Asylum Seekers and Offshore Processing
What policies will your party put in place to work collaboratively in the region to improve the conditions for asylum seekers in Indonesia and Malaysia and other places so that they do not have to seek refuge by engaging people smugglers?
I believe that the “concern” expressed by the major parties for asylum seekers risking their lives on leaky boats is a fig leaf for their inhumane and racist policies of (offshore or onshore) mandatory detention, settlement denial and the curtailment of legal rights, rights to work or welfare and family reunion to asylum seekers who arrive by boat. All these policies should be reversed and all asylum seekers should be allowed to live and work in the community while their claims are being processed. In addition, greater efforts should be made to take refugees from countries of first refuge and transit states. Most importantly, Australia should do its part to reduce the global refugee problem by ending its involvement for wars and occupations, ending any support for dictatorial regimes and by adopting a responsible attitude to the global climate change crisis.
What will your party do to ensure people on low and modest incomes and people living with additional disadvantage pay no more than 4 per cent of their income on the energy they need to live a decent life?
Soaring energy bills are a direct result of the privatisation of the energy industry. We are paying for private energy companies to build new fossil fuel-based generators. The industry should be brought back into public ownership and put under public control and a start should be made on a transition to 100% renewable energy. According to studies by Beyond Zero Emissions this can be done with existing technology. Costs of this transition should be paid through consolidated revenue and not passed on to consumers. Government should be prepared to finance this transition through long-term loans and higher taxes. Low and modest income earners should have their energy bills capped at 4% of their income.
How will you ensure that people who are marginalised through poverty, or who are otherwise socially excluded, have access to the support they need from the NDIS?
The Socialist Alliance endorses the principle of self-determination and empowerment of people with disability as the central approach for the design, implementation and monitoring of a new structure to coordinate disability rights, including services and supports. That means people with disability and their organisations must control the decision making process. The Socialist Alliance believes that doing so will provide for a structure and a way of coordination that is informed by experts, effective and efficient and which will deliver adequate financial resources channelled to services, support structures and directly to people with disability. We support indexation of the Disability Support Pension payments to a level, which adequately covers the costs of living, including housing and transport. We will also support a discontinuation of the need for constant reassessment of a person’s eligibility to the DSP once established to minimise stress, expenses and discomfort.
Does your party support reform of alcohol taxes to discourage harmful consumption, especially increasing taxes on alcoholic products with high volumetric content of alcohol?
I support tighter regulation (including some reductions on hours of opening) of commercial establishments selling alcohol, voluntary community control of alcohol access but we reject pricing as a mechanism because it is ineffective and often penalises the poor.
Does your party have a plan for facilitating programs that build and strengthen understanding and reconciliation across cultures?
One of the direct effects of the two major parties targeting refugees in this way is that it encourages racism against all people of non-European background or appearance. Migrants and refugees from South Asia and from the Middle East have been badly affected by increasing racism. So the first thing is to end the attacks on refugees. Racism should also be combated through education campaigns and strong and effective anti-discrimination laws. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should control their own affairs, accorded real land rights, all discrimination legitimised under Stronger Futures legislation should be ended, ATSI organisations (including community schools and services) should be strongly supported and projected positively in the broader community. Strong programs of positive discrimination (including job quotas) should be introduced in the public and private sector.
There needs to be adequate funding and resources for support for cultural and linguistic activities and organisation, free-English language classes and access to adequate translation services for CALD communities.
In government, would your party be willing to introduce some of the key measures suggested by the Productivity Commission to reduce problem gambling, including setting the maximum a gambler can lose on poker machines at $1 a button push, limiting the opening hours of poker machine venues and moving towards a system that allows gamblers to set enforceable limits (mandatory pre-commitment) on their losses?
What commitments do you and your party have to help raise public awareness of the need for the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians?
We are and will continue to campaign for genuine constitutional recognition (with legal effect) and if elected I will use my office as a platform to campaign strongly on this issue. ATSI rights is formative issue in my personal political development and as a member of an ATSI family through marriage and parenthood, I have a personal stake in this.
Prime Minister Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations on February 13, 2008, was a necessary start, but more concrete steps have to be taken. That requires:
- Constitutional recognition of the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the original and ongoing inhabitants of the land, and the negotiation of a treaty or binding agreement enshrining Indigenous rights in law;
- Full reparation for the Stolen Generations;
- Full implementation of the recommendations of the 1997 National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (the “Bringing Them Home” Report);
- Full and immediate compensation for the stolen wages and for traditional lands ravaged by mining;
- Full implementation of the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Will your party keep the price on carbon and commit itself to long-term investment in a green economy through renewable energy sources?
What will your party do to ensure that Australia reaches and exceeds its target for 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020?
The Socialist Alliance does not support the carbon price or the emissions trading scheme. These crisis-prone market schemes subsidise the biggest polluters, while delaying the big structural changes we need to make now. Another problem with a carbon price is that businesses pass the cost onto consumers. A carbon price targets energy consumers rather than energy producers. Generators will always pass the cost onto consumers and this is problematic for low income people who are on welfare or renting and cannot afford to purchase solar systems or similar to dodge the carbon price. The household compensation package seeks to ameliorate this problem but the whole scenario is convoluted. The Rudd ALP government’s decision to move earlier to an ETS – which should called what it is: a pollution trading scam – weakens the scheme even further. The Socialist Alliance calls for the energy sector to be taken into public hands and a for a decade long transition to 100% renewable energy. In this way we would have a public and community owned energy sector that is run as a service rather than a profit making venture. We need to remove the profit motive from energy production at this critical stage of the climate emergency.