ACTSenators to elect: 2
Group A: Liberal DemocratsThe Party: The LDP has been around for a while now, but have really made a big push this election. You might not have realised it, but they have -- they're the ones behind all the "end political correctness" posters. The LDP are a libertarian party, offering economic liberalism (as per the Coalition) and social liberalism (as per Labor and the Greens) and are best summed up by the idea that government should interfere as little as possible in any area of life.
Policy 1: Victimless Crime. The LDP strongly advocates that victimless crimes be decriminalised. Examples of "low-level victimless crimes" that the LDP would support the legalisation of include:
- Riding a motorcycle or bicycle without a helmet
- BASE jumping from city buildings
- Individual purchase and consumption of recreational drugs
- Driving a motor vehicle without a seatbelt
- Prostitution and/or soliciting for prostitution
- Public nudity and fornication
- The consumption of pornography (not involving children or coercion)
Policy 2: Abolish Labour Regulation. Sometimes the LDP policy book reads like an ALP scare campaign. This policy is one of those, and includes abolishing the minimum wage and the award system, abolishing the national employment standards except OH&S and removing ‘unfair dismissal’ restrictions except for the sexual harassment rules, to allow employees to be fired for any reason.
Policy 3: Health. In what one would normally expect to be political kryptonite, the LDP would abolish Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and funding for public hospitals, government involvement in delivery of health services and government funding of health research. They would also support the privatisation of blood, organ and tissue donation services.
Group B: Secular Party of AustraliaThe Party: To balance out the number of conservative Christian parties running in the election, there's the SPA. Often termed a single-issue party, this is not correct in my opinion. The SPA has a wide variety of policies derived from certain core principles including the separation of church and state, but the separation of church and state is not a single issue given the party's wide platform ranging from economics to education to climate change.
Policy 1: Religion. Obviously a major issue for the SPA. The party objects to oaths (as opposed to affirmations) in public life, such as at the swearing in of elected members and in courts as "anachronistic, ethnocentric and divisive". They also support the removal of the optional words "under God" from citizenship ceremonies, clear labeling of halal products and that all payments for religious certification of a product be limited to covering the costs involved, while opposing legislation against blasphemy in Australia and abroad.
Policy 2: Republic. The SPA objects to the concepts of monarchy and hereditary privilege, and in particular to the current system of monarchs who are also the heads of the Church of England. Citing the ideal of responsible government where the public is sovereign and the ultimate repository of power, the SPA supports the transition of Australia to an independent republic.
Policy 3: Foreign Policy. The SPA supports the International Criminal Court rather than allowing superpowers dictate international law, supports international secularism and objects to human rights abuses particularly from religious groups or for ideological reasons.
Group C: Australian Labor PartyThe Party: The oldest political party in Australia and one of the two governing parties since the second world war, the ALP needs little introduction. The left-wing party of Australia's two-party mindset, Labor is the opposition leading into this election and is likely to pick up a swing back from the anti-Rudd landslide of 2013, though not enough to govern in their own right. Labor has announced "100 positive policies" this election, so picking three would be hard, if it were not for the nature of modern politics that allows me to focus on the ones that became the key sound-bites that the ALP has tried to hammer home.
Policy 1: Protecting Medicare. Labor claims that the Turnbull government has created a medicare privitisation taskforce, and is hammering this hard in the final days of the election. The government has labelled this a lie, and voters are divided on whether they believe this (with a majority of Labor supporters believing Labor and most Liberal voters believing the Liberals). There certainly is a move to outsource claims and payment services for both Medicare and the PBS, but it's a matter of opinion whether this is "privatisation" and what effects -- positive or negative -- this will have on the system. This is complicated by Labor considering similar reforms in government, the Coalition making the freeze on Medicare rebates semi-permanent (which Labor promises to undo) and a long, long, long history of politicians promising not to do something they then do in office.
Policy 2: Protecting Penalty Rates. In opposition to Coalition and cross-bench attempts to remove penalty rates as a means of reducing the cost of business and boosting, Labor promises that weekend and public holiday penalty rates will remain to compensate (often low-paid) workers who sacrifice these hours for their employers.
Policy 3: "Budget Repair that's Fair". From the 'it rhymes, so vote for it' school of sloganeering. Labor has recently admitted that in the short term its deficits will be greater than the Coalitions, although it expects this to correct over time. Fair budget repair includes lowering the company tax rate for small business, pursuing multinational companies that avoid Australian taxation laws, and cutting government waste by repealing Government programs like the Direct Action climate policy, a new Baby Bonus, and legislating for marriage equality without a plebiscite.
Group D: Rise Up Australia PartyThe Party: 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 personal attacks on political rivals have not helped to dispel these criticisms. On the other hand, it is the only party I have found with an explicit anti-Nazism policy, so... good for them?
Policy 1: Foreign Affairs. RUA opposes the combination of "[l]egislative loopholes, inconsistent government oversight and our prohibitive taxation system" which they blame for increased foreign investment in Australia. The party wants all sales to foreign investors to be put through a national interest test and to impose tariffs on imported manufactured goods.
RUA opposes multiculturalism but supports becoming a 'multi-ethnic nation with one culture'. In particular RUA is concerned of the possibility of Sharia law being forced upon people, and supports "freedom of religion, provided the religion is tolerant of other religions. Islam, for example, is one religion which opposes the right to assemble and worship other gods and it vigorously fights to destroy or kill such people whom they describe as “infidels”." "To clarify," one policy write up states "we love the Muslim people but oppose their texts (Quran/Koran) and Islamic doctrine and ideology because it is oppressive and incompatible with the Australian way of life." RUA also supports a ban on wearing a burka in public and tough border protection.
Policy 2: Health. RUA's health policies include concerns on drug and alcohol abuse, which they address by opposing the legalisation of marijuana, supporting raising the drinking age to 21 and "[b]anning of television programs, such as Geordie Shore and Jersey Shore, which frequently glorify binge drinking". The party also supports more efforts towards mental health and suicide prevention, including volunteers, particularly senior citizens, to be "Community Connectors" who support people with depression and similar illnesses. RUA prevaricates in its position on abortion, and opposes any incentives for immunisation.
Policy 3: Energy. Drawing almost entirely from WND as a news source, the RUA party rejects the existence of climate change and strongly believes coal power is the most efficient and only reliable source of energy that can be used in Australia.
Group E: Sustainable AustraliaThe Party: Not exactly single issue, the Sustainable Australia Party "stand for an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable Australia" and describes itself as politically centrist. Some of their policies are below. Enjoy.
Policy 1: Environment. On climate change the party supports targets of keeping global temperatures below pre-industrial levels + 1.5 degrees, having emissions at or below year 2000 levels -19% by 2020, and at 2000 levels - 80% by 2050, 27% renewable energy production by 2020 and 100% by 2050. Means to achieve this include funding research, introducing a carbon pricing method and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies except the Diesel Fuel Rebate. Beyond climate change the party would have a moratorium on all fracking, oppose the use of nuclear power, exclude the burning of Australian native forests from definitions of 'renewable energy', transition Australia from native logging to plantation logging, impose a Resource Super Profit Tax (AKA a "mining tax") for iron ore and coal, minimise factory farming, set up independent regulation for animal welfare in farming, agriculture and for domestic pets, and end live export of animals.
Policy 2: Population. This party opposes restrictions on family size and coercive efforts to reduce fertility, the most extreme example being China's one-child policy, supports immigration at a sustainable level (including a refugee intake of 14-20,000) and without discrimination of immigrants based on race or religion. Globally Sustainable Australia would link our foreign aid to improving economic and environmental stability, female rights, education and access to reproductive health services (which I read to include contraception and abortion). The party would increase family planning and reproductive health services foreign aid from $50 million to $500 million immediately and double that by 2020. In accommodating this population the party would seek greater involvement of local authorities in town planning, preserve green-zones and
Policy 3: Services. On the issue of education, the party would support more affordable and reliable child care, Gonski-style needs-based education funding and smaller class sizes. The party also supports reducing tertiary education fees by 50%, halving all current HECS debts is the remainder is paid within 24 months and offering free tertiary education in STEM fields, as well as restoring "proper" funding to universities. Heath services would also benefit by the party increasing the number of Australian trained medical specialists, providing "better" (more?) investment in medical training, nursing training and medical research, and granting free reproductive health advice and contraception to all. The party would also treat personal drug abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal one, develop better aged care facilities and support funding for the NDIS.
Group F: LiberalThe Party: The dominant partner of the current ruling Coalition, the Liberals are billing themselves as the party of stability and responsible government. Founded by Menzies after the Second World War from the remnants of older parties that have evolved and adapted since federation, the Liberals are largely seen as one of the two major parties of Australian politics, the other being Labor. The reality is more complex, with the party often ruling with a technical minority and de facto majority thanks to a permanent coalition with the Nationals.
Policy 1: Jobs and Growth. You may have heard that the Coalition is supporting jobs and growth. What this means is rarely explained, because that's not interesting or catchy enough for news media. This policy is a combination of additional funding for STEM fields as the basis for our "innovation nation", cuts to business tax rates to encourage employment and entrepreneurship and export trade deals.
Policy 2: Construction Commission. Reintroducing the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is a major policy for the Coalition, not least of all because it was the legislation that triggered the double dissolution. In order to crack down on what the Liberals describe as "bullying, intimidation and lawlessness" in the construction industry, the ABCC is intended to be supplemented by a Registered Organisations Commission which will have oversight over the unions -- particularly the CFMEU -- with bowers of both monitoring and regulation.
Policy 3: Making the Boats not Unstop. Given the Coalitions successful stop the boats campaign last election, and their repeated announcements of success during their term, it is not surprising that the Liberals would rely on an argument that the nations borders were more secure under a Liberal government. The party is, however, keen to emphasise it's humanitarian works in this area, too, pointing out that "[t]he Coalition removed all children who arrived by boat from detention in Australia", that "[a]ccording to UNHCR data, Australia is one of the three most generous nations when it comes to permanently resettling refugees ... [and] these places are going to those most in need around the world, not people arriving by boat" and that "[s]topping the boats also enabled Australia to take an additional 12,000 refugees from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq".
Interestingly, the controversial Border Force agency is proudly celebrated, despite being described as a "paramilitary" organisation in the Sydney Morning Herald following a large protest at perceived racist and even totalitarian approaches to border control. Border Force is again under scrutiny, with allegations of corruption and association with criminal organisations for the purpose of rorting and dodging Australia's visa system.
Group G: Animal Justice PartyThe Party: Exactly what it says on the tin, a single-issue party on the treatment of animals, but with a lot of specific spin-off policies based around a vegetarian diet. The usual single-issue party caveat applies -- voters must be aware that voting for any single issue party, while a perfectly valid choice, means prioritising one issue above all others. The successful election of an AJP senator gives the voters no guarantees on any non-animal justice related issues.
Policy 1: Animals. The AJP's proposed reforms for legislation relating to animals is quite lengthy, but includes:
- Establishing an Independent Office of Animal Welfare with prosecution powers and "a definition of personhood to replace the current property status of animals".
- Ensuring a "fairer" (presumably lower) burden of proof for prosecuting animal cruelty cases.
- Phasing out all animal farming and industries, but starting with factory farming techniques.
- Banning live export.
- Banning the use of stray animals in research.
- Phasingout funding the use of animals in experimentation, "except where there are net benefits to the animals concerned".
- Banning horse jump racing, greyhound racing, recreational hunting, game fishing, rodeos and horse-drawn carriage rides.
- Banning the use of animals in circuses and marine theme parks.
- Banning zoos or transitioning them to sanctuaries and conservation parks "which exist solely in the service of animals".
- Limiting breeding of animals to licensed breeders.
- Phasing out sale of pets except from shelters and rescues.
- Subsidisingpet desexing.
- Making desexing a requirement for the sale of pets.
- Making it illegal to prevent pet ownership of tenants.
- Ensuring domestic violence shelters have facilities for animals.
- Supporting non-lethal population control methods for introduced species and threats to native wildlife.
Policy 3: Health. Many of the party's health policies derive from perceived health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. They would promote this dietary shift through education, cutting subsidies to the red and processed meat industries and a "phase out [of] subsidies to intensive animal industries because they are both cruel and provide a breeding ground for new diseases which pose large public health risks". The AJP also advocates for an end to drug research for "diseases best managed by simple lifestyle choices" and the overuse of antibiotics which increase the rise of drug-resistant diseases.
Group H: The GreensThe Party: Quickly becoming the boogieman of Australian politics, the greens have taken a battering from both major parties. Many of their policies are well known, so I had the choice of choosing some of the party's lesser known platforms like some desperate political hack seeking to "expose the real Greens agenda" or stick with the main issues they'll most likely prioritise in government.
Policy 1: Environmental Protections. Instituting a price on carbon emissions and heavily regulating genetically modified organisms are large issues in this area, along with bringing an end to logging of native forests and extending the area of the Tarkine under international heritage protection.
Policy 2: Same Sex Marriage. The Greens outspoken support for the LGBTQIA+ community used to be an important point of difference, particularly on the matter of marriage equality. With the ALP promising marriage equality within (from memory) 100 days of being elected and the Coalition pushing for a plebiscite that should provide overwhelming support and give a mandate for the same, this is less stark. Nevertheless, a vote for the Greens will be a vote for marriage equality, equal adoption and parenting rights, equivalent national age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex acts and so forth.
Policy 3:Refugees. The Greens support an end to practices leading to mandatory detention of refugees, advocate for "humane, transparent, predictable and consistent" processes, with a separate processing system for children, and object to considerations of nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, disability, sexuality, age or socioeconomic background in determining an individuals suitability for settlement in Australia.
Group I: Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)The Party: Why is it that although I know many progressive and liberal Christians, you know the moment a party uses Christian in its name that it'll be a conservative right-wing group? Perhaps the Fred Nile Group is part of the reason. This is an old party and stands by all the usual right-wing policies you've come to expect of any group by this name. Their plans are only provided as a brief blurb at the provided link, so I've quoted them in their entirety. Further information on some specific views - such as government funding for chaplaincy in schools, opposition to euthanasia and the party's objection to same-sex marriage are discussed elsewhere in press releases that cna be found on their website.
Policy 1: Family. "We believe that the institution of the family is the most important pillar of society. We reject any attempt to redefine or the nature of what is a family, and remain firm supporters of the needs of mothers, fathers and children."
Policy 2: Church. "With the legal system beginning to reflect an increasingly secular world, churches have a voice to protect their religious freedoms and their ability to preach openly. Secular political parties cannot make this guarantee, however the Christian Democratic Party can."
Group J: Australian Sex PartyThe Party: The Australian Sex Party (ASP) has always invited controversy, from its policies to its choice of name. In actual fact the Sex Party has a broad range of policies beyond sexual health, contraception and same-sex rights, and is a classic example of a party naming itself to appeal to uninformed or apathetic voters who will not take the time to read detailed policy platforms.
Policy 1: LGBT Issues. One of the Sex Party's core ideals has always been sexual equality. The ASP supports same sex marriage; assisted reproduction, surrogacy and adoption for same-sex couples and accepting refugees fleeing foreign lands on the grounds of persecution for their sexual preferences or identities. The party also supports the controversial "safe schools" program and compulsory, comprehensive sex education up to Year 10, argues for federal legislation protecting sexual minorities from vilification, and wishes to end harmful and ineffective "conversion therapy".
Policy 2: Religion. After the Sex Party's controversial video criticising the Catholic Church, religion has become a major issue for the ASP. The party argues for an end to religious tax exemptions, specifically removing ‘advancing religion’ as a charitable purpose in the Charities Act, and requiring churches to meet the normal accounting and reporting obligations to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The party also wants to abolish the Abbott government school chaplaincy program, special religious instruction in schools and private-school exemptions to discrimination legislation.
Policy 3: Health. The ASP has a wide-ranging health policy, based on pro-choice principles. This means the party is pro-euthanasia and pro-abortion. The ASP desires consistent abortion laws across the country, eliminating the requirement for patients under the age of 18 to get parental consent for abortions and providing safe access zones to prevent harassment of clients around abortion facilities. The party recognises, however, the controversial nature of this stance and supports the right of health professionals refuse to participate in abortions except in emergencies.
The ASP is a firm believer in the importance of vaccination, and supports the federal no-jab/no-pay measures that restrict certain payments to parents who opt out of vaccination programs, stating that online research cannot be given the same weight as scientific study, that ignoring scientific studies does not qualify as an "informed health choice" and that "[w]hilst it can be tempting to imagine that we parents have access to some special kind of knowledge that somehow eludes the scientific community, it’s just not so."
The party also supports the decriminalisation of medicinal and recreational drug use, seeks the removal of 10% GST from "non-essential" products essential to female hygiene and also (if I read their implications correctly) barrier contraceptives, sunscreen and nicotine patches.
Michael Gerard Hay