Infographic: what is the conflict between the US and Iran about and how is Australia now involved?



Australia will commit a frigate, an aircraft and some headquarters staff to a US-led operation in the Strait of Hormuz.
AAP/Marc Tewksbury

Natalie Klein, UNSW

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Australia will lend military support to protect shipping in the Middle East.

The commitment has been long expected, with Australia sending a frigate, an aircraft and some headquarters staff as part of a US-led coalition in the Strait of Hormuz, amid deepening tensions between the US and Iran.

So what is this conflict about, what is Australia’s involvement, and what are the risks associated with it?

What is the Strait of Hormuz?

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow body of ocean connecting the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Its width varies, but at its narrowest is 39km. It is the main passage for transporting oil from the Middle East out into the Indian Ocean and beyond; a fifth of the world’s oil is shipped through this strait. This includes 15-16% of crude oil and 25-30% of refined oil that is destined for Australia.

Iran and Oman border the Strait of Hormuz. As the littoral states, they have sovereignty over the waters in the Strait of Hormuz, but that sovereignty is subject to navigational rights enjoyed by all states. Ships from all countries have the right to move continuously and expeditiously through these waters without interference from either of the coastal states.

What is the conflict between Iran and the US about?

The primary concern in relation to the Strait of Hormuz at the moment is interference with commercial shipping. The United States has accused Iran of attacks against tankers and has destroyed an Iranian drone.

In recent weeks, Iran has seized the Stena Impero, a British-flagged commercial tanker, as well as a US drone. It also boarded but released a Liberian-flagged, British-owned vessel. These actions have heightened concerns about navigational rights through the strait and the consequences for global oil supply.

This is all against a backdrop of heightened tension between Iran and the United States, resulting from American sanctions against Iran and its abandonment of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. It is the latest rift in a relationship that has been fraught for decades, punctuated by events like Iran taking over the US embassy and holding hostages in 1979, the United States backing Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and Iran’s development of a nuclear program in the 1990s.

Shipping has previously been threatened within the Persian Gulf and along the Strait of Hormuz, especially during the Iran-Iraq war. This conflict was also known as the Tanker War because of the threats to commercial ships transporting oil out of the Gulf. It resulted in the United States and other neutral states providing naval escorts and conducting convoys to protect shipping.

What is Australia’s involvement?

Australia has announced it will be joining an “International Maritime Security Construct” that is focused on ensuring the freedom of shipping lanes and commercial navigation.

This international presence is intended to respond to incidents and threats as they occur during passage through the strait. The prime minister has announced that Australia’s involvement is limited in terms of time and resources and emphasised the importance of de-escalation.

A legal difficulty for Australia is that this sort of convoy relies on a doctrine that is associated with the law of naval warfare, and so would usually only apply if there is an armed conflict between states. Australia is instead maintaining the view that its warships are also exercising their navigational rights through the Strait of Hormuz.

The new mission is cast as an enhancement of previous contributions to counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations. However, these operations have been directed at non-state actors, rather than the naval forces of another country. Iran may claim that their presence constitutes an unlawful threat of the use of force.

The previous UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, characterised Iran’s actions as “state piracy”. He advocated for “European-led maritime protection mission(s) to support safe passage of both crew and cargo”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson instead decided to join the US-led mission. In joining this effort, Australia has emphasised the importance of its multilateral nature. This matters when it is recalled that the oil tankers concerned are typically flagged to a wide variety of states, are owned by nationals from other states, might be chartered by companies from different states and are frequently crewed by nationals from diverse states.

As a result, far more countries than just Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have stakes in these issues.

How does it affect the global oil trade?

The prospect of oil tankers being seized in the Strait of Hormuz will likely increase the insurance premiums on shipping. In addition to seizing ships, Iran has threatened to close the strait.

Concerns also exist that Iranian military forces might hinder passage, or might go so far as mining the strait. Any of these scenarios poses a risk to global oil supply and even the prospect of these actions causes a jump in crude oil prices.

What might happen from here?

Ultimately, Iran shares an interest with the United States and other countries in maintaining navigational rights for commercial shipping. So much is evident in Iran’s own response to the British Royal Navy seizing one of its vessels off Gibraltar.

Given that over 90% of the world’s traded goods are carried by ship, every country has a strong reciprocal interest in ensuring freedom of navigation. Iran is using one of the main political tools it has at its disposal to exert pressure in response to current US policies.

Preventing escalation should be the prime concern of all actors and would be the most mutually beneficial outcome.The Conversation

Natalie Klein, Professor, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Infographic: who’s who in Labor’s shadow ministry


Emil Jeyaratnam, The Conversation and Justin Bergman, The Conversation

There were a couple of big questions before the new Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, announced his shadow ministry on Sunday.

One of those was where would former leader Bill Shorten end up after the party’s humbling loss in last month’s federal election. (The answer: head of the NDIS and government services portfolio.)

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Albanese’s changes was Kristina Keneally, who was handed the powerful portfolio of home affairs – opposite an immediately dismissive Peter Dutton – in addition to immigration and citizenship. She will also be the deputy opposition leader in the Senate.

Our experts have already analysed the chief challenges faced by the new ministers in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet – now, we’re asking them to look at Labor’s shadow ministers, as well.

In some cases, the shadow ministers hold more than one portfolio. To simplify the policy analysis, we’ve chosen a key policy area for which they’re responsible and asked our experts to analyse this.

The Conversation

Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation and Justin Bergman, Deputy Editor: Politics + Society, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Infographic: who’s who in the new Morrison ministry


Emil Jeyaratnam, The Conversation; Justin Bergman, The Conversation, and Shelley Hepworth, The Conversation

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ministry is sworn in today, we’re taking a closer look at the members of the newly revamped cabinet.

Some of the faces are new – Stuart Robert, for example, takes over the new portfolio overseeing the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And some of the portfolios have shifted, notably Sussan Ley replacing Melissa Price as environment minister.

We’ve asked our experts to appraise the performances of the ministers and highlight what could be the key challenges in their new roles.

In some cases, ministers hold more than one portfolio. To simplify the policy analysis, we’ve chosen a key policy area for which they’re responsible and asked our experts to analyse those.

The Conversation

Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation; Justin Bergman, Deputy Editor: Politics + Society, The Conversation, and Shelley Hepworth, Section Editor: Technology, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Infographic: Budget 2019 at a glance


Emil Jeyaratnam, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

The budget bottom line will surge to a surplus next financial year on the back of higher than expected revenues from commodities, strong corporate profits and low unemployment.

The estimated surplus of A$7.1 billion for 2019-20 will be the first time the budget has entered positive territory since 2007-08.





Read more:
Iron ore dollars repurposed to keep the economy afloat in Budget 2019


How will the government spend this unexpected windfall of revenues?

Simplifying the tax system will cost the government $158 billion over the next ten years. The measures include:

  • doubling the low and middle income tax offset from $530 to up to $1,080 for people earning up to $126,000, starting from the current 2018-19 financial year

  • changing the 32.5% threshold to be $45,001 to $120,000 from 2022-23, with the 19% bracket covering incomes from the tax-free threshold up to $45,000

  • reducing the 32.5% tax rate to 30% from 2024-25 onwards, and changing the income thresholds so that the 30% rate applies to all earners from $45,000 to $200,000

  • removal of the 37% rate altogether from 2024-25.




Read more:
View from The Hill: budget tax-upmanship as we head towards polling day



Other major cuts and spending items are listed below.



Despite the boost in revenue the government expects to reach its long-term target of surplus being 1% of gross domestic product later than estimated in the December budget update.

The government now expects surplus to exceed 1% of GDP in 2026-27.



This budget, like many before it, predicts wages to increase over the next four years. The government expects the wage price index to increase from its current 2.1 to 3.5 by 2022-23.



Net debt as a share of the economy is expected to peak in 2018-19 (19.2% of GDP), and will then commence a downward trend until fully eliminated in 2029-30.




Read more:
Frydenberg’s budget looks toward zero net debt, but should this be our aim?



Government receipts are expected to climb from 24.2% of GDP in 2017-18 to 25% by 2022-23. Payments are expected to be 24.5% of GDP in 2022-23.The Conversation



Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Infographic: Budget 2018 at a glance



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Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Jenni Henderson, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

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Jenni Henderson, Section Editor: Business + Economy, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Infographic: the National Energy Guarantee at a glance


Madeleine De Gabriele, The Conversation; Michael Hopkin, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

The federal government today announced its long-awaited energy policy. As expected it has scrapped the Clean Energy Target proposed by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, and has instead adopted a National Energy Guarantee, which focuses on ensuring electricity supply and putting downward pressure on energy prices.

Here’s what you need to know:


The ConversationRead more: How the National Energy Guarantee could work better than a clean energy target




The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Madeleine De Gabriele, Deputy Editor: Energy + Environment, The Conversation; Michael Hopkin, Environment + Energy Editor, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Infographic: Budget 2017 at a glance


Jenni Henderson, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/62/b19d3bdd23f55a4a5fac93235a36393bb9515bd5/site/index.html The Conversation


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Jenni Henderson, Editor, Business and Economy, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australia: A Great Country to Live In


Despite all of the negativity you often hear in Australia about conditions in this country, Australia is really doing very well when compared to other countries around the world. The link below is to an article and infographic that bears this out.

For more visit:
http://www.killerstartups.com/startup-spotlight/457visacompared/

The Church: In Decline in Europe


The link below is to an article with some very interesting statistics concerning the church in Europe, that is using the ‘church’ in a very loose manner I should add.

For more visit:
http://blogs.christianpost.com/dear-ephesus/empty-churches-the-decline-of-cultural-christianity-in-the-west-17067/