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Policies that should be put to voters at the Australian Federal elections of 2 July

An earlier version of this article was published here on 30/4/16. Comments were posted by ecoengine and Denis K on 3/5/16 and by quark on 4/5/16.

In the Australian Federal elections to be held on 2 July 2016, voters who support each of the policies listed below, are entitled to know whether each candidate asking for his/her vote will, if elected, try to implement that policy. We intend to ask each candidate, including the sitting member, his/her intentions should he/she be successful. Each response, or lack of response, will be posted here, to candobetter.net. Please feel encouraged to express your views about these proposals as comments or, when we make that feature available, to vote on them.

Effective government participation in the economy

1. Government owned enterprises: Seek to establish government owned enterprises in all significant sectors of the economy where they don't already exist: insurance, banking, real estate, funeral services, car retail, car hire, passenger airlines, buses, rail, sea, road and air freight, mining, tourism, supermarkets and other retail outlets, etc.

2. Rebuild manufacturing: Re-build a large Australian manufacturing sector through (1) the establishment of government-owned manufacturing enterprises and (2) tariffs to protect private manufacturing companies from unfair overseas competition;

3. Sovereign control of Australia's wealth: Outlaw the sale of Australian land, natural resources and built resources to non-citizens. Long-term leases to foreign corporations also to be forbidden.

4. End privatisation: Past privatisations include Telstra (formerly Telecom), the Commonwealth bank and state banks, public transport, insurance, electricity, water. Conduct a public audit of all privatisations since 1983 including the recent sale of the Port of Melbourne. Seek to reverse these privatisations as far as possible;

5. End corporatisation of government services: Corporatisation is generally recognised as the first step towards outright privatisation. Government services be given a charter broader than just to achieve the maximum profit regardles of other outcomes. Charters should include to provide training, career structure, job security and decent wages to employees, to protect the environment, and to provide good service.

6.Trans-Pacific Partnership: Withdraw Australia from the TPP agreement. The TPP was negotiated in secret behind closed doors. It has little to do with trade. In many areas the TPP forbids our government from acting to protect the interests of citizens and the environment where a corporation can claim that such measures reduce its profitabily;

7. Free Internet social networks: The government seek to establish alternatives to Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube. These social networks are to respect the privacy of their users and be transparently administered. Rather than being funded by advertising, these services should be funded by general revenue. (Given that YouTube is now offering to remove advertising for an annual fee, it surely stands to reason that many Australia Internet users would be prepared to pay through the taxation system to be free of advertising.)

8. Open-source software: Promote the use of free open-source software by (1) requiring all government and statutary authorities to use the Linux operating system, and open-source applications such as the Libre Office suite in place of the Microsoft Office Suite and (2) Establish a public fund to adequately remunerate producers of open-source intellectual property including software.

9. Premises for small business: Acquire or build suitable premises for use by small businesses, retailers and food producers. The affordable rents and charges should be affordable and not a barrier to capable people being able tpo set up their own businesses;

Sustainability

10. Reduce migration: Reduce Australia's net migration to zero. Net migration should reamin atr zero at least until such time as we can know that no other native Australian animal is threatened with extinction because of the loss of its habitat to accommodate newcomers. Require the Victorian government to dismantle the "Live in Victoria" web-site as immigration is a federal, and not state, responsibility. See Foreign Policy on refugees;

11. Stop the clearing of native forests: Whether for throw-away paper products or building products, the logging of native forests be outlawed. Only timber from plantations must be used;

12. Stop the killing of native wildlife: Outlaw the killing of native Australian wildlife. Re-build destroyed forests and grasslands and repopulate them with the native species which previously lived in those regions or else similar species where those species are extinct;

13. Reusable bevarage containers: require that all beverages be stored in standardised reusable bevarage containers for which refunds are to be paid. Refunds for the smallest bevarage containers should be no less than 50c. Refunds for larger bevarage containers should be more. Outlaw the use of throw-away drink cans;

14. Stop builtin obselescence: Outlaw the deliberate manufacture of artefacts to break, wear down prematurely or to fail due to lack of spare parts. Outlaw the importation of such artefacts;

15. Recycle organic waste: Organic waste to be recycled as garden compost or in larger specially built sites;

16. Eliminate wasteful packaging: Impose a tax on the volume of any packaged goods to provide an incentive to eliminate wasteful packaging that adds to the quantity of landfill at garbage tips.

17. Local production and consumption: Encourage the local production and consumption of all food and artifacts. Reduce the need for importation from overseas and transport over long distances;

18. Relocalisation: Work premises for the public service or government statutary authorities to be relocated close to where people live. Private sector to be encouraged to do the same. Over time this will reduce the need for cars, public transport and roads and should allow most to cycle or walk to work;

Providing for Basic Needs

Basic needs: Full employment in secure and fulfilling occupations

19. Job guarantee: Federal government guarantee a job to everyone not employed by the private sector, local or state governments.

20. Full employment and equity: Implement "Creating effective local labour markets: a new framework for regional employment policy" (2008 - download 3.1 Mb pdf file from the University of Newcastle Center of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) Publications page);

21. On-the-job training, career progression: re-establish on-the-job training and career progression in all government departments and statutory authorities as an alternative to training at TAFE colleges and tertiary institutions; Encourage private enterprises to do the same;

22. Reduced working hours: Reduction of the working week to 35 hours. Given the repeated claims of Australia's increased economic efficiency since 1983, the economy should easily be able to manage if working hours were reduced to 35 hours per week, just for a start. Outlaw compulsory overtime. Require employers to offer workers, who don't need a full wage, to work reduced and flexible hours;

23. Close down sweat-shops: Governments must proactively act to close down factories, which use low-paid workers working for long hours. Re-introduce the state award system;

24. Commonwealth Employment Service: re-establish the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES), which was dismantled in 1998 by the Howard Government. The plethora of private job agencies which replaced the CES has not been nearly as effective in helping job-seekers to find full, part-time or temporary employment;

25. End Section 457 visas: Only allow employers to employ skilled workers where it can be shown that no worker in Australia can fill the vacancy. (Were the Commonwealth Employment Service reconstituted, it would become much easier to fill vacancies from within Australia);

Basic Needs: Education

26. Stop education funding cuts: Reverse the funding cuts to tertiary institutions and TAFE colleges;

27. Abolish university fees: Make tertiary education free as it is in Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Syria;

28. Provide for students' living needs: Re-establish the Whitlam Government's Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS) so that University students don't have to work part-time to support themselves;

29. Stronger Tertiary Arts Faculties: More funding for university arts faculties. Provide more careers in the public service for Arts graduates. Encourage the private sector to do the same;

Basic needs: Other

30. Housing: Ensure that each Australian citizen has secure affordable shelter. Require of landlords to offer to renew tenancies except where renewal would cause hardship to the landlord;

31. Public liability insurance: Establish public liablity insurance as it exists in New Zealand. No-one, who has organised a public event and has taken all reasonable precautions, should fear financial ruin as a result of any mishap;

Democracy, Transparency and Accountability

32. Federal electorate constituency meetings: Each member of the House of Representatives be required to attend meetings of his/her constituents during election campaigns and at regular specified intervals;

33. Full accounting of taxation and public expenditure: All losses and gains should be accounted for in the Federal Budget. Losses should include: unutilised skill and experience by the unemployed and under-employed. The budget must give estimates of the value of worth of government services which cannot be quantified monetarily;

34. Transparency with the private sector: Except where national security may be compromised, no 'commercial in-confidence' contract to be signed with any member of the private sector at the initiative of the government. Discriminate in favour of contractors who do not require 'commercial in-confidence' contracts;

35. Public newsmedia to give all sides of the story: Where facts are disputed in any conflict, whether domestic or international, the charters of the ABC and SBS require that they give both sides of the conflict the opportunity to put their case to the viewing public. (See also Foreign policy);

36. Direct Democracy: In the next term of parliament, put to voters a referendum to adopt Direct Democracy as practised in Switzerland;

Foreign policy

37. Use public discussion to prevent war: Invite representatives of foreign governments with which Australia is in conflict to put their case to the Australian public on television in interviews. Where possible, representatives of Australia put Australia's case in interviews on those countries' newsmedia (for example RT and PressTV);

Foreign policy: Syria

38. Recognise the elected Government of Syria: Recognise the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the legitimate government of Syria. The Syrian government enjoys far more popular support than the Australian government or any of the Western governments opposed to it, as verified in the June 1914 Presidential election and the Parliamentary elections of April 2016;

39. End Sanctions against Syria: End sanctions and invite the Syrian government to re-establish its embassy. The sanctions were imposed and the Syrian ambassador was expelled on the absurd fabricated pretext that the Syrian government had massacred its own supporters at Houla in 2013. Remunerate Syria for its trouble and expense;

40. Oppose the terrorist war against Syria: Oppose the illegal proxy terrorist war against the people of Syria which began in March 2011. By one estimate, that war has so far cost the lives of 250,000 Syrians, including 80,000 members of the Syrian Armed forces;

41. Stop Australians from going to war against Syria: Support Australian Federal Police actions to prevent Australians from going abroad to fight against the Syrian government. Seek collaboration with the Syrian authorities to bring any Australian citizen, known to have participated in that war against the Syrian people, to justice;

42. Compensate the Syrian government for care of Iraqi refugees: Remunerate the Syrian government for the trouble and expense it was put to for having to care for 1,300,000 refugees who fled to Syria as a result of the illegal wars of 1991 and 2003 and sanctions against Iraq in which Australia participated;

Foreign policy: Palestine/Israel

43. Support peaceful resolution of conflict: Act to bring an end to the Palestine/Israel conflict that will allow all sides to live in peace.

44. Dismantle Israel's nuclear weapons stockpile: The dismantlement of Israel's illegally acquired nuclear weapons be part of the peace settlement;

45. Free Mordechai Vanunu: Demand that Israel free former Australian resident Mordechai Vanunu who revealed to the world Israel's illegal possession of nuclear weapons. Offer Mordechai Vanunu asylum in Australia;

46. End the theft of Palestinian land: Oppose the illegal seizure of land by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights;

Foreign policy: Other Middle East

47. End dictatorial rule of Turkey: demand that the United Nations act to end the dictatorial and criminal conduct of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This conduct includes: giving arms, supplies and sanctuary to terrorists fighting against the neighnouring government of Syria, the arrest of border guards who attempted to prevent supplies reaching the terrorists, allowing petroleum stolen from Syria by ISIS terrorists to be pipelined into Turkey and sold, the prosecution of jounalists critical of his government of terrorism, shooting down a Russian fighter in neighbouring Syria;

48. Oppose the invasion of Yemen. Ask that the United Nations take action against the invasion of Yemen by the Saudi Arabian dictatorship. Condemn the supply of banned cluster bombs made in the United States and their use by Saudi Arabia;

Foreign policy: Ukraine and Russia

49. MH17: Demand an open public enquiry into destruction of Malay Airlines Flight MH17 in which 28 Australians were amongst the 298 killed on 17 July 2014. Request that the MH17 Black Box given to the Netherlands by East Ukranian rebels, records of communications between Kiev air traffic controllers and MH17 and the United States' government satellite surveillance recordings of flight MH17 be released be made available for that inquiry, as the Russian government has done with its satellite surveillance recordings;

50. Support democracy in Ukraine: Support those Ukrainians in Eastern Ukraine who are defending themselves against the regime that was installed in the CIA-orchestrated coup of January 2014;

51. Crimea: Recognise the secession of Crimea to Russia from Ukraine in February 2014, which was overwhelmingly supported by the inhabitants of Crimea in a referendum, as a legitimate act of self-determination and self-defence;

Human rights: Protection of human rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and proper legal conduct by the authorities

52. Asylum to whistleblowers: Request that the United States' government publicly try Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning before a jury for their alleged crimes as requested by them. Should this request be refused, offer political asylum to Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Should the United States obstruct Australia's attempts to grant asylum, raise this issue at the United Nations. (Also see Free Mordechai Vanunu);

53. Julian Assange: Demand that the Swedish government guarantee that Julian Assange won't be forcibly repatriated to the United States from Sweden should he go to Sweden to face charges of rape. If the Swedish government does not comply, demand that the UK government to end the arbitrary detention of Australian whistleblower Julian Assange and allow him to return to Australia. ;

54. End surveillance of our phone calls, Internet browsing and e-mail: End the dragnet surveillance of all of our private communications by the United States' CIA and NSA, Britain's GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 and Australia's ASIO and ASIS as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Snowden has revealed, dragnet surveillance has not prevented one act of terrorism. Only allow surveillance of individuals or groups where there is reason to fear terrorism or other illegal acts;

55. Port Arthur Massacre: as required by law, conduct a coronial inquest into the murder of 35 Australians at Port Arthur on 28 April 1996 - the largest mass murder in Australia's history. The suppose evidence against Martin Bryant has never been tested in a court of law. All forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony proves Martin Bryant innocent of the crime. The only 'evidence' of Martin Bryant's guilt consists of a supposed confession made after he had been illegally interrogated in solitary confinement for 5 months. Prosecute all those known to have acted unlawfully against Martin Bryant;

56. Martin Bryant: Allow friends and relatives of Martin Bryant to see him in person so that they can verify for themselves the claim by the prison governor that Martin Bryant doesn't want to see anybody;

How you can help

If you agree with most, or all, of these policies, please consider standing as a candidate yourself at he next election if it is not possible for you to stand in this election. If you are a candidate who supports any of the policies listed above or if you know of any such candidate, please let us know so that we can promote that candidate and lift that candidate's profile.

Please feel encouraged to also promote these policies and candidates who support these policies on Twitter, FaceBook, other discussion forums or your own web-site. If you can think of any other policies we should promote, or even if you oppose or don't altogether agree with some of these policies, please also let us know by posting a comment below.

Comments

It seems that we are being cajoled into believing we must be interested in the narrow terms of reference being dished up by the mainstream parties. They give us the crumbs, while the main policies are washed over. We are given the more immediate, hip-pocket lures, when the more global, national, and environmental policies are hidden behind policy walls and web-pages. What about the end to live exports, and how animals are being crammed into tiny cages to create cheap food sources?

The Coalition offers a plan to contain spending and lower the tax burden on business to boost growth. Labor will mysteriously revive a budget surplus by the next decade, despite debts spiraling out of control. With this week's Newspoll showing that as many as 15 per cent of voters are flirting with candidates and parties other than the Coalition, Labor or the Greens, and with vote quotas for a Senate seat halved. What’s become clear over the past couple of elections is that a good 20% of the electorate (about 22% at the 2013 election) are looking for an alternative to the two main parties.

Below are a couple of suggestions for consideration as 2016 Election Policies including water, agriculture, renewable energy and health for your perusal. They my opinions and my opinions alone and others wish to demur that is understandable.

(We) can do better 2016 federal Election Policies:

Water: Water is Australia’s most precious resource. Current temporary water policy dictates that water is owned by the highest bidder, thus water is owned by metropolitan and regional water authorities, market speculators including banks, superannuation companies, foreign investors with farmers at the end of the chain. Water has been commodified over the years by Federal and State Governments under their neoliberal policies. Water needs to be decommodified with the only people to be entitled to own water to be Federal and State Governments and primary producers.

Further to this the disastrous Murray Darling Basin Plan needs to be ripped up and renegotiated with input only from those who are entitled to own water and environmentalists who understand the geohydrology of Australia. The current plan is not conducive to either farmers or the environment (* - See Below) in fact has been an abysmal failure.

Moreover, rural and regional water authorities are struggling under their current regimes with gross inefficiencies dominated by failed neoliberal policies. In particular Goulburn Murray Water with its (Dis)Connections scheme has evolved via fraud and deceit and after and judicial inquiry, the board should be sacked. Water authorities like all utilities should come under government control for the sake of providing equitable, cheap and reliable supply and function.

Agriculture: Agriculture has been in decline in Australia for many years thanks to poor Federal and State Government policies including the above water policy. Money for Research and Development for agriculture has been declining for some 20 years and none of the major parties look likely to restore spending in this area any time soon. The neoliberal policies of Federal and State Governments and big business aren’t conducive to farmers or farming causing the cost of farming inputs to be far more expensive than they need be.

Australia’s obsession with mining has been detrimental to the farming sector destroying both much arable land and polluting and destroying aquifers and watertables. Federal Government legislation is required and quickly to ensure that miners cannot just walk onto a farm and dig it up. I believe that miners should have to pay both farmers and governments royalties to access their land if consent is forthcoming from both in conjunction with a favourable independent environmental impact study. Cockies don’t want hand outs, they just want a level playing field and at present that is what they don’t have.

Renewable Energy: Current renewable energy policy in Australia is a disgrace. Governments of all persuasions at all levels are presently beholden to fossil fuel companies. Australia has unlimited amounts of renewable energy whether it be solar, wind, wave, hotrocks or whatever. The platinum plating of the power and gas industries under neoliberal policies is unbelievable. Consumers are overcharged by some 20-30% or maybe more depending on the State, with the profits going offshore. I repeat my earlier suggestion that all utilities be purchased by State Governments so as the cost of these resources can be reduced and any profits put back into improving the service.

Health: Healthcare in Australia is another area that has suffered greatly at the hands of the neoliberals as Federal and State Governments continually pare back the health budget. Whether it’s bulk billing for GPs, upgrading or constructing new hospitals, mental health, &c, governments of all persuasions work on the theory that if you get crook it’s your problem. This is the American model of healthcare that has failed and failed miserably. Furthermore, the problems are magnified in rural and regional Australia where there’s a continual shortage of medical practitioners and services of all descriptions.
Australia has got a good track record in the field of modern medicine, but we need further money for R&D to maintain and improve healthcare in Australia. Another area that badly needs a total overhaul is private health insurance which requires decommodification. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has a fantastic track record, but it needs protection from the neoliberals before they wreck it. We need to have an informed discussion regarding Dying with Dignity before implementing legislation in this area.

The above is just a superficial glance at a couple of topics not included in your manifesto. These are my points of view only and you may wish to revise, add or subtract from them as you see fit, but I believe they are relevant to this year’s election.

* - The Basin Plan implemented in 2012 was a neoliberal market based solution to a physical problem. It bought back water from farmers, removed water entitlements from the land, made water available for the environment and extended water trading across the Basin. This action was taken “in the national interest, to reduce the risks to the environment, having a sustainable cap also enables markets to operate to maximise their productive potential, to increase efficiency of water use and improve productivity, to give farmers greater flexibility and to improve innovation, to drive infrastructure efficiencies and allowing many enterprises to restructure the businesses” among others.

The fact was that this all took place during the Big Dry, 13 years of drought (1997-2009) when most farmers in the Basin were up to their ears in debt, were encouraged to sell their water and/or their farms to pay the bills. While much of the water from the buy backs went into a pool for environmental water or to be sold to fund the upgrading of infrastructure, some of the water was sold to speculators on the temporary water market including private and/or foreign investors, banks, superannuation companies, &c. According to the ABS temporary water cost $8 per megalitre in 2004, the cost of the same amount of water for the 2015/16 season started at $180, as it is currently, and with water scarcity a very real problem, at one point during the season temporary water exceeded $300! The break-even point for most irrigated culture is around $100-$120.

While many farmers took the money and ran, others continue to battle against the odds buying water when they can afford it with no certainty in their livelihoods combined with declining commodity prices, farms have been abandoned, others bought by their neighbours, some by foreign investment and super firms or turned into mega-industrial farms by speculators ie the globalisation of the agriculture! And we all know what happened to the managed investment schemes in the Big Dry!!

The much hyped environmental flows are exactly that: hype! The management of these flows has left a lot to be desired with several blackwater events, bank erosion and the worst cyanobacteria (blue green algae) event ever recorded in the mighty Murray. All of these problems are manmade, they have not occurred naturally as much as the authorities would have you believe. This is to the detriment of the environment, agriculture and tourism costing millions of dollars and deadly to native fauna!!

For Steve Keen's succinct analysis of the 2016 Federal election got to: http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2016/06/18/there-has-to-be-a-better-way/

Cheers

(This comment is from David Hughes, who cc'ed it as a copy of a letter to Senator Hanson and Senator Xenophon. )

The South Australian electricity system is owned and run by:- the government of China, the richest man (and one of the defacto governors) of Hong Kong, the Malaysian government, and the French government.

All these owners have cut back on maintenance, and severely cut apprenticeships, so they can repatriate higher profits home via low-no-tax SIngapore, Ireland and the British Virgin Islands.

Electricity is a natural monopoly.

Reagan, Thatcher, Kennett, and ALP Premier Rann preached the privatisation of state-owned infrastructure. What liars. What a gigantic disaster to privatise the professionally run and state owned ETSA..

(From 1999 to 2003 I used my own money to build six weather stations on K.I. and lobby for wind turbines there. ETSA engineers were very supportive).
David Z Hughes