Many people tend to view the Upper House as an irrelevant addition to the government machine. However the Senate is the house I like the most. This is partly the result of the media consistently focusing on the incessant squabbling in the House of Reps, partly the result of living in a safe seat where my Lower House vote is of little consequence and partly the result of the diversity and through-the-looking-glass madness of the Senate. Mostly, however, the Senate is the peoples check against the Lower House. Many people appear to be disillusioned with both major parties, yet it is inevitable that the next Prime Minister will be drawn from the ranks of the Coalition or the ALP. The Senate, on the other hand, may or may not be a major-party walkover. Simply put, giving one party the majority in both houses allows them to pass unpopular legislation without any real limitations.
Given the importance I place on the Senate, it is probably no surprise that I am an advocate of below-the-line voting. The problem with this, of course, is that it requires at least some knowledge of most of the parties in order to prioritise them correctly. That is where this page, and those that will follow in the week, come in. Each Senate ballot column (or "group") is named below. To avoid my own bias, I will quote their top three policies verbatim, and provide references for you -- the reader -- to double check. Which three policies are their "top" ones will be somewhat subjective, and are selected based on topical areas of public discussion and to give a snapshot of each party so that above-the-line voters can make a shortlist of parties they may choose to support. I would strongly urge any above-the-line voters to follow the links for all parties on their shortlist and not to take the summaries here as a complete analysis of the parties. This is even more imperative for below-the-line voters.
Senate Candidates for South Australia
Socialist Equality PartyGeneral: The SEP is apologetically driven by a Trotskyist agenda, advocating such ideals as "[s]ocial ownership of the banks and major corporations", "[t]he international unity of the working class", and "[t]he political independence of the working class" along with aspirations to end war and protect the environment. However there are a few concrete policies listed here as well.
Policy 1: Jobs for all
"The SEP advocates a massive public works program, including the rebuilding and expansion of public and social infrastructure—roads, rail and public transport systems, housing, hospitals, schools and age-care facilities—to meet pressing social needs and make jobs available to all."
Policy 2: Free, high quality, universal health care and education
"First-class health care, including access to the latest medical technologies and treatments, must be guaranteed to all, without fees or caps on treatment. This must cover all health requirements, from birth to death, including hospital, dental, psychiatric, rehabilitation, aged care, and the needs of the disabled.
"Billions of dollars must be poured into education to ensure that free, well-staffed, quality public education, including child care and kindergarten, is available to all children and young people, regardless of where they live. All students, including overseas students, must have the right to access free tertiary education."
Policy 3: Full rights to immigrants and refugees
"The SEP rejects the reactionary framework of “border protection” upheld by all the capitalist parties, including the Greens. All refugees in detention centres must be released immediately and immigration controls and restrictions lifted."
General: The FFP is the most mainstream of several Christianity-based political parties in this election. Now very few people will dispute that love, peace and charity -- among a great many other virtues proclaimed in Christianity -- are fantastic starting points for any movement, particularly a political one. On the other hand, concerns about the separation of church and state have followed this party for some time, and in recent times Family First has sought to celebrate its origins in a church, while distancing itself from religion in policy.
Many of the "policies" outlined in the source document do not outline any specific course of action, but rather state guiding principles, such as "[w]e want to make sure Australian homebuyers can own their home by the time they retire" or "we believe that the plight of the poor ... is a collective responsibility." or "[m]arriage is exclusively between a man and a woman". Below are policies that at least hint at how the FFP aim at realising some of these principles.
Policy 1: Choice in schooling
"Parents increasingly choose to send their children to schools that reflect the values that are important to them. At Family First we ... believe that both public and private schools must be adequately resourced to enable the delivery of high quality education and to ensure that the rights of parents to choose is respected and supported."
Policy 2: Climate Change
"Family First opposes the carbon tax and renewable energy targets. It believes it is grossly irresponsible to proceed with these policies that involve major changes to the Australian economy. A proper, independent enquiry eg a Royal Commission, needs to be established to explore the scientific, social, environmental and economic impact of such a change."
Policy 3: Tax
"If the Australian tax system is to offer incentives to be productive, to expand activities, to shift from welfare to work, to pay tax and invest in the future then it must be simple, flat and, in the eyes of taxpayers, a fair system."
General: Until recently the DEMs were the third force in Australian politics, since edged out by the Greens through a combination of factors. Unlike the parties above, the Democrats actually provide lists of things they intend to do. Long lists. Many long lists. Hand-picking three would not do justice to the depth of detail available at the link below, so instead I will be providing three of the party's objectives, beneath which many specific policies have been proposed. I would strongly encourage following the below link for anyone considering voting Democrat above the line or in any way below the line.
Objective 1: Immigration
"The Australian Democrats believe in a non discriminatory immigration program which gives priority to refugees and family reunion, the total number of which, when included with overall population trends will not impede sustainability of the nation's natural resources.
Objective 2: Schools
"To provide and maintain a well resourced, free public education system
"To fulfill the right of every child in Australia to an equal level of educational opportunity, through the provision of a standard of teaching and educational facilities which enable the full development of their potential
"To promote education as the cornerstone of society, developing well informed, tolerant, responsible and critical citizens functioning as an integral part of the community."
"To provide and maintain a well resourced, free public education system
"To fulfill the right of every child in Australia to an equal level of educational opportunity, through the provision of a standard of teaching and educational facilities which enable the full development of their potential
"To promote education as the cornerstone of society, developing well informed, tolerant, responsible and critical citizens functioning as an integral part of the community."
Objective 3: Employment"Reducing unemployment must be Australia's highest social priority. In particular, we recognise the urgent need to specifically combat the unacceptably high unemployment levels of young and older Australians."
Secular Party of AustraliaGeneral: If there was any political position universally accepted, then it would already be enshrined in law and uncontested. Everything else is up for debate. That means that sometimes for a given party there will be a counter-party. This party does not need to be negative or aggressive, merely advocate opposing views. That is the beauty of democracy -- that people can disagree about capital suffrage or universal punishment, and discuss it rationally (or shout incoherently across the parliament, if they prefer). For those who oppose the religiously-motivated parties, there is the SPA, advocating the separation of church and state.
Policy 1: Education and Funding
"[T]he Secular Party of Australia would broadly seek to implement the recommendations of the Gonski Review, with some amendments. Firstly, if the financial resources available per student in a private school, including those provided by school fees, exceed the standard resource per student, government funding will be reduced accordingly and used to help bring disadvantaged public schools to the required standard. Secondly, to qualify for government funding a school must teach a secular curriculum, admit students and employ staff regardless of faith, and all religious activity promoted by the school must be voluntary and conducted outside school hours."
Policy 2: Personal Freedoms
"Personal freedoms should be based on modern secular humanist principles. Only secularism can guarantee religious freedom, and we endorse this freedom. However those who adhere to faith-based morality frequently seek to impose their religious views on the entire population. This occurs in policies concerning areas such as abortion, voluntary euthanasia, stem cell research, drug policy and gay rights.
"The Secular Party believes in equal human rights. Same-sex couples should enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, in inheritance, and for all ceremonial, financial, legal and medical purposes. Our policies on issues of high moral content, such as abortion and voluntary euthanasia, favour freedom of choice, and are based on rational assessment of the relevant issues."
Policy 3: Religious Attire
"The Secular Party believes that ideally, expression of religious belief should be a private matter for adults. However we endorse the right of adult individuals to wear clothing of their choice.
The Secular Party supports a ban on identity hiding-garments or other items, including burqas and motorcycle helmets, in public places where there are legitimate security and/or safety concerns, or where personal identification is required. The Secular Party supports the right of relevant officials to request that such items be removed."
General: The LDP is largely governed by the right-wing principles of economic freedoms, and the left-wing principles of social freedoms. This puts the LibDems at odds with most of the other parties on the political stage, which may be why their website supports this short quiz to help voters conceptulise where select parties fit on a two-dimensional scale of social and economic freedoms.
Policy 1: Deregulate and Privatise
The LDP supports an immediate end to state and federal government ownership of: [t]he National Broadband Network; [t]he ABC; SBS; Australia Post; Medibank Private; [e]lectricity generation corporations; [b]us, ferry and rail services. Over time, we also favour privatising: Government owned TAFE colleges; Government owned Universities; [m]ost government owned public schools; [m]ost government owned public hospitals; Government land and buildings that are not earmarked for specific Government use.Policy 2: Equality before the law
"The Liberal Democrats believe a person’s sex, race, religion or membership of a demographic group should have no bearing on: criminal proceedings and sentencing, access to welfare payments, access to government services or access to government employment and contracts.
"The Liberal Democrats would: [a]bolish all affirmative action programs, [a]bolish all government funded programs and bodies that cater to particular ethnic, racial, religious or gender groups, [a]bolish government funding for bodies that promote group discrimination such as the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia [and r]emove the power of all bodies except courts to issue binding decisions on matters such as discrimination and vilification."
Policy 3: Firearms
"The LDP regards the right to own firearms for sport, hunting, collecting and self-defence as fundamental to a free society."
General: The PUP has received a lot of press, and yet very little public awareness of its policies. Broadly speaking, this party aims to unite the country by reducing government involvement and supporting free-market systems which will return wealth to local communities. The PUP claims descent from the United Australia Party, the precursor to the modern Liberal Party.
Palmer United Party
Policy 1: Carbon Tax
"Abolish the Carbon Tax"
Policy 2: Refugees
"Revising the current Australian Government’s Refugee Policy to ensure Australia is protected and refugees are given opportunities for a better future and lifestyle"
Policy 3: Mineral Wealth
"Creating Mineral Wealth to continuously contribute to the welfare of the Australian community. This will be achieved by utilising mineral resources from Queensland and Western Australia, and incentives from the Commonwealth of Australia to establish downstream processing in the States of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia; and exporting products at a higher dollar value, thereby creating more revenue, jobs, tax and more facilities."
General: Nick Xenophon has become significantly less high-profile since his last election, yet still commands an impressive support base. Frequently epitheted as "no-pokies MP Nick Xenophon", he has in fact been involved in many other social justice campaigns.
Nick Xenophon Group
Policy 1: No Pokies
"The independent Productivity Commission recommended in 2010 for $1 maximum bets per spin and $120 in hourly losses - compared to the $10 bet per spin and $1200 per hour in losses that can happen now...
"In 2012 both Government and opposition voted against sensible reforms I introduced to implement the Productivity Commission's recommendations."
Policy 2: Global Warming
"I don't support the carbon tax introduced by the Federal Government, nor do I support the Opposition's 'direct action' plan. Both schemes are inefficient and wasteful and there is a much better way forward...
"I support the model developed by leading economic think-tank Frontier Economics that I commissioned jointly in 2009 with then Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. This scheme rewards low-emission industries while punishing high-emission industries. It involves carrots and sticks, and unlike the Government's scheme it doesn't involve the massive taxing and wealth distribution associated with Government's carbon tax."
Policy 3: Food Labelling Scandal
"Australians want to buy Australian and support local producers, but unfortunately most politicians have caved in to industry lobbyists.
"I have campaigned relentlessly on this issue since 2008. With your support we can change the law to give Australians the truth in labelling laws they deserve."
National PartyGeneral: The NATs are the lesser half of the Coalition - always the bridesmaid and never the bride. A vote for the Nationals is largely the same thing as a vote for the Liberal party, although the Nationals are more focused on regional industries, such as agriculture, rather than its urban cousin's interest in industry. As such, many of their policies involve extending the benefits available to the urban population so that they may be enjoyed by regional communities. Many of these plans, for example their education policies, are too detailed and multifaceted to be summarised here, which has affected the selection of policies below.
Policy 1: Border Protection
"We commit to the re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas and to the continuation of the Australian-funded and operated detention centre on Nauru to process arrivals and deter illegal immigration in the future.
"We will ensure that Navy and Customs personnel have the right modern equipment to turn boats around where it is safe to do so and stop illegal entry into Australia. We must defeat unscrupulous people smugglers."
Policy 2: Carbon and mining taxes
"The economy-wide, job-destroying, confidence-sapping carbon tax is a dead weight around the necks of every business, worker, farmer, senior and family ... and all for no environmental gain.
"We are opposed to it and, in government, we will repeal it. An economic environment conductive to wealth creation, productivity growth and job creation are all cornerstones of Nationals philosophy and policy.
"We will also repeal Labor's mining tax given the negative impact it will have on Australian families, obs, regional communities, superannuation savings, the economy and the international competitiveness of this vital Australian industry."
Policy 3: Climate Change
"The Nationals support effective global programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to insure against the risk of climate change. Wealthy industrialised countries like Australia must take a commensurate role in conjunction with the rest of the world in implementing a global response if we expect developing countries to contribute to the solution.
"Therefore, we support an Australian objective of a 5% reductin in emissions below Year 2000 levels by 2020, with larger reductions dependent on a strong international agreement being reached...
"Practical measures can be taken now, including... soil carbon sequestration, the revegetation of marginal land, bio-char, clean coal technology, carbon capture and the use of algae"
Unaffiliated (UN2)General: Mr Ribnga Green, and his running partner Ms Zita Adut Ngor, are the first listed of two unaffiliated voting blocks on the South Australian Senate ballot this year. Both have been active in the community advocating in many areas of social justice. Both also have strong ties to education and advocate the importance of education, especially in remote and disadvantaged communities. Unfortunately their website only lists aspirations, rather than concrete policies, so three of these have been provided below.
In these situations I like to consult senate preference flows (something every above-the-line voter should be doing (so much for the easy way out)) to get a grasp of their general standing. A summary is available from Crikey, the AEC and several other sources. UN2 in SA is favouring Labor above the Coalition parties (just) with left wing parties (Greens, Sex Party etc.) receiving the highest preferences, and right wing parties (DLP, One Nation) at the bottom. Excluding itself and the other unaffiliated group, UN2 does best among The Greens, The Democrats, Sex Party, Secularist and Xenophon preferences, and worst among the Nationals, Rise Up Australia and One Nation -- a strong indication of generally left-wing positions, at least on social justice issues.
Aspiration 1: You do not have to be an asylum seeker to believe anyone seeking asylum should still be treated compassionately in Australian society
Aspiration 2: You do not have to be an Aboriginal person to want better outcomes for Aboriginal people
Aspiration 3: You do not have to have experienced domestic violence to care about all forms of gendered violence and act to prevent it
DLP Democratic LabourGeneral: The DLP is a right-wing party with all the normal social-justice trappings; opposition to same sex marriage, euthanasia and abortion are among their most well-known policies. However, there are a few surprises in the DLP policy chest, and again I encourage you to follow the link below and look at some of the platforms that matter to you.
Policy 1: Asylum Seekers and Refugees
The DLP proposes "[e]nhanced cooperation with Indonesian Authorities, [d]educting $1million from Australia’s upcoming aid to Indonesia for every vessel of asylum seekers which leaves their Exclusive Economic Zone undetected for Australia, [i]ncrease our annual asylum seeker and refugee intake from Indonesia, [a]sylum seekers who then still come to Australia from Indonesia as an irregular maritime arrival will be transported to one of five UN accredited refugee camps of their choice...
"Processing will initially take place in a Secure Community. This process should typically take a matter of weeks. If a person’s refugee status is confirmed, he or she will promptly be relocated to a purpose-designed Regional Estate, to live in typical Australian housing and be provided with the opportunity to work, undergo education and training and integrate with the Australian community.
"Refugee status will be re-assessed on a set date after three years and again after a further two years. Should it be found possible for them to return home at either of these points, they will be able to do so. Should they not be able to return after five years, they will then be granted permanent residency."
Policy 2: Constitution and Democratic Rights
"We believe in the principle that the citizens of Australia should be able to initiate the introduction of legislation that provides for the holding of a referendum to alter the Constitution. Closing the gap between the people of Australia and the most important legal document, the Constitution, which rules them, enhances democracy and allows for a more transparent and dynamic Australia...
"Australia’s ratification of any United Nations or other international covenant must be revoked if it overrides the will of the Australian people, undermines established law or compromises the sovereignty of the Commonwealth or any State."
Policy 3: Marriage and Family
"The DLP supports "[v]oluntary marriage between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, with an aspiration for a lifelong commitment, [c]hildren being raised by their biological parents, both playing an active and supportive role where possible, [t]he rights of children, and the rights and duty of parents to discipline their children, [r]esponsibility in marriage and the obligations and love that sustain it[ and t]he care for people lacking support of family or community; constructive marital relationships; or access to their biological identity."
Rise Up Australia PartyGeneral: RUA was lambasted by the media when it first appeared on the scene, with most of the criticism aimed at the party's leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah. In particular, his views as a young-earth creationist, his claims that he raised three people from the dead and his belief that Victorian laws allowing abortion were the cause of the tragic Black Saturday bushfires have been used to publicly discredit the party. The involvement of Christopher Monkton in the party's origins, a vow "to be politically incorrect" and criticisms of Julia Gillard as a "heathen... living in sin" and Bob Brown based on his sexual orientation have not helped to dispel these criticisms. However, I would encourage my readers to judge this party, and all of the others, based on its policies rather than its leader and its theatrics.
Policy 1: Burka/Face Veil
"Rise Up Australia Party will ban the face veil in public places. This does not mean the wedding veil or the religious head scarf, but the full face veil worn by a small number of Muslim women. It is the same face veil that has already been banned in France.
"We will do this because it is a security risk and a symbol of segregation. It is a religious mandate that originated in another nation that negates the need for the wearer to assimilate into Australian culture. There are even differences in opinion among Muslim scholars as to whether the face veil is a fundamental requirement of Islam. Some have even claimed that it is a cultural tradition that has been given undue religious significance."
Policy 2: Policy Principles #5-6
"To protect and enhance the right to private property and private ownership by working towards the dismantling of all unjust taxation, levies, duties, charges and imposts against the family home, family farm and business, and to empower individuals to effectively defend their homes, farms, jobs and businesses, and to ensure that economic, psychological and physical violence against any person, entity or property is a felonious act; this includes ‘anti-trust’ legislation that prevents cartels unfairly raising prices and limiting competitors (e.g. Coles+Woolworths, e.g. Telstra and NBN);
"To ensure that banking serves the national interests of the Australian people, being conducted under the direction of the Parliament, including that food production and essential infrastructure are financed at concessional interest rates, and that citizens’ personal deposits are protected by requiring that investment banking is kept separate from commercial banking as in the Glass-Steagall Act of the USA;"
Policy 3: Policy Principle #25
"To eliminate homelessness and deficiencies in aged-care by a variety of policies, including making low-cost housing more affordable by, inter alia, releasing more residential land, providing more jobs in rural/regional areas, and by substantially assisting the existing support agencies (such as Salvation Army etc) to provide low-cost communal housing and rehabilitation/job-training services;"
Unaffiliated (UN1)General: Ms Dianah Mieglich and her running partner John Rhode for the second unaffiliated group on the SA Senate ballot, operating communally under the name "A Partnership with Purpose". According to their website they are deeply rooted in their communities and have long term involvement in public and community service.
Policy 1: Tax Concessions for Emergency Services Volunteers
"A Partnersip with Purpose: [b]elieve that tax concessions for emergency services volunteers are a must to allow these selfless volunteers to continue to give freely to their community without suffering economic loss...
"Will consider the inclusion of measures, in the form of tax concessions for employers, which would make it more attractive for employers to release their emergency services volunteer staff from work, during times of community crisis.
"Will move to have the terms "volunteering" & "volunteer" legally defined for tax purposes."
Policy 2: Foreign Investment
"A Partnership with Purpose: [w]ill support the legislation currently before Federal Parliament to lower the threshold for scrutiny of foreign investment in agricultural land from $244 million to $5 million.
"Seek to mandate that the Foreign Investment Review Board has at least two experts in its composition who have extensive agricultural and agronomic experience.
"Will support a national foreign investment register which will have the functionality to be updated and accessible in real-time. "
Policy 3: Primary Production:
"Partnership with Purpose will: ... [w]ork to ensure that Australia continues to move towards its emission control targets and encourage the use of renewables in a community agreed way.
"Immediately move to legislate for truth in labeling to ensure that consumers are getting what they pay for and Australian producers have the opportunity to have their quality product recognised fairly in the market place...
"Work with State and Federal Governments to secure funding for a feasibility study into securing water supply from the north of Western Australia to our State to waterproof our future and build further agricultural opportunities.
"Support in the Parliament the National Farmers Federation and their blueprint for Australian Agriculture 2013 – 2020 and assist them with their key themes – Increased private/public investment in research and development, cut the red tape that hampers Australian producers and to put agriculture at the forefront of any Government decision that affects Regional Australia."
Country AllianceGeneral: The CA is a predominantly Victorian party concerned with issues facing rural communities. Rather than trying to extend urban advantages to these areas, as the Nationals do, the Country Alliance seems to accept a fundamental difference between the way of life of the two populations and argues for less urban control of rural activities and industries.
Policy 1: Illegal Protest Activity
"Country Alliance believes that Government must state its commitment to addressing the actions and consequences of extremist environmental protesters, such as those affecting the forestry industry and others.
"Government must clearly and concisely state what actions protestors can lawfully engage in, what actions or activities are illegal and proscribe specific and appropriate penalties for those activities. Due to the 'serial' nature of some protests, prescribed penalties should be compounded with each subsequent offence.
"Government must recognise that some places of protest are places of work (such as protests involving forestry workers, farmers and coal-fired power stations workers), and are subject to workplace safety laws - as are rigorously enforced in other industries.
"Government should direct its departments and the police to take timely action to prevent unlawful activity and prosecute wherever it occurs, and stop repeated failures to act against illegal protests such as those against industrial and recreational activities, such as the opening of duck season.
"Offenders should be held fully liable for all vandalism and damage, as well as all financial losses that arises from their actions. "
Policy 2: Fire Refuges
"Country Alliance does not support compulsory evacuation of communities at risk of bush fires. We agree with the findings of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission who found little support for such a policy...
"We believe that the development of standards for community and domestic fire refuges is now an urgent priority and would support any policy that encouraged the construction of refuges that meet that standard when published.
"CA will support a reduction of $10,000 in the stamp duty payable on the purchase of a new or existing dwelling in an identified risk area where that dwelling included a fire refuge constructed to the requirements of the published standard."
Policy 3: Firearms and Hunting
The CA supports many measures, including:
"Trial Game Licences: The creation of a limited licence category that would allow adult Australian residents to undertake a defined number of hunting activities before obtaining a full licence. Under this initiative prospective hunters will be able to establish whether or not they are suited to hunting and wish to proceed with obtaining a full licence. Any hunting activity would be required to be under the direct supervision of an appropriately licenced hunter who would assume full responsibility for the actions of the individual under his/her supervision.
"Junior Game Licences: Similar to the Trial Licences and applicable to junior hunters aged 12 years or more but less than 18 years.
Visitor Game Licences: Similar to Trial Licences and applicable to international visitors who hold an appropriate firearms licence in their country of origin...
"Tougher Penalties for Protesters: Tougher penalties for protesters who place their own and hunter lives at risk by contravening applicable state legislation."
Sex PartyGeneral: Despite an attention-grabbing name focusing on one particular area of policy, the ASP in fact has a wide range of liberal policies. There is, however, a large focus on gender, sex and sexuality as well, including equality for women (specifically advocating for more women in government), legalisation of same-sex marriage, legalisation of abortion, reform of the adult industry and eliminating discrimination against disabled people in relation to sex. Bursting onto the political stage last election, the Sex Party remains one of the most reported-on minor parties, and a potentially significant force in politics in the near future.
Policy 1: Federal Drug Policy
"Decriminalisation, not legalisation, of purchase, possession and consumption of all drugs for personal use, such quantity to be defined as an amount equal or less than 14 days supply for one person..." including the following legal changes for marijuana:
"Allow the possession, use and cultivation for personal use of marijuana by persons aged 18 and over; Allow for the licensing and taxation of growers, wholesalers and retailers; [r]etail outlets to be age restricted and be subject to zoning regulations (minimum distances from schools, etc). Licensing will include consumption "on-premises" plus take-out as well as retail only; DUI regulations amended to allow for maximum THC blood concentration much the same as for alcohol; Unlicensed commercial levels of production and distribution to attract heavy penalties; Percentage of tax collected to be directed towards education and harm reduction campaigns"
Policy 2: Federal Religion and Ethics Policy
"Ending the tax exempt status on all but the charitable work of religious institutions (remove ‘promotion of religion’ from exemptions).
"Supports stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, and maintains it is a vital medical issue, not a religious issue.
"Opposes a blanket ban on women wearing the burqa conditional upon it being the woman’s choice."
Policy 3: Federal Euthenasia Policy
"Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for patients with a terminal illness and suffering severe pain to be decriminalised.
"In addition to the patient’s primary medical practitioner a second and independent practitioner would be required to confirm his / her agreement with the diagnosis and prognosis.
"Information about palliative care options must be given to the patient and having been given this information the patient must confirm to the primary medical practitioner that all other options are not acceptable and that he or she wants assistance.
"A seven day cooling off period must then be allowed for before assistance can be provided."
Australian IndependentsGeneral: This. This is why I love the Senate so much. Australian Independents are, effectively, a party of Independents. That's right, it's a party of individuals without a party. Effectively, what this means is that all AIP candidates serve to represent their constituents, not a party line. The party requires all candidates to put their own convictions to one side and vote according to the views of their constituents, whom they regularly consult. As such there are no solid policy positions for the party, although there are some general points that the party takes as guidelines -- until the voters instruct them otherwise...
Policy 1: Homelessness and Poverty
"Around 125,000 Australians are homeless. The Australian Independents are committed to ending homelessness. 1 in 8 Australians are living below the poverty line. The Australian Independents are committed to pushing every Australian above the poverty line. The Australian Independents are fighting for an increase in the minimum wage to ensure that all wage earners are living above the poverty line.
"The Australian Independents acknowledge the contribution that churches make to our society and are for significant government funding to St Vincent's De Paul, Anglicare, The Salvation Army and other Christian welfare agencies.
"The Australian Independents are fighting for more public housing. The Australian Independents are committed to addressing the issue of housing affordability."
Policy 2: Health and Disability
"The Australian Independents are for significantly more fully funded medical and nursing university places, doctors, specialists and nurses. The Australian Independents are for significant investment in preventative health education, programs and initiatives. The Australian Independents are for all university student nurses to receive salaries for in-hospital work/training.
"The Australian Independents are committed to significantly more funding for mental health services, including funding for additional mental health beds, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatric Nurses. The Australian Independents are pushing for fully funded Medicare funded treatments and programs to tackle drug, alcohol, cigarette, gambling and obesity problems...
"The Australian Independents are advocating for the rights of people living with disabilities and their carers to fully participate in policies which impacts on them. The Australian Independents are for people with disabilities to receive improved education, health, housing, public transport, employment and social opportunities. The Australian Independents are for an increase in the wage threshold for Disability Support Pensioners.
"The Australian Independents support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. However, the Australian Independents are concerned that, in its current form, the NDIS, will not deliver real rights to those experiencing disability and their carers. The Australian Independents are pushing to ensure that the design of the NDIS is compatible with the needs of people living with disability and their carers. The Australian Independents are committed to funding a significant increase in the Carers Allowance. The Australian Independents are for a dramatic and long overdue increase in respite support for carers."
Policy 3: Asylum Seekers
"The Australlian Indpendents are for all refugees being processed in or near their own countries. The Australian Independents are for increasing the refugee intake to 50,000 per year. The Australian Independents are for asylum seekers boosting populations of small towns in rural and regional areas of Australia. The Australian Indpendents are for asylum seekers securing employment in rural and regional areas of Australia (currently there are over 100,000 jobs that urgently need filling in outback Australia). The Australian Independents are for all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be transported back to their own countries by plane, for processing. The Australian Independents are for a wide-spread awareness raising campaign to inform asylum seekers of the locations of the processing centres in their own countries."
Australian GreensGeneral: The Greens were, not all that long ago, seen as a single-issue party and were regularly criticised for commenting on non-environmental issues. Now, it is fairly well know where the Greens stand on euthanasia, same-sex marriage and drugs. Then there a raft of specific policies that relate to the environment, such as low-emissions, high-speed rail, shark protection and clean energy.
Policy 1: Tertiary Education
"We believe a well-funded universal education system is vital for fairness and wellbeing in our society.
"These cuts hurt students. Uni students shouldn’t have to work long hours while they are studying. They need a decent living allowance so they can afford to meet accommodation, food and travel costs while focussing on their studies. Nor should they be saddled with huge debts once they graduate.
"Rising student fees and debt are locking out disadvantaged students from attending university. Large student debts discourage graduates from broadening their skills and career path to follow their dreams.
"As we enter a time of economic and environmental challenges, now more than ever we need accessible, well-funded and independent universities.
"We need your support to convince the government that increased public investment in universities makes good sense – that the benefits far outweigh the cost."
Policy 2: Justice Reinvestment
"Justice reinvestment is a detailed, place-based approach to the idea that prevention is better than cure. "By reducing the number of people in jail and the number of people returning to jail, it generates savings which can then be re-directed towards disadvantaged communities where most offenders are concentrated.
"While we will always need jails for the most serious offenders, there are many people who should be dealt with outside the prison system. Whether this is for mental health treatment, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, or doing community service, this would cost less yet give us better outcomes.
"The money saved can then be reinvested in the communities where most offenders come from, in programs which are proven to reduce crime.
"Less crime means fewer people in jail, fewer victims and safer, more caring communities."It’s also the way we can address the shameful rates of indigenous incarceration in Australia.
"Justice Reinvestment is a smarter, more cost-effective approach to criminal justice which has been successful internationally and will pave the way for safer, stronger Australian communities."Policy 3: Handguns off the streets
"Despite an overall decrease in the use of firearms in violent crime over the past decade, handguns have emerged as the firearm of choice for crimes in Australia– particularly among those involved in the drugs market or gangs.
"The Greens are serious about tackling violent crime, and that means banning the importation, ownership, possession and use of semi-automatic handguns in order to make our streets and neighbourhoods safer.
"The gun buy-back enacted in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996 proved incredibly effective, resulting in more than 700,000 weapons being surrendered.iv
"Statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology show that the proportion of homicide victims killed by offenders using firearms in 2009-2010 is 18% lower than in 1995-1996.v Data shows that amnesties and buy-back schemes have tangible results.
"That’s why we will implement a 12-month amnesty and buy-back scheme for handguns prohibited by our tighter gun control laws. We will also enact a 12-month non-compensated amnesty scheme for already prohibited firearms. In conjunction with these measures, our plan also provides for the rollout a national public education campaign.
"Our plan to get semi-automatic handguns off the streets will pave the way for a safer Australia.
"In addition, we will continue to advocate for stronger regulation of legal firearms including consistent eligibility requirements based on a genuine need, consistent age requirements and strengthened storage requirements across the nation."
Animal Justice PartyGeneral: The first truly single-issue party of the ballot, the AJP supports a wide range of policies which support animal protection.
Policy 1: Live Animal Exports
"The Animal Justice Party (AJP) opposes the export of live animals of any species to any other country for profit, for whatever purpose, particularly for slaughter, on welfare, humanitarian, economic and societal grounds. We support an international ban of the long haul export of all live animals world wide. We demand an end to the export of live animals from Australia at the earliest possible time, taking into consideration any domestic welfare issues exceeding those faced overseas, that the animals previously earmarked for live export would suffer in the event of a ban."
Policy 2: Human Diet
"Millions of chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle are housed and transported in unbelievably cruel conditions and then slaughtered every year in Australia for food and for by-products such as hides, milk and eggs. Legislation throughout all states and territories of Australia exempts this ‘class’ of animals from practices which would ordinarily be regarded as cruel if they were inflicted on other animal species, and particularly on companion animals.. The industrial scale and abhorrent nature of the production and killing processes currently employed is at a level well beyond the worst nightmare of many.
"While it is a given that the demand from Australians for animal meat and by-products is highly entrenched and actively marketed and is unlikely to change significantly in the short to medium term, the Animal Justice Party believes the vast majority of Australians will not tolerate the unnecessary suffering of animals for food including through intensive ‘farming’, mutilation procedures without analgesia, and long-distance transport. Therefore, a major goal of the AJP is to bring awareness of these practices to the community, engaging them to exert consumer pressure and advocacy to expedite major improvements for ‘farmed’ animals. The AJP will seek to encourage action through the legislative and policy process to ameliorate any pain, distress or suffering to which animals used for food are routinely exposed."
Policy 3: Hunting
"Stamp out the killing of animals for human benefit, putting enforced protection laws in place."
No Carbon Tax Climate ScepticsGeneral: Formerly the Climate Sceptics, this party opposes climate action of any kind, arguing that the science is not yet settled. However, this party has broader policies than those relating to greenhouse gas or the environment.
Policy 1: Climate Alarmism
Being the issue that spurred the creation of the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party, our position on climate alarmism is clear: Climate science is far from "settled", as evidenced by the revelations of recent months and years. The alarmist theories propounded by the IPCC and other political bodies are crippled by huge uncertainties. An objective and quantitative risk–benefit analysis of any proposed "climate" legislation is crucial. Elected members of the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party will: oppose any provision of any Bill that uses carbon dioxide as an arbitrary criterion; call for a Royal Commission into climate science; and urge Parliament to cease diverting attention to climate alarmism, to the detriment of real environmental issues.
Policy 2: Broadband Digital
"Communications are the lifeblood of the 21st century: All Australians expect and deserve access to a continuously-improving broadband infrastructure. Governments must ensure the highest level of service for the lowest possible cost with full transparency."
Policy 3: Political Campaigns
"We support the moves of the major political parties to reduce their reliance on private donations, but the health of our democracy demands that any resulting legislation should not simply entrench the positions of the major players: New parties and Independents must be provided public funding commensurate with that of established parties. Public funding of television and radio time must allow Australians to fairly hear all viewpoints."
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) PartyGeneral: HEMP is a single-issue party with aims of decriminalising marijuana. As with most legalisation campaigns, this is based on the arguments that making something illegal does not prevent people using it, but provides revenue to organised crime, adds to the appeal of the illegal product (especially among younger people), prevents regulation, inhibits safe-use and quality control, and isolates users from professional help, assistance and education.
Policy 1: Marijuana Decriminalisation
"[T]o allow for health education, home growing, and regulated sales through registered outlets which will separate Cannabis from the criminality of the black-market and end consequent associated corruption."
Policy 2: Marijuana Medication
"[T]o allow medical use, utilising Cannabis’ painkilling, relaxing, anti nausea and healing properties."
Policy 3: Marijuana Economy
"[T]o establish a commercial hemp industry producing fuel, fibre, paper, textiles, food, oil and other environmentally sound products."
Drug Law ReformGeneral: Another single-issue drug legalisation party, the DLR does not provide anything more specific than the general ideal of legalising drugs, chiefly cannabis, on similar grounds to the HEMP party. "The party maintains that drug use can be dangerous and that problematic drug use is a major health concern, however criminalising drug use does more harm than good." The party also argues that the expensive $7 billion War on Drugs has failed, that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, and that the $2.5 billion raised from regulation and taxation of cannabis can be used for dug education among children.
In the absence of any more detailed policies, have this satirical picture from Married To The Sea:
Source: http://www.druglawreform.com.au/ (and http://www.marriedtothesea.com)
One NationGeneral: Every time I think One Nation is gone for good, in pops up again. The party has, in the past, been dogged by repeated gaffs and claims of racism. Again I would stress that people should judge the parties they vote for on their policies, not their media appearance. This is much less the result of affection for One Nation than a dislike of the power that relatively few media barons have over the political debates we hold in this country.
Policy 1: Compulsory Identification
"Australians have always been very protective of their identity, concerned about big brother watching. Now is the time for us to consider introducing secure identification that cannot be stolen by others to defraud our welfare, medical, schools, pharmaceutical benefits and any other taxpayer funded service...
"Australians can be electronically fingerprinted and these machines can be used in doctor’s surgeries, Centrelink and any other government departments that require identification.
"This is not an invasion of privacy. These days, there is all manner of information with regards to all of us, stored around the nation. This is ensuring that people no longer have the ability to defraud our system."
Policy 2: Immigration
"Australian “citizenship” is a valued privilege. One Nation would support a 5 year wait for new migrants to become Australian citizens. If they commit a criminal offence that carries with it a jail term of 1 year, they would automatically be denied citizenship and deported. To qualify they would have to have an understanding of the Australian Constitution and laws, pass a test in English and swear allegiance to the commonwealth and flag. For people to assimilate into a society they must be able to communicate, therefore English is a requirement for citizenship. Germany, Japan and other countries around the world ask those wishing to become citizens of their nations, to speak their language. Social security would not be available for new migrants for a period of five years. Migrants before arrival would be required to pass a complete and thorough health check before acceptance being granted including AIDS, Hepatitis and TB."...
"For those who are genuine refugees and not here for economic reasons are to be granted a temporary protection visa to be reviewed every 2 years. Depending on individual circumstances, to be sent back to their homeland if no longer a threat to their safety.
"Family reunion will not be available to those granted refugees status until such time that they may be granted permission to apply for Australian citizenship. This would not be available for a period of less than 5 years from date of acceptance as a refugee. "Australians must be assured of good character, loyalty to Australia and not an ongoing burden to the taxpayer living on welfare.
"All refugees must clear a health check as required by law.
"Terminate being a signatory to the outdated 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention"
Policy 3: Multiculturalism
"Multiculturalism has failed everywhere. It is negative and divisive, a weight that is drowning our once safe and cohesive society. One Nation will abolish multiculturalism and the Racial Discrimination Act and promote assimilation, nationalism, loyalty and pride in being an Australian.
"As a government policy, multi-racialism encompassed measures to destroy the Australian culture. It played a large part in migrant selection in an attempt to prevent them from assimilating into Australian society. Exactly what was done and admitted to in England.
"One Nation intends to abolish multi-racialism and the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 based on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as it is unconstitutional. We would replace it with a policy of assimilation in which it will be made clear to all those applying to migrate to Australia that coming to Australia is a privilege that gives them an overriding, unifying commitment to Australia, to its past, current interests and future first and foremost.
"They must accept the basic structures and principles of Australian heritage, society and culture, the constitution and the rule of law, tolerance and equality, parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech and religion, and English as the national language. Whilst they may come from other countries and cultures, loyalty to Australia and Australian Nationalism must come first."Source: http://www.onenation.com.au/policies.html
Stable Population PartyGeneral: The stable population party is another single-issue party, advocating a population that is "better, not bigger". To achieve this, they advocate a two-point plan. In addition to this
Policy 1: Sustainable Population 2-Point Plan
"Limit government birth payments to each woman's first two children. This law would apply only to births occurring more than nine months after it was passed. It covers the birth payment via the Family Tax Benefit A and paid parental leave. We do not support restrictions on family size - we simply support the withdrawal of government incentives to have large families.
"Adopt a balanced migration program, where permanent immigration is equivalent to permanent emigration. This is also known as 'zero net migration' (the world average). This would reduce annual permanent immigration from around 250,000 (including NZ) to around 80,000, and include flexible skilled, family reunion and humanitarian (refugee) components."
Policy 2: Trans Tasman Immigration
"Abolish the Trans Tasman Travel Arrangement with New Zealand in order to end uncapped migration. Permanent immigration from NZ would be included in the permanent immigration quota. The status of NZ citizens currently living in Australia would be determined following a comprehensive review of all immigration programs. A compassionate approach is advocated towards current residents."
Policy 3: Global Population
"Tie foreign aid wherever possible to the improvement of economic and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on female rights and education, and on opportunities for women and couples to access reproductive health and voluntary family planning services to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Some 222 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning. Our aim is to help stabilise global population at the United Nations' 'low variant' peak estimate of around 8 billion by mid century. "
Australian ChristiansGeneral: The Australian Christians are one of several Christian parties in this election. As I have said before, there are many Christian principles that form a strong ethical basis for any movement, political or otherwise. Many people will, however, oppose such parties on the grounds that separation of Church and State is essential to allow all members of society to engage equally and without favouritism or disadvantage from a ruling theocracy. However, it is also important to note that Christianity, like any other major religion, has been interpreted
Policy 1: Pro-Life Issues
"As a compassionate caring nation, Australia needs to find a better way to deal with un-planned pregnancies; a way that produces a positive outcome for the mother, father and the baby. No taxpayer’s money should ever be spent on anything that does not produce this positive outcome. Australian Christians affirm that all life is valuable. Extra effort is required by the community and our health professionals to defend the vulnerable and those without a voice. We believe strong laws are required to protect these Australians including babies still in the womb. We support better funding and support for women with unplanned, and unwanted pregnancies, including those with medical and psychosocial co-morbidities, and we support abstinence programs that have been shown to work in reducing indiscriminate sexual behaviour...
"We understand from palliative care specialists that people do not need to die in pain therefore we promote better funding for quality palliative care services rather than legalising euthanasia. Governments should never compromise the medical profession and its goal to ‘first do no harm’. Governments must never have the option of finding it easier to fund death rather than life. Legalising euthanasia and especially Physician Assisted Suicide sends a wrong message to people – especially the young – that it is OK to want to die and kill yourself if things are too tough. History shows us that voluntary euthanasia always moves to involuntary – it has been agreed by enquiries there is no way of stopping this..."
Policy 2: Media, Internet and Censorship
"Media, including television, films and the internet, play an increasingly influential role in the formation of public opinion and taste. Children, including teenagers, are especially vulnerable to media influence. Aggressive and pornographic media is now making inroads into mainstream advertising and merchandising.
"Society has a moral duty to limit what can be conveyed by the media in order to protect children and the whole community from what is harmful, especially violent and pornographic content."
Policy 3: Environment & Climate Change
"The following are 10 Key Aims which form the basis of our long-term Environmental Policy:
Recognising our shared global responsibility in reducing pollution.
Land use management which enhances environmentally sustainable development.
Protecting natural biodiversity and areas of significance.
Ensuring water and air quality for a. human health and b. the living environment.
Managing vegetation and ensuring soil quality for sustainable agricultural production and long-term food security.
Improving waste management and improving waste recovery.
Protection and enhancement of shoreline, estuarine and riparian zones.
Ensuring sustainable resource development.
Moving towards sustainable and balanced production and consumption.
Promoting technologies and initiatives which enhance improved sustainability."
Shooters and FishersGeneral: The SFP makes no apologies for its positions based on "reason, science and conservation", even if they are viewed as "politically incorrect". It holds conservative social values, a support for multiculturalism and a belief that the environment should be protected for -- and yet available to -- public users as central tenets of its policies.
Policy 1: Live Export and Animal Activist Terrorism
"All Australians were horrified by the media reports showing the treatment of animals prior to slaughter in overseas countries. The kneejerk reaction by the Federal government to suspend live exports from Australia had, and continues to have, a devastating financial and social impact on livestock producers.
"The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the expansion of the live export trade...
"More than ever society is experiencing a growing level of anti-social and threatening behaviour from citizens representing various animal liberation organisations, acting and behaving like terrorist organisations.
"The Shooters and Fishers Party will table a Bill outlawing animal liberation based hate campaigning and terrorism."
Policy 2: Border Secuity
"Australia's border security has weakened markedly since the Labor government took office in 2007. Under successive governments border security has been mismanaged as evidenced by increasing numbers of asylum seekers arriving illegally, illegal firearms, illicit drugs and exotic diseases.
"Furthermore there have been revelations of corruption within the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, at our sea ports, major airports and our postal service.
"The Shooters and Fishers Party strongly supports measures to significantly strengthen border security against illegal arrivals, illicit drugs, illegal firearms and other contraband."
Policy 3: Firearms
"The Commonwealth Government has no Constitutional authority for the legislation and regulation of firearms laws other than those which apply to the Customs Act (importation). "The Shooters and Fishers Party calls for the abolition of the 1996 uniform National Firearms Agreement of COAG. The Shooters and Fishers Party vehemently opposes the establishment of a Commonwealth Firearms Registry, or any other interference by the Commonwealth in the constitutional authority of the States to legislate the ownership and use of firearms."
Katter's Australian PartyGeneral: Bob Katter Snr. was a politician under the Country Party. His son, Bob Katter Jr. was later elected for the Country Party's modern incarnation, the Nationals. Eventually Katter Jr. left the Nationals to become an Independent. Now he is aspiring to lead his own minor party. His policies are varied, but largely focused on improving the lives of workers in the Agricultural industry.
Policy 1: Aboriginal Affairs
""First Australians" will be given the same rights as enjoyed by the rest of the world and every other Australian – the ability to hold a title deed. 25% of Australia is “supposedly” owned by them; but without a deed they own nothing. They will have the right to a title deed to their home, farm, business and land so that they can say, like every other Australian, “this is my land”. This will facilitate and enable economic development, impossible without a title deed.
"All residential construction and other such public works will be carried out by local indigenous labour and unemployment benefits will subsidise such wages.
"First Australian lands and resources are made available for development and recreational rights at the consent of the local First Australians that can demonstrate a continued affiliation to the land over which the declaration applies."
Policy 2: Pricing Safeguards
"Both Labor and the LNP have stripped away almost every protection mechanism that was put in place to encourage the growth and development of our agricultural sector. Fair pricing safeguards have been removed, making way for foreign processors and supermarket giants to ride roughshod over farmers.
"We are the only farmers in the world without protection. Our shields and spears have been taken from us and we have been sent out to the battlefield of international trade like a crippled David without a sling shot up against the Goliath of competition."
Policy 3: Keep Our State Assets
"The Australian Party will stop the Labor Party and the Liberals selling off Queensland’s State owned power stations. We will stop the sale of the Abbott point Coal terminal. We will stop any further sales of our strategic State owned assets and we will implement strategies to see a reversal of past asset sales where practicable.
"Our state owned assets should be kept as state owned assets!
"Australians have worked hard over the years to build and develop these assets and today, should be reaping their rewards and benefits. Our roads, ports and railways, water and electricity, the Snowy River Scheme are all infrastructure we should be immensely proud of."
Smokers RightsGeneral: The SRP is a single-issue party dedicated to giving more freedom to allow smokers to indulge in tobacco smoking, and to wind back taxation, legislation and restrictions that impose on this practice.
Policy 1: Tobacco Taxation
"Stopping constant increases in cigarette taxes and, over time, reducing them to more reasonable levels."
Policy 2: Private Property
"Repealing laws imposing smoking bans on private property and restoring the right of private property owners to choose whether to allow smoking on their property."
Policy 3: Tobacco Sales
"Allowing retailers to decide whether to sell tobacco products and how to display them [and a]bolishing plain packaging legislation."
Voluntary Euthanasia PartyGeneral: The VEP is a single issue party that argues for the decriminalisation and legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. The party does not outline any policies beyond achieving this legal change, so my readers must forgive me for only providing one policy here:
Policy 1: Party Policy
"Like 85% of all Australians, we support the provision of medical procedures for the painless, assisted death of patients of a terminal or incurable illness, who are enduring unbearable suffering and who have expressed a desire for the procedures within appropriate legal safeguards. We believe that these patients deserve the right to make informed choices about the time and manner of their death through appropriate and humane medical assistance."
Australian Labor PartyGeneral: The ALP is one of the two major political camps of Australian Politics (the other being the Liberal-National Coalition). Labor is also the country's oldest political party, and the current ruling party (although in conjunction with Greens and Independents). This party is the more left-wing of the major political groups.
Policy 1: Education
"We will build the schools of the future through our $15 billion Better Schools Plan so that our kids get more individual attention to be able to reach their full potential.
"As part of the plan, we want to put Australia back in the top five schooling nations in the world for reading, science, maths by 2025. To do this we have to ensure that every school is supported to reach their full potential.
"Under the plan, teaching quality will be lifted, principals will have more power to make decisions about their school and more information will be made available for parents through My School. Schools with students who need extra support to lift their results will be entitled to extra funding based on six categories: kids from low income families, Indigenous students, students with disability, kids with limited English skills, the size of the school, and those who attend rural and remote schools."
Policy 2: Disability
"We will continue to invest in our world class health and hospital system and we will invest in our communities through Australia's first National Disability Insurance Scheme - DisabilityCare Australia.
"Under Labor there are more doctors and more nurses. There’s also a record number of GPs and nurses being trained. And it's easier to get your visit to the GP bulk billed under Labor, too.
"Different communities have different health needs, and local communities deserve a say in how their health care is run. Labor has established Medicare Locals to deliver better health services local communities. Medicare Locals are the newest part of Australia’s universal health system and are delivering things like GP after hours, immunisation programs, mental health services, and much more."
Policy 3: Broadband
"Without world-class broadband, regional Australia will fall behind the rest of the country and world, and local economies will suffer. In the 21st century, broadband is basic infrastructure – regional Australians need it. It’s become an essential utility, just like electricity or water.
"That's why Labor is delivering the National Broadband Network: high-speed, reliable, affordable broadband to every home and business in Australia. The technology is future-proof and can be upgraded easily – future speeds will be even faster.
"The rollout of the NBN is progressing rapidly. High-speed broadband to homes and businesses in cities and the bush is being rolled out right across Australia. By June this year construction will have commenced or be complete for more than 1.2 million homes and businesses.
"The benefits of the NBN are clear: it will make a real difference to the lives of regional Australians in the areas of education, health and business. A student in Dubbo could participate in a specialist science class delivered by a teacher in Sydney, regional health patients will be able to receive specialist consultations from home or a local clinic without the need to travel and local businesses will have unprecedented opportunities to expand and reach new markets."
Building Australia PartyGeneral: The BAP grew out of general discontent from within the building and construction industries, but has branched out into many other areas of policy. A frequent theme of these policies is the construction of better infrastructure to deal with various problems - a builder's solution.
Policy 1: Health
"Building Australia Party will:
[a]ssist all residents access to Public Health and an efficient Public Health system; [support] nurses in their pursuit of an improved Nurse to Patient ratio in our hospitals; [s]upport the construction of Regional Centres of Excellence in specialist medical care, to provide confidence to people settling in a regional area... [b]e proactive in the field of preventative medicine; [s]upport the establishment of accessible eye, ear and dental specialist services to complement our existing medical services and take a positive and proactive role in the future all round health of our population; [a]cknowledge the vital role of Carers in the management of our senior and disabled residents."
Policy 2: Water
"Our generation has to secure the future growth of regional Australia by implementing plans to better manage our fragile river systems.
"Long considered the nation’s agricultural heartland and food bowl, accounting for nearly forty per cent of our agricultural production, the Murray-Darling basin is a river system in trouble.
"Enormous strain has been placed on the Basin’s communities, industries and natural environment by a combination of prolonged and severe drought, emerging changes in the climate and the impact of past water management decisions.
"In 2010, inflows into the Murray were at record low levels and without adequate water, the basin’s ecosystems will continue to decline.
This will threaten many species, the viability and productivity of Australian agriculture and rural and urban water supplies.
"Currently up to 40% of water is lost even before it reaches the farm through mere evaporation.
"Using less water doesn't have to mean fewer jobs or a reduced amount of food. It does mean we have to be more efficient.
"Substantial water savings could be made by increasing efficiencies, particularly for conveyance water, through lining channels and piping water to reduce seepage and evaporation.
"This should be done as a partnership between government and irrigators and would be a win-win for everyone, especially the environment."
Policy 3: Transport
"Building Australia Party will [o]vercome Traffic gridlock in metropolitan areas by a combination of making public transport workable and the number one choice of transport mode as well as expanding and improving the road design by changing the attitude of the traffic managers who do not want to improve the roads, as their view is it may encourage more users. In recognising that ‘not all’ are able to use public transport, the road pattern needs to be holistic, by providing alternative streamlined links between major carriers and retail/business hubs. We need to think smarter and spend more Federal dollars on road infrastructure planning and stop wasting funding on failed short sighted and short term fixes. Also, the charges for public transport use should be minimised in order to encourage people out of their cars."
Australian Motoring Enthusiast PartyGeneral: The AMEP is a party born from various aspects of motor sports and hobbies, with many policies relating to road safety, vehicle standards and road maintenance, but also branching out into other areas. Many of these areas are not well expounded, as shown below, and many would still consider this party to be of the single-issue variety.
Policy 1: Environment
"We support a balanced approach towards sustainability of the environment and the use of the environment, both for the survival of mankind and for the unimpeded recreational use of the environment."
Policy 2: Education
"We believe that every citizen has the right to receive an education of the highest standard whether it is trade qualifications, up skilling, early learning, primary, secondary or tertiary. An educated population is paramount to the growth and prosperity of the nation. Additional focus should be placed upon assisting those who are disadvantaged to fulfill their own individual potential."
Policy 3: Health
"We believe that every Australian should have access to a fair and equitable decentralised health system. We advocate the establishment of Regional Health Boards and decentralisation of health services to ensure local participation in service delivery."
Australian Fishing and Lifestyle PartyGeneral: The AFLP is a single-issue party with key policies emphasising the importance of recreational and commercial fishing. Maintaining access to fishing locations and legal rights to fish are among the party's key objectives.
Policy 1: Fishing industry, commercial
"Australian marine ecosystems are vast and well-managed, with the potential to sustainably supply all our seafood needs. The health benefits of a seafood-based diet are enormous. Australia’s aquaculture industry is at present small, but has vast potential. Sustainable, scientifically monitored fishing does not damage ecosystems or biodiversity. The aquaculture industry in Australia has not caused environmental damage. Australia has a responsibility to economically manage its exclusive economic zones, or other countries may petition the world in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for access to our exclusive economic zones. Failure to sustainably harvest our marine resource exports environmental problems to other countries less able to protect their marine environments, e.g. Thailand. The method of commercial fishing must be considered in discussions on sustainability, e.g. line fishing versus net fishing. Professional fisherman ideally should be based in a recognised geographical area, and have a responsibility for the sustainability of their harvest."
Policy 2: Fishing, amateur
"Amateur fishing is a social, cultural, and traditional right of all Australians. Amateur fishing is a regular pastime of at least 20% of the Australian population. Amateur fishing has huge economic importance to the Australian community. Managed amateur fishing has no effect on biodiversity or sustainability of the marine ecosystem. Amateur fishing has huge tourist potential and economic spin-offs. Amateur fishing is excluded from less than 1% of American continental waters. Amateur fishing is a cross-generational, traditional Australian recreational activity which should be encouraged at all levels of Australian government."
Policy 3: "[The Great Barrier Reef] is a robust ecosystem capable of adapting to environmental changes. After 200 years of European interaction the reef is in pristine condition and under no immediate threat. Is the least fished of all major coral reefs. Annual Catch (Great Barrier Reef) 25 kg/square kilometre. Annual Catch (World Reef) 7000 kg/square kilometre. Human intervention has produced no new major threats to the survivability of reef ecosystems. Existing threats to reefs are: Natural weather events such as cyclones, Climate change, Sea level change. These factors are not human related. Pollution, siltation, Crown of Thorns, eutrophication, anchors, spear guns, algal blooms and overfishing are all regularly cited but are not significant threats."
Stop The GreensGeneral: Formerly the Outdoor Recreation Party, the ORP/STG generally does not see eye-to-eye with the Greens. This party argues that the natural environment should be accessible to all, and actively managed as opposed to what it sees as the "locking away" and "neglect" proposed by the Greens.
Policy 1: Outdoor Receation
"The party advocates: [f]ree access to public land; [n]o discrimination against 4WD vehicles [and n]o bull-bar restrictions [for four wheel driving]"
"Repeal of marine parks declared since 1995" and "[b]ag and size limits but no fishing licences"
"Repeal unjust and illogical gun laws, [allowing h]unting feral animals in National Parks, [removing the requirement of a] licence to hunt deer on private land, [and d]eregulate airsoft and paintball"
"Free access to public land [for hikers, bush walkers and skiers, a]llow dogs (under control) into National Parks [and e]xcise ski-fields from National Parks"
Policy 2: Social issues
The ORP supports the following social principles: "Personal choice and responsibility without government intrusion unless others are harmed; [t]he right of self defence and [l]egal assisted suicide; [p]roperty rights take priority over government rights; [a]n end to the nanny state; [v]oluntary voting, [r]ecall elections and [s]unset clauses on legislation"
Policy 3: Economy
"Reduce income tax and apply a high tax-free threshold. Reduce company tax."
Government services should not compete with the private sector (paraphrased)
"Reduced regulation [and n]o corporate welfare."
LiberalGeneral: The Liberal Party is the largest partner in the Coalition, and the main opposition to the ruling Labor Party. The Libs are a conservative party, born out of a convoluted history of break-away groups and coalitions. At present this party looks likely to lead the next federal government.
Policy 1: Paid Parental Leave
"Mothers will be provided with 26 weeks paid parental leave, at their actual wage or the national minimum wage (whichever is greater), plus superannuation...
"The Coalition believes that superannuation contributions must be paid while women are recieving paid parental leave so that women are not further disadvantaged when it comes to their retirement savings...
"Under the Coalition's scheme, fathers will be eligible for two out of the 26 weeks for dedicated paternity leave at their actual wage or the national minimum (whichever is greater), plus superannuation."
Policy 2: Carbon Tax
"If elected, the Coalition will take immediate steps to implement our plan to abolish the carbon tax: on day one, the Coalition will instruct the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to draft legislation that repeals the carbon tax and to have the legislation ready within one month; on day one, the Treasurer will notify the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that it should suspend its operations and instruct the Treasury to prepare legislation to permanently shut-down the Corporation; within the first month, the Cabinet will approve legislation to repeal the carbon tax; on the very first day of a new Parliament, the Coalition will introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax; and within the first sitting fortnight of Parliament, the new government will introduce legislation to shut-down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation."
Policy 3: Stop the Boats
"The Coalition will restore Temporart Protection Visas (TPVs).
"TPVs are one of the key elements necessary to deny people smugglers a product to sell. They are an effective deterrent against arrival and act as a distinct disincentive for potential clients of people smugglers.
"TPVs deny permanent residence and therefore deny the right to make an application for citizenship. They also deny access to family reunion under any programme (which remains possible under Labor's ongoing policy) and deny the ability to leave and re-enter the country - those on TPVs who leave Australia are subsequently barred from returning...
"The Coalition will reserve the Refugee and Special Humanitarian Visa quota for genuine applicants who apply through the propper prrocess."
Independent (Christopher Cochran)General: Christopher M Cochran provides a detailed biography on his website for anyone superficial enough to decide their vote on personality, or who thinks they can generalise a person's political views from their upbringing. Politically, Mr Cochran opposes any bureaucracy that simultaneously slows progress while increasing costs for the public.
Policy 1: Truth in Labeling
"We all deserve to know what we are consuming as well as what we are drinkingand in so a TOTAL NATIONAL REFORM is required in Labeling in Our Foods, Water-Beverages as well as Medical Supplies."
Policy 2: National Small business Reform
"Up to 44 businesses a day go bust in Australia. It is a sobering figure for liquidators as they face another difficult financial year. High profile casualties like Trims make the news but increasingly administrators say its low profile small and medium enterprises going under resulting in lost jobs and a blow to the Nations Economy."
Policy 3: National Health Care Reform
"Health is one of the biggest spending areas of the Federal Government, accounting for $64.6 billion or 16 per cent of the 2013 budget. How that money is spent is one of the most hotly contested political areas, with the government of the day facing critical challenges such as the ageing population, budget sustainability and competing demands from consumers and health providers."
Independent (Robert Weaver)General: I was unable to source any political material from Mr Weaver. As such I cannot outline his policies. I can, however, consider preference distributions to offer some vague idea of his position on the political spectrum. It should be noted, however, that no preference flows have been reported for the Independents, and it is impossible to vote above the line for them. This analysis is based purely on how the other groups perceive Candidate Weaver.
Robert Weaver was placed last among the preferences of two right-wing religious parties (Australian Christians, Rise Up Australia Party), the Liberal Democrats and the Smokers Rights. He also did poorly from the left wing Animal Justice Party and centre-left Independent Nick Xenophon (69th and 67th out of 73, respectively).
He did well from preferences from the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics (6th), extreme left Socialist Equality Party (8th) and, to a lesser extent, Unaffiliated 1 (Dianah Mieglich) group (18th).
Most parties placed Weaver and Cochrane together, near the middle, suggesting a general ambivalence or lack of information about the two, but also reflecting their poor bargaining power in preference swaps. I would guess that Robert Weaver is slightly left of centre socially, and possibly centrist economically. However the information is really just not available at this time.