Spigelman Says Human Rights Bill Is A Threat To Free Speech

James Spigelman, the chairman of the ABC and former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, has criticised the federal government’s proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill as a threat to free speech.

Spigelman says the bill tries to preserve the idea that no one should be offended by hate speech. He expressed concern that causing offence could be enough to break the law, not just on questions of race but in a range of areas such as age, gender and political opinion. [Read more…]


Today’s Political Messages: Swan And Abbott

The parliamentary year is over and Christmas is two weeks away but politics continued at full strength today.

The looming holiday period will presage a frantic election year and both sides continue to push their main messages.

In his media appearance today, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan spruiked the government’s economic message and condemned the opposition’s attitude to automatic enrolment of young voters. [Read more…]


Victorian Government Proposes Reforms To Emergency Management

The Victorian Government has proposed major reforms to Emergency Management services and procedures.

The Premier, Ted Baillieu, and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Peter Ryan, today released a white paper and spoke at a press conference on the proposed changes.

The White Paper is shown below. [Read more…]


Stephen Conroy Responds To Furore Over Royal Prank Call

The Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, spoke to the media today about the controversy surrounding the 2DayFM Royal prank call.

The latest instalment in the debate about media standards, practices and regulation erupted over the weekend following the death, reportedly by suicide, of one of the nurses contacted by the Sydney disc jockeys. [Read more…]


More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech

Twenty-nine-years ago today, the Hawke government floated the dollar.

It was a move little understood at the time but now regarded as timely and crucial to Australia’s economic development. Whilst former prime ministers Hawke and Keating still differ over who had most influence on the decision, no-one questions its significance. [Read more…]


Full Text Of COAG Communique

This is the full text of the Council of Australian Governments Communique issued after today’s meeting of first ministers in Canberra.

COAG press conference

Full text of the COAG Communique released following today’s meeting of federal, state and territory first ministers.

Council of Australian Governments Meeting – Communiqué

Canberra, 7 December 2012

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 34th meeting in Canberra today, 20 years to the day since its first meeting in Perth in 1992. The Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) participated in today’s meeting. The Leaders welcomed Northern Territory Chief Minister, the Hon Terry Mills MLA and President of ALGA, Felicity-ann Lewis to their first COAG meeting.

COAG also reiterated its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

COAG reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by signing an intergovernmental agreement for its first stage. The agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the initial phase of the NDIS. The lessons learned in implementing the first stage will inform governments about proceeding to a full scheme by:

  • setting out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme;
  • establishing the new Standing Council on Disability Reform, with representation from all jurisdictions, which – from 1 January 2013 – will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and related to the transition to a full scheme; and
  • setting in place arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage which will inform the transition to a full scheme.

COAG noted the historic agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments to establish the full NDIS in New South Wales by 1 July 2018. The Commonwealth noted that it looks forward to concluding agreements on the same terms with all other governments.

In addition, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth which confirm the operational and funding details for the roll-out of the NDIS in each launch site. From this time, under the launch arrangements, people with a disability, their families and carers will start to benefit from a fairer, more sustainable and equitable approach to supporting people with disability. Discussions on further launch sites are continuing. [Read more…]


Gillard Claims Progress On NDIS And Power Prices Following COAG Meeting

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has claimed progress on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reform of the electricity market following today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and the state and territory leaders reached agreement to establish a new Standing Council on Disability Reform. Gillard said: “The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.” [Read more…]