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Trade Subcommittee hearing with ASEAN members

THE Trade Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will hold a public hearing in Canberra today for its inquiry into Australia’s tourism and international education sectors.

The subcommittee will be speaking with the Ambassador of Thailand and a representative from the Royal Embassy of Cambodia.

Chair of the Trade Subcommittee, Senator Deborah O’Neill, said, "Continuing to build robust people to people links with Australia’s neighbours is important for strengthening and maintaining existing strategic relationships in the region. Education and tourism have proven to be a key part of doing so.

"The subcommittee looks forward to hearing from representatives of the Royal Thai Embassy and the Royal Embassy of Cambodia on how Australia can further its engagement with their respective countries through education and tourism links," Senator O’Neill said.

Further information about the inquiry and program are available on the inquiry webpage. This hearing will be broadcast via the APH website.

Public hearing

Date: Wednesday, 29 November 2023Venue: Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, CanberraTime: 9:15am – 10:30am (AEDT)



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Report released on inquiry into the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia

THE Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs has today published its report on its inquiry into the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Australia.

The report makes six recommendations, including that the Commonwealth Government ensure that its policies and legislation on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be consistent with the Articles of UNDRIP.

To realise this, the committee makes further recommendations to:

  • Amend parliamentary human rights scrutiny processes to formally include consideration of UNDRIP;
  • Develop a National Action Plan, in consultation with First Peoples, to outline a coordinated approach to implementing UNDRIP across all Australian jurisdictions;
  • Improve education on Australian history, civics, and human rights; and
  • Establish an independent process of truth-telling and agreement-making.

Committee Chair Senator Patrick Dodson said, "At the heart of this report is a call for all Australian governments and civil society to engage with the rights of First Peoples through UNDRIP.

"The committee heard clear evidence about how the enhanced application of UNDRIP offers a blueprint for a renewed relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian nation that strengthens our democracy and improves the wellbeing of First Peoples."

Through the course of the inquiry the Committee received evidence from a range of domestic and international experts, as well as many Indigenous representatives, including from Canada, New Zealand, Finland and Norway.

For more information about this committee and its report, visit the inquiry webpage.


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Restoring democracy on Norfolk Island

THE Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories has today released its report for its inquiry into local governance on Norfolk Island.

The committee has made seven recommendations which provide the foundation for a new democratically elected governing body to be established on the island.

Chair of the committee, Alicia Payne MP, said, "the committee is proud to be part of the process of restoring democracy to Norfolk Island. It has recommended the creation of a new bespoke governing body comprising a majority of locally elected members working with representatives appointed by the Australian Government to deliver the best outcomes for Norfolk Islanders and Australians alike.

"Central to the committee’s recommendations is the inclusion of a preamble in the governing legislation," Ms Payne said.​"The purpose of this preamble is to recognise the unique culture, traditions, heritage and history of Norfolk Island, and to set out the nature of the relationship between Norfolk Island and Australia now and into the future."

Other recommendations made in the report relate to building local capacity on Norfolk Island to support the new governance arrangements, the need for broad community consultation to inform the final governance model, and for that model to be determined by a binding compulsory vote of registered voters on Norfolk Is.

The committee has recommended that the findings of its report be referred to the newly established Norfolk Island Governance Committee for further consultation with the community.

The full report can be found on the committee’s inquiry webpage.



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Workforce Australia Employment Services Committee to table final report on Thursday

THE Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services anticipates tabling a final report for its inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services on November 30.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP said, "This is not a fairy floss review. It’s the only ‘first principles’ review of Australia’s employment services system conducted in several decades.

“The committee has identified significant and numerous flaws in the system that cannot be addressed by mere tweaks to policies and programs if we are serious about addressing long-term unemployment and entrenched disadvantage.

“It should not come as a surprise to those who have contributed to the inquiry that the committee will recommend wholesale reforms and an ambitious blueprint for a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services system.

“There are no sacred cows and the findings will directly challenge long held beliefs, including the flawed ideas that ever more competition in every place will always produce better outcomes for vulnerable consumers.

“The Robodebt Royal Commission’s finding that fraud in the welfare system is minuscule is apt and the current approach to mutual obligations is like using a nuclear bomb to kill a mosquito. Mutual obligations need to be broadened and tailored to the individual, as the current one-size-fits all approach is drowning the system in compliance red-tape, driving employers away and actually making many people less employable," Mr Hill said.

“The guiding vision for a rebuilt system should be to ensure that all people in Australia can enjoy decent employment and participate in economic and social life regardless of who they are or where they live.

“All elements of the system have been carefully interrogated in an open-minded and non-partisan manner, led by evidence not ideology, outside interests or direction.”

The inquiry has been informed by more than 300 submissions, more than 60 hours of witness testimony, over 50 meetings and site visits across all Australian jurisdictions, and direct engagement with OECD experts and representatives of over 10 other countries.

Information about the inquiry, including Terms of Reference, published submissions and hearing transcripts, is available on the inquiry website.



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Electoral Matters Committee highlights transparency, trust and participation in recommendations for reform

THE Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has concluded its inquiry into the 2022 election, making recommendations for reforms to improve donation transparency, reduce the influence of big money, and strengthen trust and participation in Australia's elections.

The committee’s final report, tabled today in Parliament, makes 21 recommendations on top of the 15 made in its interim report released in June.

Committee Chair Kate Thwaites MP said, "Our electoral system is strong, but our democracy is too important to be complacent. The committee heard clear evidence of the need for reform.

‘Based on the evidence we have received, the committee has recommended reforms to improve donation transparency, address the electoral ‘arms race’ of increased spending on elections, limit the potentially corrupting influence of big money, and build public trust."

These include reaffirming recommendations made in the interim report, including:

  • Lowering the donation disclosure threshold to $1,000 and introducing ‘real time’ disclosure;
  • Introducing donation and electoral spending caps; and
  • Introducing truth in political advertising laws.

In addition, the committee’s final report makes further recommendations around representation, participation and other issues, including:

  • Improving representation – increasing Senate representation for the two territories from two to four Senators, and requesting a specific inquiry into increasing the size of the House of Representatives;
  • Encouraging participation and enfranchisement – making voting more accessible, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disabilities, older Australians and Australians overseas; and
  • Modernising election campaign legislation, including amending the process for the distribution of postal vote applications.

Through the course of the inquiry the committee received more than 1,500 submissions and held 11 public hearings.

Further information about the inquiry, including submissions and hearing transcripts, is available on the inquiry webpage.



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