Friday, September 06, 2013

Party Games 51/54 Australian Greens

 The Australian Greens aim to be the conscience of parliament. There policies and presentation for this election portray them as acting as the safeguard against both Labor and the Coalition, very much taking up the mantle that the Australian Democrats have let slip from their grasp. They speak of what they have achieved with the balance of power in the senate for the last parliament, and what they plan to do with it going forward.

And it is a pretty good list of policies. Decent treatment of refugees, equal rights and pro gay marriage, a housing policy that includes renters and not just home buyers (as a renter I find it hard to get enthused with policies that simply help home buyers), a passionate protection of the environment (that doesn't mean locking everything up and stopping people from enjoying nature despite what the Outdoor Recreation Party says), more funding for education, research and development, and the arts, more generous welfare payments, better funded health care including bringing dentistry into medicare, better public transport (unlike the Coalitions spending 100% on road based infrastructure plan, the Greens propose 40% on roads, 30% public transport, and 30% rail freight).

Unlike some other parties that have put forward wish lists such as this without working out how to pay for it, the Greens have identified sources of revenue to cover this extra spending. These include a  beefed up mining tax, a 50% tax rate on personal income over $1,000,000 per annum, a bank levy to make the banks that received an effective guarantee from the state on deposits actually pay for what is essentially an insurance policy for them, as well as doing things like taking away subsidies from fossil fuel production and using the money to subsidize renewable energy sources.

I do have some quibbles with the Greens. I don't like their blanket ban on nuclear power, and I'm not sure about lowering the voting age to 16 (age restrictions on these sorts of things are rather arbitrary, so I think legal adulthood is probably the most sensible way to set a cut off). They are also against foreign investment and the Coles-Woolworths duopoly.

There's also an odd stylistic choice throughout their policy documents. When warning of what the major parties may do, they refer to them as Labor and Tony Abbott. This may have been a hedge when preparing the document as Labor's internal politics has been an ongoing issue, while Tony Abbott has the Coalition under a tight rule.

The Australian Greens have candidates for the senate in all states and territories and for all 150 seats in the house of representatives.
twitter: @Greens

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