Business News Releases

Speaker takes Parliament to regional NSW

THIS WEEK, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Milton Dick MP is in regional New South Wales with Sussan Ley MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Member for Farrer, as part of the Parliament in Schools program.

Students will learn about federation, democracy and the Australian Parliament, as well as hear first-hand from the Speaker and Ms Ley on what a typical day looks like in their electorate and when they are in Canberra for sitting weeks.

Over three days, the Speaker and Ms Ley will visit:

  • Wentworth Public School
  • Pomona Public School
  • Palinyewah Public School
  • Pooncarie Public School
  • Dareton Public School
  • Gol Gol Public School
  • Euston Public School.

“In collaboration with local federal MPs, we have brought Parliament to over 70 schools across Australia,” Speaker Milton Dick said.

“I am so passionate about ensuring as many young Australians as possible have the information and knowledge they need to go on to being engaged and informed citizens.”

“I am really looking forward to bringing the Parliament in Schools to the great electorate of Farrer.”

About the Parliament in Schools program

Launched last year, the Parliament in Schools program is a bi-partisan initiative to make civics education accessible to students regardless of their location. In collaboration with local federal members, the Speaker is visiting schools across Australia to bring parliament to them.

The program is an extension to well-established Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) onsite, digital and outreach education programs available to schools across Australia.

It also complements the existing PEO online and print resources that are curriculum-aligned, for Australian teachers and students.

 

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Supporting democracy in our region

THE Foreign Affairs and Aid subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade this morning tabled its report titled Supporting democracy in our region.

Chair of the subcommittee, Josh Burns MP, said, "This is an important bipartisan report that considers how Australia can partner with countries in our region to promote democracy and the international rules-based order.

"This report recommends how Australia’s national interests and foreign policy pursuits can be strengthened by aligning with local priorities, enhancing both countries institutions and building on strong bilateral relationships to promote democracy in our region.

"Ultimately, stronger partnerships build capacity to resist regression of democratic norms and ideals that has been eroding the effectiveness of the international framework that has served our region for many years."

Recommendations include:

  • Increased funding for the Australian Electoral Commission to develop long-term partnerships with electoral bodies in the Indo-Pacific who request assistance with elections.
  • Establishing a media broadcasting capacity and support building program for the region that facilitates training and development both in Australia and in our neighbouring countries.
  • Establishing a Women in Parliament program to strengthen partnerships with women in the region.
  • Establishing a central Civil Society Organisation Hub within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to help coordinate development delivery in the region.

This report makes eight recommendations in total and can be found on the inquiry's website.

 

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PJCIS to review relisting of two terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced a review of the relisting of Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin and Islamic State Khorasan Province as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code).

Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) is an al-Qa’ida aligned Salafi-Jihadist organisation based in Mali and active in West Africa. JNIM was first listed as a terrorist organisation in 2020 following the merger of the terrorist organisation al-Murabitun into JNIM. Since its listing in 2020, JNIM has conducted attacks against both foreign and state security forces, striving to build a Salafi-Islamic state.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) is a violent extremist group that also adheres to Salafi jihadist ideology. Since its relisting in 2020, the organisation has shifted its strategic operation towards urban warfare in Afghanistan and parts of north-west Pakistan, promoting itself as a globally motivated jihadist group committed to establishing a global caliphate.

The relisting of the two organisations triggers the ongoing application of a number of offences under the Criminal Code relating to membership of, support for, or association with the organisations.

Section 102.1A of the Criminal Code provides that the committee may review listings of terrorist organisations and report its findings to each house of Parliament within the 15 sitting day disallowance period.

Members of the public are welcome to make submissions to this review. Submissions should be provided no later than Thursday, November 23, 2023.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the committee’s website.

 

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Improving regional mobile phone infrastructure: report published

FINDING collaborative ways to fund improvements and encourage greater sharing of mobile phone infrastructure to provide better, more competitive access to digital services across regional and remote Australia is the focus of a report Connecting the country: Mission critical released today by the House Communications and the Arts Committee.

The parliamentary inquiry into co-investment in regional mobile carrier infrastructure heard a wide range of evidence from state and territory governments, Indigenous communities and First Nations media, business chambers, councils, health services, mine companies, tourism operators, farmers and agri-business, fire, police and emergency services and community groups on how essential mobile coverage is, and how detrimental a lack of coverage can be for day to day life and operations.

The committee also heard how perilous these mobile black spots can be during emergencies, police operations or road accidents in regional areas.

Recommendations made by the committee focussed on how the Australian Government can encourage more co-investment by mobile network operators and sharing of mobile towers to address the challenges of improving coverage and competition across Australia’s wide expanse, including:

  • developing and implementation of a practical universal service obligation for mobile telecommunications service providers;
  • facilitating roundtable meetings between NBN Co and mobile telecommunications industry representatives with Rewiring the Nation program planners to ascertain the potential to co-locate telecommunications infrastructure along renewable electricity transmission routes planned for regional and remote Australia;
  • establishing a working group involving state and territory governments, emergency services agencies, and mobile network operators to develop protocols for temporary roaming arrangements in declared disasters and emergencies;
  • reviewing the implications of non-use and area-wide licensing for the allocation, management, and use of spectrum for the provision of regional telecommunications services;
  • assessing the merits of including licence conditions on mobile network owners and other spectrum licensees of terms and conditions that mandate open access and active sharing solutions;
  • evaluating the objectives and guidelines of the Mobile Black Spot Program to ensure it remains fit for purpose;
  • establishing a trial program to fund mobile-carrier infrastructure in specific regional and remote geographical areas with a mandate for open access through active or passive sharing to any funded infrastructure;
  • developing a trial program to fund infrastructure to support multi-carrier mobile network sharing models at locations on major roads in regional and remote areas with limited or no network coverage;
  • leading development of a Regional Australia Mobile Telecommunications Strategy in consultation with state, territory and local governments to consider the trends and demands of regional growth and identify regions and growth corridors;
  • facilitating the harmonisation of planning and environmental regulations for new mobile infrastructure across regional, rural and remote Australia;
  • investigating and funding targeted, place-based solutions for providing reliable and secure access to telecommunications services in remote Indigenous communities, including, but not limited to:
    • deployment of wi-fi mesh networks or wi-fi hotspots, and
    • use of Low Earth Orbit satellite services.

Committee Chair, Brian Mitchell MP, outlined the majority of mobile infrastructure was not co-located, especially in regional areas, despite many years of significant government investment.

"The committee held hearings and roundtables to better understand why the rates of co-location for Australia’s major mobile providers dramatically declines as they move from urban to more regional and remote areas," Mr Mitchell said.

"The committee believes promoting co-investment remains a tool to encourage multiple telecommunications providers to invest in and share ‘multi-carrier’ mobile towers to improve the range and reliability of their services in regional and remote areas. But in this increasingly digital age it is important the government continue to develop alternative strategies to attract mobile network operators and tower companies to invest in assisting the many people living in regional, remote and even fast-growing peri-urban areas without any or poor access to phone and digital services."

Over the course of the inquiry, the committee held 17 public hearings in Canberra, Launceston, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Perth, Sydney and Geelong, in addition to receiving 43 written submissions from individuals, organisations and government bodies.

The committee thanked all those who took part in the inquiry by providing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings or roundtables.

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

 

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Audit Committee tables Annual Report 2022-23

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit today tabled its Annual Report for 2022-23.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP, said, “Annual Reports obviously are very exciting, and tabling one in the parliament is both a delight and an annual statutory obligation of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.”

This report outlines the work the committee has undertaken in 2022–23 in accordance with its responsibilities under the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951 and other relevant legislation.

The committee is an important part of the Parliament's effort to provide oversight and transparency to the work of Australian Government agencies.

The committee reviews all reports of the Australian National Audit Office and conducts inquiries where it identifies issues requiring further consideration. It determines the audit priorities of the Parliament and makes recommendations to Government on the budget estimates of the Audit Office and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

In 2022–23 the committee met 29 times and held 18 public hearings. It commenced eight inquiries and presented five reports. It also considered the budget estimates of the Audit Office and the Parliamentary Budget Office for the 2023–24 budget.

The committee’s inquiries examined a broad range of topics, including Foreign Affairs and Trade’s crisis management arrangements; Commonwealth procurement, administration of Commonwealth grants; the 2021–22 Commonwealth financial statements; and Defence major projects.

Mr Hill said, “I would like to thank those who were members of the committee in 2022–23 for the spirit in which they approached the committee's work and the dedication they applied to it.

“Finally, the committee secretariat deserve lashings of praise for the outstanding quality of the work they do and their professionalism. This includes the staff of the Parliament and the highly valued secondees from the Australian National Audit Office.”

The report and further information about the committee is available on the Committee website.

 

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