Australian Politics Foreign Affairs General Perspectives Uncategorized

State Writers’ Perspectives – One Nation, Budgets and Elections

State's Writers review the past fortnight's news cycle, including the budget, elections and One Nation
Tyler Walsh – 3rd Year Undergraduate majoring in Engineering Science and Electronic Music, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Candidate for Moore

The people of New South Wales went to the polling booths on the 23rd of March for their state election, which saw the coalition reelected into government. Liberal premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, became the first woman to lead a party to victory in a NSW state election. Minor party Shooters, Fishers and Farmers were successful in gaining two lower house seats from the National party. Another highlight of this election was the return of former Labor party leader Mark Latham into the political scene, but this time for One Nation. Greens member for Newtown Jenny Leong did not take a liking to this news; she’s stated that her “absolute hope is that Mark Latham and One Nation see the writing on the wall, pull their head in, sit on the crossbench quietly, do not whip up any hatred or any fear.” Mark Latham’s views have not changed too much since he was the leader of the opposition in federal parliament. Latham has always believed in a fair go for all Australians; he wouldn’t be one to whip up any hatred or fear anyway. The recently manufactured news story by Al Jazeera appeared to be a deliberate attempt to defame Pauline Hanson’s One Nation leading up to this year’s federal election. The making of this hit-piece spanned for three years and involved the creation of a fake Australian gun lobby. Conversations between One Nation representatives and American groups were not released in their full context. On a general note, it is important for others to see through the malicious tactics of the media to attract viewers and gain profit, especially this close to a federal election. The Morison government has released the federal budget for the 2019/20 financial year. Whilst it is impressive that this budget achieves a surplus without increasing tax, the budget has forecast WA’s population will grow by 70 thousand over the next four years. There needs to be a plan in place to ensure that there are enough jobs will be created to facilitate this population growth.

Sarah Jeffrey – Honours student majoring in Political Science and International Relations
On the budget –

The advertised “delivery” of a budget surplus in the next financial year is right now little more than a fairy tale (or a blatant lie, if you’re more of a cynic). The projected surplus is not impossible, but it is also not certain given the rather rosy growth projections. In other words, the overblown celebrations of Australia being “back in the black” are very premature.

Projected surpluses have been promised year after year by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Liberal governments, yet this has consistently come on the back of cuts to important sectors. The foreign aid budget, for instance, has been slashed for the sixth consecutive year in real terms, which aside from the obvious humanitarian impacts also reduces our capacity to promote Australia in the Asia-Pacific region and more widely around the world.

Not one asylum seeker or refugee has been transferred to Christmas Island in the wake of the Medivac bill, and the sudden wave of asylum seekers arriving on our shores has not occurred, meaning that the detention centre will be closed again. This government’s exaggerated, PR-driven panic over borders has meant they’ve essentially spent $185 million for Scott Morrison to have a photo shoot and press conference. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is a rather generous sum when compared to the budget’s proposed spending for “climate solutions.” Indeed, only $4 million more will be spent on the supposed centrepiece of the government’s climate plan during its first four years.

Proposed changes to the tax system over the next five years are also points of concern. The flattening of the tax system to have someone earning $45,001 pay the same tax rate as someone earning $200,000 will result in further tax revenue losses worth $95 billion between 2024-25 and 2029-30.

That $95 billion will have to be recuperated through either other taxes increasing, funding for essential services like schools and hospitals being cut, or a return to deficit and growing debt. We can’t have our cake and eat it too, yet that is exactly what the Morrison government is trying to promise. This election, they get to sell us massive future tax cuts without having to account for who is going to have to take the hit to pay for them, because it is beyond the budget years.

Speaking of debt, the fact that the national debt has more than doubled after the removal of the debt ceiling under these three Liberal PMs cannot be ignored. This is especially true after the “Labor debt and deficit disaster” calling cry of the 2013 election, even though it was that spending that helped us largely avoid the GFC. How is Labor’s debt a disaster, but the Liberals’ debt apparently nothing of note?

On Al Jazeera’s One Nation story –

The super-patriotic defenders of the Australian way of life were caught attempting to sell our admired gun laws for a few million dollars being deposited into the party coffers by the USA’s infamous National Rifle Association. Regardless of your opinion on the journalists’ methods, you cannot deny that the One Nation representatives chose this course of action for the party (even if they were, and I do love that this is a direct quote, “on the sauce”). Part of me wishes I could say I’m surprised at the hypocrisy, self-interest and total lack of substance in One Nation, but I’m just not.

Matthew Kacki – 2nd Year Undergraduate majoring in Economics and Political Science and International Relations
European Union (EU):

You may have recently heard of the European Union’s ‘meme ban’. You may be wondering what the fuss is all about, and more importantly, whether you will still be able to view memes from the EU.

Last week, the EU parliament voted in favour of the ‘Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market’ law. Its most contentious segment is Article 13, which states platforms can now be sued if they do not make their ‘best efforts’ to remove copyrighted content. Aimed at protecting content creators, the law now places liability for copyright breaches on the platform, rather than on the individual. Platforms will be encouraged to remove any content that remotely resembles copyright material, inciting fears that Facebook, YouTube and other popular platforms will excessively remove content. Hence, article 13 has been dubbed a ‘meme ban’ as memes often contain copyrighted material and are likely to be caught in the crossfire. There are also concerns the law may adversely affect freedom of speech. EU member states have two years to implement the law.

Ukrainian Elections:

In an update relating to my recently published article on the future of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy received 30.24% of the votes, while incumbent Petro Poroshenko received 15.95% of the votes for the Ukrainian presidency (UNIAN). Yulia Tymoshenko fell short with 13.40% of the votes. The runoff round will be held on the 21st of April, and a debate will be held prior at a yet undecided date. It seems likely, however, Zelenskiy will be the new Ukrainian president in a few weeks. If Zelenskiy does succeed, direct negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow should ensue, however, whether it will result in a cessation of the armed conflict in Donbass is to be seen. Nonetheless, there is a glimmer of hope for Ukraine’s otherwise bleak future.

Keegan Nazzari – 2nd Year Undergraduate majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Communication and Media Studies

This past Tuesday the Democrats became the official party of infanticide. Voting in Congress to refuse to consider a bill (The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act) not for the first or second time but for the twenty-fifth time. The bill does not in any way shape or form limit, prevent or restrict abortion, the bill applies only to babies who despite the doctor attempting to abort, survives and is born. In this event, the bill would require that doctors and nurses provide medical care to the best of their abilities to the baby, and don’t just leave the child to die. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions concerning abortions, I struggle to see the controversy in this bill and why anyone would choose to block a bill that prevents babies who have been born from being left to die. And on a much lighter note, amidst all the discussion of Trump and the Mueller report, The Babylon Bee, a satirical news site, published an article titled, ‘Trump Finally Googles, ‘What Is A Collusion’’ The article is shorter than this paragraph so it’s definitely worth reading for a quick laugh, whether you support, despise or just don’t care about Trump. My favourite line from the piece was, “Aides say Trump nodded while reading the definition, asking them, “So it’s like being in cahoots?” Trump then agreed that he “probably didn’t do that.””

Nicholas Cokis – 2nd year Undergraduate majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Economics

We are just over a month out from the Australian election and the Government’s budget and Labor’s budget in reply set the stage for what kind of election this is going to be. The Liberals have planted themselves firmly in their roots by putting themselves forward as the first government in a long time to deliver a budget surplus. What’s new is that while they promise to deliver the budget into surplus, should they win government they have also promised $158 billion worth of tax cuts over the next 10 years. The resulting message is a fairly strong one, that the Liberal party will deliver surpluses while also being able to cut taxes, but it’s not without its problems. Economists and voices within the media have been suspicious about the governments projected budget figures, and we have to remind ourselves that we aren’t in surplus yet, we are still relying on forecasts.

In a similar vein the Labor party have also stuck to their strengths for their budget in reply, showing their commitment to healthcare by announcing a $2.3 billion investment into cancer treatment should they win government. I don’t think it would be unlikely to see the Labor party continue to push the Liberals on health care as we get closer to the election, however, the Liberals have already set up a defensive line by promising to end the freeze on Medicare rebates for GP visits. Clearly the Liberals are worried about another Medicare scare campaign and rightly so, it nearly lost them the 2016 election. While I thought Labor’s Medicare scare campaign was nothing more than a flat out lie and quite appalling, clearly the Liberal party have not shown they are above scare campaigns either. In the wake of the Medivac bill in February the Morrison Government warned that billions of dollars of taxpayer money would be needed to reopen Christmas Island detention centre. Cut to two months later, this money is in fact missing from the budget. Instead, $168 million was wasted on reopening the centre, which the government now says it will close if they win the election. Scare campaigns are an unfortunate part of our political system, but when taxpayer money is so blatantly wasted to serve a purely political agenda, that is quite frankly disgraceful.

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