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If an election campaign was starting tomorrow, what would be your top 10 points of debate?

Hypothetically, if a national election campaign were starting tomorrow, what would be the 10 most important issues to you and in what order.

As a starting point, I have used the top ten supplied by Paul Barratt AO, the former Chair of Australia21, a think tank for the public good. Paul, who sadly passed a few days ago, was:

“… a former Secretary to the Department of Primary Industries and Energy and the Department of Defence. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New England.”

These were his top 10 issues leading into the 2019 election. His reasons for placing them in the order that follows are listed in the Pearls and Irritations blog. Although they are pointedly directed at the 2019 election, and most still require urgent attention, they give me a starting point.

What I am trying to ascertain here is just what is uppermost on people’s minds and what priority you would place them in. You can help me by listing your top 10 policies and the order of the importance you give them in the comments section. Please give it a bit of thought as I am interested in what people with some political nouse think about our democracy.

  1. Inequality.
  2. Closing the gap.
  3. Illicit Drugs.
  4. Early childhood education.
  5. Reversing the cuts to research and development funding.
  6. Gonski 3.0.
  7. A world-class NBN.
  8. Risks we need to address if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.
  9. Empathy and compassion.
  10. Restoring public trust in our political system.

You can add some comments if you wish, but I am mainly interested in what you think are the subjects of most importance going into the next election.

You don’t have to choose from Paul Barratt’s list, and you may choose some or none. For example, COVID-19 wasn’t with us before the last election, as were the horrific bushfires of 2019/2020, and he doesn’t list a national ICAC.


Cartoon by Alan Moir (


My thought for the day

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.


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  1. rowan

    I’d add corporate donations and lobbying

  2. Ben

    How will the viciously abusive Centrelink system be handled?

  3. New England Cocky

    Would be nice to have an interactive table with questionnaires like this.

    Restoring public trust in our political system -which will require empathy & compassion [too long missing from the Liarbrals].
    Risks we need to address if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st Century. Start at Climate Change occurring now at the reef near you.
    A world-class NBN. We have it in Armidale NSW thanks to Tony Windsor (independent) & techie Alun Rice. RAbbott-Turdball-Scummo Liarbrals destroyed it elsewhere – and still some people elsewhere vote for the Liarbrals.
    Reversing the cuts to research and development funding. No R&D no future!!
    Inequality means ”Closing the Gap” in so many practical ways [that politicians ignore].
    Early childhood education. [Absolutely essential because a toddler’s brain about 3 years old is most plastic and open to learning]
    Gonski 3.0 [Stop government funding of the bloated private school system that is demonstrably a third rate childminding service for aspiring middle class workers.]
    Illicit drugs [Fairly easily sorted with licenced dealers selling only quality controlled pot and other drug, thus earning huge excise for the state.]
    Better quality aged care in the God’s Waiting Room facilities run for the mega-profit of owners rather than care of the inmates.
    Fix the Murray Darling Water fraud including water trading by non-landholders and trading outside resident valleys. [No water no food production so no life]

    Then I would add decentralise government infrastructure spending out of metropolitan cities to regional centres, probably on a proportional basis that is NOT happening under the NSW Liarbral Nazional$ COALition misgovernment

  4. leefe

    In no particular order:

    Corruption (ie: ICAC, establishment and enforcement of proper standards)
    Climate change ((which reminds me, haven’t heard from Rosemary lately; hope she’s OK)
    Environment (there’s a lot more to it than the climate issue – loss of biodiversity, water quality including the Murray/Darling shemozzle, exploitation of NPs and wilderness areas, damage from industrial agriculture and mining, logging, etc)
    Reconciliation (including Closing the Gap, Deaths in Custody, Land Rights, etc)
    Education (Gonski, Early Childhood, Uni, the works)
    Public Health System ((including NDIS)
    Funding for scientific R&D rather than ‘defence’
    Political and Electoral reform
    Workers Rights

    Of course, most of these aren’t even a blip on the radar screens of the major parties, except to worsen the current situation.

  5. Terence Mills

    Personally I see housing affordability as up there with other major social inequities in this country.

    I blame government intransigence on not taking action on negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions which we know are distorting home prices particularly at a time when interest ates are so low.

    The younger generation are being forced out of the home ownership by greed in what is the modern day equivalent of a feudal system of landlords and tenants : they will not tolerate this exploitation in the long term and we must do something about it.

  6. BB

    Federal ICAC, restoring public trust in our political system.
    Addressing inequality with emphasis on unemployment funding, all disability/aged pensions, empathy, compassion.
    Risks we need to address if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st Century. Climate change & pandemics.
    Genuine education funding levels for all public schools, free unis, and decrease/remove private school funding.
    A world-class NBN, addressing all rural black spot areas.
    Reversing the cuts to research and development funding.
    Outlaw all avenues of political influence by church/religions, mandate Secular enforcement.
    Limit politicians pay, removing early retirement access to pension rackets, etc. and banning/curtailment on revolving door employment after political career.
    Genuine real time realistic taxing of all domestic/foreign Corporations, and securing genuine royalties for Australia.
    Funding for natural disasters.

    All political donations over $100 need to be banned and elections paid for from the public purse.
    Political advertising needs to be brought under control, the AEC revitalised.
    Media ownership laws are broken and adversely corrupt the ability of citizens to become informed with genuine information.
    Without informed citizens at the ballot box the bullshit, skulduggery, corruption will never be eradicated.
    And on and on, it’s simply not possible to limit the list to 10, such only barely scrapes, addresses the tip of the iceberg of corruptions that exist..

    Let’s face the ugly truth, there are no statesmen or women in Australia.. Or at least none that are stepping up to the plate, and those who do try get intimidated by the current mob of thugs and backstabbers. Honesty and trust have become extinct.

  7. Frank Thelen

    1, Climate policy
    2, Stop Aukus
    3, Reduce gap between rich and poor
    4, Federal ICAC
    5, Medicare funding
    6, Public school funding
    7, Public hospital funding
    8, Increase Centrelink payments
    9, Address gender pay gap
    10, Political donations.

  8. pierre wilkinson

    federal ICAC
    restoration of funding for all that the coalition have defunded
    removal from office of all political appointees
    royal commission into the blatant bias of the media
    tax increase for the wealthy
    climate change action
    indigenous recognition
    infrastructure spending
    rethink the war on drugs
    remove scotty and pals from government

  9. Dr Soup

    I’m disturbed to see climate change didn’t rate a mention in Paul Barratt’s list. For me:

    Climate change
    Corruption and the need for a Federal corruption commission with teeth
    Tertiary education
    Housing affordablility
    Centrelink (inadequate payments, robodebt etc)
    Refugee policy
    Foreign relations (overall, including with China)
    Spending priorities (in particular defence vs science/development, and social services vs business support)
    Representation everywhere (in politics, on boards, etc, less of the “stale, pale, male”)
    Rural health services

  10. leefe

    Hmmm, yeah, the media ownership and influence issue. That’s a biggie. And refugees. Robodebt/social security etc I include under ‘Inequality’ (which is a massive umbrella).

    Seriously, you can’t just stop at a top ten in this. There are so many major problems that need to be addressed.

  11. Doug Burkett

    1/ integrity
    This will entail more than a integrity commission (With Teeth). Outlawing lobbying would help towards integrity, transparency in politicians financial dealings during their time in office. Put them on the same rules for their government pension as anybody else on government pension. Political parties business interests are to be band from government contracts. INDUE is a prime example of a worrisome business.

    2/ Stop the War on Drug’s, Its a health issue not law enforcement issue, Decriminalize do not legalize.

    3/ start building a circular economy with renewables as a back bone for power.

    4/ Ethics taught in primary to high schools.

    5/ private schools become privately funded with all public funding going to government schools

    6/ encourage productive investment discourage lazy speculation.

    7/ Vocational training and true sustainable employment, create more apprenticeships.

  12. wam

    jobs and investment long term renewable energy
    CSIRO investment
    medicare levy
    tax/levy avoiding individuals and companies
    reef $444m and historical rorts
    LNP rorters
    greenhouse gases and effect

  13. Phil Pryor

    All of the above comments appeal to my belated observation. We need to discuss rotten political careerist professional bent politicians at all three levels of government, a bowel blockage of beastly blathering bloating. We need to discuss the horrible present and future of media, social media, filth and corrupt and lying media. We need to discuss jury-like and sortition types of actual citizen participation and contribution to our social, economic and political lives. We must openly discuss climate change and harm done, with ideas for action, restitution, some supports for needy people and industry areas (to be fair and open). We need to define, advance and bolster our natural and implied Australian slogan, the FAIR GO, with a reasonable expectation of our “slice.” We need to save this delicate land from the post 1788 attitudes long carried by too many rural and country party types in carelessness and disregard, leading to erosion, droughts, pests, poxes, pestilences, denudation, pollution, over clearing, monoculture criminality, so many BAD practices and ideas which are avoidable. We need loud, domineering, agreed community debate, discussion, voicing and records of it all for reference, a “hansard” of aims and essentials “to do.” That’s tomorrow fixed, and more to come…

  14. Pat

    The Points raised are excellent but i feel that we will never get on top of the problems without a population policy , infinite growth is only an economists dream . Environmental protection and species extension should also be considered

  15. David Dieni

    The fundamental issue is being overlooked here. COVID 19 is not only masking a complete collapse of the current system, it is speeding it up.

    We have used over half the world’s oil reserves, and that which remains is sour crude, that is far more expensive to mine and refine than the easy to mine sweet crude that returned 100 barrels of oil, for every one barrel of oil used in the mining process (extract). Today we use one barrel for every 5 we extract, while we use 6 barrels of oil for every one we are find. At a 3% growth rate, the world economy doubles every 23 years, as does our energy requirements.

    One barrel of oil contains the labor of a single man working 24/7 for almost 3 years, and it is the unprecedented energy contained in oil that has allowed the population to explode from 2 billion to over 7 billion today. Building an entire world economy based on a finite resource was never sustainable, the question was would we transition to a more sustainable system, or go like a speeding train towards a broken bridge. As no combination of renewables can replace oil, and zero infrastructure is in place to transition (not to mention, we do not have the oil reserves to build the infrastructure required)……I think we have missed the last stop. It’s not as if this is not well know, it has been known since the 70’s and is what precipitated Americans invasion of the Middle East

    COVID 19, climate change and peak oil, are a perfect storm that is precipitating a mass extinction event….the ultimate cause is our psychotic willingness to subordinate the lives of every living creature on the planet to the needs of a handful of criminal psychopaths not fit to be in charge of a school tuck shop

  16. Harry Lime

    Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar Then and only then can we have a discussion about all the vitally urgent things we all know need action NOW.All we’re going to get in the meantime is the usual tsunami of lies and horseshit.We might have more luck with the other mob,despite their lily livered capitulations.A balance of power by Independents/Greens would be a satisfactory start. Get rid of the Liar Get rid of the Liar….sorry about the stutter.


    All the above stated points are the ones I too would ask for.

    More important, I would like the restoration a non religious completely secular democracy and government in Australia.

    And prevent foreign ownership and local political influence, of the media.

  18. John Murray

    Only needs two

    Climate change
    Federal ICAC with teeth

  19. GL

    What I would like to see is a party that has the courage, if in power, to completely scrap the tax free status of ALL religions. It will never happen but we can always hope.

  20. Terence Mills

    And another thing, an incoming Labor government should announce a Royal Commission into the bugging of the Timor Leste parliamentary offices.

    This week’s decision by the Australian Capital Territory court of appeal to lift secrecy orders hiding aspects of the case against lawyer Bernard Collaery is welcomed but we hear that Michaelia Cash (incredibly she is our Attorney General) has announced that she will appeal this decisions to the High Court of Australia..

    Xanana Gusmau former President of Timor Leste said :

    “Given the decision of the court of appeal to support Mr Collaery’s demand for open justice I call for the charges against him to be dropped in the interests of justice and the relationship of friendship between Timor-Leste and Australia.”
    The former president said the court’s decision to overturn secrecy orders – imposed after an intervention by the attorney general using the National Security Information Act – would “help ensure the truth is heard in open court about the illegal bugging of Timor-Leste’s cabinet room”.He said the operation “was undertaken, not for reasons of national security, but for commercial interests”.

  21. Mark

    Barratt’s list of issues, like any such list, will be forever changing. Thus it will never be fit for purpose over time.

    Thus why not think outside the box and demand structural change that will allow for democratic decision-making as issues arise?

    Surely we can do better than (just a small number of us) effectively electing a Dictator every few years? Bound by a Constitution written more than 100 years ago?

    Think of the changes that have occurred since the turn of this century. Then add 100 years. Yet we are still being governed roughly the same way.

    Then again, perhaps we have the form of government we deserve? And the real enemy is readily identified by glancing in a mirror?

  22. David Stakes

    1=Federal ICAC
    2=Immediate Climate action
    3=Pensions and Welfare payments to a sustainable living level
    4=Public Hospital funding restored and increased
    5=Public School funding restored and increased
    6=Royal commission into foreign media ownership
    7=The NBN started again
    8=Closing the Gap
    9=Free the asylum seekers, immediately
    10=Medicare funding increased to include dental for Pensioners an all undergoing further education

  23. ajogrady

    Once you strip away the blatant ingrained insidious and treacherous corruption, the obvious and absolutely consistent poor judgement, the culpable and dangerous incompetence plus the shambolic and totally inept governance standards, what does the L/NP actually stand for? What is left? What is left is a snide, sneering, selfish, smug and contemptuous ideology that nurtures, coddles and promotes corrupt to the core swindlers, chiselers, fraudsters, shysters and con artists, pathetic debauched degenerates and perverted misogynistic misfits, pseudo Christian cult wack jobs, fanatical religious lunatics and egotistical born to rule privilaged sociopaths and psychopaths that are devoid of standards, principles, values, morals, ethics, honesty, and basic empathy always rorting, fiddling, obfuscating and lying.The L/NP are an insult to equitable governance and egalitarian rule. The L/NP are not fit to hold any public office in a functioning, vibrant nation and a cohesive humane society .

  24. Max denehy

    Follow the money on the cancelled sub deal,from Pyne to THE prime minister( mr sheen) another one coming in the pipeline !

  25. RosemaryJ36

    leefe – thanks for the mention. I am still keeping up the weekly 2 hour Wednesday vigil outside the NT Parliament House, although I have missed 4 or 5, due to rain or medical issues, since 05/02/20.
    I despair for Australia, saddled with a lying PM and a deluded right wing.

  26. leefe

    Hey, great to hear from you, Rosemary. Hate to put any more of a load on your shoulders, but it would be sweet if you could check in from time to time so we don’t have to worry.


  27. Carina McNaughton

    Inequality. So properly fund NDIS, Medicare, increase the unemployment benefit and the pension. Make dental care part of medicare Stop the cashless welfare card.
    Housing everyone needs a roof over their heads. so more public housing stop negative gearing.
    Climate change, Put the onus back on the governments not individual action alone.
    Federal ICAC to clean out the scourge.
    Fund government schools properly especially so children with learning disabilities can get the extra support they need.
    Fund research and development.
    Regenerative agriculture not agribusiness.
    Stop casualization in the workforce and increase the super contributions.
    Eradicate political donations and lobbyist power and access to politicians.

  28. Stephengb

    Not in order of priority but a list of simultaneous high priority

    Federal ICAC
    Health care
    Airborne forest fire fighting fleet.
    Political reform (donations)

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