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Slogans: We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For
Themes: Save the animals, save the planet, save the people
Electorates: Upper House: Victoria
Lower House: none
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Previous Reviews: 20132010 – both on Cate Speaks

Policies & Commentary

Joe Toscano has been active in anarchist circles in Melbourne for decades now, and this is his third tilt at a Senate seat. I won’t go into his history too much here, but Cate’s previous posts on him have a wealth of detail for the interested reader. As always, he has a well-explained series of left-leaning (leaning to the point of overbalancing, in fact) policies. He’s still wedded to the Eight Pointed Star symbolism, and thus has an Eight Point Policy program (which only gets Procrustean once or twice). The Eight Points concern: Animal Justice, Climate Change, Co-operatives and Collectives, Gender Equality, Public Utilities, Public Health Housing and Education, Treaty & Universal Basic Living Wage.

Animal Justice is primarily concerned with ending cruelty to animals, moving towards more sustainable farming practices and also towards a more plant-based diet. It’s not clear whether that last one would be legislatively supported, or simply encouraged without legal support, but all of these things are relatively unexceptional policies for a left-wing candidate.

The last two points pop up again under Climate Change, alongside an end to deforestation and a start to reforestation. There’s also big changes to water management, recycling and greenhouse gas emissions, and a lot of support for renewable energy.

Co-operatives and Collectives wants to support the formation of workers cooperatives in Australia. This isn’t something that’s currently illegal, it’s more that Toscano wants to incentivise this, supporting newly formed cooperatives with loans from a fund established by levying a 1% superannuation tax. I have some hesitation here, but only because it’s not clear exactly what a 1% superannuation tax is – a tax on superannuation, a tax levy paid alongside superannuation? And paid by employees, employers, superfunds, who? Clarity, please. It does note that cooperatives would be required to pay back these loans, so it looks like the long term intention is for it to be revenue-neutral, but it’s still unclear how it works in the meantime.

Gender Equality has a raft of policies supporting women in the workplace, funding to help victims of domestic violence, funding for anti-violence education, health and welfare support for people with diverse sexuality, gender identities and intersex, and finally, a pledge that government records would record information about gender and sexuality only when actually necessary to do so, in respect of individual privacy. Again, nothing here exceptional for a lefty.

Public Utilities wants to reverse current and recent government policies regarding privatisation, especially as regards public transport, power, water and telecommunications, and buy back these things from their current owners, and amend the constitution to make it impossible to sell them again. Which I am enthusiastically on board for. He also wants to set up a publicly owned People’s Bank and subsequent financial advice service, which would presumably be run on a not-for-profit basis (he doesn’t say that, but it is the vibe).

Public Health Housing and Education is a comma short, but otherwise pretty good. He wants to see a large investment in public housing, with cheap rents (25% of renter income!), including mandatory handover of 30% of any new large housing construction projects for public housing (with compensation for the investors). He’s confident, and I tend to agree, that this will exert a downward pressure on the real estate market. On Health, he wants to increase bulk billing, hold an inquiry into how to improve the health care system, and for the government to cease subsidising private health insurance, and instead subsidise public hospitals and doctors to treat or perform operations over $300 and pay all costs for citizens who cannot afford to pay. And on Education, he wants to see the government adequately fund all public schools and universities, to ensure free education is upheld as a right and Private and religious schools should be fully self- funded.

The Treaty policy is in relation to the first nations people of Australia:

We fully support and accept the Uluru Statement from the Heart that was issued by the 2017 National Constitutional Convention by delegates from most of the 220 independent sovereign nations that existed before colonisation began, when their delegates gathered at Uluru to call for a First Nations voice to be heard by Australian governments and the Australian public.
Public Interests Before Corporate Interests supports their call to:

  1. Establish a First Nation voice enshrined in the Australian constitution.
  2. Establish a Makarrata Commission (the coming together after a struggle) to supervise a process of agreement-making between Governments and First Nations to tell the truth about this country’s history.
  3. Establish a Treaty Commission to explore the possibility of drawing up a treaty / treaties between First Nations People and Governments at the local, state and federal level.

All of which seems pretty reasonable to this lefty.

Finally, there’s the Universal Basic Living Wage. Joe has some very different ideas about this from the likes of Paul Ross:
Every citizen and permanent resident would receive a universal basic income when they turn 18.
The level of what is a universal basic income would be determined yearly by an independent tribunal established by the whole of Federal Parliament, not just the government of the day. The way this tribunal would be selected mirrors the process used to establish current parliamentary committees.
Tax policy would be used to ensure only those who require assistance would benefit from this policy. Individuals earning the universal basic income, would pay no tax.
Individuals earning more than four times the universal basic income would pay it back in full when they pay their tax bill. Those that earn between these two figures would pay it back on a sliding scale when they pay their tax. Extra allowances would be paid for dependent children for people on the Universal Basic Income.

How will it be paid for? Well:
This policy can be funded by a new radical approach to taxation that ensures those who currently do not pay their fair share of tax, pay tax. Over 150 billion dollars can be generated by introducing:

  • a 1% stock market turnover tax
  • a 1% turnover company tax
  • a 1% financial services tax
  • the removal of GST tax deductions for companies that have a yearly turnover greater than 5

All in all, it’s easy to see why Cate was generally a big fan of Toscano in previous years, and I can’t help but agree. Joe is going to be at or near the top of my ballot – although I would very much like some clarity on that 1% superannuation tax please.

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 🙂