In the lead-up to the 'Super Saturday' by-elections (in Longman, Perth, Fremantle, Braddon and Mayo on 28th July 2018) lobby group GetUp! asked the Science Party about its stance on a few select issues.
The questions were very targeted, but we understand they may be the issues that GetUp! members indicated are important to them. We also appreciate that GetUp! extended its survey to all candidates.
However, we feel that the format of the survey rewarded shallow engagement with the issues and discouraged nuance in answers. For each question, the options were "Yes", "No", or "Uncommitted", except for the last question about the Foreign Interference bill, for which the options were: "Oppose", "Amend", "None" (presumably implying "pass the bill as is") or "Uncommitted".
Some of the questions were complex, and Yes/No answers seemed inappropriately rigid to us. A "strongly oppose/weakly oppose/neutral/weakly in favour/strongly in favour" panel of answers was perhaps more suitable.
The questions and our responses can be found below. Please note that it was not possible to include links in our survey answers and these links have been added in the writing of this blog post.
Will you and your party commit to...
1. Oppose privatisation of the ABC?
A national public broadcaster fills an important niche, both practically and culturally. The ABC's investigative journalism continually proves its worth; its comedy and drama segments nurture local talent; and still other programming gives a voice to regional, rural and remote concerns. It is difficult to imagine that a commercial broadcaster would undertake all of these functions.
2. Commit to fully funding the ABC, by reversing all cuts since 2014?
The Science Party would consider the ABC's funding in the context of the federal budget as a whole.
3. Increase funding for health services?
The Science Party has policies to increase funding to preventative health and mental health services in particular, and to include basic dental care under Medicare. Well-targeted spending is an investment in the long-term health, happiness and productivity of our society.
4. Fully reverse the 2014 budget hospital funding cuts, to ensure they are fully funded up to 2020?
We would review the funding in detail and reverse cuts to programs that improved healthcare for patients. We would retain cuts that represented legitimate cost savings without compromising healthcare.
It should be noted that the "cuts" in question were in fact a reduction in the increase to hospital funding.
5. Oppose the Adani Carmichael coal mine going ahead?
The Carmichael mine is environmentally indefensible, and the government should not loan funds or build infrastructure for projects widely deemed to be poor investments. The same scrutiny should apply to all new thermal coal mines.
6. Rule out any new direct or indirect government subsidies to Adani?
The Science Party opposes subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. However, we support investment and activity in the low-carbon energy sector, regardless of who is doing the investment. Adani is building a solar farm in Queensland and planning a second in South Australia, and the Science Party is not opposed to these projects accessing any subsidies that are available to other renewables projects.
7. Oppose the corporate tax cut for big businesses (i.e. over $50 million in revenue)?
We have no policy on corporate tax rates, therefore our current position would be to leave them unchanged.
8. Secure a strong and independent federal corruption watchdog (similar to NSW's ICAC)?
The Science Party has a policy of establishing a federal corruption watchdog with similar characteristics to the NSW ICAC. An accountable government should welcome such a body to improve public trust in the institution.
9. Ensure evacuation of all refugees and people seeking asylum held on Manus Island and Nauru?
Screening processes for asylum seekers are necessary, but offshore detention with little or no independent oversight invites the abuse of people in Australia's care. Indefinite detention is inhumane and inexcusable. Offshore detention also costs huge sums of money that could be better spent on resettlement initiatives.
10. Amend or oppose the Turnbull Government's Electoral Funding & Disclosure Bill, to remove all attacks on civil society, charities and not-for-profits (including GetUp)?
Foreign interference in the political process is a legitimate concern. However, the Electoral Funding & Disclosure Bill as it stands is an example of government overreach in the way it seeks to restrict fundraising and advocacy. A federal ICAC is a better step that we should take right now to minimise undue influence over Australian politics.
The Science Party also supports real-time disclosure of donations to political parties at a low threshold, rather than the system currently used by some states of banning political donations by industry.