One might be forgiven for looking at the Palmer United Party with a somewhat jaundiced eyes. Quite apart from the blinding yellowness of his site, there was the not-entirely-unpredictable backflip on the Emissions Trading Scheme, and then there is Jacquie Lambie. It’s a little difficult not to view the Palmer United Party as a buttercup-coloured consortium of loose cannons.
Their web-page, which, just in case you haven’t grasped this yet, is yellow, yellow, yellow (a single iteration of this word is not sufficient to express just how yellow it is. I like yellow, but not in these quantities.), invites us to Visit Victorian Candidates, so we shall. And here we are told “It’s not the Liberal way or the Labor way, but the Right way.” We are then told that they stand for four things:
- Supporting local regions
- Restoring integrity to government
- Providing strong economic leadership
- Connecting the Balance of Power to Victoria
I especially like the last one, because it sounds like the Balance of Power is some sort of infrastructure thing and we’re off the grid. That’s us, the hippy Victorians, living off the grid with only the Greens and a rather scary Independent balancing the powers for us. Clearly, we need to be rescued by a knight on a bright yellow charger.
We’ll come back to their policies and press releases in a moment – though I will say that these are a bit random – individual candidates have their press releases listed under them, and some have five and some have none, it’s a mess and not a good way to list your policies – and instead look at the PUP’s group ticket.
The PUP has a bit of a range on their tickets, but in general, they are favouring the Shooters and Fishers (first in six regions, second in the other two – and in Western Metropolitan, the Shooters are first, followed directly by the Animal Justice Party, which I find a little hilarious.), and giving fairly high preferences to Family First, the Australian Christians (except in Northern Metropolitan) and People Power. The Greens are turning up quite high on most of their tickets, and are preferenced ahead of both Liberal and Labor in Western Victoria and in the Eastern, South Eastern and Western Metropolitan Regions. The Liberals are favoured in the Southern and Northern Metropolitan and Northern and Eastern Victorian Regions. The Labor party are third of the big three in all regions, and dead last on the Eastern Metropolitan ticket.
The PUP definitely does not like the DLP, which is in the bottom four on all tickets. The LDP is also in the bottom four on all tickets, though usually slightly higher than the DLP. The Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Country Party, and Rise Up Australia are also out of favour. Beyond that, there isn’t much consistency. I don’t think the PUP like many of the other parties very much at all.
On to the press releases, which are really the only thing resembling policy statements for Victoria. I think, since these are grouped by candidate, I will look at press releases by region, since something tells me that there’s going to be a lot of variation.
Brooke Brenner and Milton Wilde want to give aged pensioners a free ride – literally. They want free public transport for people on the old age pension, to reduce isolation of the elderly, and also because they have a lot to offer the community through participation.
This is a nice policy, and hopefully it will go hand in hand with increasing accessibility on buses, trams and trains.
In addition, they would like to abolish Stamp Duty on houses which are the primary place of residence, to make housing costs more accessible to home buyers.
Finally, Ms Wilde would like to see hospitals keeping new mums in for a little longer after childbirth, rather than sending them home, sometimes after only 24 hours.
In the North, we apparently care about education. Public Schools belong to the people, and we need a more inclusive education system. Maria Rigoni is all about choice in education, but she also wants to build more schools in expanding communities.
We also care about contractors, and Ms Rigoni is concerned that contractors are poorly protected by current laws:
“The Victorian Building Authority’s website says ‘the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002 helps ensure that any person who carries out construction work or supplies related goods and services under a construction contract gets paid’.
“It is dishonest to have a law called Security of Payment when it does not provide any security of payment for invoices issued by contractors who have completed quoted work and provided materials. The Victorian Building Authority have advised me there is nothing they can do to secure the payment for the contractor if the builder or developer refuses to pay. It is up to the contractor to fight for their money through the expensive court system.”
South Eastern Metropolitan
There are no press releases for South Eastern Metropolitan yet. Either PUP feels very safe here, or they know they don’t have a hope. Or possibly, they’re just really disorganised. I’m guessing it’s option three.
Just one press release here, and it’s about train overcrowding. Possibly because it is full of old age pensioners with free tickets… Oh no, wait, they aren’t on there yet…
Anyway, Anthony Cresswell wants you to know that he will fight for upgrades to signalling and modernisation of rolling stock, to ease capacity constraints. Is this a public transport policy I see before me?
Sunbury, take heed – the PUP cares about you! They want to reopen the Victoria University Campus at Sunbury – in fact, they want to improve Tertiary Education options in the western suburbs generally, and honestly, they have a point there. They also want to install traffic lights at the Gap Road / Horne Street Junction, and build a multi-level carpark at the Railway Station. Indeed, they want to improve infrastructure in the West generally, including improvement of freeways and public transport, and – if I’m reading Trevor Dance’s policy correctly – a railway line along the Outer Western Ring Road, linking the other railway lines. This really is beginning to sound like a Public Transport Policy. Though with all these disparate press releases, one is left wondering whether the candidates have actually spoken to each other yet…
Finally, Trevor Dance wants to create an ‘Avenue of Honour’ along Vineyard Road dedicated to service men and women.
Two things stand out from this section. First, what about all the Western Suburbs who aren’t Sunbury? And second – why is PUP trying so hard to buy Sunbury? Is it that Voice for the West is a credible threat, or is it simply that the PUP has noticed what we’ve all noticed for years, which is that neither of the major parties likes doing infrastructure in the Western suburbs…?
Let us now move out to Regional Victoria, which really does seem to be the region getting the most wooing at this election. It’s almost making me wish I lived in Gippsland. Eastern Victoria gets the lion’s share of policies from PUP, too, starting with environmental monitoring on mine sites. (I wonder what Clive Palmer thinks of that?). Sarah Taylor has put out two press releases about the Hazelwood fires, which she feels were handled extremely poorly by the government. She wants long-term health monitoring for the La Trobe Value, and contrasts the government’s response to these fires unfavourably with the response to the Victorian bushfires:
“While many Victorians have been touched by the tragedy and loss of bushfires and received community and government support, the people of Latrobe Valley have a special challenge as they have lived through a chemical fire and were largely ignored by the Napthine Government.
“Future state governments must earn back the trust of Latrobe Valley citizens who were given vague, misleading and unhelpful advice at a critical time in their lives.
“It was extraordinary and bizarre that during the mine fires our residents were told to manage with wet towels and a free rail pass to the zoo.”
Sing it, sister.
She also wants to rehabilitate the mines for safety and jobs, which seems to be about cleaning up mines when people are done with them. Starting with Hazelwood, of course. She points out that this remediation will also create new jobs and businesses in the La Trobe Valley.
Ms Taylor is also concerned about abuse and neglected in residential accommodation for the disabled, and wants to launch an enquiry into this. And she wants to protect commercial fishers, who she views as vital to tourism. If she’s talking about the Gippsland Lakes, she may have to arm-wrestle the Nationals over this one.
Also in Eastern Victoria, we have James Unkles, who wants a zero tolerance approach to ‘the evil trade in ICE (crystal metamphetamine) that is destroying lives while the criminal manufacturers of the drug escape punishment and make millions’. As a veteran, he wants to be a voice for veterans and military personnel in the Legislative Council, and protect their rights and entitlements.
It’s of interest that while the PUP is definitely paying a lot of attention to Gippsland again, they are not throwing money at it quite so blatantly as the Nationals are, and in fact, they are actually addressing Hazelwood directly rather than trying to bribe people to forget it (or at least giving the appearance of doing so). I would think that this would be a better approach – always assuming that anyone reads their media releases…
Hans Paas is against privatisation of state assets, and, fascinatingly, is particularly irate about electricity generators trying to remove the Renewable Energy Target:
“The current gaggle of private electricity generators are doing everything they can to remove the Renewable Energy Target (RET), because if more power is generated by wind and solar their profits decline.
“This is despite the fact that the supply of renewable energy means cheaper power for customers. At the same time as consumer demand is dropping, the power companies are claiming back extra costs for improving the network and telling us, they have to do this because of increased demand.
“Similar problems have arisen in many other privatised service sectors such as rail transport, natural gas and water supply.
He’s absolutely right, of course, but I fear that he is in the wrong political party.
On infrastructure, he supports upgrading the Calder Freeway extensions near Bendigo, and the Melbourne to Sydney railway line.
Catriona Thoolen is concerned about access to healthcare in Western Victoria. She wants the Government to fund visiting specialists to come to regional towns, and she also intends to fight the Medicare co-payment. Western Victoria also needs to upgrade its freight and passenger rail.
On education, she wants more funding for rural schools, and comments on the difficulty of attracting teachers to regional areas, suggesting a return of Studentships, where education students have to go where they are sent for three years after finishing their training.
I’m actually liking Ms Thoolen – she seems genuinely concerned about equality of opportunity, and starts from the basis that education is generally the key to further opportunities in life.
Overall, then, we have a fair number of good ideas, particularly about public transport and education, but also, oddly, about mining and energy. The difficulty is that the PUP has not done a very good job of presenting themselves as people who might be able to agree on things long enough to get these policies achieved – and I don’t think this is helped by their rather scattered approach to presenting their policy platforms. It will be interesting to see how the voters take to them.