The Minor Parties and Australian Government Policy Post July 2014
There may well be changes but at this juncture the following parties have Senators.
Family First Party (FFP) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Of the minor party representatives, Family First and the Liberal Democrats have policies that are distillations and accentuations of those of the Liberals. On the key issue of climate change they would abolish all measures including the renewable requirements and budget subsidies as well as the carbon tax and the $2 billion a year Clean Energy Finance Corporation. That stance might prove a convenient means for Mr Abbott to avoid spending the $1 billion a year threatened under the Direct Action plan.
The Liberal Democrats take an aggressively pro-private enterprise approach to privatisation (sell Australia Post, privatise remaining energy assets, cease all Commonwealth involvement in health and education, allow states to raise income tax). They would cease foreign aid other than emergency assistance, deregulate the labour market and markedly reduce all government spending. As a result they would lower taxation, lifting the tax free threshold to $40,000, cutting personal and company tax rates to a flat 20%, and abolish tobacco, alcohol and fuel taxes, import tariffs, carbon pricing and mineral resource rent taxation.
Family First focus heavily on housing reform, particularly land releases which they see as offering the chance to reduce house prices by some $150,000. The SA Senator elect, Bob Day is a housebuilder and has published widely on housing. They are also focussed on schooling with vouchers and would give greater assistance to mothers and to carers. Their tax policy is similar to the Liberal Democrats and like them they see individual and more-or-less inalienable property rights as the foundation for society.
The two minor parties differ on social issues.
Family First opposes gay marriage and prefers family support to extend beyond the working mothers program set out by Mr Abbott. They might support increased spending on alleviating the disadvantages faced by the disabled. They are opposed to drug liberalisation and favour tougher law enforcement.
The Liberal Democrats would oppose any child support measures, allow gay marriage and would favour legalising marijuana (though they are silent on “stronger” drugs), and assisted suicide. They also, favour liberalisation of gun ownership and carriage.
Palmer United Party
PUP policy is largely confined to “Abolish the Carbon Tax” without addressing other carbon measures. PUP also opposes mining taxes but seems to favour a system of domestic reservation of gas for downstream processing.
Australian Motoring Enthusiasts’ Party (AMEP)
The Party is heavily focussed on better roads and reduced restrictions of off-road use. Their policy directions focus on generalities like belief in a sense of family; freedom of speech; individual economic freedom; society’s responsibility to the very young, the very old, and the disadvantaged; and the best possible education regardless of wealth and lower taxation. They favour balance in the use of the environment for recreation and preservation. They make disparaging remarks about “nanny” state policies, which with their placing the Greens last indicates a predisposition towards smaller government.
Democratic Labour Party
The DLP has a somewhat interventionist policy stance. The Party seeks to have a development bank to finance Australian owned ventures, proposes a tax on foreign investment. It is opposed to Coal Seam gas development and adopts higher spending goals for the disabled and greater subsidies for welfare housing. It also favours more environmental protections. However, the party would repeal the carbon tax and by implication other energy cost impositions and is also firmly opposed to water buy-backs and wants to see more dams. On social policy it is firmly opposed to gay marriage.
The Sex Party
Robbie Swan has been a long time lobbyist for the pornographic industry. The party has few policies outside of social issues on which it tends to be libertarian. It favours legalisation of marijuana (but is silent on other drugs), euthanasia, abortion on demand and same sex marriage. It opposes paid parental leave for small businesses and data retention. It also wants to see religious entities paying the same tax as commercial organisations.
Nick Xenophon is highly interventionist, with policies similar to those of the Greens. On the issue of carbon, he adopts the Frontier Economics policy – a subsidy to generators reducing their emissions and allowing firms to trade outputs to benefit from such subsidies. He would take action to reduce market power of Woollies and Coles, introduce tough anti-dumping laws and restrain imports of certain products that are said to bring adverse global environmental impacts and would introduce restraints on foreign investment in agriculture. He wishes to see considerably greater controls over gambling.
Addressing Key Issues
The July 2014 Senate
|Australian Labor Party||26|
|Democratic Labour Party||1|
|Australian Sex Party||1|
|Austr. Motoring Enthusiasts||1|
Carbon emissions restraints
With its 33 seats the Coalition would be likely to gain legislative approval to terminate the carbon tax. The DLP, LDP, PUP (2), FFP would unconditionally support revocation giving 38 and AMEP would probably provide the remaining vote. The Sex Party has no public position on this and Senator Xenophon has an idiosyncratic position based on a different means of reducing emissions. The Coalition would be likely to gain the same support for removing the CEFC if it were not able to do so administratively prior to the middle of next year.
Support for new budgetary subsidies to emission restraint through the Coalition’s $1 billion a year Direct Action package is unlikely. The FFP and LDP (and Nick Xenophon) would oppose any such measures, as might the DLP, PUP and AMEP meaning the Coalition, if it were to proceed, would need the support of the ALP or the Greens.
If the Coalition were to move to abolish or reduce the impact of the renewables legislation it would need the same support as with abolition of the carbon tax.
The same Senators opposing the carbon tax would also be likely to support the revocation of the mining tax.
Paid Parental Leave
This might prove difficult to legislate given the LDP and FF opposition to the proposal as presently set out. The Greens would probably vote in favour of a slightly less generous version unless they took a view that they will oppose everything the Coalition supports.