It’s election year! That means on July 2nd the vast majority of voting Australians will go out to vote, some won’t and will likely get a fine, but most of us will go out and vote; hooray! The 2016 election is actually pretty weird; a year ago it would’ve been a landslide loss for the current government as Tony Abbott was the most toxic leader since Campbell Newman (Who also won a massive majority and then lost it all in a single term). Then after the replacement of Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull it seemed as though the Liberal/National Coalition had a pretty easy ride to a slightly reduced majority win, with the senate reforms in effect it also meant goodbye to the 17 Senator crossbench that had plagued parliament for the last three years; that crossbench that some with incredibly rose-tinted glasses refer to as “holding the government to account” and I sit here thinking “They got rid of the ETS that was raising huge revenue and lowering pollution, supported a government bid to allow spying on citizens and beyond that did fuck all, yay crossbench”.
So yeah, 2016 should’ve been a pretty dull election; Labor would’ve regained a few marginal seats, the Greens would’ve increased their senate numbers and the Liberal/National Coalition would’ve held onto a reduced majority with the potential for a few extra senate seats. What changed? Well in the crazy mix of politics no one ever expects the unexpected; did anyone really expect Bill Shorten to win a debate? The Labor leader who over the past three years basically subscribed to a strategy of “Do nothing and just let Abbott keep fucking up” seemed lost after Malcolm Turnbull took over but as of last Friday he suddenly developed a personality that he must’ve been keeping in cold storage these last few years.
Suddenly everything has changed; media organisations had written off this election months in advance now it seems like this could actually be a close call so who should people be voting for and why? In typical TTB fashion I decided you could use a guide! I should point out at this point in time that yes I am on the progressive side of socio-politics and I’m on the socialist side of economics. Economics and History are actually two of my teaching specialities (Media studies is the third) so to say I kind of love economic discussions is an understatement, that said I’m fairly well read in economic studies whether it’s Friedman, Rothbard, Keynes or Proudhon I do love economic systems. Anyway on to the election guide; I should point out that Australia’s multi-party system means that come election day you’ll see the names of the four major parties (Greens, Labor, Liberal and National) alongside a slew of minor and micro parties liked Motoring Enthusiasts, Shooters & Fishers, Rise Up Australia Party, Australian Sex Party, Australian Progressives, Nick Xenophon Team, Jaquie Lambie Network, Animal Justice and many more. I don’t care for minor or micro parties so I’ll give a mild review on them towards the end, for now let’s talk big leagues!
Liberal Party of Australia:
The Liberal Party of Australia formed in August of 1945, at a time when the prominent economic debate of times past between pure capitalism and pure socialism had been discarded in favour of general acceptance of Keynesian economics. The founding principles of the party-
“a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening process of socialism.”
Seemed pretty decent, movements toward social justice, individual rights and national progress which typically translates to improving economic output. The Liberals of the early era unfortunately no longer really exist. Up until the mid-1990’s it could easily be argued that in terms of social policy the Liberal party was very much a progressive and accepting party; party founder Sir Robert Menzie’s worked tirelessly to dismantle the white Australia policy and improve the legal standing of Indigenous Australians (In 1962 the Menzies government secured voting rights for all Indigenous Australians). In addition to this the Menzies government introduced the Colombo Plan a scheme designed to provide economic and educational assistance to developing nations within Australia’s general region (Predominantly South-East Asian countries). These progressive trends would continue to define the Liberals for decades to come; Harold Holt completed Menzies immigration reforms effectively ending the White Australia Policy and opening the pathway for refugees and asylum seekers and further addressing Indigenous issues by allowing Indigenous Australians the right to take part in the national census.
Holt’s successor John Gorton continued this progressive trend passing equal pay legislation for men and women, launching Australia’s first attempt at a free healthcare system that serviced the poorest 250,000 citizens and an increase to pensions, allowances and educational scholarships for the disadvantaged. The final aspect of the original wave of Liberals was the McMahon government which occupied with huge global economic downturns still managed to elect the first Indigenous Senator Neville Bonner (who would serve 12 years in the senate). Following the Labor government of Gough Whitlam, the Liberals returned to power under Malcolm Fraser who established SBS, the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act, initiated a pathway program for large numbers of Vietnamese refugees (56,000) and was one of the first Western leaders to openly condemn Apartheid in South Africa.
Today’s Liberals are a far cry from what they once were so let’s take a look at their policies in this year’s election:
Liberal Party of Australia Policies
“Talk to the hand, cos the Malc ain’t listening”
Tax cuts for business: Under the Liberal party’s newly released budgets small business will be redefined as any business with a $10 million turnover or less. Currently small business is defined as businesses with a $2 million turnover or less, to understand the gravity of that; the $2 million threshold accounts for 2.15 million small businesses running in Australia. How many more businesses get covered by changing the threshold; 5000. Not 50,000, not 500,000, 5,000. I might be being a little cynical but a large number of those 5,000 businesses just happen to be tied directly to Liberal Party members…I’m not saying it’s definitely an instance of a government giving itself tax breaks but if it looks, smells and acts like it…well you know the rest.
Google Tax: This is a policy that can’t really be faulted; multinationals are constantly avoiding paying taxation in Australia. As such the proposed “Google” tax is set to crackdown on multinationals which is a good thing, it’s likely to increase revenue and ensure fairness.
Inhumane treatment of refugees: The Liberal Party and to be fair The Labor Party also, are committed to making sure that refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war, despotic regimes and likely death will be indefinitely detained in offshore death camps where the only way out is to be returned to the place you were fleeing or commit suicide. Top job Liberal!
Increased military spending: Despite Australia not being involved directly in any major conflicts and the general international view that Western countries should stop intervening in foreign conflicts the Liberals are still keen on spending more money on the military. The decision to build a new class of submarine in South Australia with French assistance has been hailed as a win for Australian manufacturers and truth be told I can’t fault that. Similarly I can’t fault the ship building initiative that will see 9 frigates and 12 off-shore patrol vessels constructed either. Understand that I’m not “anti-military” I’m in favour of a prohibitive military one that stops you from being attacked but doesn’t lead the charge in attacking others. Unfortunately, manufacturing aside the rest of the proposed $29.9 billion is being spent on things like surveillance and electronic warfare. In layman’s terms that’s “making it easier for the government to spy on citizens without warrants”
Miscellaneous policy: The Liberals have announced a number of other policies such as; cuts to education and health, giving money to big polluters as long as they “promise” to pollute less, letting mining companies go onto farmers land and dig whatever they feel like without needing any permission from the farmers and letting the general public vote on the legalisation of same-sex marriage despite the fact that heterosexuals telling non-heterosexuals how to live is not dissimilar to letting anglo-Australians vote on whether or not blackface is racism.
Liberal Party Score: 3/10
For a full list of policies visit: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party formed as a coalition of various labour and worker’s rights groups that existed in the Australian colonies prior to Federation in 1901. Officially they hold the title of the oldest party still in existence and predominantly painted themselves as a workers rights and pro-union movement from 1901 to 1996. In 1941 Labor’s most beloved Prime Minister John Curtin assumed office and led Australia through the second World War planting the seeds for the ANZUS pact that would define and still does define Australia’s foreign allegiance. Curtin would unfortunately die in office, not before introducing Commonwealth unemployment benefits (the predecessor to the modern Centrelink).
Curtin was succeeded by Ben Chifley who launched the Social Services referendum, which would see expansion of health care via the introduction of the Prescription Benefits Scheme (PBS) improving the affordability of medication for all citizens, free hospital ward treatment, the introduction of Australian citizenship, the founding of ASIO, the expansion of the CSIRO, the establishment of a Universities Commission, the creation of the Commonwealth Employment Service, introduction of public housing services, establishing QANTAS and the ABC and introducing proportional voting to the Senate. In many ways Ben Chifley was responsible for nearly every major social service we have today.
After Chifely lost re-election to Robert Menzies, the Labor party would spend the years from 1949 to 1973 undergoing various party splits and reformations. The Democratic Labour Party would form as a result of the 1955 party split as an effort to “keep communists out of government”. These splits and issues would define Labor as the golden age of Liberalism dominated Australia throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Eventually in 1972 Gough Whitlam was elected as the first Labor Prime Minister in over 20 years, Whitlam’s Labor saw factions become prominent within the core Labor make up; the Socialist Left and Labor Right were established with Labor Right dominating the party advocating Social Democracy over Democratic Socialism. Whitlam’s Labor saw the introduction of a number of progressive social policies; the introduction of free University education, universal free healthcare under MediBank, the formal removal of the White Australia policy (the vast majority of this policy was already eliminated under successive Liberal governments), the implementation of legal aid programs, the elimination of National Service and the death penalty, further advances in Indigenous rights and a 25% cut to tariffs across the board. Whitlam’s government would unfortunately come to a grinding halt after the double-dissolution put in effect by John Kerr.
The 1980’s once again saw Labor returned to power with Bob Hawke sworn in as Prime Minister. This would see the successive five term run of Hawke-Keating, which would see a major shift in economics from traditional Keynesian economics (favoured by both parties at the time) to extensive deregulation and monetarism; floating the Australian dollars, privatisation of national industries, the dismantling of the tariff systems and deregulation of banks and financial institutions (Editor’s note: These were not good ideas in the long term). Labor also saw the introduction HECS fees after Whitlam’s previous free education policy had been undone during the Fraser government. Medicare was established to replace MediBank after the latter had also been removed. Native title was established once again furthering the Indigenous Australian rights movement and further moves to address social inequity were made with major increases to school funding and mass welfare reform that would lead to a series of benefits and assistance programs for the disadvantaged.
Under Keating however, aside from the really fucking bad Neo-Liberalist economics policies that John Howard would continue with, off-shore detention was first introduced paving the way for the serious social issues dominating Australian politics today.
Australia Labor Party Policies:
“If I just stand still and don’t do anything no one will expect anything of me”
Increased funding for schools: The Labor Party supports the Gonski reforms which would see a further $40 billion committed to funding education in Australian schools. Included in these reforms include targeted teaching, increased support for indigenous students, greater focus on vocational education and training (VET), support for students with a disability, upskilling teachers and a greater focus on computer coding (This particular aspect of policy can get fucked, it’s destroying AIT curriculum with AIT teachers no longer being allowed to teach web design, animation or any other creative use of AIT in place of exclusive focus on coding).
Medicare Reform: Labor supports Medicare reform that sees access to Medicinal Cannabis, specialised optical health for Indigenous Australians, increased support for mental health care and increased funding for breast cancer patients (again kinda dumb, breast cancer has the lowest death rate and highest funding rate already, meanwhile stomach, spine, blood, bone, brain, prostate and testicular cancer are seriously underfunded and resulting in many more deaths)
Protecting weekend penalty rates: Labor has put forth a policy on protecting weekend penalty rates for workers, recently however various members have been unclear as to the extent of this particular policy.
Inhumane treatment of refugees: The Labor Party and to be fair The Liberal Party also, are committed to making sure that refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war, despotic regimes and likely death will be indefinitely detained in offshore death camps where the only way out is to be returned to the place you were fleeing or commit suicide. Top job Labor!
Miscellaneous policies: The Labor party has a number of other policies, like the reintroduction of an emissions trading scheme, the same tax crackdowns as the Liberal party, a policy on not increasing the small business threshold to $10 million in turnover, apparently a call for legalisation of same-sex marriage without the public vote (subject to change) and increased funding for environmental protection and renewable energy programs.
Labor Party Score: 6/10
For a full list of policies visit: http://www.100positivepolicies.org.au/
The Australian Greens:
Officially formed in 1992, the Greens trace their origin to a number of environmental and social justice groups unified under a single banner. Their first senator was Jo Vallentine of Western Australia who originally led the Nuclear disarmament party in the 1980’s. The WA Greens dominated the Green spectrum until 1998 when they lost re-election leaving Bob Brown as the sole Greens member in Parliament until 2001. In 2001 the Greens doubled their Senate numbers from 1 to 2, doubling again in 2004 to 4 senators.
In 2007 the Greens numbers again rose with five senate seats under Green control, 2007 saw the election of future Greens deputy Scott Ludlam. 2010 would see the largest win for the Greens with 9 senators in total and 13% of the primary vote nationwide (1.6 million voters). The 2010 election would also see the first time the Greens had a direct impact on government, with Labor under Julia Gillard forming a minority government with Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt alongside independent representatives. The Greens-Labor Coalition saw strong legislation passed including the Mining & Resources tax and the Emissions Trading Scheme. With the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate they were instrumental in the passing of policy and amending policy launched by the Gillard Government.
The 2013 election saw the Greens gain yet again with 10 Senators and single Representative in the lower house. In 2015 Senator Richard Di Natale would assume leadership over outgoing leader Christine Milne and appoint Senators Ludlam and Waters to the positions of joint deputy. While the Greens originated as a predominantly environmental party they have expanded to occupy the economic Left previously held by the Labor party. This has caused recent conflict with Labor drifting further toward Centre-Right politics as a result of losing their Socialist Left faction.
“It sure is tiring being the actual opposition leader”
Renewable Energy and Environmental protection: The Greens support a reintroduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme alongside increased funding for renewable energy and a move to eliminate fossil fuel reliance. The Greens have also argued in favour of harsher penalties for big polluters.
Tax reform: The Greens have argued in favour of tax reform that would see increased taxation for multi-nationals, major corporations, banks and financial institutions and a reintroduction of public financial institutions. Included with these reforms is a move to crackdown on companies that avoid paying tax through offshore holdings.
Social Policy: Much like Labor the Greens have called for support for educational facilities, health care and an upholding of the Gonski reforms. In addition the Greens have outlined policy geared at addressing inequity between Indingenous and non-Indigenous students. Improvements in public transport and infrastructure and maintenance of funding for VET programs and tuition free University.
Asylum Seekers: The Greens are so far the only major party advocating support for Asylum Seekers and an end to offshore processing. The current Greens policy is to allow Asylum Seekers onshore for processing and to adopt a processing system similar to those in use by New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the USA. This policy is in accordance with the United Nations refugee convention of which Australia is a signatory.
Miscellaneous policies: The Greens have a number of social and economic policies focused on job creation, in particular policies that advocated increased funding for renewable energy with a move to increase participation in the energy sector. The Greens GMO policy is terrible, demanding the labelling of GMO’s despite all scientific evidence supporting GMO’s as a safe product. An economically questionable policy of the Greens is an end to live export which has been predicted at costing several billion dollars in the agricultural industry. The Greens support for scientific innovation and increased funding for the CSIRO and Climate Change Authority are respectable policies which seek to improve Australia’s scientific output.
Australian Greens Score: 8/10
For a full list of policies visit: http://greens.org.au/policy-platform
National Party Of Australia:
The National Party originated in 1920 as the Country Party, before adopting their current name in 1982. Traditionally the Nationals largest impact has been on State politics, in particular they were the dominant political party in Queensland until the official unification of the Queensland Liberals and Nationals into the Liberal-National Party. Currently the National Party operates in the Coalition with the Liberal Party, the Nationals leader is typically named deputy Prime Minister under a Coalition government.
Originally the National party served as a voice for rural and regional Australians, in Coalition governments they were often the advocators for protections regarding farmer’s rights and generally put in control of the agricultural sector. In recent years the continued diminishing support for the Nationals has seen the party become absorbed by their Liberal brethren. To the point where currently they hold only three seats in the Senate and nine seats in the lower house. Comparatively in the NSW they hold 17 seats in the State Parliament. With increasing swings against the Nationals in part due to continued fracking issues in regional communities the Nationals have seen major swings to the Greens. In the NSW 2015 election the National party saw two presumably safe seats witness swings of more than 20% in favour of the Greens, leading the National seat of Ballina that had been held by the Nationals since it was created in 1988 to fall to the NSW Greens. The other safe National seat of Lismore also saw a major swing and was saved by preferences from also falling to the Greens, the final vote was less than a thousand in difference.
With the Nationals diminishing power and popularity, spurned on recently by Federal Leader Barnaby Joyce’s rather strange crusade against Johnny Depp’s wife, the Nationals currently appear to be losing more and more ground and have even run the risk of being deregistered in some locations by the Australian Electoral Commission.
“I swear to fucking God, if you bring the dog one step closer I’ll eat it myself!”
I can’t really be bothered outlining the Nationals policies because they always just end up siding with the Liberal Party as part of their Coalition. It even says on their own website they’re all the same as the Liberal policies, so just go back and read that a second time if you really need to.
For a full list of policies visit: http://nationals.org.au/our-plan/
There’s all sorts of crazy minor and micro parties in Australia; there’s the Liberal-Democratic Party who almost tricked me into voting for them once because I assumed they were an extension of the UK Liberal-Democrats (They’re a centre party), but instead they’re sort of insane Libertarians who want more guns, fewer schools and other stuff I guess. There’s also the Shooters & Fishers, guess what they like? Shootin’ and Fishin’ basically what would happen if Hank Hill started a political party, in fact that’s a great idea for marketing Shooters & Fishers “We like propane and propane accessories”.
There’s also recently been a ton of parties named after their leader, e.g. Bob Katter’s Australia Party, Jacquie Lambie Network, Nick Xenophon Team, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Glen Lazarus Team, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party. Basically this list is what happens when rampant egotism evolves to a higher level of rampant egotism. Granted Nick Xenophon actually has achieved some success as an independent politician advocating reforms to gambling in the state of South Australia.
There’s also a handful of Socialist parties ranging from the moderate socialists in The Australian Sex Party and Australian Progressives (who mostly advocate similar economic and social policies to The Greens), to the batshit insane Socialist Equality Party and Socialist Alliance who call for overthrowing the government and introducing Trotskyism (Leon Trotsky was a member of the Russian Revolution) which granted is a nicer alternative to Stalinism but still is a fairly flawed theory that has been outmoded by the changes in the globalised world.
Of course the gun nuts, socialists and egos can’t compare to the downright silly parties; Family First, Rise Up Australia, the Christian Democrats and the Australian Liberty Alliance are basically a bunch of extremist right-wing fanatics who support scriptural literalism and hating brown people. Similarly there’s the Anti-Paedophile Party (apparently opposed to the Pro-Paedophile Party) and the Outdoor Recreation Party, who seem to have policies based on things that already exist…Good job guys!
My super detailed analysis on how to deal with Minor and Micro Parties;
So at this point you’re possibly asking, Taylor who do you plan on voting for? Well I live in the electorate of Canning, historically one of the safest Liberal seats in the country. In addition to that they recently redrew the lines of Canning so all the Liberal voters stayed in Canning and all the non-liberals got pushed to the newly created electorate of Burt. So as far as members of the House of Representatives go, my vote is meaningless. However, the Senate having introduced new laws that allow preferences to be made above the line means I have all the power in the world.
Tay-Tay’s Senate Voting Card:
2.) Australian Progressives
3.) Australian Sex Party
4.) Nick Xenophon Team
5.) Socialist Alliance Party
6.) Australian Labor Party
Ta-da! Surprised? If you are you really haven’t been reading well. Anyway that’s it for the election special, next Sunday I’ll be reviewing X-Men: Apocalypse!