the next 12 months. And in particular, policy makers in the United States when it comes to the conclusion of the negotiations surrounding the debt cap there and the other issues associated with the fiscal cliff. [Read more...]


Tony Abbott Briefs Liberal Party Candidates

This is video of today’s Liberal Party candidate briefing by Tony Abbott.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Liberal Party Federal Director Brian Loughnane participated in the conference call.

The Opposition Leader is planning a “mini campaign” over the coming week.

 


Stuart Robert Attacks Gillard Over National Security Strategy

The Opposition Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert, has attacked the Prime Minister’s statement on national security.

Robert

Julia Gillard released the National Security Strategy statement earlier today.

Robert cited budget cuts in Defence and said the government’s actions did not match its rhetoric.

  • Listen to Stuart Robert’s media conference (12m)

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Gillard Releases National Security Strategy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released the government’s National Security Strategy.

In a speech at the Australian National University, Gillard said the strategy “highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade”.

Gillard

  • Listen to former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans introduce Gillard (5m)

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  • Listen to Gillard’s speech

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  • Download: Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security (PDF)

Gillard said, “we are transitioning from one decade, the decade of 9/11, to a post 9/11 era where some risks and challenges endure and others are evolving rapidly.”

The National Security document says the key national security risks faced by Australia are:

  • Espionage and foreign interference
  • Instability in developing and fragile states
  • Malicious cyber activity
  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Serious and organised crime
  • State-based conflict or coercion significantly affecting Australia’s industries
  • Terrorism and violent extremism

Media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

A Strategy for Australia’s National Security

Australia’s first National Security Strategy highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade.

Complementing the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the National Security Strategy will ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities of the Asian Century whilst focussing national security efforts on the risks and challenges that come with change in the region. [Read more...]