Archive for the ‘Parliamentary Library of Australia’ Category

AU — The ABC: an overview

April 22, 2011 Comments off

The ABC: an overview
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

The paper presents an overview of Australia’s principal public broadcaster, the ABC, with reference to its origins, current composition and functions and its vision for a viable future within a changing media environment. The paper also makes reference to some of the controversies which have been integral to long-running discussion about the ABC—allegations of bias, political appointments to the broadcaster and the perennial question of funding adequacy.

AU — Meeting employee entitlements in the event of employer insolvency

April 6, 2011 Comments off

Meeting employee entitlements in the event of employer insolvency
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

The issue of corporate insolvency and loss of accrued workers’ entitlements (usually comprising: unpaid wages, accrued annual leave, accrued long service leave and redundancy pay) received public attention after mine closures affecting the Oakdale Colliery (NSW), the Woodlawn mine (NSW) and the Cobar copper mine (NSW) in 1998-99. The waterfront dispute of 1998 involving Patrick Stevedore company group and the Maritime Union of Australia, brought before the Federal Court the use of intra-corporate restructurings so as to create an employing company which supplied labour to the other corporate members, resulting in redundancy of its employees when inter corporate agreements for the supply of labour were terminated. In the Australian Parliament, the Hon. Janice Crosio raised concerns over the loss of employee entitlements following a business insolvency in her electorate in 1996, leading to her presenting a Bill for the protection of employee entitlements via employer insurance in 1998.

In 1999 the closures of the National Textiles establishment in the Hunter Valley (NSW) and later, Braybrook Manufacturing in Victoria involved the loss of accrued entitlements for employees in the textile industry. Other corporate failures of 2001 including One.Tel and HIH Insurance Ltd appear to have resulted in smaller losses. In the case of One.Tel, its short time since start-up meant that accrued entitlements would be low. The efforts of its directors, the relevant union, the Community and Public Sector Union as well as the Federal Government, helped ensure that entitlements were met by initially securing a federal redundancy award. Its purpose was to generate binding redundancy and other entitlements as the individual employment contracts for staff used by One.Tel were silent on redundancy pay.

In the case of HIH, employee entitlement loss due to competitors taking over parts of a business mitigated the impact on HIH staff. However the relevant union, the Financial Sector Union also commenced redundancy award proceedings with the provisional liquidator advising the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) that a legal instrument determining the redundancy entitlement was preferable to the company’s non-formal policy on redundancy benefits, as an enforceable legal instrument would be created and thus recognised under company law. However the insolvency of the Ansett group of companies in September 2001 resulted in widespread redundancies and loss of entitlements, as discussed below.

Foreign investment in Australia: recent developments

April 2, 2011 Comments off

Foreign investment in Australia: recent developments
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This note reports recent changes in Australia’s foreign investment policy as released by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) in January 2011. It also explores trends in global foreign direct investment (FDI) as covered in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2010 World Investment Report (released on 22 July 2010). Lastly, this Background Note analyses the dynamics of two way investments between Australia and its investment partners during the past eight years, based on data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on 30 July 2010.

Australia’s foreign investment policy
According to the foreign investment policy published by the Treasurer and governed by the FIRB, a foreign person must apply for approval to invest in an Australian business (including a piece of rural land having the characteristics of a commercial holding) if the foreign investment results in an interest of 15 per cent or more in an Australian business which is valued above a threshold of $231 million (or $1 005 million for US investors on 1 January 2011).1 All foreign investment proposals are scrutinised by the FIRB against national interest criteria on a case-by-case basis.


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