Environment, Energy, Mining & Water
- The Environment (our planet) should be foremost in any decision making where conflicts arise on the use of land or water systems.
- No new coal mines and no extensions to existing coal mines.
- It should always be assumed that underground mining may affect the water table and decisions relating to use of the land be based on this assumption.
- Where mining of any kind conflicts with sustainable agriculture on prime agricultural land (e.g. the Liverpool Plains) then agriculture should be prioritised.
- The Murray-Darling river system – management of this has been abysmal and urgent action is necessary, including the phasing out of crops not suitable to the Australian climate e.g. cotton.
- A national gas reservation policy should be adopted. Only gas surplus to Australia’s requirements should be exported. Reduced availability of local gas (due to over exporting of gas) has led to the high prices currently affecting both individual consumers and manufacturing.
- The Federal Government should facilitate investment in renewable energy and its storage and discourage further investment in coal.
- Pollution - stronger penalties for dumping not just of major waste but also for individuals throwing away plastic and rubbish on to roads and into parks and bushland. Properly funded programs for the cleaning up of rubbish on, and adjacent to, our major highways (currently a national disgrace) should be actioned immediately. Refer also to Education & Training
- Recycling & packaging legislation -see under Business & Industry
Infrastructure, Regional Development & Cities
- The Government should stop talking about a Very Fast Train (VFT) and immediately begin work on at least a Fast Train (FT) or a VFT between capital cities, both along the coast and also inland. Regional towns and cities would benefit enormously from such a project.
- Transport, hospitals, schools and adequate water supplies should be a focus in order to encourage decentralisation and improve the lifestyle of both those in the regions and the cities. Proactive rather than reactive planning in these areas is required.
- The revenue from the fuel excise should be 100 per cent returned to road and other transport projects (particularly at the local government level), rather than going into consolidated revenue.
- Government should lead the way in decentralisation by moving significant parts of government organisations / departments into regional cities in order to promote employment in these areas.
Business & Industry
- Packaging legislation should be enacted to compel all manufacturers and retailers to produce & use fully recyclable or compostable packaging within a few years. Alternatives to soft plastics, foam packaging etc should be sought out, and when non-existent, incentives provided for research in order to achieve this. Recycling options for consumers should not be dictated by the quality of the local government in their area, Federal and State legislation should ensure all Australians have equal opportunity when it comes to recycling. For example, some councils process green waste, others don’t; some councils process food waste, others don’t. This is unacceptable.
- Manufacturing – incentives should be provided to “clever” manufacturers in key niche areas.
- Negative gearing – the distortion to the property market caused by this tax loophole has escalated property prices, particularly in the cities, to an unacceptable level, disadvantaging first home buyers and those without the means to ever own more than one property. Negative gearing should be wound back and phased out completely within 3 years. The legislation should not be retrospective.
- More emphasis on provision of healthcare, with respect to both infrastructure and health professionals, in regional areas.
- Dying with Dignity – individual adults should be allowed the legal choice to die with dignity, and this choice should not be confined to those suffering from a terminal and painful illness. Safeguards can be put in place to ensure that such a decision is not taken in haste or when suffering from a mental illness for which there is sufficient support and therapy to make life bearable. Legislation in this area should be Federal in nature, not be state-based; for example, it is inconceivable that a NSW resident should have to move away from their family to Victoria in order to die with dignity.
Education & Training
- More support for TAFE type education to boost our nation’s practical skilled workforce. Remove TAFE style (trade) training from university courses and incorporate this back into properly funded TAFEs. Reduce training being outsourced to private colleges to a minimum (i.e. only when TAFE is unable to provide such training).
- Universities - a change of policy direction in that government funding for universities should be sufficient and not dependent on the fees paid by an influx of foreign students. Foreign students should be encouraged for reasons other than their financial contribution. Less affluent Australian students of equal or greater merit should be given priority. Encourage foreign student participation but not to the detriment of local students. A return to something akin to the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme would be worth consideration.
- Schools – a compulsory part of all school and university education should be about the importance of the environment to our survival, the penalties for rubbish and other pollution (from dropping a can on the ground through to larger waste dumping). Secondary school students found to ignore this learning should have to undergo a community program which includes cleaning up rubbish in bushland and roadside areas.
Foreign Affairs & Defence
- Australia should pursue a more independent foreign policy within the framework of its current political / defence allegiances and also our major trading partners. Countries such as Canada and New Zealand manage to do this so there is no reason why Australia can’t. Australia should not be afraid to disagree with either the USA or China when necessary, despite the respective strong defence and trade ties. If we are not confident about our value to them, as well as their value to us, then there is no point in engaging with these major powers at all.
- Defence – less spending on aircraft and ships which have warfare as their sole purpose, as we cannot hope to compete with the major powers. I suggest more spending on equipment used on a daily basis such as patrol boats for our waters, focusing on such issues as illegal fishing, fuel dumping, drug importation etc.
Population & Immigration
- Population – there needs to be a cohesive policy regarding Australia’s population i.e. whether it should stay as is, grow unsustainably or somewhere in between. Such agreement should take in the views of all Australians, not just those in businesses obviously benefiting from the exponential growth of the last decade. I believe that the current growth trajectory is unsustainable and that we should err in favour of a more moderate rate of growth.
- The number of migrants to Australia should be cut by a third to a half until such time as both the Federal and State governments prove themselves capable of providing an adequate number of schools, hospitals, transport options and water resources to support the population increase. Focusing such efforts on the regions will encourage both local residents and new migrants to venture out of the cities, thereby dispersing Australia’s population and assisting in the better integration of current and new residents than currently occurs.
- This is a longer term policy, due to my concern about the considerable overlap in responsibilities of Federal and State Governments, often resulting in confusion, politicking between Liberal and Labour governments and very little being achieved. I am also concerned about the political aspect of Local Government and the lack of money available to provide basic services such as maintenance of local roads, parks, etc. My suggestion is that long term we should work towards the following:
- Abolish State Governments, replace them with smaller Regional Governments, representing truly cohesive geographic and economic regions (e.g. Wollongong and the Southern Highlands should not be in the same electorate, they have very different requirements; similarly, Scone and Armidale should not be in the same electorate, and the Blue Mountains should not be considered an extension of Western Sydney).
- The representatives of the Regional Governments would be part of the Federal Parliament. Federal Parliament would decide major policy (Education, Health, Transport etc) affecting all Australians, not just those Australians residing in a single state (e.g. Victoria), and it would provide all funding required for Federal and Regional Government responsibilities.
- Regional Governments, in co-operation with Federal Government, would be responsible for the physical provision of the infrastructure and services underpinning the policies. It would also oversee regional planning issues.
- Local Government would have no political representatives, it would focus solely on administration and provision of local services, such as garbage collection, park maintenance, local roads etc under the auspices of the Regional Governments who in turn would be responsible to the Federal Government. Council rates would be levied but the Regional Government would be responsible for supplementary funding to ensure that “big ticket” items such as local roads are not under-funded.