Interesting to read conservatives at the Institute of Public Affairs suggesting the Liberal National Party coalition needs to ‘be like Gough‘ if they get a full majority of power in both the lower and upper houses of Parliament at the upcoming federal election.
Of course, they don’t mean the LNP should suddenly back-flip and start actually supporting free education and healthcare for Australian citizens or any of the many other positive, progressive policies brought about during the brief Whitlam era. Instead they only encourage transforming the country with the same speed and vigour Whitlam did, but this time to the detriment of the average tax payer, for the benefit of the super rich.
You can see the full list of 75 suggested changes on their website, but I will share a few of those I think clearly represent the dangers of current extremist policy trend among ‘conservative’ circles in Australia.
- Close Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
- Halt construction of the National Broadband Network
- Privatise Australia Post
- Privatise CSIRO
- Privatise Medibank
- Privatise SBS
- Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
- Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
- Repeal the Fair Work Act
And forget about renewable energy or reducing emissions:
- Abolish the Department of Climate Change
- Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
- Repeal the renewable energy target
- Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
But wait there’s more:
- Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
- Break up the ABC and put out to tender each of it’s individual functions
- End local content requirements for Australian television stations
And to cap it all off, lets destroy the few protections still preventing Australian politics from falling to the sad state of politics in the USA:
- Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
- End mandatory disclosures on political donations
- Eliminate media ownership restrictions
- Introduce voluntary voting
Now if you are a sensible person who values the assets and essential services above, knowing they are listed for privatisation or shut-down has probably got you seeing red. But you shouldn’t be surprised really. These people are still stuck in the Washington Consensus way of thinking – which views government regulation or ownership of essential services as inherently bad because when done effectively it prevents the rich exploiting the rest of us.
In response, I have suggested a list of 75 of my own recommendations that should be achieved the next time we have a brave and capable leader like Whitlam, with the full support of his party and a co-operative senate.
These are not in any particular order just as they came to me.
- Negotiate formal treaties with Indigenous Australian first nation peoples which establishes and recognises both their standing and ceded sovereignty and comes to binding, long-term reparation and conciliation agreements.
- Legislate for 100% public funding of election campaigns for genuine candidates, which would be determined based on receiving a pre-requisite number of signatures from enrolled voters within the electorate.
- Legislate a 100% renewable energy target for Australia by 2050, with 50% renewables to be achieved by 2029.
- Pass legislation which would prevent future governments from privatising essential public services such as Australia Post, electricity production infrastructure, communications infrastructure, public media (ABC/SBS), health care services (hospitals/medicare/mental health, etc), jails, judiciary, science & research (CSIRO etc), water infrastructure, ports, customs and others. This could be achieved through an ‘anti-Privatisation Act’ which would set up such tight pre-conditions (such as institutional failure or corruption) for privatisation as to be mostly prohibitive; future governments would have to be repeal the Act itself before privatising healthy public services.
- Legislate a ban on all new coal fired power-plants
- Legislate a ban the establishment of new coal mines.
- Legislate a timetable for shutting off all coal-fired power plants in Australia by 2029.
- Legislate nation-wide incentive structures for households to install and maintain renewable energy generating equipment and energy efficient appliances.
- Establish a $100bn research, development and investment fund for the Renewable Energy sector to fuel innovation and investment in decentralised, low-cost and low-maintenance base-load renewable energy production.
- Legislate equal spending caps for all candidates within a given electorate, based on an evenly divided total cost of educating the public about all of the candidates, based on population and geographical size of the electorate.
- Ban all donations to political parties from organisations, companies, or individuals.
- Legislate a 100% public disclosure policy for all expense spending by Members of Parliament.
- Institute compulsory monthly public forums within all lower-house electorates to be attended by the MP representing that electorate. These should travel widely through-out the electorate over the period of an MP’s term in Parliament and should announced no less than 1 month in advance.
- Break up existing monopolies and introduce publicly-owned competition into uncompetitive industries where profit can be made while providing a positive public service (such as in the banking industry or communications sector).
- Give Australia Post a banking license for the purpose of providing low-interest loans for owner-occupier homes (perhaps value capped at avg home value +10% – roughly $500,000 at current prices) or limited size loans for needs-based purchase of one car (perhaps value capped at $50,000). This bank should return a reasonable profit of between 2-3% per year to the government coffers after risks are negated.
- Close investment loop-holes currently enabling billionaires and large corporations to avoid paying an equal measure of tax.
- Remove legislation allowing for ‘negative-gearing’ tax benefits for investment losses (your risk your reward/loss).
- Legislate a nation-wide super-profits tax encapsulating ALL industries above a certain total annual turnover (in the billions), to apply to all additional income in excess of 10% profit.
- Legislate a ‘total wealth’ cap for private institutions, individuals and corporations to prevent anti-competitive monopolies or over-sized organisations from forming.
- Legislate a nation wide ‘maximum wage’ pegged as a (perhaps 40 to 1) ratio with the minimum wage. Increasing the maximum wage could thus only be achieved by increasing the minimum wage proportionally.
- Legislate a ‘maximum’ income pegged as a (perhaps 20 to 1) ratio of the minimum income earned by any employee within a given business.
- Increase the tax-free income thresh-hold to $26,000 per year with a static 25% tax-rate for all taxpayers earning below 50% of the maximum wage per year. This would increase incrementally up to 50% tax rate for those earning the maximum wage. Any income earned in excess of the maximum wage is subject to a 100% tax rate.
- Modify Superannuation laws to allow owner-occupiers to use their superannuation to buy a home (to live in) or pay off their existing mortgage on such a home.
- Legislate for a fully funded 100% free-to-access public education system for students from K-12 and an additional up to 6 years of tertiary study and an additional 1 year of free tertiary study per decade after turning 30.
- Forgive all HECS, HELP or other forms of student debt owed by Australian citizens.
- Establish long-term funding models which guarantee proportional public funding for the Arts and Sciences irrespective of future budgetary constraints.
- Introduce an across the board ban on all shipping activities within an expanded Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with larger boundaries and tighter regulation preventing risky commercial activity within the Park.
- Ban Uranium Mining and Nuclear Energy production or waste storage permanently, aside from health-related medical research centres like the Lucas Heights facility.
- Increase regulation on maintenance and safety at Nuclear Energy research facilities such as Lucas Heights to ensure greater safety measures fit for increasingly extreme weather conditions.
- Withdraw from the ANZUS treaty which binds Australia to join wars of aggression started by the USA with countries that pose no threat to Australia.
- Develop a new military self-defence pact between Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
- Ban all foreign military forces from maintaining permanent or long-term bases on Australian territories.
- Expel all foreign military forces from Australian territories except those involved in guarding embassies, relief missions or training exercises.
- Ban all foreign military forces from flying unmanned or manned surveillance flights in Australian airspace.
- Legislate an upper limit on the yearly rate of resource and energy exports from Australian resources.
- Introduce incentive structures to encourage local smelting, manufacturing of products and value-adding making use of local mining and energy resources.
- Establish a government-backed, low-cost loans facility for the establishment, refurbishment or upgrade of local smelting and manufacturing plants.
- Upgrade Australia’s internal rail networks to better facilitate transport of resources between existing mining industry infrastructure and new local smelting and manufacturing plants.
- Immediately resume construction of a publicly-owned, fibre-to-the-premises national broadband network covering all major population centres, including regional farming and Indigenous communities.
- Announce Government support for full World Heritage Listing of the Burrup Peninsula rock art precinct.
- Modify existing legislation to allow for the upgrade and ongoing operation of Australia’s mass hydro-electricity plants at all Australian dams.
- Develop light-rail transportation systems for all major cities.
- Ensure no Government or Corporate body will receive blanket exemptions from Freedom of Information ACT requests.
- Introduce stronger shield laws for journalists and citizen-journalists.
- Hold a referendum on adopting a bill of rights.
- Legislate a national protections for Australia’s remaining unlogged native forests.