The time has come to vote for an independent:
I will stand for:
1. Our Economy
A contemporary economy must be based on sustainability and job creation. The two are not mutually exclusive. When it comes to the “spending v wealth creation debate”, significant foresight, creativity and collaboration is required. We must create jobs in the areas most beneficial to our future and see genuine tax reform through. As part of this we must create tax brackets more supportive of the ‘everyday Australian’ as well as greater tax transparency.
Loopholes for big corporations must be removed and we must place significantly higher taxes on our big polluters. We should be frank about the ‘realities of a GST’ if governments continue to offer ‘cash handouts’, exceptions, deductions and exclusions to those that need it least. We should also trongly consider bringing negative gearing to an end.
2. Our Environment
When we talk about climate change, our actions need to utterly uphold the challenge faced. The emissions reduction targets set by the major parties are not sufficient. Australia needs to be a champion of environmental sustainability, not simply pretend to be. Incremental targets need to be more regular, ambitious and immediate. The science supports this.
Fundamentally, Australia has the potential to be a world leader on climate change, the potential to embrace the extraordinary power of renewables (including wave, wind and solar), with greater verve and ruthlessness. We can create a whole new raft of jobs and multiple ‘wealth pockets’ for generations to come.
There must be no more coal mines and we must also save the Great Barrier Reef. When a “contemporary” government starts “romanticising coal” in television commercials, they are clearly more focused on manipulating the Australian public, than genuine policy reform. No sustainable future-minded economy would make many of the decisions that the current government is making.
3. Our Innovation and National Broadband Network
Contemporary innovation requires a holistic approach. Funding in the crucial areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (‘the STEM subjects’) must embrace the opportunities and challenges of our economy and environment. Such funding should be dynamically directed towards the empowerment of both men and women. We must regenerate generous funding for crucial organisations such as the CSIRO and become a leader in Space research and exploration.
We must secure a high-quality National Broadband Network for all Australians.
4. Our Rights
We must achieve gender equality, marriage equality and extensive LGBTI rights quickly. We must fundamentally reduce sexism in Australian society. We must end violence against women (indeed anyone), and continue to evolve relevant state and federal legislation. We must continue to evaluate the procedural aspects of our justice system to better protect a range of victims, including those who have been victims of domestic violence.
We must stop the cuts to indigenous programs and continue to Close the Gap. We must maintain Indigenous Students Supplementary Assistance programs; the education sector is a crucial area in achieving holistic change. We must continue to fund Indigenous ranger programmes. We must properly address and end the national disgrace that is the racial disparity in the criminal justice system.
We must put more money towards restorative justice programs. As put forward by the Law Council of Australia, we must establish ‘justice targets’ under the Closing the Gap Framework ‘to reduce rates of Indigenous imprisonment and violent offending. We should establish a national agency to collect and evaluate comprehensive data ‘to inform government policies around crime and imprisonment’. We should ‘repeal or amend all laws which provide for a penalty of imprisonment for offences arising from a fine-default and abolish mandatory sentencing laws’. When it comes to sentencing arrangements, we should introduce “Gladue-style Reports”.
The creation of a treaty is fundamental to genuine progress.
We must encourage ‘citizen candidates’ in our ‘active democracy’. We should embrace the potential of direct democracy like countries such as New Zealand when considering a range of issues of national importance. We need credible protection for whistleblowers. We need to embrace the ‘sharing economy’ in a more genuine way. We must recognise the ‘cumulative danger’ of lockout laws being introduced in Australia.
As the Australian Government looks to justify a significant ambit of its decisions as ‘administrative decisions’ and/or ‘operational decisions outside the concern’ of the Australian public’, a deeper evaluation of this needs to be had in Parliament. As part of this, we must guard against Australia becoming a police state. Fundamentally, we must revisit the Bill of Rights debate.
We must achieve a deeper exploration of animal rights in Australia and enact progressive legislation. We must transition away from live export and bring an end to factory farming. We must bring an end to animal cruelty in general. Australians who stand up for justice in such areas must also be given adequate protection.
5. Our Treatment of Refugees
Human rights and the rule of law matter deeply to the people of Canberra. International Law and organisations such as the United Nations exist for a reason. Australia lacks honesty and humanity with regards to human rights violations. In relation to the extraordinary and evolving worldwide refugee crisis, Australia needs to play a lead role, both in politics, and at the grassroots.
Part of this includes bringing an end to indefinite mandatory detention, offshore processing and “turn-backs”. We need to increase our refugee intake significantly and introducing dynamic national integration laws. Ultimately, we need to evolve immigration policy to better complement domestic labor-force growth and societal well-being. Such moves would also allow our country to more fully embrace the increasingly connected world that we live in. We should make it easier for asylum seekers to gain access to the Australian labour market though creating new “working opportunities”, including a range of low-paid workfare jobs.
6. Our ‘International Identity’ – Approach to Foreign Affairs, Defence Role and Spending, Humanitarian Crises and Foreign Aid
While the United States of America is a very important international player, the major Australian political parties are scared to fully embrace all that Australia can bring to the table itself; the extent of the leadership we could show. We need more progressive leadership in foreign affairs and we need to uphold more sophisticated diplomacy. We need to help reframe current world debates. We need to focus less on religion and more on harmony and collaborative goals.
We must achieve a clearer strategic direction for the Australian Defence Force. We need to better define our role, both in the Asia Pacific region and globally. This includes being more savvy with defence spending. We could be spending significantly less. For too long, defence spending has been placed in the mould of a ‘long term insurance policy’, despite the very dynamic environment that we exist in. We need to have greater emphasis on risk management, where we try to prevent crises occurring through a more sensitive use of defence as well as other national assets (including foreign affairs and aid). A more dynamic linking of such ‘national tools’ as a way of maintaining stability is desirable. This would allow Australia to portray itself as a more constructive and more independent power.
The way world powers respond to humanitarian crises has been labelled “broken” by world leaders. Addressing the distinct lack of progressive action with regards to world humanitarian crises is essential. Australia can play a lead role in this regard. We must also increase our foreign aid budget.
7. Our Modern Workforce and Wellbeing
The workplace is a focal point to help us judge the health of our society. We must ensure that employees retain the appropriate level of say in what they sign up for. When it comes to collective bargaining agreements, there is clearly much that the people of Canberra feel let down by. We must achieve family-friendly labour market policies as this in itself leads to stronger families. We must also achieve a more preemptive approach to supporting the mental health of Australian citizens.
Among others things, Australia must become a leader in ‘parental leave’. Our community should embrace the holistic potential of more flexible works hours, including ‘the shorter working day’, like leaders such as Sweden. All super funds should be expected to meet ethical standards. We should also evolve immigration policy to better complement domestic labor-force growth and societal well-being. We must achieve greater equality in professional sport.
We should make it easier for asylum seekers to gain access to the Australian labour market, though creating new “working opportunities”, including a range of low-paid workfare jobs.
8. Our Younger Generations
The current government has a distinct lack of understanding of what will allow young people to thrive most. This includes the government’s limited willingness to achieve a deep exploration of the potential programs that can be introduced in schools to enrich the social development of children.
The current government lacks a deep understanding of the fundamental disparities that exist in the community and, equally broadly, the importance of the holistic education of young Australians to the future of this country, indeed the wellbeing of society, now. Gonski levels of funding are the bare minimum required. School funding needs to be as reflective of socio-economic circumstances as possible; ‘Gonski’ must inspire us to set even more supportive goals. Nevertheless, improving the education outcomes for our students is not just about funding.
We must allow for greater acknowledgement of what young Australians can contribute to the present and future of this country. This includes supporting moves to change the voting age to 16. We must uphold the ‘wisdom of youth’ in all its forms. If the Labor Party properly understood and cared about the younger generations, they would also stand up for the rights of young refugees more.
9. Our Older Generations
The number of Australians over the age of 65 is increasing rapidly. Australians are also living longer. It is crucial that society responds to this reality in a dynamic way. This includes recognising the opportunities that such a reality provides Australian society.
We must do all we can to ensure that our older generations are given every opportunity to remain active and engaged citizens and for as long as possible. People over the age of 65 have so much to contribute to the future of this country. Providing an appropriate Age Pension is just one part of the picture.
10. Our Transport
We must accelerate the transition to sustainable transport, supported by efficient transport routes. We must create more jobs through such endeavour.
11. Our Community Media Programs and the Arts
Maintaining a strong community broadcaster and Arts environment is fundamental to the continued progress and flourishing of Canberra, as well as to Australian society as a whole. As part of this we must must avoid cuts to such important public services, vocations, institutions and experiences (including community radio). Fundamentally, there should be far greater acknowledgment and celebration of the Arts in Australian society.
12. An End to Election Donations
The extent to which the election campaigns of the candidates of the major parties, including the Greens, are built on donations, is very unhelpful for our democracy. Politicians should achieve office on merit, not donations. Moreover, the money could be much better spent.
Authorised by Andrew Woodman
Independent Candidate for Fenner – 2016 Federal Election