My Albanese Government Wishlist

It might be remembered as the election where Australia rejected culture war American style politics or the one where the ALP finally over come Murdoch dominance. It might be remembered as the one where the toxic corrosion of Scott J. Morrison finally broke through the ceiling, spilling acid all over what remained of the Liberal Party room or the one where a plucky, son of a single mum rose to Prime Minister. Did you hear? He grew up in social housing too.

Which ever way you slice it after almost a decade in government Australians had seen enough of a stagnant, repugnant and pathetic Coalition which capitulated in a horrific and violent implosion when faced with who really holds them accountable. The voters.

The Australian Liberal/National Party in its natural habitat.

The real story to me is that it feels like a tipping point was reached. Enough people took an interest this election, so much so the result should shift us away from the simplistic and ineffective two party system and into the embryonic stages of a multi party parliamentary democracy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Three years are ahead for this government to rebuild from the shit show we just experienced. There’s still a lot to over come. A lot to rebuild and a lot to build for the first time. With that in mind I thought I’d draw up my own Albanese Government Wishlist. This is not an exhaustive list, but its things I’ll be watching over the next three years. It’s broken into a few sections; Easy Wins, Longer Term and Quit Dreaming.

Easy Wins

Federal ICAC w/ historical powers

An ICAC is the most certain initiative the government will undertake. In opposition, the ALP experienced the vacuum of accountability and will want to address it. It’s also important because to muffle the power with which the Morrison Government was able to exert an ICAC is vital. The previous government deftly controlled the media so effectively it was able to hide itself from any accountability for almost its entire term.

I don’t think there’s much chance anyone important ending up with real criminal charges but the legacy of corruption must be exposed and seen. Sports rorts. Carpark rorts. Great Barrier Reef protection rorts. Overpaying for land rorts. Doing no work as a water envoy… rorts.

I can’t even list them all. The truth of the programs set up by the previous government must be exposed. The ALP must do it to show Australians how much was covered up and what they got away with zero oversight.

I think the biggest point of contention will be the negotiation on the length of historical powers. The ALP Government cannot afford to not investigate the Morrison government so it has to at least look at the previous administration.

The thing about this one is it will really shine a light on the previous governments lack of interest in defamation law reform to protect the media, but it will also encourage a RC into Media Ownership in Australia. An ICAC is a key element of ensuring generational change in Australia.

End prosecution of whistleblowers

It’s been a long time since we heard about the AFP rifling through the underwear drawer of an ABC Journalist and the state of protection for whistleblowers has only deteriorated since then.

There are three high profile cases on going at the moment. Bernard Collaery worked with journalists to expose serious wrong doings in Timor-Leste. David McBride exposed some of the war crimes committed by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan that led to the Brereton report. Richard Boyle, by far the least sexiest, is under prosecution for uncovering unethical debt recovery practices within the Australian Tax Office.

These cases need to be withdrawn. We should be protecting whistleblowers who shine the light on corruption in this country, not prosecuting them.

The other important element here is that once these cases are resolved, more attention can be shone onto the plight of Julian Assange who deserves some fairer justice and protection from his country.

Their prosecution must end immediately if any meaningful steps are to be taken to address integrity and corruption in Australia.

InDue card program terminated

The Governments Cashless Welfare Card is unnecessarily and unethically cruel. Designed to restrict what welfare recipients are able to spend their welfare on, it is currently running in some of the most impoverished parts of the country ensuring a second class citizenry in Australian society. It is messed up.

It was cooked up by Andrew Forrest (Yes, the mining CEO). Look it up. It’s true! He believed it was the solution to ‘welfare dependency’ of Indigenous Australians. It’s utterly mental to think about… and the government went with it!

Close to $129 million has been spent on it and there has been no evidence at all that it works. It is incredibly easy to unwind and it should have never been trial in the first place.

Indigenous Australians deserve a voice in parliament, and the incoming Governments support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart will do a lot, but it will take time. In the mean time, remove the InDue card.

Longer Term

Greater budget allocation to Victoria

Let me make this clear before any interstaters opine. Victoria has not been getting a fair share of Federal Budget Allocations for some time. The politics of budget allocations are tricky and complicated, but I hope that the Feds give Victorians a fair share of their pie, especially considering the deeply traumatic recovery Victoria has had to endure in protecting the rest of the nation while the Feds sorted out their quarantine and vaccine shit.

Victorians are stained and traumatized. If you want any further indication of this look at inner metropolitan Melbourne who threw out the Liberal Party from Melbourne it might need to go 50km out of town to find a friendly electorate.

2019 Federal Election results. A blue sea out in the wealthy East of Melbourne.
2022 Federal Election results. The sea is drying up rapidly. Deaking is still up for grabs and would leave nothing Liberal within 50km of Melbourne.

Victorians hated the Liberal Party so much they exiled the Treasurer from a seat they had held for 100 years.

Like a seedy, clumsy, dimwitted drunk, thrown out of a lobster dinner, driving home and crashing into a member of their electorates fence, the Liberal Party can never show its face in Melbourne again.

Many Victorians question their role in the federation. Short changed for far too long, left to go it alone in large infrastructure projects to address the insane growth the city has seen, a modestly equitable share of the pie would go a long way in healing our feelings with the Federation.

I know a lot of other states feel this way, but I have to ask for it.

Sport

This one is personal for me. The reason is because something I felt wrong in sport was what first motivated me to contact a politician. It was what spurred on an interest in finding out what institutional and structural hurdles exist in fixing something I thought was deeply broken in our society.

I had a profound problem with sports betting in 2019, but I wasn’t entirely aware of how much of a problem I found it. Not only due to a personal history with gambling addiction when I was a teenager, something struck at my core about the emergence of gambling and sport somewhere over the last two decades.

My issues with sport are two fold.

Firstly, gambling is so pervasive that an entire generation of Australians cannot disassociate sports with gambling. At the risk of being ‘old man that yells at cloud’, the teenagers I play soccer with on a Saturday talk incessantly about their quaddy or multi that they just missed. They don’t actually talk about sport, the stories or the club they support.

They talk how much money they lost.

It’s not just pervasive on the ground. Gambling is intertwined with politics. $287.2 million was spent on gambling advertising in 2021. Political donations are out of control. Sports betting companies pay a minuscule amount of tax for the profits they make. $1.2billion was lost in sports betting last year.

Australians are the worst gamblers on the planet, losing on average $1260 each every year. Per capita we gamble more than anyone.

It’s fine if you think it adds something to the experience or you want to have a go for fun, but right now sports gambling in Australia is a monstrous, duplicitous philanderer of Australians real wealth.

I came to learn that it’s emblematic of wider problems but primarily I feel the de-valuing of sports as a cultural tool is a loss to our national story. This is the secondary problem with sport in this country.

Sport is a unifying experience and the increasing capitalization of it has meant we no longer see grand sporting ambition in the same way we once did.

It’s a long time since Cathy Freeman’s era defining Olympic Games run.

I’m not advocating for increased funding, although that may be the only way to address the issue of sport access on free to air TV, but wiser and more effective funding.

Children sports fees are too high. The bar for gambling is too low. Sport in Australia has become a sterile factory like product, churning out meaningless football clubs lacking purpose or identity, bloated stadiums that aren’t needed and it is failing to give young Australians an understanding of what an active and meaningful lifestyle looks like.

Sport is meant to be fun. It’s meant to make us happy. It doesn’t do that nearly well enough.

Sport in Australia demands a rebirth.

A sustainable immigration policy

I think a lot of Australians feel the immigration system is broken. It goes without saying the cruelty in which we have treated the Murugappan family and Mehdi Ali and the Carlton hotel refugees has been inhumane. I think it’s certain that treatment will end and an investigation should be conducted.

But there other issues with immigration as a whole.

We have an economy heavily reliant on backpackers, international students and other various visa holders. It has shot Melbourne and Sydney into atmospheric growth and the immigration policy at wide has been criticised as contributing to the housing crisis. It has led to awful stories about those who do farm work. It has created a second tier of underpaid, unprotected gig economy workers. Immigration needs to be examined properly.

Personally I believe no solution to the housing crisis can happen without a serious discussion about immigration. We all seem hesitant to talk about it because it’s a complicated and sensitive issue, but a more equitable and well resourced immigration department will drastically improve things.

The risk with fiddling with migration is how intertwined it is with our economy. It’s crucial the Albanese Government gets this one right. We have starved off global recessions before, but it was expensive and this time we are starting with an unbelievable, eye-watering amount of debt.

Quit Dreaming

Erode Student Debt

I don’t even want it wiped and I think this is a fantasy. Education in this country is extremely broken. It has been weighted heavily to trade apprenticeships rather than an academic and higher education has been treated as a commodity to be sold to international students for too long.

It needs to swing back the other way.

University staff are increasingly casualised and overworked. Education standards are in a dismal state and government grants and funding has dried up. Student fees are going up. International students have left and will take a while to come back.

Erode student debt. Make going to Uni cool again.

We should be encouraging adults to continue their education. All you people complaining that universities are hot beds for left wing ideology are aware that’s because it’s all young people at Uni right? Maybe go back to school

Of course you don’t.

We have to tackle student debt now before it becomes a bigger problem. We can do it now easily and cheaper.

I decided to go and do my Masters at 35 to try and increasing my employability. The cost was the most prohibitive thing to me deciding to do it. It has increased for humanities subjects.

I am absolutely loving my course by the way.

That’s it. That’s my list. There are other things that might deserve more detailed looks. Climate action is important but I think it will come on its own as we catch up to the rest of the world anyway. Aged Care needs to be fixed immediately. There are also a huge list of environmental issues that need more urgent addressing before we tackle a bigger target (Land clearing, Koalas, Great Barrier Reef and plastic recycling). The housing crisis. The cost of living crisis. Cleaning the mess with our Pacific partners is going to be one of the biggest challenges of our time. China.

But these are the things I’ll be watching closely, especially over the next 3 years. They are the ones I find deeply important to the wellbeing of this country. Some aren’t even that hard. Some will be. It’s going to be a tough 3 years and a tough few years ahead to get them done. It’s going to require a collective effort to ensure it doesn’t get fucked up.

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