Monday, 27 June 2016

SA Senate Candidate Rundown 2016

There's less than a week to go until the Australian Federal Election, and since it's a double disillusion this time we have double the senators to elect and only half the quota to reach. I'll be doing a quick guide to the candidates in each state and the two territories with senators, starting in SA and working anticlockwise.

I'm just going to give a quick background to the candidates, their three main policies (as subjectively determined by me) and a link to the source of these policies so you can read more. This should be quicker than last election (and hopefully NSW won't delete itself this time). The new voting rules do seem to have thinned the Senate tickets a little. So, shall we begin?

South Australia

Senators to elect: 12
Current senators: 
FFP: 1
LIB: 5
NXT: 1
ALP: 3
GRN: 2

Grouped Candidates

Group A: Mature Australia

The Party: The Mature Australia Party (MAP) was initially founded in Queensland to give a greater voice to voters living in retirement homes, but has quickly grown into a nation-wide party and respects its duty to represent all voters, from 18 to 118 years of age and (theoretically) beyond. A detailed copy of their policies, ranging from immigration to mental health to electoral reform, can be found at the link below. In selecting the three below I was guided by those policies that were referred to in their mission statement here.
Policy 1: Pensions. Unsurprisingly, MAP supports a raise in the weekly value of the pension. This raise is intended to raise the pension above the poverty line and up to 75% of the national minimum wage.
Policy 2: Water. Citing the impact of water shortages on both farming and manufacture, MAP argues there is a need for a national infrastructure scheme to control and conserve Australia's water resources.
Policy 3: Superannuation. MAP advocates for a national superannuation fund run by the government, offering a secure and guaranteed fund run for the benefit of future generations and backed by the same security as government bonds, while the invested savings provide money for various government projects.


Group B: Australian Labor Party

The 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 C: The Arts Party

The Party: The Arts Party is a classic example of a party waiting to be hung out to dry as a direct result of voter apathy. As a minor party the candidates can expect minimal media coverage and a lack of interest from most voters who can't be bothered to google their options (or read a blog that does it for them) before election day. Many such parties name themselves after an issue to try and get the most out of the one guaranteed piece of exposure they've got - their name on the ballot. For the Voluntary Euthanasia Party or HEMP this works well enough. People can work out what the party stands for and factor this single issue into their order of preferences.
The Arts party has a more complex policy mix, as shown below, which also includes views on climate change, marriage equality and legalisation of cannabis. This cannot be simply summed up in a single party name, but I suspect the Arts Party is doing itself a disservice with its current choice.

Policy 1: Funding for the Arts. Obviously this is a big deal for the Arts Party, and covers funding for local and regional projects, reversal of cuts and extra money for the ABC and SBS, free entry into the public displays of all government funded museums and galleries and a National Arts Week to match National Science Week and other programs. But for me one of the more interesting planks of this policy is their "demand not supply" approach to arts funding. The Arts Party believes that too much money is being spent by the government on selected projects -- cherry picking the artists who will succeed -- rather than letting the public decide which works are relevant to the nation. They explain their policy to fund the demand for, rather than the supply of, art by way of the following example:
"a subsidy of $5 per ticket for a live performance would allow the producer of an event to offer their tickets for $5, while guaranteeing an income of $10 per ticket. Should such an offering garner no ticket sales then the subsidy would cost nothing to the government. Should the event prove popular then the subsidy would represent a cost to the government, but only as a result of the event's inherent value to the Australian people."
Policy 2: Vaccination. The Arts Party believes that vaccinations are an important part of modern healthcare with benefits that far outweigh any harms that may be caused. They support universal vaccination as a goal, but also understand that people may have very personal reasons for their objections, and argues that the current "no jab no pay" system focuses too heavily on penalties and not enough on incentives and education.
Policy 3: Disability. Support for people living with disabilities is proposed through support for the NDIS, grants to improve employment opportunities and compulsory audio description and captioning options for public TV (either on their free to air channel or online platforms), among others.


Group D: The Greens

The 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 E: Australian Cyclists Party

The Party: A textbook example of a single-issue party, the ACP "decided to form a political party in order to effect change and create a cycling friendly Australia" and "to address our nation’s cycling and mobility issues". I should stress that just because a party is a single issue party does not mean they should be discounted from your vote, but voters must consider whether supporting this issue is more important to them than the other issues being discussed. There is no telling how a single-issue party focused on cycling will vote on budget measures, social justice issues or any other bill. They may even trade their support to a position their voters oppose in return for support on issue-relevant legislation. That aside, ACP argues that cycling is "a single issue with multiple impacts" and the following policies can be extracted.

Policy 1: Road Safety. The ACP desires a review of compulsory third-party insurance to ensure there is adequate money for injured cyclists and pedestrians (it is unclear but unlikely that this review would look at the hotly debated idea of cyclist registration and insurance for using the road). Other policies include reviews of speed limits, signage and bike lane availability, considering making helmet wear optional for adults and legislating that vehicles overtaking bikes must do so with a 1.5 m clearance when traveling over 60 kph.
Policy 2: Education. Compulsory bike education in schools seems to be the main plank of this policy. There are several aspirations regarding improving attitudes of drivers towards cyclists and ending verbal abuse as well, a requirement that 20% of a driver's learners test should be dedicated to road-sharing questions.
Policy 3: Infrastructure. The ACP health policy advocates diverting 0.5% of the health budget to cycling infrastructure for the health benefits it offers, on top of the 2% of the infrastructure budget requested here. This infrastructure, predictably, includes the creation and maintenance of bike paths and bike storage facilities along with more creative policies to encourage large companies to promote cycling to work and eliminating "permission" buttons to give cyclists right-ow-way at all signaled intersections.


Group F: Nick Xenophon Team

The Party: It is telling that more South Australians can probably identify Nick Xenophon than most members of the federal cabinet. Xenophon is a powerhouse in South Australia and, in many estimations, the NXT is the true third party in the state - a combination of popular (and populist) Xenophon policies and the smack-down the major parties have delivered to a perceived "hippy fringe" party in the Greens. Xenophon will win senate seats in SA and possibly interstate. The question is how many.

Policy 1: Predatory Gambling. Xenophon may as well have legally changed his name to Mr No Pokies MP Nick Xenophon for the way the epithet has been indelibly appended to his name, so this has to be mentioned in any summary. The NXT's policies include maximum bets of $1 on pokie machines and $120 limits on hourly losses, the elimination of ATMs from betting venues, an end to micro-betting on sports events, and an end to all betting advertising during sporting events - particularly those watched my large numbers of children.
Policy 2: Australian Made. Partly off the back of Xenophon's push for a larger portion of the Australian submarine and ship-building contracts to be conducted in SA, the NXT has been heavily pushing for support for Australian goods. This includes forcing government departments and projects to give greater preference to Australian goods and services, more effective anti-dumping laws and an overhaul of food labeling and advertising regulation.
Policy 3: Foreign Investment. Responding to the Kidman land deal in particular, NXT proposes all overseas transactions greater than $5 million should be subject to the approval of the foreign investment board, as well as a clear legislative definition of what constitutes the "national interest" and greater transparency in foreign ownership of Australian resources and industry.


Group G: Australian Progressives

The Party: More or less what the party name says. Progressive policies, opposition to conservative policies, in Australia. What more do you want? The party is relatively new, and this will be their first federal election. The party should be confused with the Australian Progressive Party which launched within days of this party and was quickly devoured by this one be a recent merger of the two.

Policy 1: Industrial Relations. The Australian Progressives want the working week officially reduced from 38 to 32 hours, with flexibility for a four-day working week; they want to cap CEO remuneration at 100 times that of the company's lowest paid employee; they want tax breaks for companies that hire at least 10% of their work force in entry level positions; and they want parental leave for both mothers and fathers to be slowly extended up to 52 weeks over the long term.
Policy 2: Equality. The progressives's social justice policy covers a wide range of issues: signing treaties with Aboriginal people to provide recognition, reconciliation and a valid legal basis for Australian law; support for same-sex marriage, with appropriate protections for religious celebrants; legislating for gender equality on a range of issues including parental custody and parental leave; and providing the recomended additional funding for the organisations named by the Victorian Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
Policy 3: Health. Topically, given the ALP's concern over Liberal privatisation of Medicare, the progressives want Medicate to remain government owned and better funded. Additionally, they believe dental services should be covered, that other health services such as Hearing Australia should remain in public hands and that a government-owned pharmaceutical company should be created to produce off-patent medicines and reduce the cost of the PBS.


Group H: Liberal

The 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 I: Palmer United Party

The Party: If you thought the PUP was gone just because Palmer is retiring to deal with his collapsing mining empire, you'd be wrong. Although the current member for Fairfax will not be re-contesting his seat, and faces severe opposition from the voters there anyhow, the PUP is fielding a senatorial team in every state. Once a thriving protest vote party, I feel that the PUP has become both too mainstream and too embroiled in scandal to do well this election, but then I felt they didn't stand a chance last election or the election before that, so I'm obviously out of touch with the PUP voting demographic anyhow.

Policy 1: Political Reform.
The PUP's main promises in this area are the establishment of a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the re-establishment of the National Integrity Commission. They also advocate the introduction of two-term limits on serving in the Federal Parliament, and that politicians' superannuation entitlements be withheld until they reach the age required for the pension.
Policy 2: Superannuation. Restricting politicians' superannuation entitlements until they reach retirement age is not the only plan the PUP has for super. According to their policy website, under "Your Money For You", "around 15% of Australians die before they ever get access to their own money". The PUP advocate allowing people to use their super before retirement for certain purchases, like buying a house.
Policy 3: Environment. The PUP congratulates itself on saving the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Climate Change Authority & the Renewable Energy Target from the Coalitions cost-cutting, and on securing an additional $1 billion for these agencies. The implied promise that support for these agencies and others will continue, but no mention is made of any positive action the party proposes.


Group J: Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party

The Party: Perhaps the most noteworthy example of the single issue parties that made it into the senate on preference flows and made the political establishment accept the old voting laws were not providing a reasonable system of representation, the AMEP is hoping their 3 years in the limelight has built up their voter base a little and can see them through the difficulties of the new system. The usual caviat for single-issue parties needs to be repeated here: In supporting a single issue party the voter risks losing control over their say in any other policy area.

Policy 1: Motoring Policy. Largely focused on driver safety, this policy advocates for better education, particularly for young drivers who are at a greater risk of fatal accidents, better road construction and maintenance and widespread education on the importance of vehicle maintenance.
Policy 2: Motoring Industry. While vehicle manufacturing in Australia is gasping its last breath, the AMEP is focused on supporting the rest of the motoring industry (repair, modification, retail etc), including support for specialist and enthusiast motoring industries to "secure the Australian Motoring Culture for future generations".
Policy 3: Environment. The AMEP supports, as a broad and poorly fleshed out ideal, environmental protection, but also believes that the environment should be used and enjoyed by Australian citizens and, in particular, the off-road motoring activities are "a legitimate form of recreation, requiring safe, responsible, sustainable and equitable access to public land".


Group K: Liberal Democrats

The 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)
Victimless crimes, in the LDP definition, also include assisted suicide, abortion and prize fighting.
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 L: VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!

The Party: Policies are too "Federalism 1.0" for this party, so I'm tackling it a little differently to its competitors. VOTEFLUX proposes a system whereby ordinary Australians enroll online and vote directly on the bills before parliament. The result will then be proportionally represented by any VOTEFLUX candidates in the senate in votes on the floor. As such the "policies" of VOTEFLUX are... umm... in flux. The system has a little more complexity involving vote trading to amass greater support on the issues you care about in return for your vote on those you don't and the like; follow the link below for details.
This will be a hard sell, but if handled correctly getting a single candidate into the Senate could generate enough media interest to get the idea out there and popular enough to hang around a while. It's a hard sell because voters for VOTEFLUX aren't necessarily voting for a larger voice in the senate. You'd better believe that any VOTEFLUX candidate is going to have Labor and Liberal voters chiming in on issues in addition to their voice already represented by their elected senators. Voters for VOTEFLUX are voting for an idea and a system, not for any policy they think they'll get more say over.


Group M: 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."
Policy 3: Community. "Increasingly our local community is coming under pressure from Big Government and Big Business. The Christian Democratic Party is the values-based party that will defend the interests of locals concerning issues such as building over-development, coal seam gas mining and the building of mosques. We believe that political decisions should be made on most local level, so that the interests of the local community affected are properly represented."


Group N: Family First

The Party: Family First (FFP) has gone to great lengths to declare itself a secular party, although it has close links to conservative religious groups and its candidates have largely been drawn from the ranks of conservative Christians that support the party. Wikipedia defines the party's ideology as "Christian democracy" and "Christian right" among other terms, and the policies below certainly seem to align with the traditional Christian right ideology.
Policy 1: Home Ownership. Family First holds to the notion of house ownership as a central part of the "Australian Dream", and of moral, social and economic importance. To increase housing affordability, the FFP proposes the removal of limitations and zoning restrictions on land to open up the opportunities for house building. The FFP also objects to compulsory Master Planning which removes small developers from the market.
Policy 2: Family. It is no surprise that a party like the FFP opposes same-sex marriage and family planning measures like abortion. The party also opposes adoption by same-sex couples, believes de facto partnerships should not be afforded the same legal status as marriage and opposes both private and commercial surrogacy.
Policy 3: Pro-Life Healthcare. The FFP, as a pro-life party, objects to euthanasia, and also insists (assuming their anti-abortion policies do not pass) that protections for doctors who conscientiously object to abortion remain in place. FFP does support "treatments and cures ... developed from stem cells ethically derived from live patients" but objects to the use of embryonic stem cells, even those harvested from unused IVF-prepared eggs. the FFP is also committed "to the expansion of medical and therapeutic early identification and intervention services focused on disability in unborn children, infants and young children in order to provide disabled children with the very best opportunity to lead full lives".


Group O: Pauline Hanson's One Nation

The Party: Never Give Up. That is the current slogan of the party that just won't die. One Nation is back again, with more of the
Policy 1: Islam. I could not, in good faith, try to represent One Nation's policies without discussing Islam. I also cannot rephrase any of their ideologies on Islam, halal certification or related issues because their extreme positions make it sound like I'm misrepresenting the party. Instead, I will simply quote several of the relevant policies:
  • Call for an inquiry or Royal Commission to determine if Islam is a religion or political ideology
  • Stop further Muslim Immigration and the intake of Muslim refugees
  • Ban the Burqa and Niquab in public places
  • Surveillance cameras to be installed in all Mosques and schools. Mosques to be open to the public during all opening hours
  • No more mosques to be built until the inquiry is held
  • Muslims will not be allowed to be sworn in to Parliament under the Qur’an
Policy 2: Immigration. One Nation believes that, regardless of the refugee status of an individual, they must be turned back if people smugglers have stolen or destroyed their passports. The party also wants to institute policies that would see people smugglers and their crews serve prison sentences in Indonesia, though there's no word on how Indonesia is to be coerced into funding these prison places.Other policies include support for temporary visas, the end of family reunions and termination of the UNHCR Refugee Convention.
Policy 3: Citizens Initiated Referenda. Citing the success of CIR programs in Europe and the US since the late 1800s, One Nation argues that any citizen should be able to call a referendum on any issue if 2% of registered voters can be convinced to sign a petition to that effect.


Group P: Marriage Equality

The Party: Pretty obviously a single-issue party, there's not much to say about the Australian Equality Party (AEP), listed on the ballots as Marriage Equality. The usual caveat applies: if you vote for a single-issue party, be aware that your opinion on other issues might not be reflected. That said, the AEP's single issue is broader than just marriage. It's issues is the treatment of LGBTIQ (and presumably LGBRIQA+ as well), which gives some interesting policy approaches:
Policy 1: Marriage Equality. The AEP not only advocates for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, but argues that "Australians should be permitted to marry regardless of their natural biology at birth and regardless of changes or alterations that occur in their recorded or self-identified gender."
Policy 2: Immigration. Broadly "[t]he Australian Equality Party acknowledges that both mandatory and indefinite detention breach Human Rights laws and safeguards, and result in depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, sexual assaults and abuse". More specifically, among a quite extensive list of immigration policies, the AEP states that "[p]rocessing or settlement of asylum seekers must not occur in countries in which LGBTIQ discriminatory laws exist" and "[r]efugee status should be available for LGBTIQ people experiencing or fearing persecution in their country of origin... [t]his persecution may occur regardless of the actions of the state where stigma, discrimination and abuse may be systemically part of the social environment".
Policy 3: Gender Equality. The AEP's policies on gender equality are diverse but follow pretty traditional (though not always uncontroversial) measures: consistency in anti-discrimination legislation, support for equal pay for equal work legislation, protections against workplace discrimination, a 40% quota on female board membership for all companies earning over $15 million, and access to reproductive health services.


Group Q: Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

The Party: Once the Shooters Party, then the Shooters and Fishers Party, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) has been around for a while. They also hold two seats in each of the NSW, Victorian and WA Legislative Councils, and were close runners for a federal senate seat or two last election prior to the voting system reform. Not quite a single-issue party but unable to shake the shackles of its single-issue origin, this Quasimodo of a political party has policies on a few different issues.
Policy 1: Firearms. The SFFP wishes to reduce the extent of Federal gun control in Australia, either devolving the matter to state regulation or removing it completely. This includes repealing the 1996 National Firearms Agreement, preventing the establishment of a Commonwealth Firearms Registry, and abolishing the registration of category A and B firearms. On the flip side the group also recognises the threats of gun violence, advocating investment in front line crime prevention and national education and safety programs, as well as mandatory sentencing for Commonwealth firearms offences. 
Policy 2: Fishing. The party wants greater fishing opportunities in Commonwealth waters, and the right to fish recreationally in Commonwealth marine reserves. The SFFP also advocate for national education on recreational and commercial fishing activities, greater funding for fish farming programs, tougher penalties for poaching fish in Australian waters and an end to international fishing operations, including multinational super trawlers.
Policy 3: The shooters and fishers also demand greater access to public land and waters for recreational use, including greater opportunities for recreational hunting. Part of this is involved in expanding the size and number of private game reserves and promoting shooting, hunting and fishing as appropriate school activities.
The party also intends to "[e]ngage and work with all outdoor recreational groups and associations to deliver better outcomes for outdoor users", in particular striving to end the "vilification" of four-wheel drivers who wish to drive in national parks.


Group R: Marijuana (HEMP) Party

The Party: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. HEMP obviously has the second option covered, and if you're voting in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia or the Northern Territory you're looking at a combined HEMP-Sex Party ticket. So two out of three ain't bad? I don't know. Meatloaf counts as Rock and Roll, right? We're straying from my area of expertise now - lets look at the joint party's policies instead.
Policy 1 (HEMP): Legalisation of Cannabis. HEMP is a single-issue party, unsurprisingly, and its the ASP that has fleshed out the other policies here. The HEMP party supports the industrial production of hemp and hemp-seed oil which is used in paints and other products, as well as cosmetics; it supports the use of medical marijuana for treatment; and it supports the recreational use of marijuana.
Policy 2 (ASP): 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 3 (ASP): 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.

Source: and

Group S: Australian Liberty Alliance

The Party: Dubbed the anti-Islam, Trump-style party by the Sydney Morning Herald, the ALA was launched with the aid of controversial Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders. The ALA is not, however, a single issue party, and their policies cannot be replicated in full here. Nevertheless, I shall try to capture the flavour of the party.
Policy 1: Citizenship and Integration. The ALA dedicates most of this platform to it's aims to "Stop the Islamisation of Australia", which is focused on preventing Sharia law being "imposed" upon Australians, banning immigration of Muslims from the countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, prohibiting face coverings in public spaces, and mandatory labeling of products and services from companies that have taken out halal certification. They also oppose dual citizenship, and consider Australian citizenship a privilege rather than a right - which may include revoking the citizenship of current Australians.
Policy 2: Health.
In the party's health policy are aims to end universal healthcare for "those who can afford to contribute more and foreign nationals", support the NDIS, but after a gradual introduction and on a sound financial basis, and requirements for childrens' health checks and immunisation before parents receive child benefits. This policy also includes tentative opposition for abortions after the first trimester (excluding exceptional circumstances) a somewhat firmer stance against assisted suicide and euthanasia. Oddly, the "health" policy also includes opposing stereotyping and disadvantages for homosexual couples, but reject also a rejection of same sex marriage and same-sex adoption.
Policy 3: Foreign Affairs. The ALA considers the UN Charter on Refugees to be outdated, and remove Australia from the charter. They promote resettlement only in countries from a similar region and culture to the one they have fled, insist aid be restricted to nations "subscribed to the UN Charter on Human Rights and who guarantee gender equality and protection of religious minorities" and would limit foreign invesment in Australian real estate to nations with a reciprocal agreement with Australia. They also fully support the rights of Israel in the Middle East, in particular to have undivided control of Jerusalem.


Group T: Derryn Hinch's Justice Party

The Party: Derryn Hinch is famous for this controversial shock-jock radio programs and occasional jail stints for contempt of court. His party is largely relying on his public recognition, with Hinch writing on the party's website that "[m]illions of people across this country know who I am and what I stand for". The party has a diversity of policies, but no central policy page - all policies can be accessed from a menu on the party's website's main page.
Policy 1: Legal System Reform. Hinch has always been an advocate of tougher sentencing and penalties for violent crimes. His party supports a variety of linked policies including longer sentences for violent crimes, reducing the role of precedent in appeals to reduce sentencing, a blanket ban on bail for acts of violence and tougher parole rules, and a publicly available sex-offenders register with photographs and addresses.
Policy 2: Social Justice. On social issues the Justice Party is generally left-leaning and progressive. The party supports euthanasia and right-to-die ideas and same-sex marriage. The party also stands firmly behind the idea that people deserve equal rights regardless of race, sex, or religion, although lacks publicly availible detail on what this directly involves.
Policy 3: Animal justice. This policy is more or less condensed to one line: "Derryn Hinch's Justice Party stands to see harsher penalties imposed for acts of animal cruelty."


Group U: Animal Justice Party

The 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 2: Environment. The AJP supports transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle to minimise human impact on animals and free up land for reforestation. They also support the use of recyclable and upcycled materials, protect forests and marine habitats from destruction, and the use of clean energy. The AJP argues that coal seam gas and other sources of natural gas be reduced and phased out within 20 years, that fossil fuel usage not increase, that a carbon tax be placed on coal use and agricultural industries, and that Australia "rapidly transform to a carbon free energy infrastructure".
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 V: Voluntary Euthanasia Party

The Party: As would be expected, the VEP is a single-issue party on the subject of the right to die. The normal caveat for a single-issue party must be stressed -- voting for a single-issue party is a perfectly acceptable choice, only gives the voter's voice full power on one issue -- in this case on Euthanasia. Other issues of interest may be held against the voters' interests, particularly in a vote swapping deal, so voters for this party should be prepared to prioritise voluntary euthanasia above all else.
Policy 1: Voluntary Euthanasia. Obviously the VEP supports the legalisation of assisted euthanasia, but on the condition that it is offered only to "patients with a terminal or incurable illness, who are enduring intolerable suffering and who have expressed a desire for the procedures within appropriate legal safeguards". Additional requirements desired by the VEP are that:
  • the person is at least 18 years of age;
  • the person is an Australian resident;
  • the person is of sound mind and the decision to end his or her life has been made freely, voluntarily and after due consideration; and
  • two medical practitioners have confirmed that the person has an eligible medical condition.
Policy 2: Advance Care Directives. "We will work to ensure that ACD's are legally enforceable and that hospital staff are trained in both the procedures and legal standing of ACD's. We aim to have ACD's registered on a statewide database to ensure ease of access for medical staff."
Policy 3: Palliative Care. "We will work to ensure palliative care facilities are fully funded, that staff are effectively trained and that innovative, modern and recognised treatments are made available... Palliative care funding needs to keep pace with our ageing population".


Group W: Citizens Electoral Council

The Party: If you recognise the name Lyndon LaRouche, you'll recognise the CEC's policies. The party's "about us" page discusses a need to "replace the evil, collapsing world order of globalisation", a conspiracy against the party by "the City of London/Wall St. financial establishment, to enforce economic rationalism and globalisation upon Australia" and directs readers to "the CEC's March 2001 pamphlet, The real story behind Queen Elizabeth's fascist racial vilification legislation."

Policy 1: Energy. Here is a link to the CEC's page of links that form the basis of their view that - as the title reads "Global Warming is a Fraud". It includes references to the "British Monarchy's Agenda of Fascism and Genocide" and names Sir David Attenborough as "[o]ne of the British Empire's leading spokesmen for their policy of intentional genocide". Unwilling to accept the argument that carbon emissions are a relevant factor in any energy policy, the CEC sees solar and wind power as "backward leaps from oil and coal, being of a far inferior energy density" but actively supports nuclear power and the nationalisation of our oil and gas resources..
Policy 2: Food. Citing world hunger as an international food crisis the CEC believes Australia must play a role in feeding the world. Steps involved in this, according to the CEC, include the government ensurign a minimum price for all food growers, purchasing all food reserves to provide as aid, cease all subsidies for biofuel production to send the involved grain to countries in need, regulate fertilizer prices, provide discounts on petroleum products for the agricultural sector and immediately divert all water currently allocated to sustaining the Murray-Darling Basin's environment and diversity into food production.
Policy 3: Electoral Reform. Many parties are proposing electoral form on some level, but the CEC is certainly the most audacious in its plans; it demands an end to compulsory voting; that preferential voting be replaced with a first-past-the-post system; an end to government advertising; the establishment of “Media Directorates" to give equal media coverage to all candidates and parties in an election; and the end of political contributions from corporations, unions and any body that is not a natural human.


Ungrouped Candidates

Ron Waters (Antipaedophile Party)

Running under the banner of the Australian Antipaedophile Party (AAP), and as both a founder and national director of anti-child abuse charity P.A.I.N., it's pretty clear what Mr. Waters main policy area is. The AAP's policies can be found here and are described under their mission statement as "cultural, political, procedural and legislative reform".

Policy 1: Family Court. The AAP describes a system of disbelief regarding children's claims of abuse, presumably referring to adult skepticism of children's reliability as well as the criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. The AAP goes so far as to label this in several places as a form of corruption, and suggests both legislative and investigative measures should be taken to correct this. This includes a broader royal commission into child abuse.
Policy 2: Adoption. "[C]hildren should remain in the custody of their biological parents where at all possible, except where there is violence or sexual abuse".
Policy 3: Sex Education. The AAP criticises the idea of sexual education for minors as a form of sexualising children.

Much of the policy/legislation the AAP desires in not fully formed yet and here the party states that "we will seek ideas from/copy the policies of those countries who seem to have it right." The AAP openly states that it is a single issue party and will trade its votes on any other matter to ensure it gets the legislation it desires passed. This in itself is not a reason to vote against any party, but voters must be aware that they prioritising one stance on one issue at the risk of electing a candidate that will otherwise vote against their interests.

P.A.I.N.'s former website ( no longer operates, so most of the information I could give about them comes from their facebook page (which I had to search extensively to discover what P.A.I.N. stands for - People Against Intentional Neglect). On the one hand I hesitate to include this information because these Facebook posts may have been made in anger and not necessarily reflect the regular opinions of Mr Waters or the AAP, but on the other hand mainstream politicians are also judged on their pre-politics statements and actions, and these posts must represent some aspect of the man seeking election. Between the motivational messages and links to relevant news stories, there is what many might consider extreme opinions - that capital punishment should be re-instituted for certain crimes and that certain judges should be imprisoned for the judgements and verdicts they have handed down.

Christopher Mark Cochrane

Mr Cochrane's policies can be found here. Unfortunately several of these simply say "Click Here for more on [whichever issue]" without any live links, so I can only report on those that are posted.

Policy 1: Healthcare. A wide range of issues are touched on briefly, and include the following intentions:
  • forming a national mental healthcare plan
  • opposing the Liberal Government's medicare freeze as a "GP Tax by stealth"
  • securing PBS funding for Cystic Fibrosis medicine Orkambi.
Policy 2: Political Accountability. In addition to opposing the "Gravy Train" of entitlements for ex-politicians and stronger protection for whistle-blowers, Mr Cochrane intends:
  • establishing of a National Anti-Corruption Commission
  • ensuring transparent reporting  of politician entitlements
  • initiating a review into the duplication of federal, state and local government services to reduce waste
Policy 3: Housing Affordability. Once again, Mr Cochrane proposes a multi-faceted approach to the issue, drawing from a recent St Vincent de Paul report. Arms of his plan include:
  • establishing a $10 billion affordable housing fund
  • updating the National Housing Plan
  • setting a national target of halving homelessness by 2025

Adam Richards

Without the old above-the-line preference flows and the ability to stop your personal preference flow after as few as 12 candidates, I had hoped the days of senate candidates hoping to win a seat without any online presence whatsoever were behind us. Alas, no. I did find the facebook page of an Adam Richards running for the senate in 2016...

... unfortunately that was the Student Senate of the University of Texas in Dallas. I could give you his policies, but I doubt they'd help inform your vote.

[EDIT: I found him! Adam Richards is an Adelaide lawyer who is standing on the single-issue platform of refugee treatment. He supports onshore processing, freeing the 67 children currently in detention and reducing both the cost and time spent on processing refugees. He is, perhaps, the best informed single-issue candidate I have seen in a long time, but the usual caveat voter for single-issue candidates applies.]

Mohammad Ali

Sadly I could not find anything written by Mr Ali. Perhaps it was drowned out by the references to other people by the same name. However, that same name has meant that a lot of news sources have mentioned him. Okay, technically that's just one story repeated across various sites, but it does (in addition to pointing out Mr Ali has claimed to have cured six or seven people of cancer) give some policies. So that's a step up from Mr Richards.

Policy 1: Indigenous Business. Mr Ali has promised, according to those reports, tax cuts for indigenous businesses, though there is no mention in these stories of what qualifies as an "indigenous business".
Policy 2: Aged Pension. Mr Ali is also reported to have promised an increase of $100 per fortnight to the aged pension. In this interview, however, he states that he will increase all pensioner, youth allowance, centrelink and welfare payments by $110. That's a 10% increase!
Policy 3: That's a 10% increase! In that same interview Mr Ali vows to raise every salary by 10%. He doesn't specify how, though.

These policy will be paid for by cuts of 30% to politicians' entitlements and government waste. In the previously linked interview he encourages voters to "say no to pension cuts, start political payday cuts" which he promises will save billions.

Dave Saddler

There's always one isn't there? Dave Saddler was a joke candidate in 2010, and he's running again now. The problem is, I can't actually spot any joke this time. So maybe he's turned serious?

This is the only source I have for policies this year.

Policy 1: Aged Care. More funding.

I don't think I'm underselling him by summarising his position that simply, and I cannot find any other policies. Mr Saddler's "policies" from 2010 are available on his YouTube channel, an attempt to form a coherent response to his "behind the scenes" damage control video which demands he rescue some policy from his disordered prompt cards shown here. So that's where you should start his video series, if you want to watch it, I guess.

Alternatively, for my tie-enthusiast audience (you know who you are, and so do I - demographics are part of my schtick), this video more or less sums the 2010 campaign up.

[EDIT: I have since found this website where, again, he is posed as a single issue candidate on aged care. I think he's serious this time, but don't take my word on it. his website also has this page where he suggests photoshopping signs onto Stobie poles is basically the same as actual campaigning, so I'm not sure...]

Malcolm Lloyd Davey

Malcolm Lloyd 'Jack' Davey's website is here. It's a little difficult to extract any policy summaries because much of it is out of date. There is plenty of criticism for the NDIS (filed under "Current Items") and Mining Tax, (under the "FEDERAL" link in "Issues of Interest", which includes the warning "Note : Some updating required") so it seems like Mr Davey is gearing up for the 2010 or 2013 election. (And you thought I was bad at updating!)

'Jack' claims he is standing "to give an option to 'The Silenced Majority' who are being ignored on important issues such as :-"

Policy 1: Freedom of Expression. Two points under the above lead in are "Ending Political Correctness" and "The loss of Freedom of Speech". I'm not trying to provide a commentary on good and bad policy -- that is for each voter to decide for themselves -- but the lack of detail here is staggering. Is Mr Davey advocating for an earlier watershed for swearing on television, or that radical racist hate speech inciting violence against ethnic minorities should be publicly funded? There's a huge continuum of possibility from the tame to the neo-Nazi available in that level of ambiguity.
Policy 2: Fiscal Responsibility. "Spending beyond our means" is the third listed point. Again, what does this mean? The implication is that this is undesirable, and that cuts must be made. But where and of what size? Cuts to education constrain our future potential for economic growth. Cuts to health may result in more injured workers relying on government support. Cuts to military spending will harm industry -- such as the ship-building projects -- and innovation. Cuts can constrain the economy as easily as running a deficit. Or we could eliminate waste...
Policy 3: Australia. The final two points on Mr Davey's list are "Unwelcome Immigration" and "Support for Traditional 'Australian Values'". Unwelcome immigration is pretty self explanatory - another trip down memory lane to the 2010 "Stop the Boats" sloganism. Australian Values make things a bit more ambiguous -- especially given the commonly cited values of generosity, kindness, a "fair go" and "mateship" would all seem to fall on the pro-immigration side of the debate.
Again, without details it's hard to make any informed vote based on this general sentiment, so I'll take the liberty of assuming Mr Davey's previous comments are not entirely out of date: "I believe people should be allowed to immigrate to Australia only if they seek to be part of the broader community and accept our laws and way of life. They should not seek to come here to change our way of life or only be part of a closed community... We can accept genuine refugees who want to be part of us ( eg as the Vietnamese have)."
There seem to be too be two planks here - that there should be penalties for immigrants who break the law and a means of enforcing this (spoiler alert) and that immigrants should integrate. But where does cultural difference become a "closed community"? Should speaking a foreign language be prohibited by law? What about cooking foreign dishes? Where does My Davey sit on the introduction of yiros and spring rolls to Australia?

I just don't feel I can do Mr Davey's policies justice here with the information provided. Everything is out of date or obscenely vague. If I sound like I'm judging or attacking the candidates' policies it's not my intention. I cannot attack what I cannot discern, except by means of a hastily constructed strawman. My criticism is intended to be entirely of Mr Davey's (and several other candidates') delivery of their policies. I can't see how anyone can be expected to form a reliable opinion of many of the ungrouped candidates this year, and thus why you'd vote for them now that there is no need to fully exhaust your vote OR to vote below the line so they can relieve preferences...

This update brought to you, apparently, by British sketch comedy, with special thanks to A Bit of Fry and Laurie's "Sensible Poetry" sketch and David Mitchell's Soapbox's "Political Waste" episode.