Friday, May 20, 2022

Party Games 34-38/38 The Majors

I'll admit, I didn't budget my time well, so won't do as big a spiel on the majors as I should compared with the attention I've given the minor parties, but if you haven't seen at least something of the remaining parties I'm not sure this would make a difference. I'm also stretching the definition of major to include the Greens, but again, it's the night before the election.

As you could probably guess if you've read the other party write ups, you wouldn't be surprised that I'm not a fan of the Coalition (the Liberals, the Nationals, the LNP, and the Country Liberal Party). If this list isn't enough to make you unsatisfied with them I'm not sure what would. 

The ALP after the Rudd-Gillard years seems to have decided that the way to gain votes is to become more like the Coalition, but this just encourages the Coalition to become even more bold in moving the country to the right. In fairness to them, the Murdoch dominated press hold the ALP to a much higher standard than the do the Coalition, and some of the headlines this election have read more like ads than reporting. They're not great, but I trust them with running the country, especially with some minor parties acting as a Jiminy Cricket pulling them in the right direction.

Last on this list is the Greens. They've grown from just caring about environmental issues to having a broad range of policies that I can get behind. I don't agree with their opposition to nuclear power, but that's about it.

Party Games 33/38 Western Australia Party

Not surprisingly, the Western Australia Party advocates for better outcomes for WA. This mostly boils down to wanting a bigger cut of the GST pie. 

I feel a bit called out by one part of their environment policy, which is "Protection from invasive pests such as Queensland cane toads and Queensland fruit fly is also critical." but I acknowledge it's a fair cop.

I might give them a bit more consideration if there was a way for me to vote for them and it wasn't 8pm on the night before the election. I'll leave it for any WA readers to make up their own mind

Party Games 32/38 Victorian Socialists

Well, since the last socialist party wasn't the horror extreme left wing I keep hearing about, maybe the Victorian Socialists will show us what real horror is. Except no, they don't, the extreme left wing is just a beat up. 

The Victorian Socialists support a lot of good things, like a stronger social safety net, better treatment of refugees, taking serious action on climate change, decriminalising drugs. There are only really two areas I can't get fully behind. One is just disbanding a lot of our national security infrastructure (while it should have better oversight, I don't think we can just give up on doing it), and the other is their proposal for some massive once off wealth taxes. On the wealth taxes, I think a smaller wealth tax charged annually would be better than a large tax once off.

If they were running candidates outside of Victoria, they'd probably be ahead of both majors for me.

Party Games 31/38 United Australia Party

Clive Palmer's ongoing campaign to make me less likely to wear an enforcer tshirt in public because I don't want to be confused with one of his supporters continues to be one of the most annoying political parties. From mass spam text messages to buying out every second billboard to very long tv commercials, the United Australia Party keeps on giving (note, despite claiming 3 former prime ministers as members, this United Australia Party has no actual connection to this Australia United Party that merged with the Liberals in 1945).

Clive and the UAP have really tried to make hay of COVID, but have consistently been on the wrong side of things, be it opposing lockdowns to the point of suing WA, importing a tonne of hydroxychloroquine that doesn't actually work against COVID, and more. 

Policy wise they promise big but give little detail. They've put up a lot of signs about capping mortgages at 3% but haven't said how. This is important because this will have a major impact on how things play out. If they just cap the interest rate banks can charge, banks will reduce the amount of mortgages they issue as they will not want to take on the extra risk. If they have the government pay any excess interest, then that means taxpayers will be subsidising people mortgages at a massive cost, and even though I'm almost at the point of buying, don't think this is a good idea. They also want to make the first $30k paid on a mortgage each year to be tax deductible, which unless they propose to do the same for renters (spoiler alert, they're not) just blatantly gives more favourable treatment to people paying a mortgage.

They also propose paying off the national debt by putting a 15% export fee on iron ore, and that this can only be used to pay off the debt. This does in part neglect the fact that government debt is usually issued via long term bonds, and the Australian government currently has bonds issued that go out until 2051, and while the government can offer to repurchase such bonds, they can't currently force people to sell them back. I also note that they only want to apply the export fee to iron ore, I'd like to suggest that maybe they should expand it to nickle as well, as I'm sure Clive would like to do his bit to help Australia.

Another interesting one I found was part of their plan to improve wages is to give people a 50% discount on income from a second job. I think this would just result in companies giving everyone two jobs and pocketing the savings.

On the plus side, they do want to cancel all HECS debts, which I will continue to support even though I'll have finally paid mine off this year, increasing welfare payments, and they support introducing nuclear power.

Unfortunately the few good things do not outweigh the crazy, and the UAP is in serious contention for last place on my ballot.

Party Games 30/38 The Local Party

The Local Party seems more like The Tasmania Party, although they do have a senate candidate for South Australia. Most of the issues they have on their party site are Tasmanian specific such as salmon farming and an electricity connection to the mainland, although they do take a look at some more general issues if only very briefly - on climate change all they've got to say is that it hasn't been fixed yet.

In short they seem to have potential, but need a bit more work.

Party Games 29/38 The Great Australia Party

Reading through the website of the Great Australia Party one can only come to one conclusion; they've been suckered in with sovereign citizen nonsense and taken it seriously. They've put some of the letters they've sent to the AEC about the nomination of some of their candidates (one didn't fill out the form properly and was rejected, and another is ineligible due to being an undischarged bankrupt) and while I'm sure they put them up hoping to garner sympathy, all they've done is make me admire the patience of the AEC's chief legal officer. Some of their email signatures are out there as well, citing among other things the United States Code and The Holy Bible, King James Version, Anno Domini 1611 Edition (very specific) as protection against the email being disclosed against there wishes (and I'm sure they've got the ok from everyone on the email chain to post the emails on their site).

On the policy side, they want to get rid of both the GST & income tax, take a much stricter stance on crime, making the Nuremberg code law (anti-vaxxers like to use the Nuremberg code's requirement for voluntary consent to being a part of medical experimentation as a justification for opposing vaccine mandates), getting rid of gun regulations, and want zero net immigration. 

I'm not sure why they have a random page about some sort of special cleaning solution.

Even if they had some policies I could agree with, the sovereign citizen nonsense makes it impossible to support them. If you take the position that the Governor General no longer has authority because of a wording change in legislation, and do things like appeal to the UK Privy Council despite that being made no longer a thing in 1986, or nominate while being an undischarged bankrupt after having previously been kicked out of the senate for the same thing, I don't trust you to run the country.

28/38 TNL

While not as fun as BNL, TNL (originally The New Liberals, but no longer able to use that name under new party registration rules) is so reasonable sounding in their policies, I'm curious why they wanted to create the association with the Liberals by choosing that name. The only thing I can think of is they were wanting to follow in David Leyonhjelm who got a substantial boost in the election when the Liberal Democratic Party appeared ahead of the Liberal Party on the senate ballot paper.

Because they don't really seem to share any common ground with the Liberals. The closest they come is their job guarantee scheme, which seems reminiscent of work for the dole, even if it's optional and much better paying. TNL is for quick action on climate change, they want an ICAC, they want better funding of the ABC, and improving social safety nets including welfare payments. 

I think I'll ignore the name and put them closer to the top than the bottom of the list.

Party Games 27/38 Sustainable Australia Party

The Sustainable Australia Party is all for keeping the Australian population low, to a potentially mathematically implausible degree when you consider the level of immigration they're willing to accept and that they say they don't want to impose restrictions on family size.

Which makes it a bit of a pity that they predicate all their policies on this idea, because they do have some good ideas. They want a better funded ABC, have a reasonable environmental policy, want to introduce a universal basic income. But they also want to make superannuation optional, making the unemployed work in environmental restoration programs (although I do like one part of this which is bringing back the CES and getting rid of private companies handling job seeking activities).

Party Games 26/38 Socialist Alliance

I thought I'd finally got to the left wing crazies with the Socialist Alliance, but on the whole they're a lot less out there than I find some of the right wing fringe parties. I mean for all the talk on places like Sky News about the "Extreme Left" I haven't seen anything on the left as far out as some of the right wing stuff.

Socialist Alliance have a number of policies I like. They're good on the environment, workers' rights, want to expand health care, as well as sensible COVID policies.

There tax plan has some good things like cancelling the tax cuts for the wealthy the LNP has proposed, getting rid of negative gearing, and getting rid of subsidies on fossil fuels, but getting rid of the GST entirely will take a bit of work.

Party Games 25/38 Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party

My first beef with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is that they don't use an Oxford comma. However, I won't let that get to me too much, especially when there are bigger concerns with their platform.

Their platform mainly consists of letting farmers, hunters, and fishers do what they want, and the government putting them first when it comes matters of environment, land use, and whatever else they come up with. This includes COVID matters, where they're on the government shouldn't make people do anything to to prevent the spread side of politics.

In all fairness, I'm not the parties demographic, but I'd appreciate it if rural focused parties like this at least pretended that people living in cities were worth taking in to consideration.

Party Games 24/38 Seniors United Party

The Seniors United Party appear to have made things easy for me as their website no longer seems to exist (I'm sure it was there a month ago when I was putting together the list of parties), so I can't say much about their current policies. I suspect they're similar to what they were last time (I made comment about their lacklustre web presence then as well), being primarily focused on making life better for seniors.

Party Games 23/38 Rex Patrick Team

Rex Patrick initially joined the senate as a member of the Centre Alliance, replacing Nick Xenephon when he retired, but has since left the party and formed his own. 

His positions are a bit of a mix. Supporting net zero carbon by 2050 makes him better than some on the environment, but there's room for improvement. He's also good on government integrity, supporting the creation of an ICAC, better transparency on donations, although I'm unsure on his proposal that ministers need to pass a security clearance to be able to access classified information. My concern is that this gives a veto on ministerial appointments to the security agencies, taking that out of the democratic process. 

There's also a strong anti-China bent to Rex's positions, as well as strong support for South Australia, the latter of which I can't fault as he's a senator for that state. 

I'm not sure how he'll fare running on his own rather than as part of the Centre Alliance.

Party Games 22/38 Reason Australia

Reason Australia is the result of the merger of the Australian Sex Party, the Australian Cyclist Party, and the Voluntary Euthanasia Party. They describe themselves as civil libertarian party, but in contrast to the LDP, they actually seem to care about people.

On climate they look alright, supporting net zero carbon by 2030. Their health proposals overall are ok. They also propose transitioning to a 4 day work week, which I think would be a good thing.

 I like their secularisation policy, which includes getting rid of the prayer at the start of parliament, removing tax exemptions for businesses owned by religious organisations, and removing "advancing religion" as a charitable purpose for tax classification.  

They're not running in all states, but the do have someone running for the senate in Queensland, so they'll be above both the majors for me.

Party Games 21/38 Pauline Hanson's One Nation

Pauline Hanson's One Nation has been around for a long time now, and they may not be as blatant in the xenophobia, it's still there lurking at the heart of conservative platform. They oppose foreign ownership of pretty much anything, but especially farms, they want immigration greatly reduced, and they are highly skeptical of pretty much every international organization from the UN down. 

This last feeds on and into (in a chicken or the egg kind of way) their stances on climate change and COVID. On climate change they deny there's even a problem to be addressed, and on COVID they've been opposed to most steps taken to mitigate. And while they're not the first party to suggest a royal commission in to how COVID has been handled, as the "hearings" Malcolm Scott ran earlier this year show, they'd likely turn it in to a gathering of anti-vaxxers and fringe thinkers rather than a serious examination of what lessons can be learnt.

Looking for a positive, I think there is some merit in there proposal to pay off medical practitioners' HELP debt in exchange for a several year period of service in a regional area (and maybe we could get a Northern Exposure type show out of it into the bargain). But otherwise, there's not much there I can get behind.

Party Games 20/38 Liberal Democratic Party

The Liberal Democratic Party is Australia's libertarian party, and they are very committed to their ideals. They have become a lot more outspoken during COVID, with their position on the matter is that no government should take any action on the issue other than maybe asking people to be careful. And while yes there can be debate on how effective government action was, and what should and shouldn't have been done, the position that nothing should have been done at all is one I don't find tenable.

The idea that government shouldn't really do anything forms the basis for most of their policies. They want to privatise schools, privatise the ABC & SBS, and get rid of a whole slew of government regulation. Their budget proposal is to cut all departments' (except the armed forces) budgets by 10% initially, and then cut an additional 1% each year until the budget is balanced, which could be an issue because their tax plan would cut tax revenue by about 25%. 

They oppose any action on climate change, which means they want to get rid of any carbon reduction targets, let alone a net zero target, they want to get rid of subsidies for renewables (which I could support at this stage if they also got rid of all the subsidies for fossil fuels and factored in externalities from pollution by say imposing a carbon tax, but they don't seem to get there). I do agree with them on allowing nuclear power.

Finally, I guess this last bit is more subjective than normal, but to me it feels like their freedom fundamentalism leads them to always siding with the dickhead in situations. Whether it's things like opposing racial vilification laws because of freedom of speech, opposing worker protections because employers should be free from regulation, supporting a company that put's sexist jokes on their hire vehicles, and more, the freedoms they support always end up being freedom for the powerful rather than the powerless. And so, since I don't want to have to ask "Am I the Asshole?" I'm placing them towards the bottom of the ballot.

Party Games 19/38 Legalise Cannabis Australia

Alright, a day and a half left until election day and I finally reach half way. As usual, the depth and thoroughness of these reviews drops as we get closer to election day.

Legalise Cannabis Australia wants marijuana legalised. While I'm not a user, I do support legalisation. Places like Portugal show that when you treat drug use as a medical matter rather than a criminal one you get better outcomes. It's partly because I'm already sold on the idea that I think some of their justifications such as using hemp to make biofuels seem like overkill. Just say that this is something fun to use, and criminalisation is an overreaction that causes more harm than good.

The party doesn't appear to have any policies unrelated to the legalisation of marijuana.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Party Games 18/38 Kim for Canberra

Kim for Canberra is another single candidate party vying for one of Canberra's two senate seats (a mathematically challenging proposition). Despite this challenge, Kim Rubenstein has a decent mix of policies, going strong on climate change, making sure an ICAC has teeth, and gender equality.

The one policy I've not yet seen elsewhere, and probably won't, is her proposal to increase the ACT's senate representation from 2 senators to 4. This is primarily on the basis of population, as the ACT with a population of 450k gets 2 senators, while Tasmania gets 12 senators for its 530k. This discrepancy definitely shows the advantage of being a state rather than a territory. A larger senate cohort would also make electing independent senators easier (the quota would drop from 33% to 20%), but would result in the odd case of the ACT having more senators than MPs (although that's long been the case for Tasmania).

If I lived in Canberra, I'd probably put Kim ahead of both the majors.

Party Games 17/38 Katter's Australian Party

Katter's Australian Party takes after its larrikin founder Bob Katter. To say Bob's a bit of a character is an understatement. 

I think the best way to summarise the position of the KAP is to say that if you live north of Gympie, you'll do well, and if you live in a big city there's not much for you. From special tax rates for people in rural areas, spending more money on regional infrastructure, providing subsidised loans for rural development, and so on and so on. Oddly they also want to turn farmers into jailers, with a proposal to send convicts to remote farms to work their sentence rather than putting them in jail. They also want to ensure that marriage is strictly one man and one woman, so they don't seem to consider that battle lost yet.

I didn't really see anything that stood out as for the city slickers, other than some grumbling about council funding favouring urban areas because there's more people here. And so as yet another country good city bad party, I can't really support them.

Party Games 16/38 Jacqui Lambie Network

Jacqui Lambie remains one of the few positives to come in to politics thanks to the political adventures of Clive Palmer. Like Ricky Muir, she's shown a sincerity and dedication to the job of senator well above what was expected based on their pre-election performance. This hasn't always translated into concrete results, and I haven't always agreed with her positions, but she takes the responsibility seriously.

The Jacqui Lambie Network website lacks much detail on policies. The FAQ includes "what is your policy on X, Y, or Z?" with the answer that they don't want to come up with lots of different policies that never get implemented, and instead their focus is getting the balance of power, which is honest. In fact the site looks more like a kickstarter campaign with fundraising targets for different campaign actions.

The lack of policy details probably mean I'd put them between the two majors on a ballot, but since they're only running candidates in Tasmania I don't need to do so.

Party Games 15/38 Informed Medical Options Party

The Informed Medical Options Party is three of those four things. They may be a party about medical options, but reading what they have to say I can't say that they count as informed. 

Their main goal is the removal of any and all vaccine requirements, and in support of that they cherry pick data and only listen to people who tell them what they want to hear. They complain that government bodies that assess medicines and vaccines are staffed by people who have done research in the field which according to them makes them biased rather than experts.

There's some additional medical tom-foolery such as promoting alternative medicine and including it on the PBS, GMO paranoia, stopping water fluoridation (a common enough issue that there was a panel on it at OzWater 22), and supporting organic foods, and allowing parents to refuse care for their children with cancer.

The only thing on their platform I can get behind is increasing parental leave. But even this isn't enough for IMOP to get out of the bottom section of the ballot.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Party Games 14/38 The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia

The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia is not a single policy but is a single focus party. They stand for better recognition and treatment of indigenous Australians. This includes constitutional recognition, stronger protection of sacred sites, more self management of indigenous communities in areas such as education and land use, and so forth. 

An area where I'm not sure I think there solution appropriately solves a legitimate issue is indigenous incarceration. They're proposal is for only the most serious adult offenders to be able to be incarcerated, with less serious offenders and juveniles to stay in the community. My preference would be for better oversight of police and the courts to eliminate the present bias causing such disproportionate numbers of indigenous Australians to end up incarcerated. But maybe I'm not in the best place to tell those affected that it's worth the time such a long term solution would take when they're facing the brunt of injustice now.

There's no obviously bad positions listed, so I think this is another party that will end up between the two major parties for me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Party Games 13/38 Federal ICAC Now Party

There's not too much to write about the Federal ICAC Now Party. They want an ICAC and they want it now.

They're very specific about only having one policy. Everything else they'll judge bills to make sure they don't have the potential for corruption and that they comply with the UN Declaration on human rights, and if they do put the decision to party members on whether it should be supported or not.

As in the past, I'm a bit skeptical of one issue parties that don't at least take a little time to consider some of the major issues that they'll be faced with if elected, so this will be another party that sits between the two major parties for me.

Party Games 12/38 Fusion Party

The Fusion Party is the result of a merger between the Science Party, the Pirate Party, the Secular Party, Vote Planet, and the Climate Change Justice Party. The parties listed I've reviewed before have all been pretty decent, and the combination looks to have taken the strengths of each individual party's policies and brought them together Voltron style.

The mix brings together a pretty good climate policy, even if I 'm not exactly sure that an 800% renewable energy target is necessary (surely even 200% would be plenty), a strong stance in removing special privileges for religions, and a decent position on digital rights.

The mix of policies isn't quite as broad as I recall the Pirate Party having, but still pretty good overall.

Party Games 11/38 Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance

The Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance follows the positions of its founder Drew Pavlou, who has a bit of notoriety but I haven't paid enough attention to events at UQ to have an informed opinion on him as an individual. As a party they seem ok, They're good on wanting an ICAC, and mostly alright on the environment, although I'm not sure how they'll be able to convince car manufacturers to resume making cars here when the coalition already failed by throwing huge chunks of cash at the industry. 

The other thing that stands out is a very strong anti-China stance.While I'm not under any impression that China is a good guy on the international scene, I'm not sure basing our entire foreign policy around sticking it to them is a solid plan.

There's not much more to say about them, they'll probably end up in the middle third of my preferences.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Party Games 10/38 Derryn Hinch's Justice Party

The main focus of Derryn Hinch's Justice Party is that we should be a lot tougher on criminals, that the justice system is failing us by being too lenient on criminals, and that these propositions are just "common sense". Unfortunately, when you take a serious look at how the community views the suitability of sentencing rather than relying on responses to sensationalised news coverage, you find that when familiar with the actual facts of a case, community members find sentences to be appropriate in 86% of cases, and when asked to suggest a sentence were more lenient than the judge in 61% of cases. 

So I can't really support them on their major policy focus, and there's really not much else they've got going. They support legalising euthanasia, but that's about it that stands out for me.

Party Games 9/38 David Pocock

David Pocock is a one man party running for one of the ACT's two senate seats. Given the ACT only has two senate seats, the maths mean getting elected over the two major parties is really tough. 

David looks to have a reasonable mix of policies, plus an openness to community consultation that stands out. He says if elected he'll hold quarterly town halls, as well as providing a record of all his votes in parliament. His proposal to run a community volunteer program for community members to work in his office, which while a novel way to get the community more involved in the operations of government, I'd like to see this include the volunteers being paid, especially given parliamentarians get a budget for the running of their offices.

He looks to have a reasonable stance on climate change, wants to improve health care in a sensible way, and while I couldn't find anything I disagree with too much, being a one man party there's a fair few areas he doesn't have a policy yet.

As he's only running as a single candidate in the ACT, I won't get to vote for him, but I think he'd probably end up between the two major parties.

Party Games 8/38 Centre Alliance

As Nick Xenephon had a temporary retirement from federal politics, the Nick Xenephon Team has changed their name to Centre Alliance. They immediately score brownie points for using the "re" spelling of centre - I don't care if the spell check underlines centre with a red squiggly line, it's the correct way to spell it. 

Looking at their current policies and what I wrote last time I did this, there doesn't seem to be any major changes to their policies. They're still strongly opposed to gambling, want an ICAC, want to make sure penalty rates aren't cut, and increasing foreign aid. Their climate change policy feels a bit lacklustre but doesn't deny climate change so better than some. 

Given I now work at a water utility, I'm a bit more interested in their water policies. I'm not sure about their suggestion to harvest storm water instead of desalination, as if we've got enough storm water to harvest to top up dams, the dams which are filled by rain would already be filled, whereas desalination plants can operate independent of rain. However I can get behind proposals to make sure out water resources are used more efficiently.

Nick Xenephon is returning to federal politics, and I think he was generally a positive factor in the senate, so I guess we'll see how he goes without the party sharing his name. I'm also a little unsure of the status of the party as Nick & Stirling Griff appear on the SA Senate ballot under an unnammed group rather than the Centre Alliance name, and the last press release on the party website was from last year. However as my criteria for being included in my reviews is being registered as a party with the AEC, I'll keep the write up.

Party Games 7/38 Australian Values Party

I'll be honest I tend to be a bit skeptical when someone brings up "Australian Values" because all too often what is meant by "Australian Values" ends up being lets go back to how things were at least 40 years ago, if not more. It's an invocation of a golden age that never really existed, and in as much as it did, it was a pretty shitty time for a large part of the community. Ultimately this is another unfortunate import from the US brought to us by a reactionary right wing.

So I was a bit wary going in to have a look at the policies of the Australian Values Party, but did come away with a more positive view of the party than I did going in. One policy I particularly like is requiring professional development for members of parliament. Especially for first time parliamentarians, there's a lot to know about how parliament works, and while there are some information sessions for new members, setting up an ongoing program makes sense. I could also see it as a way to prepare members for becoming ministers down the road, as well as giving all members some grounding in important areas such as health, economics, statistics, etc. I'm less certain about their requirement that all their candidates have management/leadership training, as I feel that would cut down on the diversity of backgrounds candidates will have. 

This is particularly with their candidates, of whom 7 out of 10 are former members of the military. This in and of itself for a candidate isn't a bad thing, but when 70% of your candidates are from a group that make up only about 1 in 50 Australians, your focus may become narrowed. Which shows in their defense policies. They're for better support for veterans, which I can agree with, but they're also for restricting how the media can report on the military, which I'm definitely not a fan of. 

In terms of my preferences I think they will end up between the two major parties.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Party Games 6/38 Australian Progressives

The Australian Progressives are pretty much what the name suggests. Their policies are pretty much a checklist of progressive ideals. There's support for a stronger social safety net, setting up an ICAC, better funding of health care and the CSIRO, taking action on climate change, as well as enhancing the NBN. Their tax policies seem alright overall, although I find setting a maximum income tax rate of 50% to be a bit out place.

 They've also set themselves a pretty strict code of ethics, which I think would prevent a member from accepting large quantities of cash from a blind trust to cover one's legal expenses and not declaring it. Although to be fair, the current ministerial standards seem to be rather toothless, so anything is going to come out looking good.

If anything, the only real fault I can find is being a bit too generically nice, I almost starting think of them like the Federation from Star Trek, although not everyone has Clive Palmer money to use to put their party name on every building they can find. They'll be ahead of both of the majors, but might slip below some similar parties with a bit more character.

The Poster

When I started university, my plan was to get my degree, do honours, then a PhD, then become a researcher/lecturer, and then after about 40 years retire at around 65 (probably the most optimistic part of that whole plan). Of course, that kind of crashed and burned when I dropped out of my PhD, but that academic culture still sticks with me.

A part of that is the process of producing knowledge, and disseminating it. While I never had to publish or perish, the significance of getting a paper accepted and printed, and the related process of attending and presenting at conferences still carries the hallmarks of progress, success, and significance for me. 

At a conference, there are various levels of presentations. At the top you have the keynote speaker, then featured presenters, and then regular talks. The lowest of these is the poster presentation, where you have an A1 poster about your topic that people can look at, and depending on the conference, there might be some time where you're expected to stand by your poster for people to talk to you and ask questions. This is generally where you start out, and over time you work your way up.

And indeed this is where I started out. While I no longer have a copy of the poster, the paper that went with it is still online

But then life happened, and conferences weren't a part of what I did.

Until now.

Towards the end of last year the company that I now work at was encouraging staff to submit presentations for an industry conference as we are one of the main sponsors this year. After a little thought, I submitted a topic, and was accepted. And so I put together a poster for the conference.
The conference started on Tuesday, and after the opening address the first thing I did was walk through the expo hall to find where my poster was. Seeing it there did give a thrill and a sense of pride. 

While thinking about this I have internally been minimising this in comparison to what I did in university. I still put academia on a bit of a pedestal, which I think is something I need to dial back on. When you boil it down, in both cases, the content being shared was "We did a thing, here's how it went." And while at uni I had lofty ambitions of adding to the sum total of humanity's knowledge, being honest my current job helps make life a little better for a lot more people than any amount of studying oddly behaving crystals.

Anyway, I did a thing, and that's how it went.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Party Games 5/38 Australian Federation Party

The Australian Federation Party, previously the Australian Country Party, and before that the Country Alliance, has made the transformation from a protectivist Nationals wannabe party, to a "Freedom" wannabe party where they are mainly concerned with the freedoms to pretend gay people don't exist, that people who aren't Christians exist, that there are numerous cures for COVID made by big pharma that we denied to people because big pharma didn't pay the TGA, and so on.

There proposal to rework the three levels of government has some good ideas, such as making health care a just federal rather than federal & state responsibility, I don't get the point of keeping local government while taking away all responsibilities and duties from them.

They want to improve the NDIS, which is good, but that's about all I found to like.

I think the Australian Federation Party is a cross between the Nationals and the Australian Christian Party who are trying to look like they're neither.

Party Games 4/38 Australian Democrats

The Australian Democrats are back after having been deregistered in 2016 for not having enough members. They joined forces with another party, CountryMinded, which was deregistered for the same reason, and sensibly this new party has kept the name with much better brand recognition. I'm not sure what CountryMinded gained out of this deal as the policies of the new Australian Democrats very much fits with what they had before deregistration with little sign of CountryMinded's tight focus on farmers even in areas such as agriculture or land management.

The Democrats policies have a good mix of environmental and social ideas. They advocate for strong and rapid action on climate change, increases to welfare payments, and improving health care. On the tech side I appreciate their proposals requiring tech manufacturers allow users to do their own repairs and that there are minimum periods that security updates must be provided for. Their COVID position is pretty good, including improving quarantine facilities for the future and

 Their defense policy feels tall but narrow, in that it wants to do one thing very well, namely strike at a long range from the Australian mainland, but if someone finds a way around that one thing there's not much left (kind of like going mass siege tanks as a Terran in Starcraft, if someone gets in to melee range or strikes from the air you're going down quick).

While I admire what the Democrats have done in the past, and they'll be ahead of the major parties, I'm not confident they can match their past successes.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Party Games 3/38 Australian Citizen's Party

The Australian Citizen's Party, formerly the Citizen's Electoral Council, have changed their name but not much else. While they do seem to have updated some of the pages on their website since the last time I did this in 2016, pages not directly related to the current election still only appear to refer to events up to 2018.

Policy wise they still advocate setting up a nationalised bank that funds infrastructure. I am confused by the way they suggest that this bank will offer cheaper funding to governments and industry, but that super funds and private investors will invest in it by buying bonds. If my super fund invested my money in something that is deliberately undercutting banks and aiming to make minimal returns, I'm going to be asking why I should stick with that super fund. If they want to subsidise loans to industry, just say so. Similarly they plan to scrap the GST and replace it with a 0.1% tax on stock transactions. Sounds nice in principle, but GST revenue is about $80 billion a year and using data on the value of stock transactions in Australia a 0.1% tax would only bring in about $4 billion a year, which does leave $76 billion shortfall. They also want a return to the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system, which was reliant on an economically dominant USA, which seems counter to the party's anti-US&UK/pro-China foreign policy position.

On the Arts they seem to be complaining about violent video games, banal pop music, and mass produced movies, which comes across as sounding like a grumpy old man not liking what the kids like. 

They don't accept the reality of climate change, which is a deal breaker, and their environmental policy is just more economic development will help the environment, but without any details on how this might actually occur. 

Overall, they have a few ideas I like the goal of but the few details of seem either counterproductive or insufficient to achieving them, but more areas where I don't agree with what they want to achieve.  

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Party Games 2/38 Australian Christians

It's with a certain irony I note that the Core Values page of the Australian Christians, which includes Honesty & Integrity among those values, starts with a fake quote. I may be being a bit more snarky about this than I might be for other parties, but the Australian Christians are always going to find me a tough sell. This unbeliever doesn't take as a given that the bible is the inerrant word of God and that it should be the basis for the laws of our nation, and the Australian Christians don't seem to have considered that the 48% of Australians might need something more than "because God said so" as a reason for a policy.

Their policy list is a common mix of vocal Christian priorities, including strict restrictions on abortions, the right to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, even more government funding for private schools, a denial of climate change, an opt-out rather than opt-in widescale internet filtering, that marriage should only be one man and one woman. They also have a common mix of right wing economic policies such as removing the minimum wage, and railing against red tape.    

They also make the odd claim that freedom of religion is a Christian value, which seems very much at odds with the history of forced conversions of indigenous peoples around the world, as well as overlooks that they want to enshrine Christian beliefs into law, which is very much not in line with the principle of freedom of religion. 

Looking at what I wrote last time reminded me of some things I did like among their policies, such as supporting the NDIS, but support for public transport seems to have gone and been replaced by support for more bike lanes and facilities.

Overall, while Australian Christians priorities are 1) Further the revelation of the glory and righteousness of God and then 2) Promote the true welfare of the Australian people, in that order, I can't support them.

Party Games 1/38 Animal Justice Party

Thanks to the hegemonic impartiality of the alphabet, my survey of Australian political parties commences with the Animal Justice Party (they've moved from third last time I did this to first). As their name suggests, they are primarily focussed on protecting animals. 

Mostly this comes through things I can generally agree upon, things like banning greyhound racing, protecting habitats for native wildlife, taking action on climate change, and so on, there are areas where I feel that when balancing out the interests of humans and animals, they've come down to strong on the side of animals. An example of this is their domestic violence policy. In this area they want to make sure that animals can be recognised as victims of domestic violence, give greater protection for animals' interests during divorce, and create a national register of domestic violence perpetrators and animal abusers. There's also more funding for domestic violence shelters, but that's focussed on making sure animals can be taken to shelters. There's nothing on preventing violence before it happens (other than a general vibe of if people are nicer to animals they'll be nicer overall) or providing more tangible assistance such as making domestic violence leave paid rather than unpaid time off work.

This also comes across in some of their animal focussed policies. I think they're rather optimistic in believing that feral animals can be managed purely with non-lethal methods (I mean who hasn't whacked a cane toad with a golf club?), and I don't think we need to completely get rid of events like rodeos and circuses to prevent harm to animals, or completely eliminate meat from our diets.

Looking at my last review of the Animal Justice Party they have made progress on one area I criticised them for then. They have taken the time to develop policy positions outside of their main focus, in areas such as supporting better treatment of refugees, the formation of a federal ICAC, being proactive in dealing with climate change and more.

I also like their stance on certain technologies such as genetic modification and lab grown meat. Rather than just dismiss these out of hand as some groups with a similar focus have, the Animal Justice Party take a "we need to know more" stance without prejudging, seeing that there can be both positive and negative impacts. It's good to see pragmatism is still a thing.

Overall the Animal Justice Party has some good ideas, although sometimes they need to come back to seeing people as people rather than just another animal. Since they have a candidate for the senate in Queensland I think I'll likely vote for them ahead of either of the majors, but I don't think they'll get the first preference.