The next Federal Election in Australia will be held on 21 May 2022.
What do we want from our national government?
- Truth in Political Advertising. At the moment it is legal for political ads to contain lies. Independent MP Zali Steggall introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Stop the Lies) Bill in late 2021 but it was not passed by the Liberal / National coalition. It needs to be, or we should have a complete ban on political advertising as in the UK.
- We need caps on political donations, real-time reporting of political donations, and restrictions on lobbyists’ access to politicians. The excellent <makeitabigdeal.org> gives the lowdown.
- Other countries such as Ireland, Canada, NZ and the UK have better laws re political donations and lobbyists. Dig deeper into Democracy in Australia with the Australian Collaboration. The Australia Institute has put together a comprehensive Democracy Agenda and the #OurDemocracy campaign has developed a Framework for a Fair Democracy.
- Repeal of all legislative amendments arising from The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Bill 2021, a Bill which stifles civic participation in our democracy.
- The Commonwealth Electoral Act, Part XXA––Authorisation of electoral matter, needs to be amended so that a natural person or entity authorising communications of electoral matter, whether printed or electronic, need give only their name and the relevant town or city (where they live or where their office is located). Having to give a residential address or full street address and thereby risk personal harassment, intimidation or violence is inconsistent with the Objects of the Act s321C(3) and should not be required. People are intimidated by the requirement to give a full street address and thus deterred from participating in the electoral process.
- In the 2019 Federal election for the House of Representatives, the Liberal / National coalition obtained 41 per cent of first preference votes nationally but won 50 per cent of seats in the House, Labor obtained 33 per cent of first preference votes nationally but won 45 per cent of seats in the House, the Greens obtained 10 per cent of first preference votes nationally but won only 0.66 per cent (1 seat) of seats in the House. Sound fair? NOT. We need an independent review of the voting system for the House of Reps.
- We hear a lot from the Liberal / National coalition about the 38,000 or so coal miners whose jobs are at risk if we get out of coal. About as many people have already lost their jobs in universities over the past two years because the COVID pandemic stopped international students, and the government did nothing as the university sector shrank. Crown Casino received $115 million in JobKeeper payments in the first four months of the scheme’s existence, to August 2020, and more after that. The universities received no JobKeeper support. Note also the Sydney Morning Herald report on 1 Nov 2021 that COVID wiped out over 30,000 media, information and telco jobs.
- And what happened to jobs in agriculture and manufacturing in Australia? Worried about China? We could stop importing goods from China and make them here ourselves using renewable energy. The pandemic shone a spotlight on our vulnerabilities and was a test run for worse to come.
- Casual jobs now make up one quarter (25 per cent) of the Australian workforce. People in these jobs were hit hard by the COVID pandemic. Time we instituted a Universal Basic Income or Australian Income Security (as Ross Garnaut calls it).
- We need a National Transition Authority that connects with ALL regions in Australia, leaving no one behind, talking with representatives from unions, industry associations, scientists, local communities and environmental NGOs to DIVERSIFY the job opportunities for everybody. In 2019, the Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity ranked Australia 93rd, behind Kazakhstan, Uganda and Senegal, and only just ahead of Pakistan and Mali. We could do with some diversification!
PROTECTION OF OUR FARMERS AND FOOD SUPPLY
We need a National Food Policy that includes legislation to ensure farmers are paid a fair price for their produce and agricultural land is protected from mining, real estate development and takeovers by agribusiness, whether locally- or foreign-owned. The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance gives the lowdown. See also the Lock the Gate Alliance.
House prices and rents are heading sky high, construction quality is heading to rock bottom. The post called ‘Housing heist’ on this website gives the lowdown.
Climate chaos will shut Australia down –– big time. Most of us have now lived through a cyclone or a flood or out-of-control bushfires or a drought and we know what that means.
Go to the <Parliament House website> and you’ll see a number of Bills on climate that were not passed. Two were introduced by the Greens, two by Zali Steggall. Not even debate on two climate bills put to the House of Representatives on 27 Oct 2021 by Zali Steggall (Waringah) was allowed by the Liberal / National majority.
The Lib / Nat government’s new plan for electric cars leaves us in the slow lane. Australian communities are missing out on the cleaner air and quieter streets that come from taking polluting cars off the road and replacing them with electric vehicles and public transport and from replacing roads with segregated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Meanwhile Canada – often categorised as a climate laggard like Australia – has moved in a positive direction, bringing forward its end date for fossil fuel vehicles to 2035. Learn more.
A VOICE FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
The colonial effacement of Aboriginal history and culture continues unabated. When will our laws protect this rich history and culture, one that lasted tens of thousands of years while ours, called ‘industrial civilisation’, looks like it will be lucky to survive a few hundred years.
Indigenous voices remain unheard and unrespected. When will the Uluru Statement from the Heart be taken seriously?
A VOICE FOR WOMEN
Michelle Arrow gets to the point in this article in The Conversation. Australia still has a long way to go on this issue.
NO MORE POLITICAL PROSECUTIONS
- The head of Amnesty International has called for Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and one of the greatest journalists of our time, to be freed: US/UK: “Drop the charges, stop the extradition and free Julian Assange,” says Amnesty head, 25 October, 2021. See also Chris Hedges, The Most Vital Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time, Consortium News, 28 October, 2021. The Australian Government has so far done nothing for him.
- Australia now has secret prisoners, secret trials, secret evidence in court and secret reasons why it is in the public interest to prosecute people whose only “crime” is that they have exposed wrong-doing by our government. People like David McBride (exposed war crimes in Afghanistan), Witness K, Bernard Collaery (both exposed the Howard government’s 2004 bugging of the East Timor cabinet offices) and Richard Boyle (exposed ATO malpractice) should not be prosecuted. For the lowdown see this article by Sydney Criminal Lawyers.
- On June 26, 2019, following raids on the ABC and a News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst by the Australian Federal Police, the heads of all the main news organisations in Australia presented a united front at the National Press Club in accusing the government of criminalising journalism. They called for a thorough overhaul of laws on national security, government secrecy, whistleblower protection, freedom of information and defamation. Australia has more national security laws than any other nation. It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights that would protect media freedom through, for example, rights to free speech and privacy. Addressing these issues has not been a priority for the Liberal / National coalition. Who will be attacked this time if the Liberal / National coalition wins the election?
PROTECTION OF OUR FLORA AND FAUNA
The Great Barrier Reef, one of the wonders of the world, is dying. The koala will probably be extinct by 2050. Tens of billions of trees on our continent have been cut down since 1788 and land clearing continues. The recommendations of the Samuel Review need to be implemented. Since the EPBC Act came into operation, 7.7 million hectares of threatened species’ habitat has been destroyed. We have become a global deforestation hotspot with one of the worst extinction records on Earth. Entire ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray Darling Basin are collapsing.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT
As opposed to secrecy and corruption. We need:
- Restoration of funding for institutions that hold government to account: the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian National Audit Office, and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. All have had significant cuts to their funding in the 8 years the Liberal / National coalition has been in office.
- Restoration of the independence of the Australian Public Service (APS) so that executives and staff can’t be sacked or disciplined for failing to toe the government line. The APS should be a bulwark against corruption, not a tool of corruption.
- Creation and funding of a National Integrity Commission with teeth along the lines proposed by, for example:
- Australia’s National Integrity System: the Blueprint for Action by Transparency International Australia
- the National Integrity Committee of The Australia Institute
- The Bill introduced by Larissa Waters (Greens) and passed by the Senate
- A similar Bill introduced by Independent Helen Haines MP
- the Centre for Public Integrity in its extensive work on this issue.
Population needs to be on the policy agenda. What are the limits to population growth? Water, for a start? And the tens of millions of refugees in the world, a number that will grow as the climate emergency intensifies? Big issues; time to tackle them.
That is the bare minimum. Who then to vote for?
The Liberal / National coalition has been in power for 8 years now and has shown no interest in tackling any of the above issues –– see the post called ‘Track record’ on this website. MPs and Senators from the following groups would be best. You choose who you prefer:
|Australian Labor Party||https://www.alp.org.au/|
|Independents||Check the Independents running in your|
Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie, Zali Steggall, Andrew Wilkie, Stirling Griff, Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick have all done good work. As have Labor and the Greens. All these people working together in a coalition should be able to deliver some good outcomes for Australia.
–– Gary Shapcott, Canberra