Welcome to the 21st Century Australia Party, which bills itself as the Party of the Future. Their banner has a picture of Australia with the flag superimposed on it and colourful call outs saying “Financial planning commissions banned”, “Banish mining tax”, “Establish a sovereign wealth fund”, “Remove Stamp Duty” and “Provide Australia with a value for money National Broadband Network”, and they tell us they are “Bringing Australia’s education and political systems into the 21st century”.
Also, you can enter your email to ‘access free magazines, books and political resources, including our policy document’, which has to be the classiest way of saying ‘click here and we will spam you for eternity’ that I have ever seen.
Apparently, this year I am a curmudgeon about websites, so I’m just going to say now that this is a very busy one.
The party’s founder is Jamie McIntyre, and he is very eager to tell you about himself. Here’s a little bit about him:
It was almost 20 years ago that Jamie found himself in an unenviable position. He was completely broke, in debt to the tune of $150,000, had no job prospects and was sleeping on a friend’s couch.
Jamie grew up on a farm in rural New South Wales, Australia and from an early age had dreams of being successful, however he soon discovered that no part of his education had actually taught him the skills he needed to succeed.
15 years ago Jamie McIntyre decided the world needed a modern day ’21st Century’ education to replace the outdated 19th Century education system. A “21st Century” education that was better than school or university and taught by those with a PhD in Results, not just theory. An Education – For Life!
Only 5 years from being almost bankrupt, he had succeeded – Jamie had become a self-made millionaire.
It’s the great American dream! Jamie is an entrepreneur, the founder of 21st Century News, and Think and Grow Rich Inc and is also a ‘success coach’ and ‘the author of numerous globally applauded publications such as the best-selling books ‘What I Didn’t Learn At School But Wish I Had’ and “Think & Grow Rich For The 21st Century” and is the founder of 21st Century TV, which provides a “21st Century” education and entertainment to over 500,000 subscribers worldwide.’
Wow. This is reminding me very much of Landmark, I have to say – one part self-improvement, nine parts cult. But perhaps I am being unfair…
… OK I’m going to be unfair for just a little bit longer, because he has a testimonials page, and a photos page, and this really is feeling more like a sales pitch for a product that I don’t trust one bit than a political party.
To be fair, that’s a pretty good description of politics in general.
But let’s stop the mockery and actually see what sort of policies young Jamie has to offer us, because it turns out that he has 25 ways to improve Australia, and I’m going to be here all night…
(He also has a free 320-page ebook expanding on this which I can download! I choose not to accept this kind invitation, because enough is enough).
The policy slogan of the 21st Century Australia party is “Delivering an abundant, prosperous 21st Century economy, for all Australians to fairly share in the massive wealth our large nation can provide”. And for starters, they want to rearrange our entire political system so that we vote for policies, not parties.
Why not have elections or referendums based on policies, not parties. I mean, do we agree with all the policies of our preferred party? Of course not.
But we’re forced to vote for a party even though we might only agree with some of their policies. And when elected they claim a mandate to implement all their policies, even though we didn’t give them such a mandate.
Or, for example, they say their policy is, “no to carbon tax”. Yet after being elected they implement a carbon tax, and use taxpayer’s money to run ads asking us to say yes to a carbon tax.
I left the carbon tax in there, because there is a little theme running through this, and I wanted you to hear the first melodious notes of it, as written…
I think this is an interesting idea, and I do think that the Westminster system isn’t working particularly well for us at the moment, but it’s really hard to imagine how this particular solution would work. Also, I’m giving him the side-eye because of the getting rid of compulsory voting thing – compulsory voting is important! Without it, the only people who tend to vote are the ones who have very, very strong opinions, and these may not match what most people actually want. In addition, non-compulsory voting makes voter suppression easier to do and harder to detect. Not a good idea.
While he is reforming politics, Jamie also wants to abolish State governments, in order to cut spending and make policies more uniform. He would strengthen local governments, and have State-appointed ministers to represent the interests of each states. He has a detailed plan for how this would happen in stages over the next ten years, and I’ll give him this – he does know how to write a plan.
Jamie also wants to have Australia’s finances run by an independent board, rather by the government. Also, he doesn’t like Julia Gillard. But basically, he feels that Australia should be run more like a company, with an elected board “filled with the best business and finance brains, and those representative of the community to oversee and manage Government spending and to recommend and find efficiencies and cost savings in the public sector”, accountable to the voters, who are in this sense the shareholders. He feels that most politicians aren’t very good at managing finances in a businesslike fashion.
Again, I am not at all sure what to make of this idea, and I wonder how an elected board would differ from an elected parliament. I’m also dubious about whether you can usefully run a country like a business – profit at all costs is not a good slogan for a country to have.
Jamie believes in “a new modern day 21st century education curriculum to replace our current 19th Century industrialisation era education system. One based on practical real life education with financial education as a necessity. A modern day 21st Century Education system can be delivered for no extra cost then the current education budget.”
Let us pause while I take a cheap shot at the multiple grammatical errors in that statement. Of course, I have no invoked the inevitable curse that comes with correcting someone’s grammar online and will undoubtedly write something incredibly stupid, grammatically speaking, within the next two paragraphs, but I do find it a little ironic that the call for educational reform reveals a certain educational lack. Jamie’s education would be centered around business skills and entrepreneurship. Presumably sciences would still be in there somewhere? I am not convinced. Also, I don’t know how he can be so sure it can be delivered for no extra cost – surely a curriculum redesign would not be free, and then there is the teacher re-training to think about – and the loss of jobs for those who didn’t have the right skills to teach?
Also under education, Jamie wants to provide all students with iPads or tablets, and learning apps to deliver better quality education for less cost. Does less cost mean reducing teaching jobs, Jamie? Because that sounds like a cost to me…
On health, Jamie is going to dramatically overhaul the health industry “to squeeze health service gains via innovation and technology without needing one extra cent of revenue to deliver”. He doesn’t say how. This is not his chief area of interest. But he does propose the fascinating policy of banning cigarette sales for anyone born after the year 2000, the goal being to phase out smoking (and its related health issues) in Australia over time.
I think this is a great idea that won’t work. Prohibition isn’t something that traditionally works well for substances like alcohol or drugs, and I can’t see smoking being different. Also, this instantly transforms smoking into even more of a rebellion than it was already.
On Immigration, Jamie proposes a four-pronged program to deal with people smuggling:
1. Help remove the financial incentives for people smugglers by introducing paid for visas to gain access to Australia to select immigrants
2.Work more closely with Indonesia to stop the boats and turn back the boats where feasible
3. Incentivise Indonesia to reduce the number of people smugglers leaving for Australia.
4. Ensure we allow sufficent visas for humanitarian causes.
And then he suggests this:
We would also offer a “jump the queue” visa, one where you pay a greater amount to jump the queue.
Oh, Lord. On the upside, he points out that Australia has room for more immigrants, and that they would in fact be beneficial to the country, but… jump the queue visas? Oh Lord.
Jamie is anti-union, not least because ‘It was the unions who removed our democratically elected Prime Minister, Rudd, in favour of an unelected individual with no mandate to be Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’.
(There is a Julia Gillard drinking game to be had here. Gone, but not forgotten, our Jules. And not forgiven, either…)
We have a few infrustructure bits and pieces here. Jamie wants a value for money NBN, but…
Sure an NBN would be great and everyone agrees that faster broadband is critical. One that covers a large majority of the population for a fraction of the cost would save $15 – $20 Billion and still enable faster broadband for regional Australia.
Where is he getting these numbers from? Also, he feels that the NBN – presumably Gillard’s NBN, because a lot of this policy document appears to be a response to Gillard – wasn’t properly costed and involved reckless spending.
(Incidentally, yes, the 21st Century Australia Party will be running in the Federal Election – I’m guessing they haven’t had time to update all their policies yet, but I’m afraid my own lack of time means I can’t wait for them to do so – I would expect that these will be fairly representative, nonetheless.)
We have a stroke of brilliance under ‘Water Storage’, in which Jamie proposes harvesting and redistributing water from the annual floods in Queensland to use in the dryer areas of Australia. He suggests reversing the flow of some of the rivers in high rainfall areas (how?) or a canal to service the north of Western Australia. He points out “to greenies opposed to the building of dams for environmental reasons, they should consider that a lake is merely a dam naturally made by nature”.
I am schooled.
Seriously, I love the water redirection idea – I’ve been joking about this for years. I don’t know if it’s possible, but hey, dream big!
Jamie also wants a high speed rail system. We seem to be moving into territory I can wholeheartedly agree with now!
Like Jacqui Lambie, Jamie proposes Special Economic Zones, specifically in Northern Australia, with ‘fewer regulations, less red tape and lower taxes’ to stimulate business and prosperity. I think there is a lot to be said to this, but let’s keep the red tape when it comes to safety regulations, since he is also hinting at mining here.
Jamie also wants to turn Australia Post into a bank. I have absolutely no idea how that would work. He does seem to like Australia Post, and I feel as though he is trying to give it a big compliment here, but I do wonder, if Australia Post becomes a bank, who will deliver the mail…
Jamie wants to overhaul the dole. He wants the first 90 days to remain unchanged, after which dole recipients would have to attend ‘upskilling and career enhancing courses paid for by the Government’ as a condition of receiving the dole.
As a result, this period of unemployment, which is generally unproductive, is turned into a productive time period. This will value add to the economy by enhancing work skills which will not only improve our struggling productivity levels but also remove the debilitating effect of getting money for nothing that welfare causes.
And in effect it wouldn’t be called the “dole” but rather retraining and skill enhancing education that not only helps the unemployed to find new jobs but also improves the quality of skilled workers in Australia filling the labour shortage gaps in this country.
This is one where I think his heart is in the right place, but I’m not sure I’d trust the government to come up with actual useful courses. I think it would be great if the government paid for unemployed people to go back to school and have the opportunity to learn a new trade; but the courses would have to be of a reasonable quality to be helpful, rather than just mind-numbing and time-wasting.
And now we come to what I think is the heart of Jamie’s policies – a whole raft of policies about the economy and tax. He is really, really interested in this stuff. (Alas for me, because I am not, nor am I knowledgeable about it, but I will do my best).
So, what have we got? Well, first, government transparency with regard to hidden taxes OMG. Receipts should list how much government tax is in the cost of things like fuel, or cars, so that people can see just how much tax they are really paying.
He wants to remove contributions tax on superannuation for low income workers. And here we must pause to acknowledge again how terrible Julia Gillard is. It’s OK, Jamie, I get it. You don’t like her. But setting aside that, this is good policy, and Jamie does seem to favour progressive taxation, and trying to help people on low incomes, so good for him. He also wants to increase the tax free threshold, to help low income earners. Thouh, oh dear:
Those willing to have a go deserve to be empowered as opposed to those bludging off the system. Low income earners as a whole don’t raise a lot tax revenue as most of this burden is carried by the middle class and wealthier.
By helping low income earners with a leg up they can boost their incomes and they are more likely to move up into higher tax brackets, thus increasing tax revenue from increased output and productivity over time.
However increasing taxes on higher income earners is a socialist policy and has no place in a modern 21st Century society.
Jamie is convinced that we can reduce taxes for everyone, avoid the dreaded Socialism (did you know that Julia Gillard has RED hair?) (OK, that contribution was mine, sorry), and still have enough revenue to do cool stuff.
I don’t understand his maths, so I’ll lay it out here for those who do. Basically, the logic is if we lower tax while stimulating growth, the economy will grow, so that even with everyone paying less tax proportionally, the amount of revenue in the system would increase.
Does this work? I don’t know economics, but wouldn’t this potentially decrease the value of the revenue raised? Or make it more expensive to do infrastructure things with it?
He also wants us to learn from Singapore both in terms of tax and in terms of valuing education.
Jamie wants to remove payroll tax, which he feels is a disincentive to employ people. He also wants to lower the company tax rate, in order to create new jobs. He suggests a tiered tax rate, depending on the size of the business. Wait a moment – isn’t that socialism? Also, Gillard is terrible!
(in the Gillard drinking game, I am now officially under the table. And probably singing.)
Jamie wants to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund, to preserve Australia’s wealth after the mining boom, with proceeds from the mining tax going to build this fund. I actually think this is a really good idea, well done Jamie. He does, however, want to review the mining tax, which he thinks should be changed to a small simple Federal Royalty Tax:
Australians would be more inclined to support a mining tax if it was going to directly benefit the future of our nation, unlike the proposed tax which will simply prop up budget deficits of a Government that can’t spell the words ‘fiscal responsibility’.
Something not too expensive that mining companies could accommodate however would raise significant cash-flow direct to a Sovereign Wealth Fund.
(Do I have to take another Gillard-drink? I fear I do…)
And now we have all the Gillard drinks, because Jamie wants to review the carbon tax, and I think you know how he feels about Gillard introducing that by now. He seems to really object to taxes possibly being revenue earners for the government, incidentally – they should go straight to the Sovereign Wealth Fund, or, in this case, to the environment. There is a distinct distrust of the government’s ability to distribute funds properly.
Rather than a carbon tax, he wants to create incentives for renewable energies:
All major commercial polluters such as coal companies would be taxed a certain amount per tonne to contribute towards an approved renewable energy fund or project.
This means 100% of any moneys raised go direct to the creation and support of renewable energies.
Significant polluters could even be given the opportunity to create their own renewable energy divisions as long as it meets the predetermined criteria.
How exactly is that first bit not a carbon tax?
I think what we have here is someone who really does want to do good things for the environment, but has a bit of a blind spot about anything that was suggested by Gillard’s government. I’d be very curious to see what he thinks of Turnbull’s policies.
Jamie also wants to look at ways to increase tax revenue, and once again touts his brilliant idea of a ‘queue jumping visa’ for refugees. I am still getting a giggle out of this.
And that is about it for now! Drinking games aside, the 21st Century Australia Party actually has quite a decent raft of policies. I’m a little dubious about the maths in some places – there seems to be a lot of handwaving of the ‘we could do more, with less’ and no showing the working out, but perhaps the details are in the 300 page document that I couldn’t face downloading. Overall, these policies are a bit to the right of where I’d like to be, but they are definitely in the ‘compassionate conservative’ ballpark. I don’t think they would necessarily achieve what they are intended to do, but I do think Jamie McIntyre’s heart is in the right place.