The islands of Tonga in the South Pacific have been devastated by Tropical Cyclone Gita. Winds of 230km/h have flattened parts of Parliament House and caused significant damage and injuries across the kingdom, which is made up on 176 islands, though only 40 are inhabited. Thankfully, no reports of causalities have been received. Australia and New Zealand have already dispatched emergency supplies.
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney informs that it plans to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Brisbane (second half of May – early June)
• Mackay (second half of May – early June)
• Cairns (second half of May)
• Darwin (second half of May)
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 3 November 2017 – The federal referendum ‘Yes to the abolition of radio and television fees (abolition of Billag fees)’ intents to abolish the reception fees for licensed radio and television broadcasters with a public service obligation. The Federal Council is of the opinion that Switzerland needs a comprehensive public service in the media sector and that it cannot be financed exclusively on a commercial basis. It therefore rejects the initiative.
The Executive Board of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), like Parliament and the Federal Council, opposes the initiative, which will be voted on 4 March 2018. Public services in the information sector are of the utmost importance for Swiss Abroad.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 25 October 2017 – On Tuesday, 24 October, the governors and state secretaries of the Swiss cantons have received a letter signed by ten federal parliamentarians from the most important political parties, demanding that all Swiss Abroad be able to choose their National Councillors in the 2019 Swiss Federal Elections. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), which has been working for years to ensure that the Swiss Abroad are able to use this voting channel, is delighted about this initiative and fully supports it.
On 19 September, 2017, National Councillor and Swiss Abroad, Tim Guldimann (SP/ZH), together with 70 co-signatories, submitted a motion obliging the Federal Council to inform in the event that a draft law or a proposed amendment affects Swiss citizens abroad. This would allow deliberating such effects at an early stage in parliament.
The Swiss Council of States yesterday adopted a motion which requires all Swiss banks that are “too big to fail” to accept Swiss citizens living outside of Switzerland. The motion was submitted by Filippo Lombardi (CVP/Ticino) and adopted with 23 votes to 14 and 6 abstentions. The banks in question are UBS, Credit Suisse, Zuercher Kantonalbank, Raiffeisen and Postfinance.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 11 September 2017 – the National Council (NC) today adopted, by 178 votes to 4 with 7 abstentions, a motion tabled by the Foreign Affairs Commission of the NC on 4 July 2017. This motion requires that PostFinance revises its universal financial services to extend them to Swiss Abroad in order to enable them to fulfill their financial obligations. PostFinance, the main shareholder of which is state-owned Swiss Post, has a special responsibility towards Swiss citizens.
In the lead-up to the Congress of the Swiss Abroad held in Basel, 116 delegates from all over the world assembled in the historic town hall on Friday 18 August for the constituent meeting of the new Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) for the term 2017-2021.
CSA elections in 2021: because the Swiss e-voting systems are on hold until further notice, direct election via e-voting of the CSA delegates (as per pilot projects in Australia and Mexico in 2016) will not be possible. The CSA Delegates in Australia will have the job to organise the next elections without certainty of assistance at this stage. Importance is given to umbrella organisations in countries where they exist, which will have the task to organise fair and democratic elections. Default solution is the ‘old System’ each country carried in the past.
The 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit took place in Tuvalu from 13 to 16 August, 2019.
Switzerland is a success story, but it will have to evolve under fast changing international conditions. Therefore, foreign policy will become more important for Switzerland’s prosperity and security. Starting from these reflections, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis established the AVIS28 working group in 2018 with the aim to define a coherent and adaptive foreign policy vision for Switzerland for 2028. AVIS28 is a source of inspiration and new ideas, and at the same time, it should initiate a broad discussion on the future of Swiss foreign policy. Switzerland needs the courage to change. Its foreign policy must become more focused, networked and agile. Switzerland should also work more closely with like-minded states, like Australia and New Zealand, towards their common goals.
A lot has happened lately with regards to e-voting. There has been growing resistance and a fair bit of scare-mongering in Switzerland regarding the introduction of e-voting. Whilst the advantages are obvious to the government and the Swiss Abroad, sceptics argue that the trust in the democratic process is compromised due to e-security uncertainty and the cost of developing a secure system is also a concern. Earlier this year, a broad alliance of political parties has been collecting signatures for a popular initiative. Their aim is to ban the introduction of e-voting for at least five years.
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biannual meeting at the town hall in Bern on 23 March 2019. For the second time, the meeting followed on an exchange with Swiss parliamentarians for an update on political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad.
From 13 April to 29 September 2019, the Swiss Abroad will be featured in the Swiss History Forum in Schwyz as part of the exhibition ‘Switzerland elsewhere’.
Canton Geneva has announced it can no longer afford to bear the cost of an e-voting system and plans to abandon the project, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. This leaves only one other e-voting project still standing in Switzerland run by Swiss Post.
Read the full Swissinfo report here
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
Saturday, 15 September saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the third time in Victoria. 15 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and therefore have become fully-fletched Swiss citizens with all the rights and obligations that this entails, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by their mums and dads, grandparents and brothers and sisters.