Federal Election 2019: Meet the Jacqui Lambie Network

Summary

Website: https://www.lambienetwork.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacquilambienetwork/
Previous names: None, unless you count the fact that Jacqui was one of the original Palmer United Senators back in the day.
Slogans:
Every Tasmanian, Every Day.
Themes: Looking after soldiers and veterans, higher wages for teachers, hydroelectricity, putting Australia first, more jobs, looking after seniors.  Nothing on climate change, not great on LGBTQIA stuff, and a wee bit xenophobic.
Electorate:
Upper House: TAS
Preferences: The Lambie Network is giving no hints as to their preferences, but they do have a fairly delightfully-worded how to vote card:

Write the number ‘1’ in the box above ‘Jacqui Lambie Network’ column ABOVE THE LINE.  Then write the numbers 2-6 in the boxes ABOVE THE LINE for the parties of your choice.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that you number at least SIX boxes, or your vote won’t count.

Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

What to say about the Jacqui Lambie Network?  Lambie was a gift to Australia from Clive Palmer back in 2014, and even though she left the party pretty quickly, she has been a colourful figure on the political scene ever since.  She’s a politician about whom I have very mixed feelings.  On the one hand, her working class background and experience with the difficulties of single parenting and disability made her a valuable voice in Parliament when Abbott’s government was intent on punishing the poor and the vulnerable.  On the other hand, there is the xenophobia and Islamophobia, her stance on marriage equality, and her dismissal of climate change.  These are all big problems for me, and are increasingly becoming dealbreakers.  I’m pretty sure we can have people with varied life experiences in Parliament who don’t carry that much problematic baggage.

Also… I notice when I went to look up my previous post about the Lambie Network that the first couple of paragraphs of that post (which are very positive) are now on Jacqui Lambie’s website.  There is a link back to the rest of my post, which is a little more nuanced (my opinion of Lambie is a bit less rosy than it was then), but the suggestion appears to be that I endorse Lambie.  Which I don’t – I don’t endorse anyone, and I’m deeply uncomfortable finding my words used for that purpose.  (Also, clearly the people who run the JLN’s site haven’t read the rest of my work, or they wouldn’t *want* my endorsement, but that’s another story.)

But let’s look at the rest of the site.

The front page tells us that they are for ‘Every Tasmanian, Every Day’, and invites us to ‘Join the fight to keep the bastards honest’ by donating to the party.  We are then invited to meet our team and read about the issues they care about.

(Incidentally, the Lambie Network seems to be Clive Palmer Yellow again… when did that happen?)

There is a section on Lambie herself, talking about her military background, her injury. and subsequent battle with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to obtain proper treatment and her entitlements, which inspired her entry into politics.  Making sure soldiers and veterans are looked after has clearly been a focus of her work, and her page tells us that she:

  • Has achieved a pay raise for Defence Force personnel.
  • Established an inquiry into the rate of veterans’ suicide where her recommendations were adopted by the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee.
  • Established an inquiry into systemic issues in the Department of Defence’s Conduct after Capture (CAC) training program, where the Government accepted Jacqui’s recommendation that future CAC training does not serve as dual purpose for training interrogators.
  • She has protected veterans’ privacy by successfully pushing for amendments to the Digital Readiness and Other Measures bill.
  • Lobbied the Government on individual cases.
  • Secured a recommendation from the Australia National Audit Office that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs undergo a performance audit.

Another page tells us how much she loves Tasmania and the great outdoors, and outlines her achievements for Tasmania – more funding for schools, voting against expensive degrees, expanding the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (which subsidises shipping costs to and from the mainland), and a study into expanding hydro.

This all sounds like pretty solid work for her constituents.

The JLN’s policies are grouped into eight areas, the first of which is Cost of Living.

This starts with a$150/fortnight increase to the Age Pension, and opposition to increasing the pension age to 70.

Oh dear, and we get straight onto ‘Promoting sustainable population growth to refocus on Australia’s domestic priorities’ as part of her policy on pensions, which has a whiff of xenophobia about it.

Also, it’s only the aged pension that gets a raise – disability, Newstart, single parents, etc – appear to be out of luck.  Oh, Jacqui, you are disappointing me already – and this was the area where I had real hopes for you!

The JLN is worried about Affordable Housing, but also kind of confused about it.  They support the Liberal Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy, then they say it isn’t happening fast enough and that investing in affordable housing isn’t just fair, it’s good for the economy, and then they turn around and say it’s not about what is politically sellable, it’s about what is economically sustainable.  I don’t think those things all go together.

Anyway, they want to waive Tasmania’s social housing debt, upgrade the energy efficiency of Tasmania’s affordable housing stock, and tax foreign investors into residential properties, with the revenue from this going into affordable housing projects.  That last policy is pretty good.  I’ll endorse that one.  But not necessarily anything else, let’s be clear.

The JLN is worried about sustainable population growth, which is straining our infrastructure, and they want a conversation about how big we can afford to be and how fast we can afford to get there.  And how is it that the JLN, who have historically (and possibly currently) had really terrible views on foreigners manage to say that without it sounding as dog-whistly as when Sustainable Australia says the same thing?  It’s a mystery.

Policy number two is Defence.  This is an area close to Lambie’s heart, and where she has some expertise, and you can tell.

The Jacqui Lambie Network believes national defence and security is our highest priority. Every Government must, as its first responsibility, maintain the protection of its citizens. It is a responsibility that cuts across partisan lines.

The cost of protecting Australians and their interests is represented not only by the price tag of our annual military spend, but by the ongoing cost of looking after those who are deployed in service of the nation.

Decisions about whether we can afford to adequately care for our veterans should be made before, not after, we decide to send soldiers to war. If there is not enough in the budget to fund a decent veterans’ support program then we cannot afford to produce veterans.

Peace is bought by sacrifice. Its price should not be borne by veterans and their families alone.

Look, I am MUCH less enthusiastic about the military than Lambie is, but she is absolutely spot on with her second and third paragraphs.  Her specific policies here are quite good – she wants to index military pay increases to ‘whichever is higher between CPI and the rate of increase for politicans’ pay’ – nice burn there, Jacqui! – and she wants to remove the government’s power to send Australians to war without Parliamentary approval.

Also, the JLN has a whole policy on ‘Australian troops in Australian boots’, which is about the fact that Defence is the largest government buyer of goods and services, and they should be buying Australian – this puts money back into the economy, creates jobs, means that we don’t lose important skills and capacity, and also helps protect against counterfeit and theft (and, I imagine, sabotage).    They also point out that Australia has workplace protections and we don’t want to undermine them by getting our stuff made on the cheap by overseas companies who don’t look after their workers properly.

I think this is an excellent policy which really should be implemented immediately.  It’s hard to think of good reasons why we shouldn’t be doing this, and there are a lot of good reasons why we should.

The JLN believes that

Committing Australia to a conflict is the most serious decision a Government can make and it’s important that decision is not owned by any one side of politics.

Especially as someone else might be in power by the time the war ends, and that aprty might have different priorities.

The JLN understands that there will be occasions when urgent action is required, but if the engagement is more than 30 days, full Parliamentary approval should be necessary, even if this requires a special sitting.

That would make it harder for dumb decisions to be made, and harder for any Government to send soldiers overseas, only to ignore them when they’re returned.

Quite.

The JLN now moves onto their next policy platform, which turns out to be Medical Cannabis.  I have to say, I was not expecting that.  Essentially, they are for it.  They feel that doctors are better equipped than politicians to decide on treatment.  Their policy includes permits for producing, obtaining and possessing medical cannabis, which needs to be renewed by a GP four times a year.  Also, they want to:

Entrust patients (or their carer or guardian) to secure their own MC supply. As with other restricted medications, strict penalties should apply to those allowing their MC to reach the hands of others.

Which is boggling my mind, because I have this image of patients getting the permit and then ringing their local dealer to arrange for a drop off.  I mean, couldn’t we just legalise it and make it available in pharmacies?

The next policy is about Pensioners. Again.  And we are told that

The pension is not a welfare payment. It is an entitlement, earned through a life spent building this nation.

Look, we do need to raise the Aged Care Pension.  It is unacceptable that our elderly are living in poverty.  But it’s also unacceptable that our unemployed, our disabled, our single parents and their children, our carers, and other vulnerable people are living in poverty.  This is classic pitting of the Deserving Poor against the Undeserving Poor, it’s bullshit, and I really expected better from the JLN.

Let’s move on to Education, which should be ‘applicable, accessible and affordable’.

Education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet for giving people the means they need to create their own opportunities and shape their own destinies. But for it to be the force we need it to be, education needs to be more applicable, accessible and affordable.

The JLN wants all new teachers to have ‘postgraduate-equivalent, five-year degree qualifications’, and for this to inform pay negotiations ‘making Tasmania’s teachers the most respected, well-paid, highly qualified teachers in the country’.  I am all for our teachers getting the pay and respect they deserve, but I’m not convinced a five-year degree is necessarily the most useful tool for producing good teachers.  Getting plenty of supervised classroom time, and useful feedback on it, before being chucked in the deep end strikes me as more important – and perhaps creating more scholarships for teachers, because it’s really impossible to hold down a job if you need to do teaching rounds for weeks on end.  (Or… make the teaching rounds paid, like an apprenticeship?  And I really need to stop making up policies on how to train teachers, because most of my family are teachers, and I am going to be in so much trouble if I start spouting wild theories and they read this…)

The JLN wants to improve accessibility of education by making universities buy textbooks for students, by doubling the number of Commonwealth-funded scholarships, keeping enabling courses free, and funding mentoring schemes for students with diverse backgrounds.

They want more funding for schools, they want to make sure course fees are regulated, and – aha!  they want to increase the youth allowance by $150 per fortnight, so students apparently fall into the Deserving Poor category, good for them!

But seriously, I do appreciate that the JLN is clearly committed to making sure getting an education is about how hard the student works, not how much their parents earn.

And then we go back to talking about how teachers need to be treated better and paid better.

Teaching should be considered as prestigious a career path as law, medicine, business or science. We want the very best and brightest graduates to feel confident that a career as a teacher will be appropriately respected and remunerated.

Moving on to the next policy, we have Jobs for Tasmanians.  The JLN feels that work is important, both for income, training, social cohesion and a sense of purpose.  They want the government to do more to support those who find themselves in long-term unemployment ‘not just because it’s better for the economy, but because it’s better for individuals and their families’.

Our first priority is to make sure that Australians who want a job can find one.

So I like that the JLN does seem to be acknowledging here that often people are unemployed because the jobs just don’t exist.  But I just want to note that NewStart is not a pension which the JLN wants to raise.
Anyway, the JLN feels that the best way to create jobs is to support businesses by reducing the cost of energy, training, and red tape.  They feel that our interest rates are low, and we should be using this opportunity to borrow and invest back into Australia.

That’s not permission to spend on anything. But what it means is changing the focus from why debt is never acceptable, to asking the question of what we can invest in, that will kick-start the economy, put Australians in jobs, unlock the infrastructure bottlenecks and double down on Australia.

I think that’s a really good point, frankly.

Their policies here are a weird mix of economic left and right, but probably more left.  They want to cut taxes for small business, hire Australian workers for national projects, protect penalty rates, and encourage unions.

The JLN wants to Clean Up Politics!  Because they are a small party, and small parties LOVE cleaning!  I kid you not, this page has a photo of Jacqui Lambie down on her knees scrubbing the shower with a peg on her nose.  It’s a thing of beauty.

Anyway.  They want politicians’ pay to be linked to the wage price index, so that it goes up only when everyone’s pay goes up.  They want an ICAC, because they are a small party, and this is very clearly the theme of small parties this election.  They also want a code of conduct for politicians, another popular choice.  And they want transparency in political donations.  The JLN is very proud of the fact that they publish their donations in real time, and cap them.  (Also, I like that their donation button says ‘Please chip in $5 (only if you can)’).  The JLN also wants better regulation of lobbying, and in particular, they don’t want former Ministers to be allowed to become lobbyists, which seems fair enough.

Last of all, we have the JLN policy on Energy, which is very simply – reinvest in hydroelectricity in Tasmania.  Oh, and opposing privatisation of energy, and making it more affordable.  Climate change?  What climate change?

And that’s it.  Once again, I find myself reluctantly liking Jacqui Lambie, possibly because she has managed to avoid writing policies on any of the areas where I find her objectionable.  Her policies on the military (and especially procurement for the military) are excellent; I like her views on Education, and I think she has some pretty sound things to say on employment.  The trouble is… there is all the other stuff that she has said and done that is on the record, particularly with regard to marriage equality, climate change and Muslims.  So… yeah. I’m not in Tasmania, so I can’t vote for her anyway, but I think she’d wind up in the middle of the ballot based on these policies.  Below Labor, because I don’t really trust her not to be bigoted, but above the Liberals, because at least she does seem to care about some things that are worthwhile.

I’m sort of glad that I don’t have to decide just where to put her on my ballot, actually.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Deciding on a song for the JLN was hands down the toughest Eurovision call I’ve made so far.  In fact, that’s why this is the second-last party I’m reviewing – I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks what on earth I should choose for this party.

But I think I’ve figured it out.

I’ve chosen this song for two reasons.  First, it’s from Ireland, the little island next to England that is currently suffering from the fact that its largest neighbour has made a political decision with far-reaching effects without, apparently, considering even for a moment what this is going to do to Ireland.  While Tasmania doesn’t have quite as much to complain about on that score, I feel that there is some common ground here in terms of feeling ignored and poorly treated by the mainland.

And secondly… I feel like Jacqui Lambie is the sort of person who would appreciate hot, oiled up drummers in tight leather pants.  You’re welcome, Jacqui!  (But this still isn’t an endorsement.)

 

3 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet the Jacqui Lambie Network

  1. They seem to have removed your “endorsement” from their site pretty quickly. At least I can’t find it now.

  2. While I do appreciate Jacqui’s focus on improving educational access and funding, there are some aspects I’d question.

    “Phasing in standards requiring all new teachers from 2025 to have postgraduate-equivalent, five-year degree qualifications.” Basically this is a statement that all teachers must complete a Master degree before they’re qualified for employment. As somebody who has completed a Master in Education, I don’t think this should be a necessary precondition. There are plenty of talented teachers who are able to deliver a high quality education without any such qualification and I think that imposing a condition like this would prevent some of them from considering teaching as a career. Thinking of my classmates when I was studying teaching, there were a lot of talented people who deserve to be teachers but I’d say that easily 90% of them were uninterested in postgraduate education and many of them were simply not suited to it – it requires a different skill-set. Those who are interested in doing a Master should be encouraged, and it is definitely a worthwhile requirement for specialised areas of teaching, but it should not be compulsory for most teachers.

    “Requiring universities to purchase textbooks for students, rather than expecting students to pay these costs upfront without support. This takes advantage of the university’s buying power, allowing the university to leverage the scale of its bulk order for a discount from publishers.” Given that the first part would require universities to receive more funding, I’m not convinced that the second part isn’t already happening. All of the universities I’m familiar with have an outlet through which students can purchase their textbooks and, to the best of my knowledge, any bargaining power they have over price would already be accounted for. Universities also put together their own reading packs, which is in part an effort to keep down the costs for students who can’t be expected to buy every book or pay for subscription access to journals. Making the additional costs clear upfront before students apply is certainly worthwhile, although not always practical as the lecturers and thus the exact textbook requirements could change by the time the applicant enters the course.

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