Australian Politics

What are the major parties saying? A guide to this Federal Election

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Your choice matters. Image via Power FM.

The Federal Election can be a very confusing time—especially if you’re not really sure what to do, who to vote for, or what the major parties are even saying. It can be pretty overwhelming—particularly researching what it is you want to find. Here’s a guide on what the major parties are saying to help you decide:

The Greens:

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Image via the Greens.

Animal welfare

  • Stronger animal welfare standards and legislation with tougher penalties.
  • Ending unnecessary use of animals for testing and education.
  • Clear definitions of “free range eggs”.
  • Abolish animals in circuses.
  • Ban the slaughter of whales, greyhound racing, recreational shooting, selective breeding, race jumping and shark culling.
  • Stop the importation and exportation of zoo animals unless it will assist the continuation of the species.
  • Establishment of a national animal welfare body.
  • More power given to RSPCA and animal cruelty investigations.

Environment, climate change and nuclear energy

  • Plans for habitat management, species loss, and protecting native plants and animals.
  • Ratify international environmental law.
  • End broad-scale clearing.
  • Increase educational resources.
  • Cleaner oceans and protect costal zones.
  • Ban dumping and creation of new coal mines.
  • Detailed emission targets each year until 2050.
  • Net zero or net negative emissions within a generation.
  • 100% stationary electricity to be sustainable as soon as possible.
  • Renewable energy implementation and research.
  • Aim for a nuclear-free world.
  • Cease uranium mining and exportation.
  • Eliminate nuclear weapons.

Finance and economics

  • Banks to make greater contribution to public purse through taxes and levies.
  • Minimise ATM fees.
  • Programs introduced to improve Australian financial literacy.
  • Tax and superannuation reforms to benefit low-income earners.
  • Reduce excessive executive salaries.
  • Housing affordability and availability.

Workplace:

  • Stronger protection of worker’s rights.
  • Protection for casual and fixed-term probationary workers.
  • Childcare incentives.
  • Paid parental leave scheme.
  • Minimum of 5 weeks leave for all employees.
  • Shorter standard working hours.
  • Expenditure increase of 3% to support science and technology research.
  • End criminalisation of consensual sex work.
  • Protection of journalism sources and regional independent media.

Peace and security:

  • Ratify international human rights legislation.
  • Global disbarment strategies and promotion of non-violence.
  • Close foreign defence bases within Australia.
  • Stronger support for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
  • Reform restrictive “counter-terrorism” legislation.
  • End global death penalty.

.Education:

  • More funding for schools based on equity.
  • More infrastructure and specialised teachers.
  • Free university education
  • 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

Health and mental health:

Gender and sexuality:

  • Allow same-sex marriage.
  • Equal access to adoption, fostering and assisted reproduction regardless of sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Transgender rights.
  • Remove religious exemption for anti-discrimination laws.
  • Create commissioner for sexuality, gender and intersex rights with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • More funding to domestic violence and women’s shelters.
  • End the gender wage gap.

Liberal:

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Image via the Liberal Party of Australia.

Workplace and tourism:

  • $20 million in funding to protect vulnerable workers.
  • Tax cuts for small businesses.
  • Tax incentives for innovative start-ups.
  • $23 million investment for small businesses.
  • Trans-pacific trade agreement and free trade with Indonesia, the European Union and Pacific Islands.
  • $20 million investment for infrastructure for tourist regions.

Environment:

  • Planting 20 million new trees by 2020.
  • $70 million investment for green spaces.
  • $30 million to support local parks.
  • Emissions reduction fund.
  • $15,000 to community groups for renewable resources.
  • $5 million to a threatened species recovery fund.
  • $3 billion to invest in the Great Barrier Reef and clean water over 10years.
  • $100 million aim per year for Smart Cities program.

Education:

  • Additional $60 million in funding for sport programs.
  • STEM funding of $73.6 billion over 4 years.
  • $4.6 million for alternate education pathways.

Technology and science:

  • A further $60 million to upgrade or create 499 new telephone bases to tackle an additional 3,000 mobile phone service black spots.
  • $50 million to the MyGov website.
  • $7 billion in funding for clinical trials.
  • $650 million in 4 years for medical funding, including $20 million for childhood cancers.
  • $1.1 billion for the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Security:

  • $2.5 billion boost to law enforcement and security.
  • $1 billion to strengthen borders.
  • $40 million Safer Communities Fund,

Labor:

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Image via the Labor Party of Australia.
Education:

  • $37.3 billion investment for education.
  • Girls Into Code initiative with $4.5 million in grants.
  • Safer Schools program of $6 million over 3 years.
  • Increase in child care benefits for low-income earners.
  • $50 million to support family day care systems.
  • $31 million funding for tertiary education.
  • Additional funding for undergraduates.

Health:

  • Restore medicare benefits.
  • Legalise medical cannabis.
  • Give citizens the right to die.
  • $72 million funding for mental health.
  • $7 million for breast cancer, $10.6 million for prostate cancer.
  • $25 million for dementia research.

Climate Change and Environment:

  • $500 million to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 50% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Net zero pollution by 2050.
  • $17.4 million in funding for Climate Change Authority.

Animal Welfare:

  • Ban cosmetic testing.
  • More investigations and sanctions to breaches.
  • Establishment of animal welfare body.

Infrastructure:

  • NBN to premises.
  • $400 million Western Sydney rail package.
  • $1.2 million National Cycling Strategy.
  • High-speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

Workplace:

  • Protect weekend penalty rates.
  • $4.5 million for Fair Work Commission.
  • No baby bonus.
  • Paid parental scheme leave.
  • Tax reductions for small businesses.
  • Crack down on multinationals.
  • More jobs and courses available.
  • Creative Australia Policy.
  • Building 12 submarines in South Australia.

Gender and sexuality:

  • Marriage equality.
  • $70 billion to family violence services.
  • $8.4 million investment for indigenous girls.
  • Paid parental violence leave of 5 days.
  • More coverage for women’s sport with $21 million in funding to the ABC.
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Image via Mamamia.

Despite all of these lovely promises, there’s no promises they will be put into place. I would encourage each and every one of you to think for yourselves–and to do your research: because your vote matters.

 

 

I’m sorry, but I don’t support the dairy industry.

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COW

I feel for our dairy farmers—I really do.

I can’t imagine how it would feel to have everything you’ve ever known dwindle around you. To have your livelihoods rendered worthless. To be thrown into unfair debt. I have no doubt that dairy farmers have the best intentions—and maybe some of them really do look after their animals. But even so: dairy is a destructive industry, where animals are objectified as means to an economic end—and this isn’t okay.

Before you abuse me, take a moment to consider my words—humour me.

Let’s think about the practicality of dairy and how we actually get milk—cows don’t just magically produce it: it results from pregnancy. Like humans, cows carry their young for nine months.  Unlike humans, most cows will have their young taken away within 12-14 hours after birth due to their economic strain. Calves less than 30 days old—known as bobby cows—will often be sent to the slaughterhouse. In Australia, this is around 400,000 calves per year. This “cruel separation” is a traumatic experience, destined to be repeated over and over for a cow’s workable lifetime— every 13 months. These calves will never even taste their mother’s milk.

There are 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia. While cows will naturally live around 20 years, cows in the dairy industry are only expected to live around seven to eight years. Australian cows also produce around 5730L of milk per year—which is incredible, as the average is only 2900L.  Our farmers are struggling, and no matter how beloved certain cows may be, farmers simply need to get as much as they can from their livestock. But is money worth these drastic measures?

Speaking of drastic measures, let’s talk about industry standards. Yes, there are standards—and yes, they’re a lot better than a lot of other countries. They do genuinely try to provide better lives and treatment for cows in terms of welfare. But some aspects are still quite barbaric, such as dehorning and castration. Dehorning is a common practise for male and female cows, which involves sensitive tissue being sawn off. Castration, while considered a major operation for older bulls, can be done to males younger than six months by anyone—no matter how inexperienced. Shockingly, there are no laws required for pain relief.

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Bobby cows. Image via Vice.

Is cruelty and objectification not enough to convince you of a change of heart? Well, let’s look at health factors.

For decades, we’ve been fed the idea that dairy is best—that we need it. But consider who would have encouraged this propaganda: that’s right, the for-profit dairy industry. Yes, dairy is the source of calcium and other vitamins, but to put it bluntly: it’s not meant for us. It’s meant for a rapidly growing baby calf.

Dr Mark Hyman said consuming dairy is actually not in our best interests, and that we’ve been force-fed many ideas that are not factual. For instance, milk doesn’t reduce fractures—it may actually increase the risk of them by 50%. By consuming five to seven portions of fruits and veggies per day (and no animal products), a person can reduce their risk of heart disease by 47%, strokes by 26%, and cancer by up to 18%. Furthermore, about 75% of the population is lactose intolerant. Know why?

Because. We’re. Not. Meant. To. Drink. Another. Animal’s. Milk.

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Breaking this bond is the price of dairy. Image via My Mind Vegan.

Think about it. Think about what they’re not telling you. Do you think animals should be used purely for economic gain? Even if you don’t think it’s wrong for them to be killed for our consumption, I’d like to think that—as reasonable agents—we can agree that cows should at least be treated well—starting with stricter industry standards and better policing. Even if they’re going to be slaughtered, at the very least, they should live fulfilling lives.

Does this make you feel sad? Do you wish things were different? Well, they can be—and you can help. Change begins with education. Even one mind changed can start a revolution. As it is, we don’t need dairy—there are plenty of plant-based sources of calcium, like dark leafy greens, beans, pulses, nuts, brown bread, enriched fruit juice, plant-based milks, soy mince, tofu and so on. Dairy is dwindling—the number of farms in the last two decades has decreased by two thirds. Maybe there’s a reason for it.

Dairy farmers, I feel sorry for you—that you’ve been brought into this war and are struggling. That you’re only paid 37 cents for a litre of milk, despite it costing 38 cents to produce. But instead of supporting our farmers by buying their product, why don’t we encourage them and donate to them to create new and sustainable livelihoods—livelihoods that don’t rely on forced slavery.

Some things are meant to change—and I for one choose compassion.

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Cows smile when you don’t eat them or take away their babies. Image via Reddit.

Senate launches gender inequality inquiry into superannuation

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The Australian Senate approved a motion to launch an inquiry into gender inequality of the superannuation system. The motion, approved on Monday, was backed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, Liberal Senator Sean Edwards and Greens Senator Larissa Waters, spurred by recent ANZ study, which revealed that women are, on average, retiring on half as much as men.

The 2015 ANZ Women’s Report indicated numerous alarming figures regarding gender inequality within the workforce. For instance, despite the fact that 42% of women aged 25-29 hold a university degree, compared to 31% of men, women are still paid, on average, 18.8% less. Women who work full-time, therefore, earn on average $295 per week less than their male counterparts—simply due to gender. In a year, this amounts to a $15,000 difference, and in a lifetime, $700,000.

ANZ CEO Joyce Phillips said globally, women earn up to 36% less than their male counterparts; this report merely confirms the financial disadvantage all women face.

“This research also confirms what’s really restricting the financial future of women is the inherent structural bias in the way the workplace, education, social and legal systems are established,” she said.

Industry Super deputy chief executive Robbie Campo welcomes the review.

“Industry super Australia’s modelling shows that even with super, pension payments and other savings combined, 63% of single women will still not be retiring comfortably by 2055 unless we act now to restructure our retirement income system,” she said.

The Greens Senator Larissa Walters attributes the growing homelessness of older women to this inequality.

“It’s timely for the Senate to examine the structural inequalities which are seeing women retire in poverty.”

“We hope the tri-partisan nature of this inquiry will lead to real outcomes to address the alarming gender retirement income gap.”