Saturday, 21 February 2015

My Vision for Australia (Or: If I were PM....)

Australian politics has deteriorated in the last 5 or so years. I never thought I would see a time where I thought "Hey, that John Howard wasn't bad at all, he actually did some good things". But I do think that now. It really is a race to the bottom.

Even Amanda Vanstone, who is a regular columnist for the "red rag" (The Age) admits that the current government got in not because people liked them, but because they liked the other party less. As a commentator said, just before the 2013 election, "Tony Abbott could drop his trousers and do a turd in the middle of parliament, and he would still become PM".

That is not the place we want to be.

In opposition, the Liberals openly derided the leadership argy-bargy and backstabbing. Alas, we now see similar leadership argy-bargy. The backstabbing is not overt, but obvious in the painted on smiles and evasive answers that MPs (ahem Malcolm and Julie) give to journalists.

After a budget which disproportionally affected the poor, negged by a hostile senate, and then a bloodbath in two state elections (I think the Prince Philip Knighting was neither here nor there), the government is worried. Rule number one of politics, it would seem, is to get back into power.

The vision of the current government was and is "Stop the boats", "Stop the bad taxes", "Cut the Debt". I don't really know what the vision is of the Labor party; perhaps they are too busy laughing, perhaps the media is too focused on the leadership argy bargy to tell us about Labor's plans, or perhaps they are taking a little time to work it out. The skeptics among us would say that they might have no plan.

I work quite closely with another doc who is a card-carrying member of the Liberal party. On many issues, I am quite left (but moving towards the centre on other issues). We have quite good chats where we solve the problems of the country. Hence I have thought about my vision for Australia.

I think that the biggest challenges facing Australia today are:
  • Tackling climate change
  • Moving the economy from being dependent on digging things out of the ground to something else (and we need to work out what that something else will be)
  • The ageing population, in particular keeping health and welfare sustainable.
  • Decreasing economic inequality, improving social upward mobility (mainly by access to good health care and education)
  • The just treatment of those in our region who seek asylum.
  • Staying wealthy in all of this.
 Being a politician would be a horribly hard job. I do not have all the answers, but here are some I propose.

  • Increase the GST, except for on fresh food. All other countries have a higher GST than we do. It is time. We need the money. People would argue that we need to tax big business, and in principle I agree, however it may drive jobs off shore.
  • Phase out the rebate for private health insurance, and put that money back into the public health system. Most of the bang for the buck in health expenditure comes from primary and preventative care. I could go on about this for a while, but I will not.
  • Encouraging innovation in industry. Rewarding small businesses who employ the young or long-term unemployed. 
  • Keeping HECS at affordable levels - education is the best way out of poverty.
  • A gradual divestment from fossil fuels into renewables - perhaps this is where Australia can lead. Germany are putting more energy into the grid from Solar power than we are, so Australia needs to buck it up a bit.
  • The issue of refugees who arrive by boat is a difficult one. I have read somewhere that people who arrive by boat are more likely to be genuine refugees than those who arrive by plane. The rapid processing of applications while people are in the community seems to be the most humane answer, however the logistics of this are far more difficult.
That is not a very comprehensive list.
I will turn it over to you.

What do you think are the basic issues facing Australia (or your country)?
How do we solve the issues? What would you do if you were PM?


  1. Goodness… this is a light topic of conversation! I'm not sure I can write anything particularly succinctly about this topic as it is so broad. But I think politics is in a mess due to the way Media move so much more quickly. Things used to take a while to gather momentum when we relied on mainstream media. Now social media means that outrage and backlash occur and gather momentum very quickly, and politicians are now very reactive to that. I think this is what is causing the problems with them not committing to big vision policy, instead addressing numerous small things, jumping from one disaster to another. The rise in American style politicking has also been a bit irksome - all those people standing behind the leaders of the major political parties nodding their heads constantly in press calls. blah!

    1. I tend to write about what is on my mind, whether light or not. This post has been brewing for a while.
      Pollies tend to be reactive rather than proactive, I agree.

  2. I'd normally have loads to say but am out of touch since I don't live there anymore. But as a sort of inside outsider Australia has changed so much I can't recognize it in certain ways. The shift in wealth is ridiculous but then most have to be rich to afford a trip to Coles where one walks out with a few yogurts dips and chips forty dollars later. It's turned into America so much since the Internet. There was so much egalitarianism for the most part and at least very much in spirit. It's all gone now. There seems to be a lot in in fighting in the parties and much more soap operatic than politics over here in Europe in general. A different drama all together here. That gillard labour leadership saga was so farcical that I couldn't keep up Australia is doing well but even in my lifetime there's been a few booms and busts so I just hope it maintains it's prosperity somehow. You've got a good list there seems to make sense. Still can't believe Oz isn't fully solar yet!!!

    1. They're actually looking at going nuclear in SA - we have all the uranium deposits and are one of the most geographically stable places on earth, so they're about to do a Royal commission to examine it (that's called political hand balling in terms of absolving oneself of responsibility).

  3. Agreed. The environment has be to #1. I'd like to see petrol taxed to buggery. To the point where people really, really have to question if it is worth taking the car out for a 1 km trip to the shops. Save the environment and increase people's health at the same time. Of course, you'd never get voted in on that platform!