These are the Science Party's policy recommendations as of 22nd March, 2020. As the situation changes, so will our response.
- Recommend against all non-essential gatherings of any number of people.
Housing and finance
To reduce the largest cost to Australian households while taking time off work in enforced conditions and to stabilise the financial system, the Science Party proposes to temporarily implement the following policies:
- Where renters have lost employment due to COVID-19:
- Pause rental payments for these renters
- Pause mortgage payments for landlords of these tenants
- Credit landlords of these tenants $100 per week to partially cover fixed costs (council rates, insurance, strata fees, water service charges, etc.)
- Where owner-occupiers have lost employment due to COVID-19, pause mortgage payments on their residence.
- No rent increases for all households.
- Pause all payments on credit cards for people whose employment is affected by COVID-19 closures .
- Interest relief for banks based on the proportion of customers facing the above.
- Create serious penalties for misrepresenting to your landlord, government or bank as to how affected you are by the crisis.
- Pause all eviction proceedings.
- Review these measures every 3 months.
We support today’s announcement that Jobseeker payments (previously known as Newstart) will be doubled temporarily. Further, we should:
- Waive all mutual obligation requirements and waiting periods (effective immediately, to be reviewed every 3 months).
- Recommend students stay home where parents can make alternative arrangements for their children, i.e. school is optional.
- Take seriously the Australian Education Union's concerns, and not penalise teachers who stay home for their health and safety; however schools must make arrangements to provide a minimum number of staff for the small number of children who must be at school while their parents are in critical roles and should be financially supported to provide this service.
- Funding and assistance to rapidly produce and deploy online learning tools.
- Strongly consider extending the April school holidays by one or two weeks.
- Increase testing, as recommended by the WHO and shown to be effective in other countries. Kits are limited, but the priority is to test suspected cases early so positive cases can be isolated.
- Bring forward graduation for nursing and medical students where medical professionals and those students' teaching staff agree.
- Support and resource the initiative that has already been taken by the Australian Microbiology Society to create a database of available volunteers and resources to produce test kits.
- Immediately once the current situation is resolved, establish an Australian Centres for Disease Control to coordinate the scientific and medical responses associated with similar events (the model may be determined by parliamentary inquiry or other means, but the organisation must be established).
- Support industries that are negatively affected by physical social distancing recommendations (hospitality, the arts and entertainment, tourism), with a focus on supporting small business.
- Recommend state governments and councils work together to suspend time-of-day restrictions on freight deliveries.
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