The Mature Australia Party is many things! According to their header they are “Your voice for change”, “Honesty, Truth and Respect”, “The catalyst for the changes YOU want”, “The VOICE for the PEOPLE”, “The Party of the People”, and, a little disturbingly, “Never be ALONE again”.
They hammer this home in their banner, rephrasing most of these core messages, and adding in large, friendly letters the words “You will never be alone”.
No, you will never be alone. Not at all. Not even sometimes. They see you when you are sleeping, and they know when you’re awake. No matter what you do, no matter where you try to hide, YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE.
So far, this party has unexpected horror movie potential, especially when you add headlines like “Budget – Devil’s in the Details” and “It’s the ‘smell’ of pork!”. This last one would be even better if they put the inverted commas around the ‘pork’, because I am totally speculating on their interest in Long Pork now.
You will be glad to learn that, accidentally creepy slogans notwithstanding, the MAP does not appear to support cannibalism. (Of course, they don’t actually have a policy against cannibalism…) (OK, I’ll stop being silly now.) In fact, they were founded in 2014 as the Mature AGE Party for similar reasons to the Seniors United Party – a desire to reform home owner conditions in private residential parks and over 50s villages. It evolved from there, and now wants to be ‘a catalyst and a spearhead for major changes.
Specifically, the core principles of the Mature Australia Party are equity before the law (one law for all.), no discrimination for or against anyone (on wide-ranging grounds), more open and public accountability by government to the people, and more direct say for the people at all levels of government.
The party’s loyal following today includes members aged from 18 to 80, who come from many different backgrounds, and its policies cover all of these demographics.
However, the Party does not shirk its very special and specific commitment to the interests of the “over 50s” on whose shoulders, contributions, and efforts the party was launched and has grown. The Mature Australia Party does not owe any allegiance to any organisation or corporate body – only its members, and the 18 to 80+ electors and other Australians it seeks to represent.
They feel that Australia was built on “multi-culturalism, hard yakka, supreme tolerance, and compassion for those in need”, and want to keep these qualities as part of Australia’s identity. They also have this thing where MAP also stands for Maturity, Attitude and Perseverence.
(I think this post has already established that I while I probably have the last two of those qualities, the first still eludes me.)
The MAP are a bit cross about the money spent during the financial crisis on school halls, housing insulation and Rudd money, but on the other hand feel that if we can spend $42 billion on this sort of thing, then surely we can and should spend this much on solving Australia’s water supply problems and building better infrastructure generally. And they want a peaceful revolution. I agree that this is the best sort of revolution to have, so I’m on board for now.
Let’s have a look at these policies, then.
We start with their policy on Discrimination and the Law, and they want to ‘remove all provisions which discriminate inequitably, or or against any individuals or sections of the Australian population in relation to conditions, penalties or privileges on the basis of colour, race, religion, or creed… Other than to redress discrimination or disadvantage, to the extent that the Australian Constitution may be considered to allow for this, the Constitution should be changed’.
I can’t actually tell whether they are for or against affirmative action here. ‘Penalties or privileges’ suggests that they are against it, but on the other hand they want to redress discrimination. My feeling here is that they really do want people to be treated equally and not be discriminated against, but that they don’t entirely understand the concept of systemic injustice, or equity versus equality (this picture is a good illustration of the latter idea), and see people who are given a leg-up to try to redress some of the disadvantages they have as being unfairly privileged over people who have ‘earned’ their place, but haven’t had to contend with the same disadvantages.
Also under fairness under the law, they want Australians of all colours and creeds to comply with all laws, to promote ‘genuine assimilation and reconciliation among all races and ethnic groups‘. Yes, I think they are a little worried about people being unfairly advantaged for having an indigenous background, or possibly a Muslim one. But I also think they mean very well and are quite logically consistent, because they also feel that Australian Citizens who are overseas should be obliged to obey local laws, even though we will still seek clemency for them if they go astray.
There’s a decided ‘house rules’ feeling to this section.
I digress, terribly. Their immigration policy is about common sense and compassion, apparently. They want immigration from immigrants who will be useful to Australia, and provision and compassion for those asylum seekers who are established to be genuine. They do not say anything about offshore processing or settlement in Australia – I suspect, from the general tone, that settlement of refugees in Australia would be OK by this group. They allow family reunion visas. But they also want a condition of permanent entry to be fluency in English or the capacity to attain it ‘via Government-funded English language courses’. Migrants must also commit to abide by our laws, irrespective of their ‘own personal religoius beliefs’ (I think we are feeling nervous about Muslims again), and must live here ‘for a minimum of FIVE YEARS with an unblemished criminal record, to qualify for consideration for permanent residency and/or Australian citizenship.’ If they commit a crime during this five year period, they are out.
I would characterise this as a ‘tough love’ sort of policy. We’ll give you some help, but you have to do your bit. I’m OK with that, in fact. Actually, this whole party is reminding me rather of my grandmother, who was a very kind person who had emigrated from her country of origin under difficult circumstances and assimilated as hard as she could. It wasn’t that she didn’t have sympathy for people in difficult circumstances – she certainly did – but there was also a feeling that people should be grateful for the opportunities they had, rather than being loud about the things they wanted to change.
On Pension Levels and Entitlements, they really only talk about the Aged pension, which should be a right, not ‘welfare’, and should also be equivalent to 75% of the minimum wage. Also:
That the terms, conditions, scope and level of special benefits or entitlements to retiring Parliamentarians (and related benefits for retiring Public Officers) be restricted to the SAME – in type and range of benefits, quantum and percentages – as those applying to other community retirees…. either self-funded or pensioners
They also want health clinics for the aging, on a similar model to the maternal child health clinics. They point out, rightly, that many health issues affecting older Australians require regular monitoring, but may not necessarily require a lot of doctor’s visits. The clinics would be run by nurse practitioners, to reduce the burden on hospitals and doctors, and their role would be ‘to monitor their clients on a regular basis and to provide a point of contact for information and help in living life to the fullest’.
They also slip in a quick reference to the family home remaining exempt from the pension assets test, allowing more people to stay at home. I see what you did there…
The MAP has an interesting policy on superannuation, suggesting that we have a government run super-fund, which would be less speculative and more secure. I get the impression that many MAP members were burned by the GFC a few years ago, which prevented a number of people from retiring as their super just disappeared, and they want to prevent a recurrence of this. It’s a good policy, which meshes with their next set of policies which are about public ownership of public assets, which I totally agree with. They want to prevent the government selling off public assets, maintaining a minimum of 55% government ownership, and they want this enshrined in the constitution. I think this is a great idea, but I’m wondering how much we even have left to sell? We needed this policy two decades ago…
The MAP feels that selling public assets is what the Government does when it can’t live within its means, leading neatly to their policy on government spending, into which they want a Royal Commission! Yes, folks, after a short hiatus we are back in the Royal Commission Drinking Game! They want this review to include the salaries and benefits of MPs and Government at all levels, and they want any identified savings to be applied to development and employment in all States and Territories.
I think MAP is feeling a little fed up with the government.
Ooh, yes, they really are, because I’ve just skipped ahead to Electors Rights, since it fits in here, and they are NOT HAPPY with governments calling early elections to gain political advantage (we’re talking to you, Malcolm). They want governments to provide formal policy documents, ‘including a formal list of any pre-election promises to be registered (with the electoral authorities) as valid contracts with the electorate, and which elected MPs, parties and governments would be required(by the Act) to adhere to’. Someone has been burned! Actually, we’ve all been burned, really. Also, if promises are broken, there should be procedures to seek redress. I love this idea, but I think it might be quite chaotic. But I’d still like to see that legislation enacted.
They also feel that election advertising should be required to meet ‘truth in advertising’ standards, “open to challenge for dishonesty, defamation, discrimination or dubious intent in relation to advertised claims, proclaimed commitments, or promises that they can’t or don’t intend to keep.”
You go, MAP. Put their feet to the fire!
The MAP wants Freedom of Information regulations to be untangled, and the costs of accessing public records to be reduced. This section feels like it has been written by someone who has spent a long and exasperating time trying to access records, and I’d love to know the back story here.
Finally, the MAP has a policy on mental health, which looks to be a bit unfinished at this stage, as it trails off mid-sentence. But so far, they seem particularly concerned with trauma counselling and suicide prevention. They want a national coordinated trauma counselling service ‘to act PRO-actively with the aim of reducing suicides and/or the effects of trauma-related suicides Australia-wide’. The goal would be to identify ‘specific victims of depression, stress and trauma’ who were at risk for suicide and head off this risk.
This sounds like a good idea, but their plan for how to do this sounds like it would be rather disastrous for existing mental services:
That all existing State and Commonwealth funded medical health, social welfare, employment, and mental health agencies, community charitable institutions and authorities be involved in the ‘new’ coordinated national Service to achieve the above… That the staffing of the proposed Service be co-opted from existing qualified staff, and co-opted to serve on or with the new Service, in urban, city and regional communities and in rural communities throughout the country. That the agencies, departments or authorities whose staff are so co-opted collectively bear the costs of maintaining the counselling and suicide watch service from within their existing budgets where necessary. Except in identified special circumstances, where additional public or private funding might be warranted. That private companies, community services and citizens be invited to contribute financially to the operation of such service, to the extent that they are able.
This sounds like we are potentially sending people to work far from where they already live (what about their families? Are we helping with relocation), and stripping existing services of their funding in order to do so. Suicide prevention and trauma counselling is incredibly important, but there are other forms of mental illness that are important too, and other places where we need social workers and employment agencies to be functioning. I think they are trying not to be a big spending party – they worry a lot about government waste and spending, and they don’t want to touch tax as an issue – but in this case, I think they are just redirecting money around a system that really does need more money injected into it.
And that’s it for MAP policies at this stage. To my mind, they are very much a special interest group for senior Australians, who are certainly a group that needs representation (and it’s interesting to suddenly see these groups springing up – evidently, senior Australians are becoming disillusioned with the Coalition), and in my view they are doing a better and more thorough job of it than the SUP. They have some good ideas in here, and really, they remind me so very much of my grandmother that it’s kind of nostalgic reading their policies. But much as I love my grandmother, I don’t think I’d vote for her – her policies are rather to the right of mine. I think this group are going to find a home about a third of the way down my ballot paper – after the parties I really love, well ahead of the parties I dislike, and definitely above the Coalition, and possibly even Labor. They seem like good people, but I don’t think all of their ideas will work the way they think they will.