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Byron Shire
December 10, 2023

Richmond candidate Q&A

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Responses from five of the eight candidates for the May 18 election are as follows.
There was no reply from Morgan Cox (Christian Democratic Party – Fred Nile Group), Hamish Mitchell (United Australia Party) or Matthew Fraser (The Nationals).
Echonetdaily tried repeatedly to contact these
candidates and only received a reply from Fraser who said ‘I’ll look at it’. Independent Ray Karam answered broadly and did not address every question.

1 Economics
2 Biodiversity loss and extinction
3 Transition away from coal
4 Climate change
5 Water
6 Energy
7 Unemployment and low wages
8 Affordable housing
9 Health
10 Education
11 Other comments


1 Economics
Sir David Attenborough said: “We have a finite environment – the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist”. What’s your opinion on the current economic model of endless growth? Is it sustainable and if so, how?  

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party for Richmond:

We stridently advocate for the inclusion of a meaningful sustainable population policy based on environmental science: ‘The federal government’s State of the Environment 2016 report (prepared by a group of independent experts) predicts that population growth and economic development will be the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change.’

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

This election is a clear choice – a fair go with Labor or more of the same cuts and chaos with the Liberals and Nationals.
Labor’s Fair Go Budget Plan will deliver bigger investments in health and education, fairer taxes, bigger budget surpluses and much-needed cost of living relief.

We will make important social investments in Medicare, hospitals and schools, nation building infrastructure, and take real action on climate change.
Labor’s Fair Go Budget Plan will see a budget surplus achieved in 2019–20, the same year forecast in the 2019 Budget, with bigger budget surpluses over the forward estimates and medium term, with $87 billion extra to pay down more debt.
We will make multinationals pay their fair share of tax, and close unfair tax loopholes for the top end of town.
These top end of town handouts are costing the budget $154 billion – representing around $18,600 per Australian household – and into the pockets of the wealthiest.
While most people don’t benefit from these loopholes, every taxpayer pays for them.

A Shorten Labor government will provide genuine cost of living relief for working Australians and pensioners, not multinational tax avoidance.
And we will ease the cost of living pressures, including giving the same or bigger tax cuts for ten million Australians and delivering massive cost of living relief for nearly one million Australian families struggling with the costs of child care.
At the same time, the Liberals and Nationals are handing at least $77 billion to the top end of town in income tax handouts, and we know that the Morrison/ Palmer/One Nation coalition will bring back the $80 billion tax cut for big business and the banks at the first chance they get.
The Liberals and Nationals have spent six years cutting Medicare, hospitals and schools while trying to give a handout to multinationals. But despite this they have failed to deliver a stronger economy and Budget.

Based on the forecasts and projections in the 2019 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO), Labor will take to the election a budget that:
•Achieves a budget surplus in 2019-20, the same year as the government;

•Delivers budget surpluses over the forward estimates over 40 per cent larger than the government, and bigger surpluses over the medium-term;

•Achieves strong surpluses of 1 per cent of GDP by 2022-23, four years earlier than the current government trajectory; and

•Uses the $87 billion in bigger surplus over the medium term to pay down more debt.

Labor’s policies are fully costed and we are funding our priorities through a package of measures to make multinationals pay their fair share and close down loopholes for the top end of town. These include reforms to managing tax affairs, trusts, negative gearing and dividend imputation refundability.
Labor’s plan will deal with cost of living, strengthen Medicare and build better schools, while at the same time paying down the Liberals and Nationals’ debt.
It’s a fair, responsible, detailed plan that will present the clear choice at the next election – a fair go with Labor or more of the same cuts and chaos with the Liberals and Nationals.

Independent Ray Karam:

The basic interaction between us – this (the basic human environment) is invariably overlooked when considering other environmental concerns.

What does this look like for us? I know for me, the moment you dilute or dismiss the importance of true decency, from there relations become strained and the changes that we need to enact together will be compromised. The restoration of common decency in personal and societal relations is the fundamental key for us to be able to take sensible environmental action together.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

The current economic model is completely unsustainable. It’s a toxic system that serves only a few, but even they can’t buy another planet to live on. It’s a big issue.

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

The current economic model is completely unsustainable and is creating havoc in natural systems worldwide. We are seeing unprecedented levels of extinction of plants and animals and we need to start quarantining large parts of the natural world from exploitation by this economic model.

2 Biodiversity loss and extinction
Are you concerned with the recent UN scientific report (IPBES), which documents the “unprecedented” decline in global biodiversity? The authors claim there are alarming implications for human health, prosperity and long-term survival. If concerned with the report, how will you work towards improving biodiversity and reversing mass extinctions?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

The UN report that came out last week should be a wake up call to the world. I have been very concerned with rapid population growth across the world and in Australia for many years, and believe that if not urgently addressed, degradation of the natural environment will not only threaten one million species but our very survival.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

Labor is committed to protecting Australia’s precious environment, including our native animals. That is why, if elected, a Shorten Labor government will reform Australia’s environment laws by passing a new Australian Environment Act and establishing a Federal Environmental Protection Agency in our first term of government.

The current Environment Act is now 20 years old and has never been significantly reformed. Over this 20-year period, we have sadly seen an increasing number of our native species come under threat.  It is time to bring our environment laws into the 21st Century.

Labor’s new legal framework will compel the Australian Government to take a leadership role in actively protecting Australia’s unique natural environment and wildlife.

To drive our national effort to save our iconic wildlife, a Shorten Labor government will also establish a $100 million Native Species Protection Fund. The Fund will seek to restore numbers of endangered plants and animals, working in partnership with states, territories, business and civil society to address pressing extinction and invasive species issues.

Labor is particularly concerned that broad-scale land clearing is posing a real threat to many of our native species.

A Shorten Labor government will introduce a trigger in national environmental law to protect Australia’s remnant vegetation and put an end to broad-scale land clearing where states do not properly regulate it. We will also work with stakeholders to increase Australia’s vegetation cover, restore degraded landscapes and cultivate diverse habitats and corridors for native wildlife.

Labor is the party for the environment. We will always take the action needed protect our precious native species for the present and future generations.

In government, Labor developed Australia’s first National Food Plan to provide a vision for our food future. The Plan set key goals to grow our domestic industry and to increase the value of our food exports by 2025. Four priority areas were identified: growing exports; thriving industry; people; and sustainable food. If elected, a Shorten Labor Government will implement and fully fund a $400 million Farm Productivity and Sustainable Profitability Program.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

I don’t live by what the UN or anyone else declares to be truth. I observe what’s happening around me and also within me. It’s this toxic system that we live in that has to change, and the UN is part of that. While the responsibility lies with the individual, the system as it stands forces people to make unsustainable choices and punishes people who choose to live outside of it. I’m vehemently opposed to this. While I’m working on changing it, I still encourage people to buy second-hand when possible, to consider a need-versus-a-want, to eat locally grown organic foods free of pesticides and chemicals, to consider the long term effects of their choices and to learn to observe themselves. 

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

The latest report has me deeply concerned. The two main factors at play are climate change and loss of habitat. We need to immediately end large-scale deforestation of native habitat worldwide and start replanting forests to sequester carbon and to provide habitat. Secondly, we need to urgently transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future and stop the burning of coal and gas.

3 Transition away from coal
What transition plan are you supporting to move coal miners, workers and towns away from coal to other forms of employment?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

Governments need to be proactive in areas affected by energy transition. An example of this can be seen at Port Augusta in South Australia, where the coal-fired station closed some years ago. The area has seen the development of large solar farms and innovative agricultural projects.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

A Shorten Labor Government will support local workers as Australia’s energy mix changes, helping them to plan for the future and take advantage of the tens of thousands of jobs available in renewable energy and other industries.

Australia is facing an inevitable transition, with 75 per cent of coal-fired power stations in Australia operating beyond their design life. These eventual closures will create major structural adjustment challenges concentrated in specific regions and communities. Any responsible Australian government must have a plan to help workers and communities respond to inevitable future closures.

That’s why a Shorten Labor government will implement a long-term plan to ensure workers are supported and are first in line for new job opportunities. Labor will:

•Make sure displaced workers are first in line for new jobs – Labor will make it mandatory for power stations and associated coal mines to participate in pooled redundancy and redeployment schemes – to ensure every worker impacted by a closure is provided an offer of employment at a nearby power station or coal mine, subject to enough positions being created.

•Train workers in the skills they need – Labor will commit $10 million to a Clean Energy Training Fund to train workers in clean energy industries, from solar and battery installers, to energy management system professionals. Labor will work with TAFEs, RTOs, unions, and industry, to make sure workers have the skills they need to benefit from Labor’s Plan for More Renewables and Cheaper Power.

•Take a proactive approach to economic diversification for impacted regions and communities, guided by long term economic development and diversification plans. The size and detail of these plans will be developed in government and tailored to individual regions’ characteristics, opportunities and challenges.

•Ensure any closures are managed to minimise community impacts – Labor will establish an independent Just Transition Authority to help plan for and coordinate the response to inevitable closures of coal-fired power stations in the future. The Authority will oversee pooled redundancy schemes and economic diversification plans in impacted regions. Labor will also require all large generators to provide at least three years notice of closure. The Authority will have a cost of $8.5 million over the forward estimates.

It is critical that long term planning and coordination work is undertaken as soon as possible – to provide new economic opportunities for impacted workers and communities. That’s why Labor will get started on our plan as soon as we are elected.

In contrast, the Liberals and Nationals have consistently failed to provide support for workers and communities impacted by economic transition – the communities of Hazelwood and Northern power station workers were supported by state Labor governments after plant closures but ignored by the Liberal -National Government.

Labor’s plan will ensure communities impacted by inevitable coal-fired power station closures aren’t left behind in this transition. Unlike the Liberals and Nationals who have a track record of abandoning communities when a coal-fired power station closes, Labor will support local workers and build stronger local economies when they are needed most.

Labor’s plan for 50 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030 is good for jobs, good for the economy and good for the environment.
Renewable energy is the cheapest form of new energy, but the government’s attacks is one reason why power prices will keep going up and up under Scott Morrison.
Bill Shorten and Labor are committed to cheaper, cleaner power through renewable energy.
Scott Morrison and the Liberal-Nationals are for power privatisation, more coal and higher power bills.
Climate Change is a growing risk not only to future generations, but to the economy today. Only one party will take climate change seriously and deliver the policies needed to ensure a prosperous future for all Australians.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

IMOP is committed to supporting sustainable green energy sources. For those that currently work in the coal industry, I would implement a move toward hemp farming and fuels. It’s a relatively easy transition for any skilled or unskilled worker. More to the point, I don’t think it’s any man or woman’s dream to work in a coal mine, but rather a means to an end. With a system that doesn’t have such an emphasis on ‘making money,’ we’d have a different set of questions to ask.  

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

The Greens have a comprehensive plan that will result in 180,000 jobs in the renewable energy industries. At the centre of our plan is Renew Australia, a public authority that will lead the transition. It will be charged to work with communities, energy companies and the government to transition our domestic and export energy systems, map new transition lines to open up new Renewable Energy Zones and ensure that coal-dependent communities can continue to prosper. With a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund, Renew Australia will be tasked with supporting workers to reskill, relocate or transition to retirement, depending on what the personal circumstances require. We will work with industry to seek to ensure that no coal worker is left behind.

4 Climate change
Do you believe and support the IPCC statements that we have 12 (now 11.5) years to decarbonise and stabilise the world’s atmosphere? 

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

Yes, but I note that on the radio this morning it was suggested that the figure is more likely five years!

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

A Shorten Labor government will reduce pollution, invest in renewable energy and take real action on climate change – to ensure we hand on a better deal to the next generation.

After six years of chaos, uncertainty and rising pollution under the Liberals and Nationals, Australians need stability and certainty on climate change policy – that’s what our plan delivers.

Ignoring climate change is simply not an answer.Australia needs leadership – to protect jobs, grow the economy, cut pollution and deal with more extreme weather like droughts and floods, with natural disasters already costing the economy $18 billion a year.

At the same time, Australian households are seeing their power bills soar – families and businesses are taking this into their own hands and backing renewable energy because they know more renewables means lower power prices.

Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050. We are also committed to 50 per cent renewable energy in our electricity mix by 2030.

Labor’s plan will tackle climate change to keep the economy growing by:

•Investing in renewable energy and batteries to grow jobs and cut power bills – With almost two million Australian households having solar panels, Australians are enthusiastic adopters of renewables. Labor will empower Australians to take advantage of cheaper, clean renewable energy and storage, by offering $2000 rebates for solar batteries for 100,000 households, with a target of 1,000,000 batteries by 2025. We will also double the original investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation by $10 billion, supporting new generation and storage across the country. Labor’s investment will support our target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 for the nation’s electricity generation, which will see cleaner and cheaper power and more than 70,000 new jobs.

•Boosting clean transport and infrastructure– A key part of tackling pollution will be tackling transport emissions – which make up almost 20 per cent of Australia’s emissions and one of the fastest growing sources of pollution. Labor will implement Australia’s first national electric vehicle policy, setting a national electric vehicle target of 50 per cent new car sales by 2030 and introducing vehicle emissions standards to reduce pollution and make the cost of driving a car cheaper for consumers.

•Working in partnership with business to help bring down pollution – Labor will reduce pollution by big polluters over the decade by extending the existing pollution cap implemented by Malcolm Turnbull – the safeguard mechanism. Australia’s biggest industrial polluters (about 250 – or just 0.01 per cent of all businesses) will be covered by Labor’s scheme, which will not include the agricultural sector. Pollution caps will be reduced over time and Labor will make it easier for businesses to meet these caps by allowing for industrial and international offsets. Facilities can also earn credits and make money from reducing pollution below their baselines. Labor will not introduce a carbon tax or new a carbon pricing mechanism and our reforms will not raise any government revenue.

•Supporting trade exposed industries to keep Australian businesses competitive – Emission intensive trade exposed industries (EITEs), such as steel, aluminium and cement, face additional barriers to cutting pollution while staying competitive in global markets. In recognition of this, Labor will provide tailored treatment for EITEs under the extended safeguard mechanism. This will ensure they face comparable impacts from climate change policies as their competitors do in relevant international markets. Labor will also establish a Strategic Industries Taskforce and $300m Strategic Industries Reserve Fund to support these industries in finding solutions to cut pollution and remain competitive.

•Helping the land sector to cut pollution while giving farmers and the forestry industry new opportunities to earn income – No one knows our land better than our farmers – they’ve been leading the way in responding to climate change. The agricultural sector will be exempt from the expanded safeguard mechanism – we won’t have targets for farmers. Labor wants to see Australia’s land sector supply more affordable offsets for pollution, which will reduce the cost of abatement for business and give farmers and regional communities greater economic opportunities. That’s why we will support the meat industry’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 through a Strategic Meat Industry plan, review and reinvigorate the carbon farming initiative, and develop a high-quality, well-functioning offset market. Labor will also put in place new federal legislation to bring broad-scale land clearing under control. Where states properly regulate land clearing, such as in Queensland, Labor will take no action.

In addition, Labor has taken the decision not to allow the use of Kyoto credits to meet its Paris targets. By allowing the carryover of Kyoto credits, the Liberals and Nationals already weak target effectively falls from 26 per cent to 16 per cent.

Using Kyoto credits is fake action on climate change, and Ukraine is the only other country in the world to confirm they will do this. Labor will restore and reform important institutions like the Climate Change Authority, and to make sure we can adapt to a changing climate, we will conduct the first ever comprehensive Climate Change Assessment on the likely and potential impacts of climate change on all aspects of Australian life.

Our policy has been developed in consultation with industry and experts, and it builds on our Energy Plan and Hydrogen Plan. It’s a good plan for families, for industry – and for the planet.

The Liberal and Nationals are full of climate sceptics and hopelessly divided on climate change – Scott Morrison even brought a lump of coal into Parliament instead of a climate policy.

The Liberals and Nationals have helped push up power prices by having 13 different energy policies, undermining investment in renewable energy, supporting taxpayer money for new coal plants and backing power privatisations.

There is only one major political party serious about real action on climate change – Labor.  That’s because we are determined to pass on a better deal to the next generation. Only Labor will deliver real action on climate change to deliver lower pollution, lower power prices and a stronger economy.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

I don’t believe any claims made by a government. I also don’t believe it’s the government’s job to make claims or demands. The government’s job is to support the people by getting out of our way, and lending support where appropriate. This is the way it’s supposed to work but the corporatisation has seen the power shift away from the people. A decentralisation would allow us to create our own resources and trade system that would sustain any population size. 

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

Yes, I believe the IPCC statements and it is thought now that 12 years may be at the higher end of estimates. The Greens will work with other progressives in the Parliament to ensure we have an ambitious and achievable transition by 2030 to 100 per cent renewable energy. We can do this on today’s technology, we will also restore cuts to science funding to improve our technological capabilities in the future.

5 Water is a significant issue and precious resource in Australia. What are your key points to address the issue of water stability and management in the country?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

I support better management of our water security, including through lower wastage and fairer water rights and responsibilities in regional areas.           

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

Standing up for the environment and the health of our river systems is a priority for me.
Most recently I met with stakeholders and local fishing industry representatives in Ballina regarding the state of the Richmond River.
Like many systems throughout our country, this waterway is under enormous pressure, and continues to suffer under the neglect of the Liberal-Nationals.
But we all know that water management has been an absolute disaster under the Liberal-Nationals. We have seen the devastating impact of their dodgy buybacks, management and environmental vandalism no more so than in the Murray Darling.
The terrible fish kills over summer, the water theft and the Morrison Liberal-Nationals government’s disregard for the environment make it that clear urgent action must be taken.
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which was finalised by the previous Labor government, was the culmination of years of extensive consultation among all interests.
The plan was supported by both major parties in the federal Parliament and by all the Basin state and territory governments.
But under Barnaby Joyce’s watch, the management and implementation of this plan has been tossed aside in the seeming pursuit of profit.

That is why a Shorten Labor government will establish a Commission of Inquiry into the purchase of certain water entitlements from Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd.
The Commission of Inquiry will investigate all of the circumstances relating to the purchase of water entitlements from Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd in 2017 under then Minister for Water Resources Barnaby Joyce from the ‘Kia Ora’ and ‘Clyde’ properties.

This Inquiry would be established under the Royal Commissions Act 1902 and have the same powers as a Royal Commission.
Labor has already introduced a Bill to repeal Barnaby Joyce’s 1500GL cap on buybacks. In addition, we have committed to:

1.Restoring the integrity of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority by moving its compliance functions to the Environmental Protection Agency and ordering a formal review of claims public servants acted unlawfully.

2.An urgent review of climate change impacts on the Basin now and into the future to determine any change in inflows and evaporation rates.
3. Urgently renegotiating the Menindee agreement, which determines how the lakes are managed and is now decades out of date.

Labor will also Establish a grants-based urban rivers and corridors program that engages urban communities, indigenous rangers, local councils and state and territory governments in river bank restoration and corridor creation in urban areas. This program means our rivers aren’t just used as storm water drains.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

We have no business messing with nature to the degree that we do. Protecting natural resources is one of my primary objectives.

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

David Attenborough also said that ‘We can create a world with clean air, water and unlimited energy and fish stocks that will be sustained well into the future. But to do that we need a plan.’ The Greens will:

• Introduce a new generation of environment laws to replace the EPBC Act

• Establish an Environmental Protection Authority – a tough new cop on the beat

• Establish an Environment Commission

We will prioritise the sustainable health of our river systems over corporate profits.

6 Energy – What are your plans to provide stability for investment into renewable energy and the closing of polluting sources of energy?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

We need to transition to a predominantly renewable diverse source of energy supplies, including reservation of gas supplies for domestic use.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

A Shorten Labor Government will drive new investment in renewable energy generation and storage and transform Australia’s energy supply systems – delivering more renewables and cheaper, cleaner power for all Australians.

Our Plan for More Renewable Energy and Cheaper Power includes a ten-year energy investment framework that delivers certainty for industry, lower power prices and more reliability.

A Shorten Labor Government will also support local workers as Australia’s energy mix changes, helping them to plan for the future and take advantage of the tens of thousands of jobs available in renewable energy and other industries.

Labor’s preference is to achieve a bi-partisan agreement on energy policy. But Scott Morrison and the Liberal-Nationals are too divided and too out of touch to agree among themselves on an energy policy that can lower prices, boost renewables and address climate change.

Labor will continue to pursue a bipartisan market mechanism, such as a National Energy Guarantee, that could deliver on our commitment of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 while lowering prices for Australian families and business.
Labor is prepared to work with the Liberals and Nationals, but we will not wait for them.

1. A Shorten Labor Government will double the original investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Labor will provide an additional $10 billion in capital for the CEFC over five years from 2019-20. This will:

•Support large-scale generation and storage projects, including solar and wind farms and storage;

•Support Labor’s Household Battery Program by providing concessional loans for the purchase of solar and battery systems;

•Boost investment in energy efficiency projects, commercial and community renewable energy projects, and industrial transformation.

Labor created the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and it has been a huge success – leveraging $19 billion of investments in clean energy projects so far.
This policy will deliver a modest improvement to the underlying cash balance over the forward estimates.

2. A Shorten Labor Government will create an independent Energy Security and Modernisation Fund.
Labor will provide $5 billion in capital to future-proof our energy network – building and upgrading Australia’s energy transmission and distribution systems.
Using the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated Systems Plan as our blueprint, Labor will facilitate investment in:

•Upgrades to existing interconnectors, and building new interconnectors to lower prices and improve system stability;

•New gas pipelines, upgrades and extensions to unlock new gas supplies and improve transportation to businesses and households;

•Transmission links to Renewable Energy Zones to access new renewables projects across the country.

The Energy Security and Modernisation Fund will help manage the transition to more renewables in our energy system – ensuring households and businesses have the energy supply they need when they need it, at affordable prices.

3. A Shorten Labor Government will implement a new Energy Productivity Agenda.
Five years of the Liberal and Nationals has seen Australia’s relative energy efficiency performance deteriorate, with the International Energy Agency now ranking Australia last out of developed countries in energy efficiency policy and performance.

This drives up costs for businesses and households, and undermines jobs.

Labor will implement a suite of measures to help Australian businesses improve their energy efficiency and cut their power bills.

We will:

•Provide one thousand grants of up to $20,000 to Australian manufacturers to help them reduce their energy usage – for example, through energy management systems and data gathering and analysis;

•Allow ARENA to support a broader range of energy efficiency projects, not just projects with  renewable energy involvement;

•Develop new training programs for energy managers and consultants, and an accreditation system for energy auditors;

•Improve state and territory energy efficiency initiatives through COAG.

Labor’s Plan for More Renewable Energy and Cheaper Power will be good for households, good for the economy and good for the environment. Only Labor will deliver cheaper power bills, more renewables and more jobs for Australians.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

I feel that hemp is the way forward. Anything that has been suppressed has merit. Hemp not only provides green fuel and energy sources, but creates superior building materials and textiles, food, medicines and to top it off, it regenerates the soil it’s grown in.  

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

See answer to question 3… The Greens have a comprehensive plan that will result in 180,000 jobs in the renewable energy industries. At the centre of our plan is Renew Australia, a public authority that will lead the transition. It will be charged to work with communities, energy companies and the government to transition our domestic and export energy systems, map new transition lines to open up new Renewable Energy Zones and ensure that coal-dependent communities can continue to prosper.

7 Unemployment and low wages – The seat of Richmond has high unemployment and low wages. What are you planning do to address this issue?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

We need to better invest in education and skills training of Australian citizens via an affordable, world class education system that gives all Australians the skills and attributes they need to secure jobs and flourish in society. Better education investment will, among other things, relieve downward pressure on wages and uplift the many economically disenfranchised members of the current population.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

If elected, Labor will reverse the cuts to penalty rates, boost wages for workers and ensure that the minimum wage is a living wage.

Under the Liberals and Nationals, the economy isn’t working for everyday Australians.

Everything is going up in Australia except people’s wages.

People are finding it harder to get ahead and households are saving less and families are forced to dip further into their pockets to pay for the essentials.

A fair go for Australia means a fair wage for working people.

The problem with the current laws is that they require the minimum wage to be no more than a bare safety net – a change introduced by the Howard Government. As a safety net, the minimum wage has left some full time workers living in poverty.

A Shorten Labor Government will legislate so that the Fair Work Commission’s highest priority will be making sure no person working full-time in Australia need live in poverty.

A living wage should make sure people earn enough to make ends meet, and be informed by what it costs to live in Australia today – to pay for housing, for food, for utilities, to pay for a basic phone and data plan.

Labor’s plan will make sure that over time workers are paid a living wage, taking into account the capacity of businesses to pay, and the potential effect on employment, inflation and the broader economy.

Labor will also reverse the cuts to penalty rates within the first 100 days of government.

Cuts to Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for hospitality, retail and fast food workers, which started in July 2017 and some of which continue to July 2020, are a devastating blow for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers.

Labor understands that penalty rates are vital – for many people, they are what pays the bills and puts food on the table. We will never support changes to awards which leave workers worse off.

Labor has fought to protect penalty rates, in the Fair Work Commission and in the Parliament. In contrast, the Liberal- National government campaigned for penalty rates to be cut, with more than 60 government members publicly calling for penalty rates to be abolished or cut.

Scott Morrison and every member of the Liberal-National government voted 8 times to reduce workers’ take home pay, blocking Labor legislation to restore penalty rates and to make sure they are never cut again.

With inequality at a 75 year high, wages growth hitting record lows and underemployment at record highs, there could not be a worse time to cut workers’ take home pay. Under the Liberal-National party, everything is going up except people’s wages.

Only Labor will reverse the cuts to penalty rates, boost wages for workers and ensure that the minimum wage is a living wage.

Only Labor can protect the Australian way of a ‘fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’.

Independent Ray Karam:

A system that puts people first is needed more than ever. The average person simply wants to go about their business, to raise their children to love and be loved in the security that only a decent, people-first system can provide. I stand willing to wholeheartedly assist in the implementation of such a system.

Minimal government and regulatory interference, maximum people power and basic decency in human interactions is the foundation of this long overdue reform in how we relate in everyday life. 

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

As someone who has been a low-income earner, been too sick to function, homeless and helpless, I’m not out of touch with this issue. While our party has no direct policy with regards to unemployment and low wages, we do stand for all basic human rights. I know for a fact that the system itself creates the poverty line and pushes people below it. You can bet that someone who’s willing to stand for the most contentious of issues will be willing to stand for any human rights issue if I’m given the opportunity. Additionally, you won’t have to be medicated against your will to live a decent life.

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

Our industrial relations laws are broken. Australia is experiencing record low wages, high underemployment and one of the fastest rising income inequality rates in the world. The Greens will fight to change the rules so that people have more security, higher pay and fulfilling work. The Greens will legislate to set the minimum wage at 60 per cent of the median wage, enshrining in law a minimum wage that is not below the poverty line.  

The Greens will legislate to give people the right to secure employment by providing a pathway for insecure workers to request their employers provide ongoing part-time or full-time work. Should an employer refuse, employees can escalate their request to the Fair Work Commission, where consideration must be given to the presumption that all employees have the right to ongoing, secure work unless there are serious countervailing business reasons relating to a business’s specific needs. Unions may also make applications for secure work on behalf of particular workplaces or types of work or industries.

8 Affordable housing
There is an affordable housing crisis. What direct action would you support to ensure that the issue of affordable housing is addressed in this country? 

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

Housing is a fundamental need and human right. Perversely, homes are now treated as an investment asset by governments rather than a shelter in which to live and/or raise a family. Australia should achieve greater housing affordability for first home buyers and renters, while conserving Australia’s built heritage and striving for relatively stable housing prices. Abolish CGT discount, stop negative gearing, stop SMSF from borrowing to invest in housing, restrict foreign ownership etc.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

Australia is in the midst of a housing affordability and homelessness crisis.

Rates of home ownership have plummeted to historic lows, record numbers of Australian families are experiencing rental and mortgage stress, and many of the most vulnerable in our communities are at-risk or experiencing homelessness.

The economy isn’t working for everyday Australians. Under Scott Morrison and the Liberals and Nationals everything is going up except wages.

Housing affordability and increasing homelessness are significant social and economic challenges that must be addressed.

This is why a Shorten Labor government will reform negative gearing so that deductions can only be claimed on newly built homes, which will increase new housing supply and support jobs, and build 250,000 new affordable rental homes over the next decade in partnership with the community housing sector for Australians on low and moderate incomes;

Labor will support affordable housing for renters by offering 15-year subsidies – $8500 per year – to investors who build new houses – conditional on them being rented at 20 per cent below market rent.

The reality is that Scott Morrison and the Liberals and Nationals have done nothing of substance in more than five years in office to address the housing affordability challenge. This neglect by the Liberals and Nationals has resulted in a housing system that simply isn’t working for everyday Australians.
This election offers a clear choice on housing.

Labor will improve fairness and reduce inequality by reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, invest $6.6 billion over a decade in 250,000 new affordable rental homes, and develop a national plan to address homelessness through COAG.

Only a Shorten Labor government will appoint a Commonwealth Housing Minister and ensure that the issue of affordable housing for all Australians is front and centre of our national political agenda.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

It’s the banking system that orchestrates these issues. I’d call for a reform and return to a public banking system.  This would completely stabilise the marketplace as well as remove the excessive debt structures we have today. A general move from centralised governance to community based systems would alleviate the affordable housing issues.

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

The Greens will make sure everyone has the dignity of a secure and affordable home. Housing is a human right – we’ll make sure there is a home for all of us.  We’ll invest in 500,000 new public and community homes through a Federal Housing Trust. This additional investment will encourage states and territories to expand access to their social housing schemes so more people can have a secure home.

We will implement a national standard for renters rights and increase funding for tenancy advocacy services. With renting as the only option for an increasing number of Australians, improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters is long overdue.

We want to wind back the unfair tax breaks that advantage an investor looking to buy their fifth property over a home buyer looking for their first. We’ll increase investment in crisis services and transitional housing to ensure nobody is without a bed and a roof over their head even for one night, with an increased focus on women and LGBTQI+ people experiencing homelessness.

9 HealthDo you believe in free health care for all Australians?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

At the outset, it is important to dispel the myth that the big threat to the sustainability of our health system is population ageing. Australia should have a healthy and long living population, supported by a health system that is innovative, accessible, affordable and sustainable.

I support the better promotion of preventative health care through healthier lifestyle choices.

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

Labor built Medicare and we’ll always protect it. Labor’s Fair Go Action Plan will put our locals first.

This election will be a choice between a united Shorten Labor government which will reverse the Liberals and Nationals’ cruel health cuts.
We need real change, because more of the same isn’t good enough. For regional and rural areas, Labor understands we need a world-class healthcare system which serves their health needs.

Labor will deliver the biggest cancer care package in Australian history, with a $2.3 billion investment to dramatically slash out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients. This will mean millions of free scans, millions of free consultations and cheaper medicines for cancer patients. We will also boost cancer services by investing in a local radiation therapy facility.

A Shorten Labor Government will also invest $2.4 billion in a Pensioner Dental Plan so that local pensioners can access free dental care when they need it.  If you receive an Age Pension or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card our plan will give you $1,000 worth of free essential dental care, covered by Medicare, every two years.
Scott Morrison and the Liberals and Nationals have slashed $715 million from public hospitals. Labor will reverse the Liberals and Nationals’ harsh cuts to health, address rising out-of-pocket costs, and fund the best cancer care. We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.

Australia’s doctors, nurses and hospital staff are heroes who provide life-saving care to millions of people a year. But they are being asked to do more with less because of the Liberals and Nationals’ cuts. This puts pressure on the quality and safety of services they can provide. As part of our improvements to health care , we will also invest $250 million to slash elective surgery waiting lists; invest $500 million to slash waiting lists for cancer patients and invest $500 million for an emergency department waiting time blitz.

This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for more health and dental services or the Liberals and Nationals’ cuts and chaos.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

I believe that all Australians should take care of their own health, and this begins with the right education and access to clean food and water. The educational and pharmaceutical industries make a killing keeping people in and out of hospitals and GPs. I do believe in free health care for those that can’t afford it, and those who make a lot of money should pay for it. I also believe that the amount of health care required is very minimal. We only have a sagging health care system because people don’t know how to live healthily. The right education will fix this and it’s something I’ll address directly. 

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:

The Greens believe that we deserve a world class universal health care system that takes care of everybody equally. We believe prevention is better than the cure, so we will implement a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy to combat obesity, including banning all advertising and sponsoring of junk food, alcohol and gaming/betting companies at sporting events and during sports broadcasts. We will reinvest the $6.5 billion private health insurance rebate into public healthcare and are committed to seeing medicare adequately funded and used to fund dental care, so that Australians don’t delay going to the doctors or dentist because of increasing costs.

We will also clear public hospital waiting lists for all elective surgeries in the next two years by investing an extra $2.8 billion to 2025 into our public hospitals to get people the care they need faster by legislating for equal (50/50) funding of hospitals between states and the Commonwealth, invest $100 million in a public hospital capital works grant fund to fund urgent upgrades to hospitals that need assistance after years of cuts and neglect.

10 Education – Do you believe in free education for all Australians?

Ron McDonald, Sustainable Australia Party:

Yes, this will benefit all Australians not just the participants. 

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

Labor wants to deliver a fair go for all Australians at this election, not just the top end of town.

Nothing more delivers a fair go to an individual’s life than an accessible equal opportunity education.
Accessible education, especially in regional areas like ours, relies on secure needs based funding. Funding which has been severely cut under the Morrison Liberal-National Government.
Labor will reverse the Liberal and Nationals’ cuts to public school funding and ensure all schools have the resources they need.
Unlike the Liberals and Nationals, Labor will always choose funding education before giving tax breaks to the top end of town.
That’s why, in government, Labor will deliver an extra $14 billion for public schools over the next decade. This is the biggest investment in public schools in Australian history, ensuring that every child in every school will be better off under Labor.

Labor will also ensure that every 3 and 4-year-old in Australia has access to 15 hours of quality pre-school in the two years before they start school.

We want all children to get a good school education to prepare them for the workforce, and further study at university or TAFE.
Labor will commit $3.2 million for programs to support students in regional areas like Richmond to go to Uni or TAFE, including mentoring and tutorials, delivered through 22 new community-owned Regional Study hubs.
We will also appoint a dedicated Regional and Remote Commissioner to develop strategies and policies to support regional students and Higher-Education institutions.
As for TAFE, Labor will scrap upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE students who choose to learn the skills that Australia needs, making it easier for Australians to gain the skills they need to get a quality job and for businesses to fill skills shortages.

Labor will also commit $100 million towards a new Building TAFE for the Future Fund, to reverse the decline in TAFE facilities, and revitalise TAFE campuses across Australia.

TAFE Funding: Labor will ensure two thirds of government funding for vocational education goes to TAFE, securing the future of TAFE across the country

Labor believes a university education is an opportunity you earn, not a privilege you inherit.

Getting into university should depend on hard work and ability, not how wealthy your parents are.
That is why Labor will abolish the cap on student places. This will mean 200,000 more Australians will get access to a university education.

We need quality universities and strong public TAFEs, working side-by-side, to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.
At this federal election I’m proud to be part of a Labor team that is offering real change – and nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to education.

At every level. Labor’s plans to revolutionise child care and early years, to back in TAFE and to reopen the doors of our universities and deliver fair funding for our public schools will ensure a fair go for all Australians into the future.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

Yes, it used to be this way and now we have generations of youth saddled with debt and no solid prospects to pay it back. Technology can be used to our advantage by creating and giving access to real educational content to people throughout the country. Of course, we need humans to teach humans, so getting passionate teachers out to rural areas to teach set modules is necessary. More than anything, it’s the Prussian educational system that we’ve been indoctrinated with that causes most of the problems in our lives. Teaching children to think critically, creatively and to think for themselves is the priority here.

Greens candidate Michael Lyon:          

I believe all Australian’s should be able to access free education, which is why i’m in the party that has a plan to make TAFE and uni free for everyone. Education used to be free and we can do it again, most uni graduates don’t pay off their debt until their mid-30s and that needs to stop. Our plan will see more that 800,000 students attending university and 400,000 attending TAFE fee free by 2021. By 2023, over 1.3 million Australians will be studying fee and debt-free in TAFE and universities. This is especially important in rural Australia where TAFE is vital to getting young people the skills they need to make a living.

11. Any other comments welcome

Justine Elliot, sitting Labor MP:

On Saturday 18 May, I’m asking for your vote so that Labor can form government and get our country back on track and deliver a fair go for all Australians. In contrast, the Liberals and Nationals are arrogant and out of touch and their cuts, chaos and disunity have hurt our community.

Labor will ease the pressure on family budgets and we’ll end the Medicare freeze as well as give tax breaks to workers and stop the cuts to penalty rates. We’ll take real action on climate change and renewable energy and help push energy prices down and we’ll build a strong economy that works for all of us.

Labor will also invest $2.4 billion in a Pensioner Dental Plan so that local pensioners can access $1,000 worth of free essential dental care, covered by Medicare, every two years. We will also deliver the biggest cancer care package in Australian history, with a $2.3 billion investment to dramatically slash out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients. This will mean millions of free scans and consultations, and cheaper medicines for cancer patients. We will also make cancer treatment more accessible for locals by investing in a radiation therapy facility here on the North Coast.

As your local Labor MP, I’m always fighting to make sure we get our fair share from Canberra and I’m proud to have delivered more than $2 billion for local roads, schools, health and community resources. Let’s keep working together to make our region an even better place to live.

Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (Vaccination/Fluoride) – Tom Barnett:

I’ve been as apathetic toward voting and politics as anyone else. I actually never thought someone like me would be allowed to run for government. Sure, the establishment is trying desperately to keep me out, but I feel that people are ready for someone with some backbone to enter the arena.  To be clear, I’m not anti-science or anything of that nature. When studying biomed, I questioned people so much because of my love for science, and I quickly came to see the difference between real science and paid-for science. For anyone that questions my intelligence, as if I’m an extremist with hippy values, I went to an expensive private school on a full academic scholarship, and last time I sat an IQ and aptitude test I was asked if I cheated. I’m not saying this out of arrogance, just to make it very clear that I can go toe-to-toe with anyone in politics today, while maintaining values that mean fairness and equality to all. I don’t want money, fame or power, just a healthy internal and external environment so we can all focus on what we’re creating with our lives as opposed to how we’re going to survive the next week.

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