Friday, July 01, 2016

Party Games 55/55 Australian Labor Party

Finally, the Australian Labor Party. I was very tempted just to make this a list of 100 yes, nos, or maybes as a summary of the 100 positive policies but at this point even that feels like it might be too much. I could go on about what was accomplished under the previous Labour government, dealing with the GFC, managing a minority government that did a better job of working with the cross bench in both houses than the Coalition have done in the last 3 years, the NBN as it was originally implemented as a fibre to the premises model that would have supported our nation well into the future.

The ALP's 100 positive policies are a bit of a mixed bag from serious (reintroducing an emissions trading scheme) to the trivial (cheaper admission to Questacon (but seriously, if you're in Canberra, go to Questacon, it's cool)) to the vague filler that are actually just summarising the previous ones (Labor's Positive Plan for ).

Their campaigning over medicare seems to have worked, although it seems to be misrepresenting the situation a little, being that the proposal seems to be outsourcing some of the administrative work involved in getting money from place A to place B, not making medicare a business rather than a government service. That said given the number of government departments that need to make large numbers of payments, I wonder if the current government had considered setting up a general purpose payment system that all government departments could use, rather than outsourcing bits here and there might be more effective in the long run (although as I type this I realize that with the great diversity of needs of different government departments might mean that any system able to meet each ones needs might not be feasible).

Overall, I like the picture of what Australian society can be that Labor presents better than the one the Coalition presents. So while Labour won't be my first choice on the ballot, it will definitely have its place.

Party Games 54/55 The Coalition

The Coalition is a bit of a hybrid beast, being made up of the Liberal Party, the Nationals, the Liberal National Party (QLD only), and the Country Liberals (NT only). For the most part they all work together in lock step, so there's usually not much need to consider them seperately (I checked the list of policies on both the Liberal and Nationals sites and they were identical.)

This election going into the list of the policies I've found more that I like than last time around. More funding to help the surf life savers is pretty good, as is helping families of kids with type 1 diabetes. I think I can even get behind more sports in school (since I'm not a kid anymore and it doesn't apply to me.)

When it comes to the bigger items they sound nice enough but their actions over the last 3 years make it harder to believe in them. The biggest one is Better and More Accessible Digital Services, where their big claim is a better rollout of the NBN. Between vastly expensive purchases of a degraded copper network from Telstra, switching to a mixed technology system which means people on what is even now just an ok cable connections are considered to be on the NBN, abandoning of fibre to the premises, they're giving us a worse solution that won't stand the test of time that isn't cheaper and isn't being delivered sooner.

I'm also not convinced that Turnbull will be able to rein in the far right of the party who have been undermining him since he replaced Tony Abbott. These are the folks who are saying marriage equality is an issue that is so important it needs to go to a vote of the whole population, but then that they won't commit to voting in line with the outcome of the plebiscite afterwards. These are the folks who tie up the senate with hearings on Halal labelling.

The coalition is a group that have made all Australians a party to inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in our care at offshore dentention centres. This is a group that has worked to limit the knowledge of citizens about the actions of its government. This is the government that made the phrase "on water matters" a punchline. This is the government that when Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she was spied on by staff at Naura replied the allegations were completely unfounded until said staff came clean and admitted they did so.

This is the group that brought in mandatory data rentention laws with an attorney general who can't even wrap his head around what exactly metadata is. This is a group that axed a carbon tax and then saw emissions rise again. This is a government that proposed making young people wait 6 months before being able to claim unemployment benefits.

So, while they have more good ideas this election, it's not enough for me to look past the last 3 years.

Party Games 53/55 The Greens

Now it's time for the bigger players. I've left these to last because honestly, if you don't know where you stand with regards to these by this stage, I'm not sure what to say. Ask the people handing out how to vote cards to tell you a joke and vote for who tells the funniest. Or ask them why you should vote for their party without mentioning any other party (the biggest failure I've seen when doing this was when the second word they said was the name of the other major party, and "well, he's my brother in law" is a honorable second worst.) Anyway on to the party in question.

The Greens are the most established of the minor parties, and have grown in influence since the demise of the Australian Democrats over a decade ago. They've worked well with governments from both the major parties, but haven't been pushovers either. They also have the only politician to attend PAXAus, Scott Ludlam.

Of course their main focus is environmental issues. They're good on climate change and areas like protecting the reef. I don't agree with their call for a full ban on nuclear power and closing down the Lucas Heights reactor that produces radioactive materials used for medical and research purposes. I also feel that they are too alarmist when it comes to genetically modified organisms, although they're not as bad as one party that said they'd only allow genetic modification done through traditional means (I think they meant selective breeding but I'm sure I could make a case that CRISPR is becoming a traditional tool.)

In other areas they are for marriage equality, better public transport, better health care and social services, and better support for artists. These I can get behind.

Overall, pretty good, and they deserve to keep their place as the major balance of power player in the senate.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Party Games 52/55 Australian Recreational Fishers Party

Coming out of alphabetical order due to their registration as a party very close to the announcement of the election but after I'd done some pre-planning and made my big long list of parties is the Australian Recreational Fishers Party. I guess they're for the fishers who don't like shooter & farmers. More seriously though, these guys seem a bit to the left the the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and they're based in Tasmania instead of NSW, so maybe we might see them join forces in the future.

On the fishing front they stand for better support of recreational fishers and a ban on large industrial fishing (I'm not going to pretend I actually know what a super trawler is). On other topics they support the Gonski funding model (did that do anything special for Tasmania?) and the creation of a federal ICAC, and oppose GP co payments and reductions to penalty rates. Those are all ok by me.

Party Games 51/55 Voluntary Euthanasia Party

Thanks to the vagaries of alphabetical order I've been left with some rather serious topic parties towards the end. This one is the Voluntary Euthanasia Party. Again, the name basically sums it up. I agree with the idea of voluntary euthanasia for certain cases. I don't think it's a decision to be made lightly, and it's never going to be an easy one, but I do think it could be an option in the right circumstances. I think in my own case I could put up with pain, but if I lost my mind like full on senile dementia, then is there really anything of me left to preserve.

Anyway, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party wants laws brought in to allow people to choose to end their life on their own terms when the time comes. They propose some sensible safeguards, but not the cooling off period I've seen other parties suggest (I guess if you're suffering that much you want to end it a week waiting to make sure you've really made up your mind could be a very long time, so maybe a strict time period isn't such a good idea).

On other issues they say they'll take them on a case by case basis, but in general they have a moderate, progressive stance.

Party Games 50/55 The Australian Mental Health Party

The Australian Mental Health Party is another single issue party whose name pretty much sums up what for. They want better provision of health care and support networks for people with mental health problems. I've got no snarky comments for that. I will point out that they have not put forward how they plan to fund the extra spending they propose and they haven't said how they deal with other issues if elected.

Party Games 49/55 The Arts Party

Another of the new parties this election, The Arts Party advocates for greater funding and support for the arts in all their forms. This means better funding for the ABC and SBS, better funding for arts funding bodies such as the Australia Council, more time spent on art at school, extra funding for performances is regional areas, and so on. I'm pretty meh on most of that except for the ABC & SBS funding. Where they managed to regain my interest was support for restarting the Interactive Games Fund to support video game developers. This shows that they are open to new art forms, which is promising.

They also put forward some revenue raising ideas since pretty much all of their policies involve more spending. Their revenue raisers include extra taxes on banks, a reform of negative gearing, changes to how super is taxed, and creating a lottery to fund arts projects. These look to be sensible ideas, to the degree allowed by the level of specificity included in their policies.

They also have a poet in residence, which I think is a good way of exemplifying what they stand for.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Party Games 47&48/55 Socialist Alliance & Socialist Equality Party

Australia's two socialist parties, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Equality Party, don't seem to get along too well. The SEP feels the Socialist Alliance are capitalist sell outs because they support the Greens. The Socialist Equality Party do seem to be the more hard core of the socialist parties, tracing their origins to Trotsky of Russian revolution fame. In comparison, the Socialist Alliance feel like the university hippy socialist party.

As such, the Socialist Equality Party are very much for the seizing of the means of production on behalf of the workers and fundamentally reworking society, while the Socialist Alliance seem content to work within the current system to promote workers rights and stronger unions.

Since I'm not sure I agree that all of the capitalist system needs to be brought down, of the two I lean towards the Socialist Alliance.

Party Games 46/55 Smokers Rights Party

Given the Smokers Rights Party's close connections to the LDP and the changes to the senate voting rules, the party have decided that they will run just one candidate for a House of Represenatives seat in New South Wales so that they can keep their party registration, but otherwise they're telling supporters to just vote for the LDP. That's some low effort work right there.

In a similar low effort style, I'll simply point out that I disagree with lowering taxes on smoking, repealing bans on public smoking, repealing restrictions on how stores display tobacco products, and repealing plain packaging laws are all ideas I disagree with.


Party Games 45/55 Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party

The shooters and fishers have added another member to their alliance, transforming from the Shooters & Fishers Party to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Presumably the farmer is the guy with a dog in the party logo.

This expansion of coverage means that they've added to their policies of winding back restrictions on gun laws and letting people fish wherever with some stuff related to farming. This includes letting farmers prevent mining on their property (reasonable), letting farmers clear land as they see fit (questionable), providing support for farmers implementing water conservation efforts (good), and preventing the government from stopping people burning on public land to protect their property (really?).

Their environment policies in general sound like they feel like the Greens have been too successful in preventing people from accessing nature.

Finally, they should have used an oxford comma in their party name.

Party Games 44/55 Science Party

Welcome to the future of the Future Party, where they've rebranded as the Science Party. Other than the new name, not much else has changed. In fact, at one point they say the support the NBN under the current fibre to the premises model. This means they still have a pretty good set of policies that appeal to me as a science nerd type.

These include high speed rail (come on over Bullet Train for Australia supporters), setting up a space agency to collaborate with other nations, better funding for education, and better funding for research. Their plan for a land tax also still makes me question how local governments will manage their cash flow when they only receive income when properties are sold, rather than on an annual basis.

Finally, while looking for Australian scientists who we could name their proposed charter city after instead of Alan Turing (no disrespect to the god of codes, I just feel we should find someone local), I learned of the existance of David Scienceman, which may be one of the coolest names ever.

Party Games 43/55 Seniors United Party of Australia

I think the best indication of the fact that the people running this party are indeed members of the demographic they advocate for is the design of their website. Back in the late 90s it was cool to use animated gif divider bars on your website. I even had a bunch of them saved in case I ever needed one. The coolest was the dripping blood one I got from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan site. Now, we've moved on from such things. But not these seniors, and maybe one day those weird hipsters who listen to vinyl records will pick up this trend as well, and the seniors will be cool again.

I've spent so much time being sarcastic about the web design skills of those behind the Seniors United Party of Australia because they don't put out much policy wise. To quote the party policy they want to "Promote and safeguard the economic, social, political, and fundamental rights of Senior Citizens, being persons over 55 years of age, living in New South Wales," and do use legislation to do so. The reason they seem to only care about the old people in NSW is because they never bothered to update the party website or constitution when they went national. I figure they'll look after oldies everywhere, but old people not from NSW should consider themselves warned just in case.

They seem to be pretty much the same as the Mature Australia Party, just lacking a grandkid with a web development company to make them a pretty site.

Party Games 42/55 Secular Party of Australia

The Secular Party of Australia stand on a platform of making government more secular, by removing religion from government, and government from religion. The religious will say that this is a war on religion, but the Secular Party would say that this is simply asking the question "Why does religion get automatic entry into so much stuff that doesn't really have anything to do with them?"

Some of the changes they suggest are minor. Removing prayer at the start of parliamentary sessions, making oaths in court not refer to a god, repealing remaining blasphemy laws and so on. Next are the plans that will get a lot of pushback. These include cutting government funding for religious schools and removing "promoting a religion" as a purpose qualifying for tax exempt status. Then there are a few big ones, such as supporting a republic because not just is QEII a foreigner, she's the head of a religion (one of her many titles is Defender of the Faith).

Overall I find I support most of their positions, but I feel that their position on food labelling could be tweaked a little so it doesn't resemble that taken by parties rather more biased in which religions they don't want influencing the Australian government.

Party Games 41/55 Rise Up Australia

One of the positives I get out of going through all the parties before an election is that I sometimes get into some interesting and unexpected tangents. In the case of Rise Up Australia, the tangent I went on was Saudi Arabian law. Why, you might ask. Because Rise Up Australia's founder Danny Nalliah claims that while he lived in Saudi Arabia he contributed to securing a royal decree allowing people to practice their religion in private. This seemed pretty impressive, so I looked online for this royal decree. What I found was most royal decrees are of an administrative nature, so things like appointments to government offices, amending existing laws, and the like. So I went further afield and it turns out that the US State Department in 2013 reported on non-muslim religious meetings being broken up and people deported for practising their faith in private. Maybe Danny needs to have a word with the current king.

Anyway, onto the party itself. It is right wing, anti muslim, and economically naive. Their big revenue raising proposal is a 2% tax on all transactions. So you take money out of the bank at an ATM, 2% tax. You make a payment online, 2% tax. You transfer money between two of your accounts, 2% tax. You loan your kid some money to buy their first car, 2% tax. You only ever deal with cash and keep your savings under the mattress, 0% tax. I don't think they've thought this one through. Fortunately they don't have any big spending measures to use all this money on other than reducing the GST and making it only apply to goods, not services, which doesn't at all go with their complaints about rich people avoiding taxes, because if there's one group that spends more on services relative to goods, it's the rich. Their unemployment policy is instead of giving people unemployment benefits, subsidise the hiring of unemployed people by an amount equal to the unemployment benefit they would have received for up to 12 months. I suspect a lot of people would end up getting fired after 12 months under such a scheme, especially as they also want to weaken employee rights.

And as icing on the cake, they proclaim global warming to be a hoax to gain the UN more power over people.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Party Games 40/55 Renewable Energy Party

The Renewable Energy Party joins the ranks of single issue parties with a focus on the rapid transition to renewable energy. They propose a target of 100% renewable energy by 2030. This is pretty ambitious. I think the larger hurdle to achieving this will be the political rather than the technological aspects (it just requires a large enough chunk of cash.)

They also have considered what they'll do on policy matters outside there focus area. They'll support the government of the day. This is a non-confrontational approach but it seems like it removes some of the opportunity for negotiating to achieve their ambitions. It also reduces the chance that supply would be blocked, which would be a good thing overall.

Finally, they have one of the cuter party logos.

Party Games 39/55 Pirate Party Australia

Ahoy me hearties, now we come to the Pirate Party Australia. Inspired by the Pirate Party in Sweden, they have a strong civil liberties and individual rights platform without the economic ruthlessness that other libertarian parties tend to have (I'm looking at you LDP).

As their origin suggests, the Pirate Party has a strong interest in the internet, and a strong set of policies. They support net neutrality, fibre to the premises for the NBN, and oppose data retention without a warrant and online censorship (well censorship in general, actually). They also take a strong stance on intellectual property, feeling that the current system has swung too far in favour of IP holders to the detriment of society.

In the realm of economics they support a basic income, and introducing a land tax (you can't offshore the land to avoid the tax). They encourage digital currencies such as bitcoin, but I'm yet to be fully sold on the bitcoin model.

They are also one of the few minor parties with a defense policy that haven't picked the magic number of 2% of GDP for defense spending. Their plan is for a more defense oriented armed forces, focussing on submarines and aircraft to hold off enemies, with the army defending the homeland to make life even harder for anyone made it to our shores.

Overall, I see a lot that I like with a lot fewer "yes, but what abouts" that I normally get.

Party Games 38/55 Pauline Hanson's One Nation

Pauline Hanson's One Nation was the prototype of the right wing populist party. Be it concerns about foreigners, protectionist trade stances, opposition to Islam, buying into UN conspiracy theories, denial of climate change, they were there first. This time around Pauline Hanson herself is running for the senate in Queensland, and with the double dissolution, this looks like her best chance in a while to get back into parliament.

There doesn't appear to be any changes in policy since last election

Finally, they don't seem to have quite understood the new senate voting rules, and are giving incorrect information on their how to vote page. They have mistaken the section that says what a voter should do when voting (subsections 239(1-3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act) with the section that says if you don't stuff up voting too badly we'll still count it as much as we can (subsections 268A and 269(1)). This seems like the sort of mistake a political party shouldn't be making.

Party Games 37/55 Palmer United Party

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Last election the Palmer United Party fielded candidates in every lower house electorate and every state for the senate. This time around they're still fielding senate candidates in each state but a just single lower house candidate. This follows on from two of the three senators the party got elected quitting the party, leaving it with just one vote in the senate, making it less significant a block for the government to deal with.

The other main cause of their decline is the decline of the popularity of Clive Palmer. He's not recontesting his seat in the lower house, and isn't even trying to get into the senate this time around. His performance as a parliamentarian has been mixed, to say the least. At least his goodbye videos have been amusing, and he has inspired at least one photoshop battle on reddit.

Looking back on their policy list from last time, of the five items, one has been achieved, on one he's had some on paper wins but in practice was outmanuevered by the government, and on the other three has made no progress. The one achieved is the elimination of the carbon tax, but with the coalition in power that was never not going to happen. The area he got out manuevered was in terms of refugee policy. Early on PUP made a deal with the government in the area. The government got the PUP votes for a policy, and in exchange introduced Safe Haven Enterprise Visas, which would have allowed refugees to live and work in regional areas. Where they got beaten by the government is that only about 20 of these visas have been issued out of over 2000 applications, so it hasn't been that good an achievement for PUP.

Their campaign this election is a bit different. Instead of being on the party website, the 2016 campaign is at a site with the conspiracy theory suggesting url of Then, in the menu at the of the page, before talking about candidates and policies, there's a page relating to the current law suit regarding Queensland Nickel. On this page they don't present any explanation of the case, or provide any context about the collapse of the company, they just have a copy of the legal submission. And while I did browse through it, as a non-lawyer I didn't get much understanding from it. I found it curious that this should come ahead of the policies and candidates, especially as the party is meant to be distinct from Clive Palmer's business interests.

Policy wise there's not much. They support a federal ICAC, education spending, easier access to super before retirement. And while they take credit for keeping funding for the Clean Energy Corporation, they voted for the removal of the carbon tax with only vague support for an emissions trading scheme once other countries had started one, so I think that was a loss for the planet overall. There's a suggestion for a novel new tax scheme that allows companies to pay their taxes once a year rather than quarterly, which make it harder for both the government and the companies to keep track of and manage their cash flows.

The party's achievements page I feel needs to be taken with a heavy grain of salt. I think you need to do more than be one of several groups voting for something to say you did it. For example, I don't really feel that the Palmer United Party can claim all the credit for removing the carbon tax. I think there may have been a few other groups that may have had more of an influence on how things went there.

I suspect that this election will the PUP will not fare as well, and indeed it may only be the ex-PUPs Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie that remain in the parliament as a sign of Clive Palmer's brief moment of glory.

Final random thought: I wonder what they have against .au domain names.

Party Games 36/55 Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop the Greens)

I'm a bit behind schedule now as I took last night of to watch the Game of Thrones season final twice (it's that good). So this and the following posts might be a bit briefer than earlier installments (and their not exactly huge treatises to start with.)

So, the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop the Greens) position boils down to two main things. One, the Greens are killjoys who stop people enjoying nature, and 2) Government shouldn't tell anyone what to do. The second principle I suspect comes from former party officer David Leyonhjelm, whom you might be more familiar with as Liberal Democrat Party Senator David Leyonhjelm. It would appear that there was some overlap between his participation in the two parties, and there have been suggestions that this was not purely innocent.

So what does this mean policy wise. It means people can do whatever they want in national parks, hunt whenever they like, fish whenever they like, own whatever guns they want, have significantly increase speed limits, let people clear however much land they want, greatly reduced taxes, and so on. I think you can see some of the LDP influenced thinking here.

On the topic of national parks and similar, it feels like they don't quite accept that the reason our national parks are so good is because we limit what people do there, and that if we just let everyone do whatever, then we might not have much to leave future generations.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Party Games 34 &35/55 Online Direct Democracy & VoteFlux

I'm combining my write up of Online Direct Democracy - (Empowering the People!) and VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy because both are making a very similar pitch. Instead of having an elected senator make decisions on how they will vote, their senators will vote according to the public will as determined through online voting. Given the recent brexit vote, I'm not sure how sold I am on direct democracy for everything.

Both parties are promising to have their system up and running in time for their candidates to take office if elected, but neither are fully operational at the moment. Neither provide much reassurance as to how they will get people to become involved, and how they will ensure that those involved do constitute an accurate representation of Australia as a whole. I suspect they'll tend to attract the young, tech savvy demographic but ignore the older non-tech savvy generations (I can't see my grandmother who still has dial up getting involved with either).

Both will allow you to delegate your votes to someone else, so I'm also curious what would happen if another party did a big push to get their members to register and then just delegate their votes for everything to a party representative. VoteFlux has another feature that I'm not quite sold on yet. They plan to allow you to trade away votes on things you don't care about so that you can have more votes on an issue you care about.

Finally, I'm concerned about the security & privacy implications of their systems. To be as auditable and reliable as they say they will be with systems that are not yet implemented and tested, I'm worried it will be possible to see people's voting history, and that the systems won't be as secure as they claim.

Party Games 33/55 Non Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)

The Non Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) have pretty much kept the same set of policies they had last election. Reform to the child support and custody laws currently in place is their main area of focus. They do have some policies in other areas, but it all comes back to child support and custody. For example they say that a major part of the increase in prison population since the mid 70s is due to the current Family Law act. Their main focus in terms of unemployment is the apparent high rate of unemployment among parents paying child support.

They also have not taken my advice from last time to get some lessons in web design. I don't think the line right at the very bottom of their page reading "var sc_project=6270014; var sc_invisible=1; var sc_security="f391aee4"; var sc_https=1; var scJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://secure." : "http://www."); document.write("");" is meant to be visible.

Party Games 32/55 Nick Xenophon Team

Since last election the Nick Xenophon Team has expanded, and this election will be running senate candidates in all six states. With the double dissolution and Nick's strong support in South Australia, it looks likely there will be at least two team members in the new Senate, if not more. So where does the team stand?

Most of their policies I can agree with. Restrictions on gambling is a good idea, as is increasing foreign aid. They support marriage equality, better treatment of asylum seekers, a national ant-corruption body, better mental health care, and better education funding are also good ideas.

I am curious about the suggestion that utility prices should be tied to the CPI. Since utility prices are included when calculating the CPI, this would require some clarification on how they want this to work. Their policy on GMOs seems a bit alarmist as well.

Overall, I won't be too concerned if the remain an important part of the senate cross bench, but I'm don't think they'll pick up any seats outside of SA.

Party Games 31/55 Mature Australia Party

I don't have a lot to say about the Mature Australia Party. What little they have in the way of policy can be boiled down to 1) better pensions, 2) better health care for the elderly, 3) less government spending, and 4) an immigration policy rather reminiscent of some of the more xenophobic parties out there. As a party initially formed by a bunch of oldies concerned about conditions in quasi-retirement villages this may not be too surprising.

Some of their concerns suggest that they haven't quite kept up with the times. Their plan for pensions is that all pensions should be tied to pensions for politicians. Now since 2004, all new members of parliament don't get a fixed pension, they get a contribution to their super plan, just like everyone else. There's still a lot of parliamentarians under previous schemes from before super was a thing who will get pensions, but the changes have already been made. This is something I found out through a simple Google search. Again, this is a party of oldies.

Party Games 30/55 Liberal Democratic Party

The Liberal Democratic Party keeps up its position of being strongly small government. I've seen no changes in policy from last time around, so that means they still want a government with zero net assets, a foreign legion organisation, no taxation, minimal foreign aid, abolishing the minimum wage and employment standards, that the ideal inflation rate is zero, hoping that charities rather than the government will supply a safety net for the unfortunate, and that motorcyclists shouldn't have to wear helmets. On that last item, if you're stupid enough to think you'll be ok riding a motorbike without a helmet, I think you're stupid enough that you should be made to do so.

The LDP fail to grasp that there can be benefits to collective action effected through government, that not every human endeavour is best suited to a free market, and indeed that a free market can have positive and negative outcomes. This become especially clear in their position on climate change, which boils down to we'll be right, the free market will sort it out. This is the free market with oil companies that have been aware of the impact of climate change since the late 70s but have been arguing since then that a) it wasn't happening, b) its is happening but not caused by humans, c) ok it is happening and is caused by humans, but it won't be that bad, d) that yes it will be that bad but it'll be too expensive too stop and we'll be able to adjust. Forgive me for not wanting someone in it just for a buck making the decisions there.

The LDP is a party with a "No government" hammer seeing everything as a nail, despite reality not being that way.

Party Games 29/55 Katter's Australia Party

Katter's Australia Party is a rather interesting case. When I started reading through their policies I got the feeling I had read them before, and not just at the last election. Indeed, when I went back and reviewed the policies of CountryMinded, there were large chunks of the policies that were word for word identical.

I asked both parties about this on twitter and got an answer that exposed some of the behind the scenes action between the two. As it turns out, the founder and lead candidate for CountryMinded was formerly a candidate for Katter's Australia Party and was the main person who wrote up the policies for Katter's Australia Party. Since last election there's been a falling out and thus CountryMinded was born. And apparently neither group has felt they should abandon the policy documents as they are. Thus in terms of policy, I don't have much to say about them beyond what I said previously about CountryMinded.

I'm not sure I agree with the CountryMinded folk that they can just use the exact same policies with just a few minor cosmetic changes when they left, because just as I can't take my employers intellectual property with me when I leave to a new job, you can't take a set of policies you wrote for one party with you to another.

Party Games 28/55 John Madigan's Manufacturing and Farming Party

With one of the longest names and least creative logos, John Madigan's Manufacturing and Farming Party is John Madigan's plan to stay in the senate after leaving the Democratic Labour Party. Much like the former PUPs, John Madigan quit his party and was serving out his term as an independent.

The party has a similar set of policies to the DLP, being socially conservative. The main difference comes in the form of greater support for business in the form of tax cuts and protectionist trade policies. There's also greater subsidies for farmers and opposition to foreign land owners.

For me I think the biggest draw was their fund raising raffle with a thermomix as the prize.

Party Games 27/55 Jacqui Lambie Network

Jacqui Lambie was the first of the PUP senators to go rogue and split from the party, and now she's leading her own party. As a Tasmanian she has a bit of an advantage over Glenn Lazarus in keeping her senate spot due to Tasmania's lower population. She has also put forward a different mix of policies.

The Jacqui Lambie Network takes a series of right-wing positons, starting with joining the anti-halal brigade with the likes of Cory Bernardi, strong support for the military (not surprising for an former member of the armed services), cutting foreign aid, and opposing renewable energy because it costs more.

I agree with their support for nuclear energy, but that's about it.

Lambie also has a habit of including tables with information that doesn't actually say much about the relevant policies. For example, on the taxation page she has a table of how many people in each state have negatively geared properties and the percentage of all such people each state has. Unfortunately all this table tells us is that the distribution of such people matches the distribution of people around Australia. So NSW has about 30% of the population and 30% of all the people who own negatively geared properties. A more useful table might tell us what proportion of the population owns a negatively geared property (around 5%).

Party Games 26/55 Help End Marijuana Prohibiton (HEMP)

Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP), or to use their shorter name, the Marijuana (HEMP) Party, is another single issue party. The want marijuana legalised. That's pretty much it. No comment on other drugs. No comment on other issues. The only really interesting point they have going for them is that they will be running on a joint ticket with the Australian Sex Party, so I guess that means they have similar enough views on other matters, but it would be good to see that made clear.

Party Games 25/55 Health Australia Party

The Health Australia Party presents a pleasant picture of itself. Its 5 points of Healthy People, Healthy Economy, Healthy Environment, Healthy Democracy, and Healthy Society sounds nice in a wishy washy sort of way, but when you get into the details you find that their view of these things aren't quite what they seem.

Well start at the start with Healthy People, which I'll start out by admitting pushes a few of my buttons. Despite their policy, natural medicine (things like homeopathy, accupuncture, chiropractic) is not on an equal footing to conventional medicine. Where there has been any testing, it has been shown not to work, and indeed even counterproductive at times. They question why natural medicine has received only a tiny amount of funding from Australia's medical research funding providers. The answer is not that the funding bodies are in the pocket of big pharma, the answer is that no serious and viable research proposals have been put forward. They question how effective GPs when they can only spend minutes with a patient rather than an hour as some natural practitioners do. You know why GPs have such little time? Because they have so many patients. Because people trust doctors. I'd like to see a natural practitioner see as many patients as a GP does on a daily basis.

On a similar note, vaccinations are not something of dubious merit that should be a choice of parents similar to what colour clothes they'll buy their kids. Vaccinations have taken what used to be a number of serious and common diseases and made them things of the past.
Hospitals used to have wards of people with polio in iron lungs. These are now seen as relics of a bygone age thanks to vaccination. In recent years we've seen outbreaks of diseases we thought near gone because people felt that their children didn't need to be vaccinated.

Finally, flouridating water is not poisoning people. Flouride is found naturally in various concentrations in every water supply in the world. Bumping it up to a level where it can have a significant positive effect on people's oral health (while still within the naturally occuring range of concentrations) is a hugely cost effective public health measure. The people who object to water flouridation don't object to the use of chlorine to kill water bourne diseases in the water supply, or would they prefer a more natural drinking experience?

The outlook of the party on these issues is less surprising once you read the bios of the party executive and their candidates. Homeopaths, chiropractors, herbalists, and so on.

Since I try to find some positives for every party, I will point out that the Health Australia Party supports marriage equality, stronger protection for whistleblowers, and better public transport. However that's not enough for me to hope that getting the number 1 spot on the NSW senate ballot paper won't be enough for them to repeat the LDP's performance last election.

Party Games 24/55 Glenn Lazarus Team

The Glenn Lazarus Team is a spin off of the Palmer United Party. Glenn Lazarus followed fellow PUP senator Jacqui Lambie's footsteps and started his own party after quitting PUP. Lazarus' team has a different set of priorities which shows in its policy mix.

I like most of the policies they have put forward. Their environment policy has a strong push for better renewable energy targets, removing and limiting subsidies for fossil fuels, dealing with invasive species, and protecting world heritage areas. On health they say they want to make sure that GP visits are free, but don't say if this will be by increasing medicare payments or restricting doctors from charging co-payments (I'd be kind of ok with the latter if it came with the former.) Their stance on marriage equality is to legalise it so that the $160 million the coalition plans to spend on a plebiscite can be allocated to services supporting at risk LGBT youth such as mental healthcare and suicide prevention.

I do feel that their proposal for a US Jones Act type law to restrict maritime shipping around Australia to Australian owned and operated vessels to be a bit too nationalistic and protectionist, as are their Australian labelling proposals. I'm also not sure I agree with the family home being excluded from asset tests to receive a pension, mainly because I'm not sure I agree with someone owning a multimillion dollar house receiving a pension. Excluding up to a certain value of the family home I could support, but not the whole value.

Overall, not bad for a former footballer known as "the brick with eyes."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Party Games 23/55 Family First

First up, Family First have for some reason decided not to put their policies on their national party website, but to leave that to the state parties to do on their web sites. I haven't reviewed every bit of every state parties list of policies, but I have seen enough to see that they're all singing from the same hymn book.

Their policies are pretty much what you'd expect from a religious party with a bit of free market libertarianism thrown in for good measure. On the religious side you get opposition to marriage equality, opposition to abortion, an insistence that a family should only be mum, dad, and the kids, support for home schooling, and . On the libertarian side you get deregulation of workers rights, no more restrictions on development, an emphasis on property rights over all else (with a possible exception of God), and a gung ho militarism. They very much remind me of the American right wing, which is not reassuring. And I'm not the only one who doesn't like them. Barnaby Joyce once called them "the lunatic right

Overall, not much change from last election.

Party Games 22/55 Drug Law Reform Party

The Drug Law Reform Party are another of the single issue partys. Their cause is the decriminalisation of drug usage and treating addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one. They look to examples such as Colorado, Portugal, and other places that have brought in such changes as a positive example to follow. These seem like good examples. While my own personal experience in Portugal was just a skeevy guy on the street trying to sell me pot, their decriminalisation had good results for them. And Colorado made $53 million in taxes on pot in the first year (although it was less than the $70 million they were expecting).

They've also acknowledged that there would be more to being in parliament than just drug law reform. Their answer is to let their elected members have a conscience vote on other matters, with the caveat that they wouldn't vote block supply. That they've considered the issue puts them ahead of most single issue parties, but it makes the views of the individual candidates more important to take into consideration when voting.

Finally, a point of trivia. The party's founder Greg Chipp is the son of the founder of the Australian Democrats, Don Chipp.

Party Games 21/55 Derryn Hinch's Justice Party

Derryn Hinch's Justice Party is another new party this election. Hopefully it will be better than some other parties that have included the founders name in the party name.

As the name suggests, the founder is Derryn Hinch and the party's main aims are focused on changes to the justice system. These changes can be summarised as they want it to be tougher. Tougher sentences, tougher to get bail, tougher to get parole, and a publicly accessible register of sex offenders. They use some extremely tragic events as their reason for wanting these changes, but I get the impression that just as we have a tendency to overreact to rare acts of terrorism, here we have a case of overreaction to rare and tragic violent crimes. I suspect I've read too much Bruce Schneier not to see the parallels and immediately start looking to see what is cosmetic toughness and what might be effective, and mainly seeing the former.

They say that the justice system is too easy on criminals in general, sentences are too short, and so on. As a counterpoint to this I would offer a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology of juror that found that generally jurors overestimated crime levels and suggested sentences less severe than those imposed by the judges in the cases they were involved in, which would suggest that judges aren't more lenient than society in general. I do find merit in their calls for stricter enforcement of parole and bail conditions while the person is out on parole/bail.

I was pleasantly surprised that part of their common sense platform was support for marriage equality including prefering a parliamentry vote to a plebiscite, and support for euthanasia. These don't usually pair with the tough on crime crowd.

Party Games 20/55 Democratic Labour Party

The Democratic Labour Party with its convoluted history is an odd beast. A socially conservative, pro worker party with its stronghold in Victoria, it lost its only federal Senator in 2014 when John Madigan quit the party on less than good terms. And while John has his own party now, the DLP are hoping they can get his seat back for someone still on the team.

Policy wise they're still strongly pro-life and against marriage equality, a result of their Catholic origins (even if their twitter tried to deny this to me last election). They're still pretty good on worker rights, a result of their ALP origins. They still support fusion power. Miscellanious policies that appealled to me are setting up centrelink counters at universities, reestablishing an upper house in QLD, a sensible bushfire plan, and their support for fusion power. Things that make me concerned they've not thought things through is having leave entitlements transfer to new employers (will the old employer give a bunch of cash to the new employer?, will all the leave be paid at the new pay rate (for good or bad)? Will everyone be entitled to long service leave just for working 10 years? (that last one might not be such a bad thing)), their plan for a development bank that gets it's money from ..., and their support of fusion power.

Another interesting point to note is that their policy page on asylum seekers currently has in bright red at the top This policy is currently under review. Given that the timing of this election isn't that much of a surprise (it had to happen some time this year), I'd have thought some time before now would have been a good time to finalise the current iteration of policy development. But that's just me.

Party Games 19/55 CountryMinded

CountryMinded are another party trying to fill the niche of being a better rural party than the Nationals. Not being part of the Coalition does allow them to take a few policy stances that are an almost equal mix between rational & sensible and overly protectionist of rural Australia. Among the former are an acceptance of climate change and the accompanying support for carbon pricing and more renewable energy as well as strong support for mental health services. The latter include wanting payroll tax eliminated with no suggestion as to how states will replace this revenue, protectionist trade policies, and that native vegetation is best managed by letting farmers farm as they see fit.

This last item highlights a trend that becomes apparent after a thorough read of the policies. They can all be boiled down to farmers come first. Why do they want small business to have better support? Because 90% of farms are small businesses. Who's best able to plan sustainable land management? Farmers. Who deserves more support from government in times of disaster? Farmers. Who don't we have policies for? Cityfolk.

Now this is not to deny that agriculture is an important industry, nor to suggest that farmers deserve no help from the society and the government. But, one of humanities greatest achievements is having over the last 10,000 years gone from having 100% of the population involved in hopefully producing the food needed for everyone to only 2% or so feeding everyone. And while the huge gains in productivity of food producers over that time is a foundation block of modern society, it's not the only one and to treat it as such risks neglecting other factors important for society. Without engineers developing refrigeration, all that food goes to waste. Without transportation, all that food goes to waste. Without pest controls developed by chemists, all that food goes to waste. Without environmental scientists studying climate change, all that food might stop growing. The list goes on. "Is it good for farmers?" can be an important question for judging policy, but it shouldn't be the only one.

So farmers and assorted country folk will like these guys, but this city slicker is not of their target demographic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Party Games 18/55 Consumer Rights & No Tolls

The Consumer Rights & No Tolls party has just a few policies, and their site makes it look more like their upset about being stung with a fine for not paying their tolls one time too many than a serious attempt at policy formulation. This impression is not improved when their sole health related policy is that people who choose not to vaccinate their children should not be demonised and that there is no scientific consensus on the matter. Another of their thought bubbles is more referendums to encourage democracy, but this suggests that they don't quite grasp that a referendum is a vote to amend the constitution (and hence why the proposed vote on gay marriage is a plebiscite, not a referendum) and that Australia has historically not voted positively for matters put to referendum.

Unfortunately these are not balanced out by their other policies are things I like. No cuts to the ABC and SBS, encouraging more motorbike and public transport use, and not selling off public assets are good ideas, but not enough to make me inclined to vote for them.

Party Games 17/55 Citizens Electoral Council of Australia

The Citizen's Electoral Council of Australia brings to the fore one of the challenges of going through all the parties again this election, which is that the parties haven't changed much over the last 3 years. In this case, the CEC continue to be economic nutjobs who haven't noticed that Australia made it through the global financial crisis reasonably well, that climate change is an actual thing, and that if Prince Charles is secretly controlling the world, he's a better actor than Leonardo DiCaprio, Judy Dench, Gary Oldman, and Patrick Stewart combined.

There's no new policies (indeed one even says to contact the treasurer Wayne Swan to encourage him to implement the policy) although I did find one section I hadn't read through last time extolling the evils of video games, so I guess I now have even less reason to vote for them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Party Games 16/55 Christian Democratic Party

The Christian Democratic Party continue to be own of the stronger Christian parties out there, with a very strict and dogmatic approach to policy. They feel that government should be under the authority of God and to serve his purposes. This is something I disagree with.

As a strongly Christian party, there's not many surprises policy wise. They want more God in government, they want no changes to the definition of marriage, mandatory internet filtering, funding for Christian universities, harsher penalties for crime, zero-tolerance for drugs, anti-abortion. Their view on the environment is that God gave it to us so it can't get that bad. They have also joined the anti-halal bandwagon and the anti-ABC bandwagon.

While that's more than enough for them to lose my vote, there are a few things they want that I agree with. They want limits on gambling and poker machines, protecting penalty rates, and giving farmers tax benefits for investing in drought preparedness.

Party Games 15/55 Bullet Train for Australia

Bullet Train for Australia continues to advocate for a fast train system between Brisbane and Melbourne for Australia, which I feel is a good thing having experienced fast trains in Japan and Korea, but in the days of sub $100 flights it's going to face an uphill battle.

They have moved on slightly from their former commitment of abstaining on non fast train matters with a candidates pledge to also support campaign finance reform, action on climate change, support for marriage equality, support for euthanasia, and limiting poker machines. They haven't quite committed to calling these policies though, more just things our guys will vote on.

Party Games 14/55 Australian Sex Party

The Australian Sex Party continues to have a strong set of civil rights based policies. They're pro pretty much anything related to sex, so marriage equality, sex education, LGTBIQ rights, better protections for sex workers, less censorship, a secular state, and more are still in their policy mix.

Since the last election they have added policies in areas I felt they were lacking in, so on the environmental front they are for protecting the reef to the tune of $250 million, a ban on fracking, and support for renewable & nuclear power. On the immigration front they're for closing down off shore processing of asylum seekers.

I still think the party could make more of a contribution if they had a less suggestive name, but a rose by any other name still has good policies.

Party Games 13/55 Australian Progressives

The Australian Progressives seems like a generic left wing party. They have the standard checklist of policies; marriage equality, an emissions trading scheme, greater parental leave, more medicare funding, Gonski funding, closing down offshore processing of asylum seekers, and so on. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they don't really have anything that makes them stand out as a party policy wise.

One thing I did like was that they're starting to expand their policies with explanatory notes, sources and a version history. It's not unique (the Pirate Party has their policies on a wiki), but it's nice to see they've done their homework and don't consider policies as ordained from on high. They've only got a small subset of their policies expanded upon this way, so I look forward to them adding more.

They'll probably end up slightly above the middle of the pack, but don't stand out among the other parties.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Party Games 12/55 Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party

In looking at the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party I need to start with a mea culpa. When I first heard they had gotten a senator elected and learned who he was, I was quick to write off Ricky Muir. I saw the kangaroo poo flinging videos that emerged and worried what sort of bogan had been elected. But Ricky Muir went into the job with a seriousness that I had not expected and has done a great job for his state and Australia, and I hope he gets reelected. The party is certainly betting on him by using his likeness in their logo.

The party itself has stuck to pretty much the same set of policies, advocating for better roads, better driver education, and support for the motoring industry. There's not much more new from last time around.

Party Games 11/55 Australian Liberty Alliance

The Australian Liberty Alliance is focused on one thing. Stopping the Islamisation of Australia. This seems at odds of their claim to be about liberty. One of the points in their plan to stop the Islamisation of Australia is to make religions submit to a required doctrine of accepting Australian law as supreme over religious beliefs. This would cover all religions if they wanted to keep tax exempt status, not just Islam. The government imposing religious doctrine does not exactly match my idea of liberty, and I'm an atheist who isn't keen on religion. I'm not sure how some of the more religiously fervent members of the public would like this. Other parts of the plan include prohibiting anyone from muslim countries for 10 years. They're also kind of freaked out about Islamic finance.

In other areas they appear a standard right wing party proposing smaller government, more defense spending, in denial about climate change, opposed to gay marriage, making it tougher to be on unemployment benefits, cutting back the services provided by the ABC & SBS, and so on.

The one positive policy they have is making sure everyone has a certain minimal level of internet access, as at this point in time I feel internet access is at the point of being a utility like electricity, not a luxury.

In summary, the Australian Liberty Alliance is another edition to Australia's collection of right-wing parties.

Party Games 10/55 Australian Equality Party (Marriage)

The Australian Equality Party (Marriage), despite it's slightly clunky name, is another single issue party, this time with a focus on achieving equality for Australia's LGBTIQ population. They have a pretty comprehensive set of changes they would like to see, starting with marriage equality, and adding anti-discrimination protection, updating legal documentation requirements to be accepting of wider ranger of gender identities, better provision of health care for the LGBTIQ community, and related issues.

The name does seem a bit clunky, with marriage tacked on in brackets at the end, but as the expansion of the LGBTIQ acronym over time has shown the relevant community is ok with this sort of clunkyness. I think they've added it just to make it a bit clearer what sort of equality they are advocating as otherwise Australian Equality just by itself makes it hard to judge what they're for when completing a ballot paper with only the party name to go on.

In terms of diversity of policy areas the Australian Equity Party (Marriage) has about the same range as the Australian Cyclists Party, but the areas they've chosen let me know that they're a closer match to my values.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Party Games 9/55 Australian Defense Veterans Party

The Australian Defense Veterans Party initially looked like it was going to be another single topic party, but they have put together a pretty broad range of policies. They also have broadened their definition of veteran, including not just former military members but also including emergency services such as the police, ambulance and fire brigade. In the field of veterans affairs, the party is for providing a lot more benefits and support for veterans, as well as better pay and conditions for people currently in the military and emergency services.

Their energy policies are pretty good overall. It's a bad sign of the times that I get excited by a party that says they accept the scientific consensus that climate change is a real thing, but that's the state of affairs. I disagree with them on nuclear power, but that was about it.

One area I'm concerned about is their rather strong support for the security aparatus and very strict stance on national security. Given the strengthening of powers and reduction in oversight granted to such agencies over the last decade and a bit, as well as revelations about the extent of programs from whistleblowers, I'm not comfortable with letting them go full steam ahead however they want.

Overall, a better set of policies than I expected, and my first pleasant surprise of the process so far.

Party Games 8/55 Australian Cyclists Party

With the Australian Cyclist Party we have another single issue party. Their cause de jour, improving cycling access. They want better standards for bike lanes, a review of mandatory helmet laws with the aim of making helmet use optional for adults, more bike trails built away from roads for recreational use, better education of cyclists and drivers, and a review of penalties for aggresive driving towards cyclists and motorbike riders (this last one definitely peaked my interest.)

Overall their ideas are pretty good, and I'd be happy to seem them implemented, but I wonder if they really needed to go to the effort of becoming a political party rather than an interest group advocating for the changes they want.

Party Games 7/55 Australian Country Party

The Australia Country Party is setting itself up as an alternative to the Nationals as party for the rural areas. It's policy areas primarily focus on better support for rural areas, and protectionist trade policies. The former I can support, the latter I can not.

An example of their protectionist trade policies is their plan to introduce government price controls for agricultural products, and that this price should higher than the international market price. What this is saying is that all Australians should pay more for their food so that farmers can have more money. Now, while I can understand the frustration farmers may feel with market conditions, for example the recent brouhaha about milk prices1, I don't think government legislated price controls are an appropriate response. I would support stronger powers for the ACCC to investigate and punish companies that are found to be abusing their market power.

Another item that concerns me is their proposed changes to the constituiton. They are seeking to repeal sections 25 & 51 and add recognition of indigenous peoples. Their motivations for this are positive, but they show some misunderstanding of the constitution. They say that they want to repeal section 25 because it allows states to exclude people from voting based on race. This is not the case. Section 25 reads "For the purposes of the last section, if by the law of any State all persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State, then, in reckoning the number of the people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of that race resident in that State shall not be counted." This does not permit the states to exclude people based on race. What this does is create a consequence for the states if they under their constitution and laws exclude a person from voting based on their race. If they do, they will have fewer representatives in the federal parliament because the people they exclude won't be included in their counted population when working out how many representatives each state is entitled to. Now as it stands I don't think any states do or are likely to in the future exclude people from voting on the basis of race, so losing this section won't make much of an impact, but I would like my legislators and political parties to have a better comprehension of the constitution than a call centre phone monkey with a science degree.

 Tax policy is another area of concern. They want to make it so tobacco tax revenue can only be used for health related matters, which ignores the overall fungibility of money.  They also want to give seasonal workers a much higher tax free threshold, but this I fear would just mean the employers of seasonal workers will reduce the before tax rates they pay so they see the benefits instead of the workers.

 Overall, this is a party that farmers and their associates will like, but for a city slicker like myself they're not bringing much to the table (and to be fair, I'm not the demographic they're looking to represent).

1) In relation to the recent cases of milk companies retroactively cutting the prices they pay farmers I have three main thoughts. First, I can appreciate the anger of the farmers being told this (if my work told me they were cutting my pay by 10% as of 6 months ago, I wouldn't be very pleased either), second, I'm not sure I like that such clauses are allowable under contract law, and third, I'm not that sympathetic to people complaining about the terms of a contract they signed and agreed to some time ago because now the terms don't suit them as much. If they were complaining about unfair terms in a new contract they were being presented with, I could get behind that, but after agreeing to a contract, it's harder to make the case.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Party Games 6/55 Australian Christians

The Australian Christians don't seem to have changed much since I read up on them in 2013. In fact I think I recognise some of the images that they have on their policy page from last time. The only change I noticed was in their energy policy where they say they're glad to have seen the carbon tax removed.

Thus much of what I said last time still applies. Their environmental policy seem designed to sound nice but commit to little, they still don't realise that a secular government embracing one religion does in fact exclude other religions, they're still pro censorship and filtering the internet, and most importantly they're still not making a case as to why a non-Christian should accept Bible based policies.

That's not to say they don't have some policies I agree with, even if we don't agree on the reasons why these are good ideas. They support funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and they also support investing in public transport.

Party Games 5/55 Australian Antipaedophile Party

Edit: So it turns out that they've just moved their site. I just wrote down their old site when I was compiling my list of parties a few weeks ago.

As the Australian Antipaedophile Party's name would suggest, they are against paedophiles/child sex abusers (the party uses the terms interchangably, but the Australian Institute of Criminology makes a distinction between the two). They say the problem is much larger than people realise, citing different figures in different places, the highest of which is that one in three child experiences sexual abuse. They don't cite sources for these figures, but some rather unpleasant reading online suggests that this is an upper figure and there is a fair range of uncertainty (this summary from the Australian Insititute of Criminology gives ranges of 3-29% of boys and 7-36% of girls which even at the low end is higher than I would have thought or am comfortable with). Their proposals to deal with this issue are longer sentences for convicted offenders with less flexibility for judges in sentencing and making prosecution of offenders easier (there's not much detail on how they would achieve this though). An acknowledgement of the uncertainty in these statistics would make me feel more like they've done their research rather than trying to scare people, and make it less confusing when they seem to contradict themselves on figures.

They also feel that the Family Courts are protecting sexual abusers and helping them avoid prosecution (I'm not sure how since Family Courts are not criminal courts) and the party feels that everyone involved in the family court system are letting children down, from judges, to lawyers, to court reporters, and others and want a royal commission into the system.

They straight up say that they haven't planned any positions on matters outside of their focus area, so it's hard to say which way they'd lean on other matters, and makes voting for them a bit of a coin toss.

Trying to verify some of the claims they make in terms of statistics and such did lead me to some rather less than pleasant reading.

Party Games 4/55 Australia First Party

The Australia First Party. Where to begin? They haven't changed much from 2013. They still want Australia for Australians, a strict adherence to a Christian and European only policy, their policy on marriage equality is "Say no to deviancy," and banning multiculturalism.

Now as someone who enjoys Japanese food, American TV, German board games, English literature, Turkish Delight, middle eastern kebabs, a good Indian curry, and more, banning multiculturalism seems like a bad idea to me. I think inviting others to join us in Australia and contribute things from their homelands to our combined culture makes us better. This is not an attitude the Australia First Party agrees with. In fact, they are for limiting Australia to their narrow vision of what it is to be Australian.

Their citizenship/immigration policy is a prime example of this. They would simplify the existing visa system to three classes - 1: Foreign visitor, 2: Temporary resident, and 3: Naturalized citizen. In implementing this system they'd deport everyone currently here under existing visas, revoke citizenship of most naturalized Australians and make them reapply, withdraw from existing treaties regarding accepting refugees, pretty much refuse to accept any refugees at all, instead sending them straight back to the coutry they came from and billing that country (kind of like Trump getting Mexico to pay for the wall). Their guidelines for becoming a citizen are very strict, and even once you become a naturalized citizen, it can be instantly revoked for numerous reasons. One odd point that stuck out to me was that it would be illegal for a naturalized citizen to carry or own a firearm, while elsewhere on their site they say that ownership of firearms is a constitutional right.

It would be petty of me to point out the numerous 404 errors and links inviting me to log in so I could edit the pages, but I spent so much time looking for something positive to say I feel I've earnt a little pettiness. The one positive thing I found was that thanks to some of their conspiracy theory beliefs, they acknowledge their not going to get into parliament and only run candidates for the publicity.

One final note, while I've included their proposed party logo to be used on ballots, unlike other parties I've done this for, they currently haven't had theirs approved by the AEC due to the objections of a number of groups to the group using the Eureka flag as their logo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Party Games 3/55 Animal Justice Party

The Animal Justice Party doesn't seem to have changed much since last election. They still want to eliminate any human use of animals, including transitioning everyone to a plant based diet (they don't seem brave enough to say vegetarian). They still only have animal related policies, some of which I do agree with such as eliminating greyhound racing (given the revelations of mistreatment of animals within the greyhound racing industry it's an easier sell this time around), but others such as opposition to all animal experimentation, and an insistence that omnivorous animals don't need to eat at least some other animals to meet all their nutritional needs don't get my support. Their lack of policies in other areas and their continuing to remind me of PETA in their animal first rhetoric means I don't see much for me from the Animal Justice Party.

Party Games 2/55 21st Century Australia Party

This is going to be a short entry. While the 21st Century Australia Party is a current registered party, they appear to have no candidates this election and their last media release was about their plans to take part in the 2013 WA senate re-election after they couldn't get their act together to get registered in time to have candidates in the main 2013 election. Also, all of their policy pages haven't been updated since the 2013 election.

That means I'm not going into too much depth as to their notion to eliminate the states (given Australia's reluctance to pass measures at referendum their timeline is horrendously optimistic), or their plan to take the budget power away from parliament and establish an independent board similar to the Reserve Bank to do the budget instead, or the fact that the entire party seems to be a vanity project for the founder (although he didn't name it after himself like Clive Palmer did). Nor will I detail why I dislike their plan for online direct democracy for major issues and leaving elected parliamentarians to deal with only minor issues, or their constant comparison of running a government to running a business, or how out of date their remarks about the carbon tax are.

Perhaps it might have been easier to have gone back and renumbered earlier posts to be a 54 part series, but I've already read through their website and don't want that effort to go entirely to waste.

Party Games 1/55 - #Sustainable Australia

First up, because they included a hashtag in their official party name, is #Sustainable Australia. Last election they were the Australian Sustainable Population Party. Since then they seem to have mellowed out a bit on the strictness of how little population growth they want, or at least haven't listed any specific population targets this time round, and that was the main criticism I had of them last time round.
Their current plans to restrict population growth include reducing immigration from the current rate of around 200,000 people per year to 70,000 people per year (which includes an intake of 14,000 refugees per year), and reducing family and child benefits for third and subsequent children in a family. This is a lot more reasonable than their proposed targets at the last election.

Their other policy plans are a mixed case of hits and misses for me. Hits include ideas such as 10 year sunset clauses on national security legislation, treating drug abuse primarily as a health issue, getting the ATO to help small business by bundling super contributions with employees taxes and the ATO sending it on to the relevant super fund, and including human and worker rights as a key part in trade deals with other nations. Their energy policies overall are pretty good as well.

I'm not sold however on citizen initiated plebicisites, removing the minimum vote threshold to receive electoral funding (that is a rather self-interested policy), supporting a plebiscite on marriage equality (even if they expect it to have a yes result), and their plans to get multinationals to pay more tax need more rigour.

Overall I think they're doing a better job this time around, and they've moved closer to what I'm looking for in a party and their positions, but not quite enough to get a vote close to the top, but will likely be above at least one of the majors this time round.