What do we stand for?

It’s been so frustrating watching the actions of our political representatives in Parliament.

So much of our work lately has been to get member numbers up and re-register – and we are doing this because until we are registered, we cannot contest elections, and we cannot be heard.

But we have not lost our focus or our passion for policy reform that is honest, compassionate, and sustainable.

So what would we say if we were in Parliament?

Asylum Seekers
We must get children off of Nauru. Australia must reform its policy on asylum seekers by working with our regional partners. What Australia is doing currently is expensive, ineffective and so inhumane. We need reform, and we need it now. Neither major party is offering an alternative, claiming that offshore detention is a necessary evil to prevent people smuggling, drowning at sea, and uncontrolled borders.

But there are alternative models being proposed – if only the major parties would listen! Here is one model suggesting we work with our neighbours to have a regional solution, and it is the best we’ve seen as it addresses all aspects of the journey, from applying / processing to settling. Perhaps there are other proposed models.

Neither major party seems interested in finding a solution but instead says, ‘it’s too complicated’. But we are up for the challenge!

Energy
The destruction of a National Energy Guarantee policy has been criminal. The refusal of some minor parties to accept it unless it was 100% perfect – even though it was a step in the right direction – began to derail the initiative, but the disgusting behaviour of the Liberal party nay-sayers led by Tony Abbott, has been horrific to watch. Now, instead of a bi-partisan opportunity to approach energy in a holistic way, Parliament is back to the drawing board.

Our country cannot afford to play these games. Energy policy must take into account prices, reliability, but most importantly long term environmental sustainability. Emissions reductions is a major part of this. While the NEG may be off the table, we appreciate the attempt to have a holistic framework that could be built upon, even if it didn’t begin in perfect form, and would support another.

Tax
The debates around tax systems have also been circular. ‘Trickle down economics’ is not a model that works, but that does not mean there cannot be cuts that would help Australian businesses (especially small business) to be viable, competitive, and to thrive. But if this is being offered, there needs equal attention to closing corporate tax evasion loopholes. Again, we must move beyond this ‘one or the other’ approach of either complete support or complete opposition to businesses and corporations – and look holistically.

Housing
Meanwhile, negative gearing (in its current format) may be contributing to the fact that owning a home is increasingly out of reach for many young Australians. There are also far too many Australians who are sleeping rough – and while increasing public housing is one solution, so too is ensuring our public spaces and infrastructure are friendly so people have access to toilets, showers, and shelter for when someone is unable to access housing, for whatever reason. We have not seen this on either major party’s platform.

Drought and farmers
It’s not a good thing that rural issues are only in the media and the minds of urban voters when there is devastating drought.  Too many of the political voices who seek to represent rural people are climate change deniers, immovable proponents of coal, or seek to blame the plight of rural communities on foreign aid and refugees. There must be a balanced political alternative that is committed to rural issues all year round, and is committed to listening to what farmers have to say. This 6-min interview with Beef and Wheat farmer, Peter Mailler, gives an indication that what the Nationals promote, is not what the farmers want. We will keep listening.

 

These are only a few of the issues Australia needs action on, and our current Parliamentary representatives are not achieving it. It’s time for the Australian Democrats to get back to Parliament and help it operate the way it should.

Thank-you for your ongoing support and belief in us. We are all volunteers, but we are working tirelessly to re-launch, and your membership is helping us achieve that.

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