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|Themes:||If it can be federalised, it should be. Serving and veteran military people deserve special treatment under law. Economic value is the most important kind unless we say otherwise.|
Upper House: New South Australia, Queensland, West Australia & Victoria
Lower House: Blair, McPherson, Kooyong & Wide Bay
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Policies & Commentary
The well-designed website of the Australian Values Party (which actually includes separate social media listings for the party and the candidates, something I wish more parties did) is done in fetching shades using dark green and khaki as its major design colours. This is no accident. Six of the ten candidates this party is fielding are veterans of the Australian military, and military and veteran’s issues are one of their major concerns. That isn’t just me talking, either – their website specifically states that Defence and Veterans are principle policy focus areas for the AVP.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of this background that the AVP asks more of its candidates than any other party I’ve encountered. The first item listed in their policies section is titled AVP’s Workforce Policy, and it is strict:
All AVP representatives are required to agree to random drug and alcohol testing as a condition of their employment, membership or inclusion within the AVP. They will also be required to meet expert standards of planning, leadership, management and teamwork, with mandatory annual training, ongoing development and innovation of this at the core of this policy. Additionally, this policy will include focused requirements and resourcing for selection, training and professional development processes, in addition to fitness, wellness and community engagement initiatives.
That’s a truly amazing standard to be held to, stricter than that of most workplaces, and certainly stricter than that of any party currently in Parliament. I’m not sure that I agree with it all – I don’t know that I believe that integrity can be enforced from without, but it’s good to see someone trying to tackle the issue of the generally poor quality of our elected representatives.
They also want more accountability in government, although they offer a list of things the government should be accountable for rather than actual suggestions of how to improve accountability. I mean, the list is good, but what exactly do they plan to do about it? There’s also some stuff about media accountability, which is mostly concerned with trial-by-media and a review of the ABC that isn’t really adequately explained.
On the subject of Government Structure, there’s some more about accountability and transparency, although again, their proposed policies don’t seem to address those issues especially well. They also have a mad-on against Premiers acting primarily in the interests of their respective States rather than for the benefit of the whole nation, or as most people would recognise it, doing the job they are elected for. They blame state governments for making decisions impacting their economies and expecting the Federal Government to meet the financial costs of their decisions without adequate consultation with federal authorities with no interrogation of any failures at the federal end. I’m not saying that the relationship between the federal and state governments couldn’t be improved, but I think you’re probably not the right person for that job if you start by assigning all the blame to one side of it.
Unsurprisingly, Defence is one of the portfolios that has the most detail, and contains a wishlist of military spending, including bringing military procurement and manufacturing onshore, investing in military tech development, and separating out disaster relief from our military to a newly formed Peace Corps/National Guard organisation created specifically for that purpose. None of these are necessarily bad ideas (although investing in arms manufacturing usually leads to becoming an arms dealer, and all the moral issues that attend that). The disaster relief idea is one I’m unsure about, I’d want to see more details of how it was to be done (in particular, how responsibilities would be split between it and the ADF). It’s also worrying that their manufacturing policy area is devoid of anything for any part of manufacturing that isn’t military. (It also mentions Agriculture. I mean that literally. Agriculture is mentioned in the title and not again. I think they’re pro-food independence, as that would be in line with the general thrust of their policies, but they don’t say so.) Oh, and apparently Australian military personnel deserve special protections from trial-by-media, over and above those afforded to civilians.
On Foreign Affairs, they point out that the disaster relief organisation would be a great instrument of foreign policy, and want to see more engagement with our region, especially New Zealand.
On Border Protection, they give the government a much-deserved pasting for its failures on quarantine, but then go on to say that Protection of our native flora and fauna is fundamental to the future of our agricultural and fishing sectors. If that’s unclear, it essentially means that our native wildlife only matter insofar as they have a commercial value. And their environmental policies continue this line of thought, looking at carbon capture and conversion to solve our environmental issues (despite the fact that neither of them works very well). They’re also big on carbon offsets.
On Health, they want to reinstate any medical staff who lost their jobs due to failure to comply with covid vaccination mandates, which, just, No. But the rest of their Health policies are actually decent – they’re big on covering preventative measures, including dental, on Medicare, on the grounds that it will save money in the long term. They also want to better unify how pharmaceutical drugs are handled across the nation, which is also pretty sensible. They also mention that they will also move to establish greater review and accountability regulations of welfare service providers and suppliers to combat price gouging and exploitation of our welfare systems. Extensive AVP community engagement in the development of this policy approach has drawn considerable examples that suggest there is certainly room for improvement to target and deter such unethical practices, which might or might not be good, since the phrasing is too vague to tell whether they mean service providers, benefit recipients or both.
On Education, predictably, they want to see a federal standard on trade certifications. They also want to make TAFE free, at least for critical trades and specialist areas as identified within the NEEPS projections. Similar provisions would apply to university courses, once again showing a strong bias to economic value over other considerations. They also want to invest heavily in sport so that Australia can win lots of medals at the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, in support of physical and mental health (which fudges the line between exercise and sport – the former is indeed good for both kinds of health, the latter less so).
They also have policies about Housing Affordability (they’ll have an inquiry into it), developing Regional Australia (basically the same boilerplate policy that everyone has in this area), investing in nuclear power (even though it would take years to actually build a power station, and they have no plans for waste disposal) and hydroelectric power.
Finally, they have a policy about Veterans, and my, are they mad at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which apparently needs to be completely restructured. In fact, All of the complicated policies and entitlement acts that continue to create layers of red tape and delays in providing support to our Veterans must be reformed, immediately. So they’re demanding an immediate fix of a very complicated situation with no proposals for what that fix should be. After all, what matters is that our Veterans can focus on continuing to excel and leading by example for our nation after they have hung up their uniforms, because we will need them to do this now more than ever. I’m honestly surprised that trial-by-media doesn’t get another mention in this section.
So, I’ve mentioned trial-by-media a few times in this commentary, and you may be wondering why. It’s because of the founder of this party, one Heston Russell, first came to prominence criticising what he saw as the trial-by-media of military personnel in the wake of the Brereton Report. And honestly, there’s no issue with that – everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I honestly don’t know enough to say that he was right or wrong. However, his subsequent conduct makes it seem like he might have more immediate and personal reasons to fear a trial-by-media. He has sold porn as a fundraiser for a veterans charity – after assuring that the content would be risque but not pornographic, and lied about where the funds would go. He has also engaged in unauthorised fundraising for a different veterans charity, which he later claimed was a fundraiser for this party, selling pins that he later refused to pay the manufacturer of for. I’m not saying that every member of the Australian Values Party is cut from the same cloth – so far as I can see, the other candidates are men and women of integrity who believe in the party’s mission, and that’s not something I have a problem with.
I, on the other hand, do not believe in the party’s mission, and I will be placing them low in my preferences, ahead of the outright fascists and the Coalition, but not much else.
Just a reminder that Maz and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂
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