Open thread – election priorities

I’m still plowing through the various announcements of the ALP on climate change, so in the meantime I’m throwing open this thread.

We’re hearing a lot about ‘what Australians want’, this election – yet I don’t recall many of us actually being asked. So in this open thread, I’m asking the question:

What are your top three election priorities?

To kick it off, mine are (in no particular order):

Restoration of student services and financial relief for tertiary students

Targeted funding to address the widening gap between services available in public and private schools

Mental and dental health care available to those who can’t afford the incredibly high fees that providers charge.


14 Responses to Open thread – election priorities

  1. The Amazing Kim says:

    Abbott on radio this morning stated that we didn’t need to develop nuclear energy, because we had so much coal.

    Oh good. I was really worried that we’d have to stop polluting for a second. What a relief.

    Difficult to think of just three, and impossible to put them into order, but here are today’s list:

    1. Climate change. I hear it’s important.

    2. Same sex marriage. Not that marriage is a particularly magical wonderland, but the lack of it causes a lot of angst for people I care about and it’s so easy to fix. The only reason for not announcing equal rights today is to appease bigots. I guess I just don’t like politics that appeals to bigots, more than anything to do with marriage itself. The marriage issue is a good indication of queer rights in general.

    3. Fishy stuff. The oceans are in dire straits (sorry) and could do with some lovin’.

    And everything everyone else has said, too.

  2. lilacsigil says:

    1. Climate change – we’re still burning brown coal, WTF. I grew up near Hazelwood power station, and I’ve been hearing calls to shut it down for more than half my life. It’s still there. As part of climate change, improvement of rail freight and passenger lines, and no new roads in the cities, only public transport.

    2. Basic dental services as part of Medicare – fund it by dumping the massive and pointless subsidy of private health. (Yes, I am a private health fund member.) Better funding of mental health would be good, too, but I live in a rural area so I doubt we’re going to see much of that even if it does happen.

    3. No internet censorship or data retaining – a basic civil liberties issue.

  3. Fergie says:

    My priorities.

    1. Climate change. We knew it was going to be a big problem way the hell back in the 80’s. 20 to 30 years later? We still polute like it’s going out of fashion. Worse, the people with a vested interest in continuing their inexpensive, but environmentally unfriendly ways, are the ones who are still managing to carry the day. I really thought that labour got the picture that the Australian people elected them, and gave them a mandate to go out and put a price on polution. That message seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

    2. A very close second goes to internet censorship. I can not stress enough that I will support no government that is creating the tools for a dictatorship. The fact that their going to be good boys and not abuse it (yeah right….) means nothing to me. I keep hearing this catch cry of “Oh! Won’t you think of the children.” and “Don’t you believe that child pornography is a bad thing?”

    I do thing that’s a bad thing. But I know without any shadow of a doubt that mandatory internet censorship is not the answer to the problem. It’s a very expensive waste of time. Worse, it’s a very expensive waste of time that can be hideously abused, either by this government, or later ones. This will not stop people sharing child pornography. It will not stop peer to peer file sharing. It will not stop people from being able to access materials and information related to terrorist activities, and worst of all, I think the government knows it. Now it’s all become a giant ass covering exercise. “Let’s waste 10 billion plus dollars so that we don’t lose the next election.”

    I am so very tired of these people continuing to represent their own interests, and the interests of their political party above those of the people who elected them.

    3. Mental health spending. Too many people in assorted amounts of dire straights. How many things would the money from the internet filter fix in this catergory instead?

    • It’s mind-boggling how climate change has somehow become this kind of unimportant issue. I’m encouraged by seeing promises of money to be spent on renewables, but at the same time it’s all getting undermined by how much is going into propping up the big polluters, especially coal-fired power stations.

      Abbott on radio this morning stated that we didn’t need to develop nuclear energy, because we had so much coal. Now, whatever anyone might think of the nuclear option, that statement really shows just how unable to think outside the box our leaders are.

      Internet censorship – I’m going to wait to see what shakes down in policy announcements before I start screaming, but I agree, the idea of some kind of internet thought police is pretty damned terrifying. Call me alarmist, but it’s a short step from ‘keep that nasty filth away from our kids’ to ‘acting contrary to the national interest’. We still have sedition laws.

      Mental health – it’s interesting that pretty much everyone is saying that. I think it shows just how out of touch the major parties really are. Abbott’s announcement of extra inpatient beds does nothing to help the majority of people with mental health issues, who are living and working in the community, and battling illness every day of their lives.

  4. Rockstar Philosopher says:

    Did I hear right that Labor are going to reintroduce the GSF, but administered by the uni and not the union? If so that’s a stellar idea, it was necessary for the services it gave, not so we could give future professional politicians a play ground with a lot of real power (I’m not anti-student union in the least, and I do worry how Melbourne Uni would choose to spend GSF funds, but at the same time putting the money into the hands of people blinded by underdeveloped ideology perhaps isn’t the best idea).

    • That’s the plan. The idea behind having the universities administer the funding is to undercut the objection that the GSF gets channeled into student politics (because heaven forbid that students beomce politically active).

      I’d like to see some student input into the disposition of funds, though. It would be all too easy for a University Council to ignore areas of demand (like childcare).

  5. Rockstar Philosopher says:

    Mine change every day 😛

    The main thing for me is to see the Greens get the BOP. With either of the majors holding BOP the senate is either used for obstruction or rubber stamping. A Green controlled senate would see actual negotiations occurring; the ALP will have to either go left or go right to get things through, which I think will show their true colours. No longer will the ALP be able to take Lefties for granted.

    The next main issue is keeping Tony Abbott and his motley crew out of power. The guy is dangerous. It’s not so much that I disagree with his values (although I do) but I don’t think he has any vision or forethought and a Liberal government would continue the wholesale selling of our sovereign wealth to the highest bidder in a desperate race to turn us into a banana republic. The economy is very important, but I don’t think the Libs feel that there is anything but the economy. Even all of their social policies seem to be aimed at co-opting people to vote against their economic interests.

    The biggest stinker of a policy this week for me was the plan to make private school fees tax deductible. We’re already in the ludicrous situation where the federal government out funds private schools by $4:1. If we make the school fees tax deductible we will be seriously looking down the barrel of the end of quality public education in this country. State schools will become a holding ground for the disaffected and disengaged.

    Also key for me is that we begin to move towards a time when asylum seekers are not an election issue. For me it makes about as much sense as choosing who you’re going to vote on based on health care policy – and judging that policy on how many disabled car parks there are at Morwell base hospital. The sooner we realise that it’s a complete non-issue, other than it defines our moral fiber (ie: it has minimal social, structural or economic impacts) and start taking the high ground the better. Julia had me listening when she said as much the other week, but then brought my guards up when she followed it up with a dog whistle. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but if we’re going for a more moderate immigration scheme (which I agree with in principle) it needs to be backed up with policy announcements cutting student and skilled migrant visas. We won’t make a lick of difference to our migrant intake going after the easy targets of refugees and family reunification.

    Climate change is another important issue. However, it’s not really on my electoral radar because I’m already going to vote for the only party with a sane policy that takes into account the science and economics. The “Community Cabinet” was an own goal. Really, who will this appease? And it has many people asking “haven’t we already elected you to do something about this?”. Rudd should have called the DD at the start of the year, but he showed himself to be the gutless wonder he is, caring more about whether people like him than doing a good job. Labor could impress me by announcing an interim policy that puts a tax on carbon now; it doesn’t have to be small, it could be negligible, but business needs to start gearing up to be able to account for their carbon now, so that whatever we go with, tax or trading, it can be implemented quickly. I can see a future where the gab fest says “yes, let’s do it” and the policy gets passed, but doesn’t get implemented until after the 2013 election. This leaves the door open for an extraordinary single issue election a la Tampa leading to a Liberal government and the end of any hope of seeing a responsible carbon policy this decade.

    • Well, I think that was a few more than three priorities :), but thanks for such a detailed response, it’s great to see!

      For me, the asylum seeker issue ran a very close fourth when I was trying to work out my top priorities. In fact – given two of them were education-related – it’s more likely third. The sheer amount of xenophobia and hate-mongering that goes on is mind-boggling. To take some of it literally you’d have to believe that entire battle groups of people, heavily armed, were invading our coastlines and laying waste to the countryside. There has never been any evidence to suggest that asylum seekers who arrive by boat damage our country in any way – quite the reverse.

      The Liberals’ education tax rebate is rather sneaky. It’s clearly an appeal to the hip pocket, and to be fair, all school fees would be eligible (including the so-called ‘voluntary’ contribution for kids at government schools). How it’s being dressed up, though, is another story. The Coalition is badging it as ensuring freedom of choice – something they tried to run with at the 2007 election. The argument is slippery – if the government only funds government schools, it discriminates against private schools. If it doesn’t supply rebates for private school fees, etc., it prevents ‘hard-working Aussie battlers’ from accessing private schools.

      It’s a totally spurious argument, designed to poke people who feel they are somehow missing out.

  6. Loki Carbis says:

    My top three priorities are:

    1) defeating the internet censorship scheme

    2) greatly mental and dental health care on Medicare (or otherwise brought within financial reach of the people who need them most)

    3) a raft of assorted environmental issues that can be loosely grouped under “a sane response to climate change”

    • ‘Sane’ response to climate change … maybe if we had decent access to mental health care, we might have some sane policy ideas?

      The internet censorship scheme appears to be falling apart at a great rate of knots. There hasn’t been an updated communications/internet policy released by either major party, but I would not be surprised to see it was quietly dropped off the end of the list.

      • Rockstar Philosopher says:

        Yep, I reckon the filter is dead and buried.

        As for mental and dental, Loki, would you be happy with these services being expanded to health care card holders (there’s already some, but not great)? I’d like to see it in the general medicare pool, but I’d take the small step of making sure the poor and needy aren’t toothless and insane.

        *brainfart* although, I wonder what the usage is like, my gut tells me it’s the poor who overwhelmingly access these services so expanding it to medicare probably wouldn’t be that big a deal.

  7. Bri says:

    Mental Health service provision – specifically the restoration of Medicare provider numbers for eligible counsellors

    Increased services for rural areas

    Closing the Gap (Aboriginal services)

    • Yes, I’d like to see properly accredited counsellors given Medicare provider numbers. I’d also like to see some sensible application of Medicare to psychologists’ services – 6 sessions is barely enough to begin unpacking serious mental health issues!

      As for closing the gap … well, where do we even start? There is so much that needs to be done, and, despite the great promises after the Apology, it seems like very little is actually happening.

      • Rockstar Philosopher says:

        Ending the intervention would be a start… NSW has a mentorship programme for young indigenous kids that I hear is quite good, that could be expanded nationally. I’m working on some ideas around linking remote communities with urban communities in the name of mutual support and education, but you’ll have to wait at least another 5 years for that paper 😛

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