Monthly Archives: September 2012

Australia & The Security Council

Australia is vying for a place on the United Nations Security Council.
What is the Security Council, and why do we want a place on it?

The UN Security Council is one of the primary bodies within the UN. It’s primary function is to maintain international peace, security and order. The UN SC maintains powers that allows it to establish peacekeeping operations, international sanctions, and authorise military action.
The UN SC has 15 members, five of those are permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK and US), the other 10 are non-permanent members with a two-year term. The five permanent members have the power to veto decisions.
Australia is applying for a non-permanent membership for the 2013-2014 term. Australia is applying for four posts; New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. By being a part of the UN SC, Australia will have a say in how international security policy is developed, how international crises are dealt with and if a military intervention is required. It will keep Australia more up-to-date on international affairs and will have a say in developing global strategies.
Currently, the ALP support Australia being a member of the UN SC, however the Coalition does not. This makes Australia the only applicant that does not have support from all its major political parties.


Gay Marriage

What’s the debate?

The current marriage act in Australia states that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples in Australia are recognised as defacto, having the same rights as heterosexual defacto couples. Despite growing public support and lobbying by various marriage equality groups, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry in any of the states or territories in Australia.
The following is a timeline outlining the changes to the marriage act and developments in marriage equality;

Marriage Amendment Bill (2004) – the then Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 which incorporated the common law definition of marriage (marriage between a man and a woman only). In June 2004, the bill passed the House of Representatives and on 13 August 2004, the Senate passed the amendment 38 votes to 6. This amendment also stated that same-sex couples who married overseas would not have their marriage recognised in Australia.

Same-Sex Marriages Bill (2006) – Senator Natasha Stott Despoja introduced a private member’s bill that aimed to reverse the changes made to the Marriage Act in 2004. The bill stalled and is still on the Parliament’s current bill list.

Same-Sex Marriages Bill (2008 – Tasmania) – Greens MP Nick McKim introduced the Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2008 into Tasmania’s House of Assembly in July 2008.McKim introduced a similar bill to the House in April 2005.Neither bill has progressed to a Second Reading.

Marriage Equality Amendment Bill (2009) – Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 which would legislate same-sex marriage. The bill would amend the Marriage Act 1961, removing all discrimination based on sexuality and gender, and allowing marriage regardless sexuality, gender or sex. The bill was rejected by the Senate on 25 February 2010.

2011 Conscience Vote – the ALP has voted in favour of same-sex marriage. Despite Julia Gillard personally opposing it, she has allowed members of the ALP to take a conscience vote (each member could vote based on their own decisions, not the party’s). This conscience vote saw the ALP voting in favour of same-sex marriage, with the conscience vote being carried 208 votes to 184.

Polling Pollies

Julia Gillard has recently received a boost in the polls; but what are the polls, and who controls them?
There are two primary polling organisations in politics; Nielsen and Newspoll. These two polls survey the opinions and political climate of contemporary Australia to assess approval rating of Prime Ministers, and potential Prime Ministers, as well as the approval ratings for given policies. These polls can give you an indication about the popularity of different leaders and general social approval of different policies. The higher the number, the more popular a leader or policy is, and the more people are willing to vote for it.

An example of a Neilsen Poll demonstrating population voting preferences.
Source: The Age.

Rolling with the Punches

Did Abbott intimidate fellow Sydney University SRC candidate Barbara Ramjan?

Whether or not you believe Abbott did throw some punches at the wall to intimidate, this debate raises further questions about our pasts, and by how much we can be judged for them. Do our pasts held true to our present character, and we be held accountable for the actions of our past? Or is the past best left in the past?
Here are the facts:
– Barbara Ramjan has said Aboott threw punches either side of her head to intimidate her after she defeated him in the SRC elections in 1977.

– Barrister David Patch, who was Ms Ramjan’s campaign manager, has supported Ramjan’s claims. Although he did not see the incident, he says she came to him after the incident to tell him about it.

– An unidentified witnessed as stated they saw Abbott throwing punches.

– In the Quarterly Essay, David Marr highlighted the incident, having researched it after the story was recounted at a 40th reunion.
– Tony Abbott originally claimed to have no recollection of the incident, and then later denied the incident ever happened.



Tony Abbott boxing. Source: Herald Sun.

Do you give a Gonski?

What is it?

The Gonski Review was a report, headed by business man David Gonski, that reviewed school funding and the growing inequality that can develop in economically-disadvantaged schools. Commissioned by the Government in 2010, the report revealed that Australian schools need increased investments, fairer funding, stronger accountability and an independent National Schools Resourcing Body who would overlook the management of school resources.

The report found that:
– Student performance has been decreasing.
– The gap between advantaged, and disadvantaged, as well as high performing and low performing students is increasing.
– Current funding mechanisms do not provide equal financial support to all schools, resulting in an unequal distribution of resources. This means some school receive extra resources whilst other schools miss out completely on certain services.

The report concluded that:
– Australia must prioritise for its lowest performing students.
– All children should have equal access to the best quality education.
– Students should leave school without the necessary skills to participate in the workforce (such as literacy and numeracy skills).

Key points of the report can be read here:

Carbon Tax – Party Positions

(as of 7 September 2012)

ALP: Brought the carbon tax through Parliament and are in support of it. ALP is considering scaling back the tax. ALP believe the tax will set Australia up with an economic structure that will allow for shifts to a more environmentally and socially sustainable future.

LIB/NAT: Do not support. They believe the carbon tax will cause an increase

in overall household costs and will not be a viable system of economic functioning.GREENS: Support environmental change and a price on carbon. Not willing to renegotiate to form a scaled-back carbon tax.

INDEPENDENT (OAKESHOTT): Supports the carbon tax, however he wants the floor price to be removed. The floor price would determine how low the price would go.

INDEPENDENT (WILKIE): Supports the carbon tax.

INDEPENDENT (WINDSOR): Supports the carbon tax.

KATTER’S AUSTRALIAN PARTY: Opposed to carbon tax. Supports renewable energies (such as ethanol).

DLP: Do not support.

FAMILY FIRST: Do not support.

Carbon Tax

What is it?

The Carbon Tax is a levy placed on businesses that will price their carbon use. The charge will be per tonne of carbon. The more carbon you use, the more you pay. Therefore, the future outlook is that businesses will reduce their carbon footprint and look for more environmentally-friendly means of operating so that they won’t have to pay for using carbon. Most Australian households will be compensated for these costs.