VictoriaSenators to elect: 12
Group A: Derryn Hinch's Justice PartyThe 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 B: Australian DemocratsThe Party: The Democrats were once the third-party of Australian politics, before their collapse paved the way for the emergence of the greens. Since then the Dems have struggled to make much of a comeback. So much so that their policy site advertises two action plans, one labelled in bold text the latest Action Plans (Federal Election 2013). Now a lot of minor parties seem to have failed to update their policies for this election, but it's kinda disheartening to see it from one of the former major minor parties. As such, I too will copy and paste from last election:
Policy 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."
Policy 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."
Policy 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."
Group C: 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 D: 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 E: Science PartyThe Party: Although the Science Party bases, or claims to base, its policies in scientific research, this is not the semi-single-issue party you might imagine. The additional funding for science and research is there, as is a climate policy that recognises the importance of renewable energy, but there's also plenty of other issues including moral stances on same-sex marriage and support for a republic as explained below.
Policy 1: Science and Education. The Science Party supports a range of education initiatives including Gonski reforms for increased and needs-based funding, standardised testing and a standardised curriculum (including compulsory STEM subjects in primary and secondary school, compulsory computer programming in high schools, the inclusion of ethics calsses but exclusion of special religious education and the inclusion of age-appropriate sex education). The party also supports fully publicly-funded tertiary education and opposes fee deregulation, interest on student loans, reducing repayment thresholds and inclusion of household income rather than their personal income in calculating that repayment threshold.
The science party also supports establishing an Australian space agancy and incouraging a space industry. In addition to this the Science Party would double government investment in research, particularly in transportation, communication, education, agriculture, health and biomedical research, energy (including nuclear energy) and computer science.
Policy 2: Freedom and Democracy. The Science Party actually proposes some very dramatic changes to our current system: a shift to a republic with the governor general elected by two-thirds of a joint sitting of parliament; House of representative seats to be amalgamated so each seat elects 3 members by proportional representation and the senate to be proportionally elected nationally rather than on a state-by-state basis; and for elections to be conducted in a hybrid paper/electronic method. The party also wants all non-sensitive government material to be easily available online, stronger whistle-blower protections, the prevention of internet filters, an end to ISP logging of online activity without specific instruction, law enforcement to need a warrant to investigate online behaviour, all forms of anti-discrimination to be enforced, the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the legalisation of euthanasia and a trial of drug decriminalisation.
Policy 3: Government Services. Science Party policy includes support for the NBN and prevention of internet restrictions in the area of communications; legalisation of driverless cars, creating high-speed rail between the eastern capitals and founding additional train lines through other suburban areas currently devoid of any train stations in the area of transportation; and subsidisation of 95% of all costs in the area of child care. In the area of health the Science Party intends to push for increased medicare funding, support for preventative healthcare including vaccines, training public servants in mental first aid, providing intermediate-level mental health services and funding early intervention, making euthanasia legal and ensuring access to safe and affordable abortion.
Group F: Palmer United PartyThe 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 G: Jacqui Lambie NetworkThe Party: Most Australians would know Jacqui Lambie as the former Palmer United senator for Tasmania. However, assumptions that Lambie's policies would be directly based on that of the PUP do not necessarily follow. Prior to being selected by the PUP, Lambie intended to run as an independent, and before that had sought Liberal pre-selection for the lower house. She has also worked for a Tasmanian Labor candidate. Lambie's policies and those of her party should be judged independently of the senators previous associations.
Policy 1: Islam. One of the issues that Senator Lambie is most noted for being vocal about, the party's stance on Islam is one of the most contentious so I shall only quote directly from the party's policy documents:
"JLN considers that support for Sharia Law, given that it’s the law, culture and way of life supported by Islamic State terrorists:
a) is a clear sign of extreme radicalisation,
b) shows a split or divided loyalty to Australia and a clear sign of allegiance to hostile foreign powers,
c) attacks democratic principles found in Australia’s constitution
...and therefore is also a clear sign of seditious or treasonous behaviour worthy of investigation and possible charges."
"JLN also calls on the Federal Police and Federal Attorney to ... charge with treason or sedition - those citizens who support in any way what-ever, the imposition of Sharia or the Terrorists’ law, in Australia."
"For many cultures, including 80,000 Australians of the Sikh faith - eating Halal certified food is forbidden. And people practicing the Islamic faith - like followers of other peaceful, faiths are entitled to identify and eat food, which conforms to their religious custom."
"Under questioning, in estimates Committee Hearings Attorney General Brandis – Australia’s highest law officer, failed to give Senator Lambie a guarantee that Halal Certification funds were not being used by Islamic terrorists."
Policy 2: Energy. The JLN recognises the existence of anthropogenic climate change, but opposes carbon taxing and any emission trading schemes "until our major trading partners introduce a similar tax" to maintain Australia's economic competitiveness. Until international agreement on taxation of an ETS emerges, the JLN proposes doubling current base-load renewable energy through hydro-electric means and a referendum on implementing nuclear power. The party also demands a parliamentary inquiry into power and gas prices.
Policy 3: Defence. As a former member of and corporal in the Armed Forces, the ADF plays an important view in Senator Lambie's view of Australia. Her party's policies include withdrawal of all troops from the middle east, aid and support for Kurdish fighters including the supply of arms, and a royal commission to consider a very broad range of issues including physical and sexual assault in the military, delivering medical treatment and compensation for veterans' physical and psychological injuries and to prevent suicide in the ADF. The JLN also supports the introduction of a voluntary Australian National Service, Trainee and Apprenticeship Scheme, and failure to join this service or otherwise find employment or pursue study will not be eligible to receive any government payment (except disability payments). The JLN also supports indexation of veteran pensions to match the rising cost of average Australian weekly wages, automatic qualification for a Health Gold Card and free tertiary education for any veteran who served in war.
Group H: Australian ChristiansThe Party: One of several officially or unofficially religious parties running in this election, the ACP supports a range of policies informed by their interpretation of Christianity and Christian values, including a predictable pro-life platform.
Policy 1: Marriage. The ACP is, predictably, opposed to same-sex marriage, same sex fertility treatments like IVF and adoption by same-sex couples. The party also believes that parenthood is best performed by a man and a woman together, and therefore wants to reduce the number of single-parent families, develop mentoring programs for men and boys, promote positive images of fathers in the media, support pre-marriage education for all couples and seeks to "improve" mediation outcomes between separated or divorced parents.
Policy 2: Pro-Life. The party, as might be expected, opposes abortion and euthanasia. On abortion the part's website diplomatically claims tha the party will "support laws to preserve and protect the life of the unborn child and are committed to be a voice for them", but in the event of delays in prohibiting abortion the party strongly supports the freedom of medical practitioners to refuse to participate in abortion on the grounds of personal conscience. The party also believes that children born with severe disabilities or after an abortion attempt must be given every possible assistance to live, that fertility treatments must be conducted with a pro-life approach (e.g. preventing the destruction of unused embryos), and stem cell research should be permitted using adult stem cells. On euthanasia the party believes that physician assisted suicide will encourage youth suicide and a world view that "it is okay to want to die and acceptable to kill yourself if things seem too tough", as well as the belief that voluntary euthanasia will create a slippery slope to involuntary euthanasia.
Policy 3: Climate. The ACP acknowledges the existence fo climate change, but remains unconvinced that this is necessarily the result of human action. As such the party opposes a tax on carbon emissions and "supports sensible pollution controls that do not unnecessarily and excessively burden businesses and increase the cost of living".
Group I: 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 J: Pirate PartyThe Party: Although often assumed to be a joke party along the lines of the UK's Official Monster Raving Loony Party, the Pirate Party is actually a serious semi-single-issue party campaigning largely on the issue of (and against the current extent of) copyrights and intellectual property law.
Policy 1: Intellectual Property. Contrary to their chosen name, the Pirate Party considers the terms "piracy" and "theft" the result of corporate spin to defend unjust prohibitions of "culture sharing", citing cases alleged of threatened legal action for community groups performing Christmas Carols among other things. The PP believes copyright should be limited to 15 years, wants shorter (and thus presumably non-renewable) patents -- particularly in the fast-developing software industry -- no patents on products of nature such as genes and organisms and, while supporting patents on drug creation processes as a means of encouraging greater inefficiencies, believes patents on drugs produce costly monopolies for consumers and the government through the PBS as well as encouraging development of (ongoing) treatments rather than cures.
Policy 2: Civil Liberties. The PP supports free speech, even hate speech, on the grounds that any form of censorship becomes a slippery slope and argues the best antidote to hate speech is free speech, education and debate. The party also opposes recent counter-terror legislation as a step too far, wants stronger protections for journalists and whistle-blowers, opposes data- and meta-data collection policies, desires the creation of a tort of invasion of privacy, supports net neutrality and opposes systems that block or slow down access to content based on the source or owner. The PP also believes that all legal references to marriage should be replaced by civil unions, open to all couples, in order to also eliminate any legal or financial incentive or disincentive for marriage, which would become a religious or community matter.
Policy 3: Constitutional Reform. The PP supports the introduction of a Bill of Rights based on the UN's Declaration of Human Rights,International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The party also believes there must be mechanisms to allow citizen-initiated referenda, supports the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution and desires the repeal of sections 25 and 51(xxvi) which permit the disqualification of certain races from voting and grants the Commonwealth the power to make laws for specific races respectively.
Group K: Socialist Equality PartyThe Party: If you want a party with socialist credentials the SEP is it. As the heading on their About Us >> History page states "The Socialist Equality Party is the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the World Party of Socialist Revolution", with the text below clarifying that "The Fourth International was established by Leon Trotsky, the co-leader with Lenin of the Russian revolution, in 1938 to continue the fight for internationalism against the nationalist program advanced by Stalin and his bureaucratic apparatus in the Soviet Union". So if I were to describe this party as being Trotskyist I would mean that in a very tangible way. Also, the "International Committee of the Fourth International" has the most messed up name I've seen in a long time. I had to re-read it several times. Then again, it is quite early in the morning as I write this.
Policy 1: Defence. The SEP demands withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes participation in UN peake-keeping missions, and supports "the basic right of people to defend themselves, their homes and their countries against neo-colonial invaders" while firmly opposing terrorism. The SEP also opposes Australian intervention in East Timor and the Solomon Islands and demands withdrawal of military and police presences there as well.
Policy 2: Aboriginal Affairs. Viewing the reduced life expectancy, higher poverty, higher unemployment, higher prison population, lower education and literacy rates, limited access to housing and healthcare, and limited access to basic social services and infrastructure in (particularly remote) Aboriginal communities as the product of capitalism, the SEP "opposes all attempts, either directly or indirectly, to blame “white society” instead of the capitalist system for the oppression of Aborigines" and thus opposes the formation of treaties and of reconciliation measures, instead desiring the "mobilisation of the entire working class".
Policy 3: Transitional Demands. Although supporting in the long term the replacement of capitalism with socialism, the Trotskyist SEP believe there should be a "system of transitional demands" which will assist the working classes in their struggle to change the system. "Such demands include universal employment, automatic adjustment of wages in line with inflation, reduction of working hours with no loss of pay, unrestricted access to quality medical care and education, decent housing and the cancellation of home repossessions and evictions."
Group L: Health Australia PartyThe Party: In its own words "[t]the Health Australia Party (HAP) is a true centre party committed to promoting open and transparent Government decision making, balance and honesty of information, and stimulating individual freedom of choice and thought – to ensure we have a genuinely Healthy Australia." Despite the name, this is not a single-issue party.
Policy 1: Healthy People. Probably what you were expecting from this party -- I know I was -- the HAP supports improved access to quality medicine, including pharmaceuticals and proven natural medicine. It also talks without great detail about limiting the influence of multinational pharmaceutical companies and relying on studies that are unbiased and scientifically sound, and advocates for Australia to "[b]uild a health-creation system, not a disease-management system".
Policy 2: Healthy Economy. The HAP supports small business, and is concerned about the influence of big businesses, unions and red tape on harming enterprise. The party argues, somewhat ambiguously, for a "[g]enuine tax reform based on fairness and truth", clarifying that this involves measures to prevent the use of tax havens and to ensure "[f]air taxes on the wealthy, encourage the middle to progress, and support the poor and disadvantaged".
Policy 3: Healthy Environment. This policy covers general support for renewable energy projects, stronger environmental protection from industry and development, encouraging sustainable agricultural practices, promoting eco-tourism in Australia and providing protections for endangered species.
Group M: Renewable Energy PartyThe Party: Yes, it's a single-issue green-energy party. Are you surprised? Do you want me to write out the usual caveat again? Of course you do! Now, it's not my place to who to vote for or against. By all means, support a single-issue party. But, in doing so, be aware that the party may vote against you r interests on all other matters and even trade away votes in return for favourable legislation. Now, I know for a fact there are people out there who will happily take that gamble to secure action on climate change, and I do not object to voting that way. I only object to ill-informed or ill-thought-out voting.
Policy 1: Targets. The REP supports retaining the current 2020 Renewable Energy Target and the addition of a 2030 target of 100% renewable energy. The party also expects an investment of $28 trillion globally in renewable energy technologies between 2013 and 2035, and intends for Australia to receive much of this investment by supporting the CSIRO, ARENA and other organisations to help develop technology here.
Policy 2: Energy. The REP's energy policy includes an end to fossil fuel subsidies, doubling Australia's "energy productivity" by 2030 and supporting research into renewable energy through research organisations and grassroots initiatives by local communities.
Policy 3: Transition. Recognising that many industries are heavily entwined with current energy sources, the REP proposes strategies to help transition including investment in developing the skills required for the renewable energy industry; organising gradual closure of coal power stations, managing site rehabilitation and providing employees with new skills; and providing assistance to the agricultural sector to help adapt to difficulties caused by climate change.
Group N: 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 O: Family First PartyThe 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 P: 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 Q: The Arts PartyThe 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 R: DLP Democratic LabourThe Party: Growing up I always viewed the DLP as an extreme far-right party. Reading their policies this year made me view them as a more moderate right party. Perhaps it's because of the rise of certain more extreme parties, but this gave me pause to go back to last election and check my description. I find, for once, that I wrote something suitably apt and will repeat it here: "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: Constitution and Democratic Rights. The DLP opposes compulsory ID cards for Australians, and the idea of a Bill of Rights. Neither of these ideas have surfaced prominently for a while, but they do crop up from time to time, which is presumably why the DLP has addressed them. The party also desires mechanisms for citizen-initiated referenda, and calls for any international covenant to be revoked where it "overrides the will of the Australian people, undermines established law or compromises the sovereignty of the Commonwealth or any State."
Policy 2: Foreign Affairs. The DLP desires that the government of Indonesia withdraw all military forces from West Papua and allow an independence vote. To complement this, the DLP wants a greater portion of Australian aid provided to Indonesia to be granted to West Papua. Foreign aid in general, in the views of the DLP, would be increased to place Australia in the top 10 nations in terms of GDP committed to aid, though not necessarily provided as financial aid; the DLP supports more of our foreign aid being provided through Australian-made goods and services. The DLP wants a 17.5% tax on foreign companies investing in Australian residential property and a 50% tax on any profit made by selling these properties to give Australian buyers an advantage in the housing market. The DLP also desires a bi-partisan (or do they mean multi-partisan?) approach to asylum seekers and refugees. The DLP supports on-shore processing as a means of creating jobs and dealing compassionately with refugees. Other specific refugee plans include closer cooperation with neighboring nations and in particular Indonesia, increasing the annual asylum seeker and refugee intake from Indonesia to reduce the need and desire to arrive by boat, and transportation of "irregular maritime arrivals" to one of five UN accredited refugee camps of their choice.
Policy 3: Energy. The DLP objects to the perceived situation where "[m]ulti-national companies have repeated the call to resist any pressure to have any domestic supply reserve protection [because] [t]hey want to send all national gas and other resources overseas to make record profits" and instead advocates for all states, as WA has, to allocate a reserve of the nations natural gas resources for citizens and businesses to use in the event of a supply failure. The DLP also supports oil refineries to be reopened in Australia to reduce our dependence on foreign nations. The DLP also supports the development of Polywell Plasma Fusion -- a form of nuclear fusion -- to provide power in Australia, although according to Wikipedia this technology is not as advanced as the DLP appears to be claiming.
Group S: Citizens Electoral CouncilThe 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.
Group T: 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 U: Australian Liberty AllianceThe 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 V: Nick Xenophon TeamThe Party: A guaranteed shoo-in in South Australia, the appeal on the NXT in other states is largely unknown. Certainly one of the better known cross-benchers, Xenophon may get some name recognition outside of SA and has the advantage that he has no party name attached to him, unlike Muir or Lazarus. I'm not sure what the advertising has been like out there in the broader Australia, but the NXT centrist, populist policies seem to appeal to many Australians and the NXT has money for advertising on TV at least in SA. Only time will tell how Xenophon is received beyond my home state.
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 W: Australian Motoring Enthusiast PartyThe 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 X: Marriage EqualityThe 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 Y: Pauline Hanson's One NationThe 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 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 Z: Socialist AllianceThe Party: Pretty much what you'd expect from a socialist party. There is a lot of rhetoric against capitalism, and particularly corruption of politicians and companies, in their policy statements. That said, there is a large number of policies to wade through, often with considerable detail and on a wide range of topics. This is the only party I've found, for example, with a policy on the wearing of the hijab/burka/niqab that does not support a ban. Below is just a small sample of the party's positions:
Policy 1: Climate. After the predictable "capitalism causes climate change" line, the SA's policy on climate is actually very detailed. Whoever writes the headings for this policy, however, deserves a raise (or whatever the socialist equivalent is) because they very neatly sum up the lengthy policy platform:
- Phase out coal, build renewables
- Set strong targets to cut emissions fast
- Rich countries must take the lead
- No to nuclear
- Increase energy efficiency — aim for zero waste
- Boost organic farming and reforestation
- Make public transport free, frequent and accessible
- Guarantee green jobs
- Change the system, not the climate
Policy 3: LGBTI issues. The Socialist Alliance stands for same-sex marriage, adoption and fertility options for same-sex couples, free access to hormones and gender reassignment surgery for trans individuals, full legal recognition of gender identity regardless of whether surgery has been performed, right to gender-neutral/agender/unanswered status on official forms, discrimination laws, repeal of any discriminatory legislation and greater education in schools on LGBT issues.
Group AA: Australian Country PartyThe Party: The ACP is a party unique to Victoria, and is more or less a single issue party in defense of rural and regional Victorians. There is nothing wrong with single-issue parties, but voters who support them should be aware that they are prioritising one issue and the party may vote against their interests in all other areas.
Policy 1: Foreign Affairs. The ACP supports trade agreements with some conditions: trade partners must have labor and quality standards to prevent undercutting Australian production by unfair or unsafe means, imported products must meet Australian standards, and imported products must not pose a risk to health of agriculture. The party also supports imigration and tolerance for differences of opinion, individuals rights, freedom of speech, religious, cultural, physical and sexual diversity, on the condition that state and federal laws are obeyed.
Refugees, in the views of the ACP, should be supported by funding UN refugee facilities, but is skeptical of those it considers to be "asylum shipping" and believes turning back boats is a proven means of preventing drownings at sea. The ACP does not, however, support off-shore detention which limits oversight, slows processing and avoids Australia's international duties, instead advocating for case management by australians in Australian territory such as Christmas Island.
Policy 2: Agriculture. The ACP aims to introduce a minimum price for growers and producers of agricultural produce, stricter food labelling to identify country of origin for all or proportions of food goods, import controls to ensure produce meets Australian standards, better staffing and resources for quarantine control, more agricultural research, support for live export and lower tax rates for seasonal workers.
Policy 3: Firearms. The ACP supports the rights of gun owners, but emphasises the importance of appropriate firearm storage. Stricter penalties for criminal use of firearms are supported, as are the rights of sports shooters and firearms collecters, greater access to national parks for hunters, and reduced scrutiny and red tape for firearms ownership for farmers.
Group AB: MFPThe Party: Former DLP candidate and blacksmith John Madigan recently founded the MFP -- Manufacturing and Farming Party. His main focus, and that of his party, is the protection of primary and secondary industries and this is the basis of his party's single-issue focus. That means I get to repeat the usual caveat: by all means vote for single-issue parties but be aware they may not support your views on issues outside their main platform.
Policy 1: Primary Industry. The MFP supports assisting farmers by increasing subsidies to farmers and pausing the Murray Darling Basin Plan for further review to ensure farmers rights are being appropriately weighed against the needs of the environment. The party also wants stricter labeling laws on the origin of foods, replace foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land with 25 year leases and a stricter national-interests' test for foreign investment, as well as more suport for diverse fuel reserves from bio-fuel and other sources.
Policy 2: Secondary Industry. The MFP does not advocate trade tariffs on its website, but does propose a number of measures to make Australian manufacturing more competitive, including halving the company tax rate for Australian manufacturers, ensuring imported products meet meet minimum product standards, only entering into trade arrangements with nations that have minimum labour standards and ensuring more transparency in negotiating such agreements. Finally, the party supports investment in Australian oil refineries and urges all levels of government to buy Australian products.
Policy 3: Community. The mix of positions that fall under this policy are quite varied, but include a "respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death" which I interpret to be a pro-life position opposing abortion and euthanasia. The party also suports revising negative gearing laws to increase housing affordability, and fostering renewable energy sources, "but not at the expense of the wellbeing of rural communities."
Group AC: Drug Law ReformThe Party: A single-issue party looking for reform of drug policy in Australia, the DLR party has stated that on all other matters its senators will be allowed a conscience vote rather than directly engaging in vote trading. While the normal caveat applies -- only vote for a single-issue party if you favour their platform over all other issues combined -- you can perhaps take some consolation in that they MIGHT be like minded individuals and vote in accordance with your views occasionally. Interestingly, the DLR state that they "don’t proclaim to have all the answers of what the best regulatory approach to currently-illicit drugs is, but we know the current prohibition is causing more harm that good."
Policy 1: Drug Law Reform. There isn't much more to the party than this. The DLR wants drug regulation instead of prohibition, including the decriminalisation of cannabis and ecstasy, regulation on production and distribution of drugs along the lines of systems used in other countries, and greater support for users through the health system with emphasis on harm reduction and harm prevention. The party also wants a Royal Commission into the health, social and economic costs of drug use criminalisation.
Group AD: Voluntary Euthanasia PartyThe 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 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 AE: Mature AustraliaThe 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 AF: 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 AG: Shooters, Fishers and FarmersThe 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 AH: 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 AI: 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 AJ: Australian ProgressivesThe 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 AK: 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 AL: 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.
Mark Francis Dickenson
Trevor William Nye
Peter John Hawks