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Fifteen things that are more important than slogans about innovation

With the barrage of announcements, pork barrelling, and white noise that we endure during an election campaign it is easy be distracted from the big picture.

Everyone, including me, is waiting to see Morrison’s budget but I won’t be as interested in the bottom line (other than to see if I win the pool) as I will be to see how our money is being spent.

What are the priorities to provide a better society?

  1. Climate change and the environment

As we can’t exist on a dead planet, this must be the most urgent priority. Every year we delay pricing carbon, every extra tonne of coal we mine, increases the cost of mitigation to the next generation and the likelihood of catastrophic weather events now and into the future.

Coalition Senators George Brandis and Fiona Nash have only this week reiterated the deniers’ claim that “the science isn’t settled“.

  1. Health

Unless we are healthy, both mentally and physically, then we cannot fully participate in society and achieve our potential. Money spent on preventive and primary health care should be seen as an investment rather than a cost.

As for any election promises like no cuts to hospitals…

“I had a commitment for a $10 million allocation to the Wangaratta hospital that, if elected, I was going to announce the week after the election. That is $10 million that Wangaratta hasn’t had because Cathy [McGowan] got elected,” Ms Mirabella said.

“I rang Abbott’s office and said ‘the only thing I have going for me up here is the smile on my face.’ That was when they said I could have $5 million but that was it,’ Mr Joyce told Mr Windsor. And then, without any shame, he said it. ‘You know, Tony, until you decided not to run I had the money for the Armidale Hospital.”

  1. Education

In a wealthy country like ours, all children should have access to a quality education that gives even our poorest an opportunity to succeed. We should provide whatever resources are necessary to cater to the individual needs of our students – from childcare, through school, to vocational training and tertiary education.

  1. Inequality

Increasingly we have seen the added wealth created by the fruits of labour go to the owners of the capital until we have come to the obscene position where 62 people have a combined wealth equal to that of the bottom 50% of the global population.

In Australia, the top 10 CEOs reported earnings totalling $99.63 million in 2014. However, these CEOs also exercised options and received shares under long term incentive schemes, bringing the total value of cash and equity to $171.4 million with Ramsay Health Care’s Chris Rex topping the list at $30.8 million.

For workers paying tax, the middle income was around $55,000 per year. If pensioners who do not pay tax are included, that figure was closer to $45,000 per year. When you hear politicians talk about “the average wage”, be aware that four out of five Australians earn less than the average ($75,000 in 2014).

  1. Domestic violence

In 2014, there were 95 victims of family and domestic violence-related homicide offences.

There were 54,000 victims of family and domestic violence-related assault offences recorded by police. This is without the data from two of Australia’s biggest states, Queensland and Victoria, and includes only the incidents where the police have been involved. By some estimates, only half of assaults are reported to police.

There were 12,561 women who were victims of assault in NSW in 2014. That’s 34 a day. Of those, 9651 were assaults by a partner and another 2993 were ex-partners.

This is an epidemic which far outweighs any other threat to our safety or national security.

  1. Research

Research carried out by the CSIRO and our universities is crucial for our future. They are the problem solvers and the withdrawal of public funding is in danger of changing them from the custodians of our future to the lackeys of big business.

  1. Indigenous disadvantage

The punitive measures adopted by successive governments to deal with indigenous disadvantage – truancy officers, mandatory sentencing, income management, forced removal of children – are patently not working as shown by the high incarceration rate, low health and education outcomes, poverty and domestic violence.

We should value and protect the knowledge of the original custodians of this country, admire their resilience and ingenuity, and treasure the culture of the oldest continuing civilisation on the planet.

  1. Youth unemployment

Nothing is more soul-destroying than being unable to get a job. So many of our children find themselves, after they have completed their education, unable to take that next step towards becoming a contributing productive member of society. We extinguish the enthusiasm of youth and rob them of self-esteem as they face rejection day after day. How are they to gain experience, how are they to get ahead, if we don’t give them a start? Leaving this resource idle can also lead to socially unacceptable behaviour.

For a multitude of reasons, it is in everyone’s best interests to get kids working. It is also in our best interests to take advantage of the wealth of experience of mature aged workers that is going to waste.

  1. Homelessness and housing affordability

In 2014-15, 256,000 people received assistance from homelessness services, and a further 120,000 were turned away. More than 70,000 children received assistance; this includes 42,000 who were under 10. 41,780 lone young people (aged 15-24) approached homelessness services. 70% of the unmet requests included the need for accommodation. For a single person with children, this rose to 93% of cases.

Anglicare’s 2016 Rental Affordability Snapshot, which looked at almost 15,000 rental listings across one weekend, found only two properties advertised across greater Sydney and the Illawarra which were affordable for a single parent with one child. Couples on the aged pension fared the best across the 14,774 listings, with 54 suitable properties identified. This compared with 14 for single pensioners and 12 for couples on Newstart with two children.

  1. Positive Aging

In November 2013, the Federal Government announced that the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing was to be scrapped – at a saving of just over $1 million a year. The chair of the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, Mr Everald Compton, told ABC Radio: “We’ve only got six months work to go and we can give the government a blueprint on all the legislative and policy and financial changes that need to be progressively made over the next 25 years to make sure we turn ageing into an asset rather than a liability. And I find it a little hard to understand why, when we’re so close to finishing something that we’ve had some years of work in, that it’s chopped off and that the government does not appear to want a report on how ageing is going to hit Australia.”

In December 2013, the Coalition dumped a $1.2 billion fund set up by Labor which would have given aged care workers a 1 per cent pay rise on top of award increases.

The 2014 budget abolished the Pensioner Education Supplement, for a saving of $281 million, and axed the planned pilot of Supporting Senior Australians: Housing Help For Seniors, a $173 million program that was to encourage older Australians to downsize to smaller dwellings.

  1. NDIS

To allow our disabled and their carers to participate productively in society this crucial service must be rolled out as quickly as possible with eligibility expanded.

  1. Tax avoidance

We must legislate to make corporations and wealthy individuals pay the appropriate amount of taxation to the society that provides them with an educated, skilled, healthy workforce and the infrastructure and stability they need to do business.

  1. Corruption and political donations

The continuing scandals highlighting corruption in business and politics makes a National Integrity watchdog crucial. There must be reform about political donations and independence in the appointment of public positions.

  1. Refugees

We should immediately free those who are still incarcerated despite having been granted refugee status and bring them here, expand our intake, and develop better support services. We should also change the language about asylum seekers and Muslims and try to undo the damage that Tony Abbott and his cohorts have caused to our social cohesion. Humane behaviour should not be a hard decision.

  1. And for pity’s sake, give us a real NBN.

These are just a few issues I consider more important than slogans about innovation and agility and hearing how we will support entrepreneurs and protect venture capitalists. The question is will the budget deliver on any of them?


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  1. effteeuu

    Kaye, if the opposition hammer this Government with these 15 issues in the current campaign, they should be a shoe-in.

  2. Anomander

    Listening to ABC radio yesterday afternoon, they had an interview with Queensland Environment Minister – Steven Miles about the supposed “heated meeting” with Greg Hunt and state environment ministers, as they seek to address the impacts of bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef caused by climate change.

    Despite him saying all the nice words about governments needing to act urgently to mitigate and address climate change, and how the water temperature in far North Queensland in February was 32 degrees, hotter than the air temperature.

    Several times he was challenged about his government’s approval of the Carmichael mine, and on each occasion he fell back on the argument that the mine itself would not contribute to “our domestic emissions” because we would be shipping the coal offshore to be burnt elsewhere.

    This is the type of politician we are faced with – liars and dissemblers, who are happy to tell the public they are committed to climate change, while doing the complete opposite by forging ahead with massive coal mines.

    Any wonder I was screaming at the radio in frustration.

  3. Jexpat

    “And for pity’s sake, give us a real NBN.”

    Our local area has been rolling out since January.

    The stories I’ve been hearing (alongside the dishonest pitches being made by ISP’s/telecoms) are not at all encouraging.

  4. Rezblah

    Why those gutless wonders in opposition won’t commit to 1) federal icac 2) making corporations pay tax is completely beyond me. You’d think they’d wipe the LNP from the map with those 2 policies alone. Abbots dual citizenship could well be the biggest scandal in Australian political historic if it was prosecuted with the full force of the law (and it may still be if there’s any justice in the world) but all we hear is deafening silence. So craven the lot of them

  5. z

    Inequality is most important issue for election.
    in most countries Government adapt appropriate tax policy to correct extreme inequality but currently Gonv’t are doing little.
    most voters do believe that is a social problem need to do something about

  6. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, I agree with all the 15 priorities however I would have put tax avoidance as No2 so we can pay for all the rest, brilliantly written as usual.

  7. totaram

    Talking about innovation is more important than innovation itself, it seems. Watch for the millions being spent on advertising the govt.’s “innovation (non) policy”. For a govt. telling everyone it needs to “live within its means”, the expenditure is truly obscene, and blatant election advertising at govt. expense..

  8. kerri

    Well said as usual Kaye Lee.
    I think I have taken dumps with more integrity than the former member for Indi?

  9. Klaus

    Yes Kaye, dramatic but true. I still fail to see how this mob could have any chance at all?

    In Germany, a coalition between what is Labor here and the Greens, is not uncommon. Is there anything in the constitution that prohibits that?

    The wording shadow this, shadow that should not existing everyone not in government is in opposition. They have the right to band together if there is enough common ground. We need that mob removed and a coalition between Labor and Greens is thinkable, at least to me.

    Bring Scott Ludlum into the mix and several other Greens. I could imagine a far superior government.

  10. Terry2

    So, Sophie Mirabella wasn’t going to mention the $10 million that she says the Abbott government had committed to the Wangaratta Hospital upgrade until after the election when she was re-elected. As she lost the seat she is now saying that the money was withdrawn because Cathy McGowan won the seat.

    Is that her pitch for re-election ? She is openly accusing the Abbott regime of Pork Barreling, something that we suspect but rarely have confirmed by a political aspirant.

    Sophie, it’s over, you are finished, get used to it.

    Oh, by the way Turnbull give Wangaratta that $10 million and the $5million for Armidale before you leave office.

  11. Jexpat

    “She is openly accusing the Abbott regime of Pork Barreling…”

    Yep. And confirming it to be a feature of the LNP, not a bug.

  12. paul walter

    Terry2, more and more I begin to appreciate your astuteness.

  13. Miriam English

    Spot-on Kaye.

    Does anybody else find it hard to believe Sophie Mirabella would have held off announcing such a great vote-getter until after the election? Politicians love to promise things, even if they don’t have them to promise. If she really did have that commitment but didn’t use it in her electioneering, well she’s either incredibly stupid, or a liar.

    The lead up to the election promises to be very disappointing and depressing. Let’s hope it is less so afterward.

  14. paolo soprani

    Why would anyone vote for The Coalition? What possible reason could they have?

  15. Wayne Turner

    Getting rid of this lot,is the most important.They ONLY govern for their BIG BUSINESS BRIBERS & THEMSELVES.

    paolo: “The MEGA RICH,and the MEGA STUPID”.

  16. totaram

    Paolo: There are well known techniques of propaganda, worked out and refined almost a century ago and used since then. The so-called free press, which is only as “free” as its owners allow, uses these techniques on a daily basis. Even the ABC falls into line, fearing more cuts and job losses. So, there is a large population of people in this country who are truly “brainwashed”. Just tell me, have you ever heard or read of any comment in the MSM that disputes the fact that we need to “repair the budget” and “retire debt”? Before the 1970s no one mentioned this as a serious problem, even though it might have been because of the “gold standard” and the Bretton-Woods agreement. That agreement was ditched in 1971, but now we talk continually of budget deficits and govt. debt even though these are now meaningless. The only thing I could find so far was from some knowledgeable guy in the smh who pointed out clearly that Australia can never default on its govt debt.

  17. Keitha Granville

    yes and yes and yes.

    I would go as far to say that Tax Avoidance should be No 1. If we can get all that owed cash we will have enough to pay for all the others with some left over for a nice party !

    Seriously though, perhaps climate change is the top – without a planet none of the rest matter.

  18. Ruth L

    I would also add reading a daily dose of Kaye Lee’s wisdom should be mandatory.

  19. cornlegend

    Most politicians and Parties keep a close eye on surveys, polling, etc to help frame the policy direction that best enhances their chances of getting elected
    GETUP have completed their Vision Survey to earmark what to target in the next 10 weeks
    30,818 took the Vision Survey
    I must say, some of the results and % responses are a bit of a surprise as these, as Getup continually proclaim come from “progressives” and from
    2193 experts in
    Health, Medicine
    & Nursing
    650 experts in
    Refugee & Asylum
    Seeker Issues
    202 experts in
    Immigration Law
    & Admin
    1867 experts in
    Education Policy
    1672 experts in
    Social Services
    & Welfare
    The 30,818 took the Vision Survey voted

    Climate Change & Renewables 23.0% of the votes | #1 issue
    Fairer Treatment of Refugees & Asylum Seekers 13.0% of the votes | #2
    Coal Seam Gas 11.1% of the votes | #3 issue
    Protecting the Great Barrier Reef 10.7% of the votes | #4 issue
    A Fair Democracy 8.7% of the votes | #5 issue
    Fighting the Trans-Pacific Partnership 7.9% of the votes | #6 issue
    Education 7.3% of the votes | #7 issue
    Medicare 5.9% of the votes | #8 issue
    Domestic Violence 5.8% of the votes | #9 issue
    Issues Affecting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders 5.8% of the votes | #10 issue
    Federal Budget 4.9% of the votes | #11 issue
    Media (ABC/SBS) 4.2% of the votes | #12 issue
    Protecting Tasmanian Forests 3.4% of the votes | #13 issue
    Issues Affecting Women 3.2% of the votes | #14 issue
    Safeguarding our Digital Rights 2.4% of the votes | #15 issue
    Marriage Equality 2.1% of the votes | #16 issue

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