Australian Progressives

The Australian Progressives is a minor Australian political party. The party was established in September 2014,[1] and registered as a federal political party by the Australian Electoral Commission on 17 February 2015.[2]

Australian Progressives
PresidentRobert Knight (2018-present)
SecretaryKate Hamley
Founded2014 (2014)
Merger ofAustralian Progressives
Australian Progressive Party
Mutual Party
Smashed Avocado Party
Membership1000+
IdeologyProgressivism Communitarianism Australian Republicanism
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing
Website
progressives.org.au/

A February 2015 article in The Monthly noted the party's use of crowdfunding and promises of community consultation on policy, but also stated it had "prioritised the establishment of a political party ahead of the development of a platform".[1] Until August 2015 when the Australian Progressives merged with the unregistered Australian Progressive Party, the two similarly named parties were seen as competing for the same constituency.[3]

On 1 February 2018, the party was under threat of deregistration for failure to meet membership requirements.[4] The party since contested the 2019 Australian federal election.

History and Structure

The Australian Progressives was established in September 2014, and registered in February 2015. The party contested the 2016 and 2019 Australian Federal Elections, as well as the 2017 Bennelong By-Election. Canberra Progressives, the unregistered ACT Branch of the Australian Progressives, have indicated their intention to register and contest the 2020 Australian Capital Territory general election.

The Australian Progressives has held 3 National Conferences since the party's founding, being 2015 in Sydney, 2018 in Melbourne, and 2019 in Canberra. The 2020 National Conference is scheduled to be held on the Gold Coast in June.

The Constitution of the Australian Progressives establishes the party's governance structure as involving a quasi-bicameral system, with an elected National Executive, chaired by a directly elected President of the Party, and an appointed National Operations Committee, chaired by the Party Secretary. The National Operations Team consists of the Directors of the Party, appointed functionaries who run the day-to-day operations of the party, including the Directors of Membership and Electorate Engagement, Communications, and Policy, as well as the Treasurer.

The Party's National Executive consists of 6 General Executives, elected to a 2 year term, the President of the Party, elected to a 3 year term, and the Party Secretary and Treasurer who sit as non-voting observers. Half of the General Executive positions are up for election every year, creating a staggered electoral system. The Presidential Election occurs at the same time as every third General Executive Election.

Policies

The Party has endorsed 2 fundamental objectives to guide their policy making agenda. These fundamental objectives are[5]:

1. The Australian Progressives are committed to the eradication of poverty.

2. The Australian Progressives are committed to the fight against human-induced Climate Change.

Beyond these fundamental objectives, the Australian Progressives have a significant policy platform, including:

Economic Policy

  • Government tracking and reporting of poverty and homelessness.
  • Tracking of the impact of poverty of all government policies.
  • Raising the Tax-Free Threshold to the poverty line.
  • A review of GST, including support for the application of the GST to Private School fees, but oppose further changes that would impact low-income earners.
  • A Biannual review of tax brackets.
  • Opposition to income tax rates above 50% (before application of the Medicare Levy).
  • A Foreign Transactions Tax of 0.1% for all transactions over $1,000,000.
  • A review of Capital Gains Tax concessions.
  • Implementing the recommendations of the 2017 Black Economy Taskforce.
  • Increased funding for the ATO and other financial oversight regulators.
  • The introduction of a National Resources Rent Tax.
  • A review into taxation arrangements on trusts.
  • A parliamentary investigation into Wealth Taxes.
  • A parliamentary Review of the Tax Act.
  • Increasing Compulsory Superannuation contributions to 15%.
  • Progressive taxation of Superannuation contribution and earnings.
  • The reintroduction of a low-income superannuation supplement.
  • The introduction of a default fund tender process.
  • Opposition to the use of superannuation for non-retirement purposes.
  • A phase out of negative gearing.
  • A phase in of a cap on deductions for grandfathered negative gearing arrangements.
  • A phase out of stamp-duty in favour of a broad land value tax.
  • Opposition to "first home-buyers" cash grant schemes.
  • Reestablish the Commonwealth Employment Service.
  • Subsidised Training, Development, and Regional employment schemes.
  • Review indexation of welfare payments.
  • Immediate $100 per week increase to Newstart and all other social security payments, until the conclusion of the indexation review.
  • Capped compulsory contribution rates for HELP repayments.
  • A review into a universal basic income.
  • Raising the Single-Parents Pension cutoff age.
  • A review of the concept of Mutual Obligations.
  • Reinstating the Schoolkids Bonus.
  • Enacting "preferred small business" programs for government procurement.
  • Support increased flexibility in the work week.
  • A 10,000% relative earnings cap.
  • A Tax Break for employers who hire a proportion of their workforce as entry-level and recent graduates.
  • Opposition to predatory free-trade agreements.
  • Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Opposition to policies designed to undermine the right to form or join a Trade Union.

Social Equality

  • The elevation of the Gender Affairs portfolio to cabinet.
  • 10 days paid domestic violence leave.
  • Expansion of grants to domestic violence services.
  • Subsidised apprenticeships in traditionally gender dominated positions.
  • Implementation of all recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
  • Amend legislation to resolve legal gender imbalances and discriminations.
  • Allow for gender corrections to be recognised on all federal documentation.
  • Implement One Year paid parental leave for all parents.
  • Legislative protections for bodily autonomy and fertility rights.
  • An emergency response to the Domestic Violence crisis.
  • Oppose the implementation of special Religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation.
  • Amend S18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act to include religion.

Environmental and Agricultural Policy

  • The establishment of a broad-based Emissions Trading Scheme.
  • Increased funding for alternative energy research.
  • The restoration of rebates for domestic solar energy fed back into the grid.
  • Means-tested subsidy of solar hot-water systems.
  • Industry subsidies for solar and wind projects in regional Australia.
  • Reduction in registration costs for hybrid, electric, and fuel efficient vehicles.
  • Restoration of funding to AREA, CEFC, the CSIRO and the reestablishment of the Climate Change Commission.
  • 100% Renewable Energy Target by 2030, and 125% by 2060.
  • 70% Reduction on 2005 Emissions levels by 2030.
  • Implementation of a 1% operating levy on the mining sector, with the funds being allocated to transition assistance.
  • Phasing out of the thermal coal-mining industry.
  • Phasing out of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2035.
  • Opposition to new coal mines.
  • Continued international cooperation to establish a binding global emissions reduction target.
  • Immediate halt to all developments that threaten the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Increased protections for the Great Barrier Reef, and a sustainable Great Barrier Reef tourism industry.
  • Support the eradication of species that threaten natural biodiversity.
  • Support for sustainable biodiversity.
  • A national water management system.
  • Support for climate change mitigation to protect the agricultural industry.
  • Opposition to the foreign purchase of agricultural land.
  • Funding for research and implementation of regenerative practices, sustainability, and innovation in the agriculture, fisheries and timber industries.
  • A focus on food security in agricultural practice.
  • Support for Country of Origin labeling.
  • Visual representation of sugar content.
  • Opposition to Coal Seam Gas and hydraulic fracking.
  • Requirement of up-front capital for environmental restoration works.


Anti-Corruption

  • Establishing a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.
  • Strengthen legal protections for whistleblowers, including a Public Interest defense.
  • Development of anonymous channels for reporting corrupt conduct by government.
  • Creation of legislative protections for confidentiality.
  • Creation of a process for redress for outed whistleblowers who suffer blowback.
  • Legislative protections for journalists undertaking Public Interest Journalism.
  • Establishment of a Federal Parliamentarians Code of Conduct and a charter of Parliamentarian Values.
  • Corruption commission reviews into post-parliamentary appointments that may be the result of actions in office.
  • Increase penalties for corruption in public office, including pay-back of salary and entitlements.

Future Building

Energy Supply

  • Increased funding to alternative energy research and development.
  • The restoration of rebates for domestic solar energy fed back into the grid.
  • Means tested subsidy of solar hot water systems.
  • Negotiated industry subsidies for the establishment of solar and wind turbine farms established in regional Australia
  • Encourage the uptake of compressed Australian natural gas and the development of the natural gas industry to gradually replace petroleum-based fuels.
  • Transitioning of coal out of the economy to be gradually replaced with green energy systems with natural gas back up.
  • Fund research into waste incineration technologies and systems for energy creation purposes.
  • A review on Australian legislative bans on Nuclear and Related Technologies, and assessing the evidence regarding the inclusion of Nuclear Power in the Australian energy market.

Water Supply

  • Exploration of options to build a water pipeline(s)/infrastructure from northern Australia to agricultural production areas of south eastern Australia and other parts of the mainland as appropriate.
  • The development of options to construct sea water purification facilities in each capital city.
  • Subsidies for the purchase and installation of domestic rainwater tanks.
  • Invest in smart technologies research to improve water consumption for domestic and commercial applications.
  • Programs that provide education and training for primary sector producers in efficient and effective water management.

Agricultural Development

  • Enact the recommendations from the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin System.
  • A renegotiated Murray Darling Basin Agreement to enforce tighter provisions to private water access and improved river flows.
  • The establishment of national education programs and producers for farmers on sustainable agricultural and water management practices.
  • An additional water consumption levy imposed on the Cubbie Station and similar sized water consumers to be used for improved water management practices.
  • Boost regional telecommunications and internet infrastructure to allow farmers to access and utilise innovative agricultural technologies.

Regional Development

  • The relocation of viable industries out of the cities and into regional locations.
  • The development of improved national transportation systems.
  • The establishment of a local government grants scheme up to $100m p.a for local government to bid for one off infrastructure programs, projects and services.
  • Ensure that mining profits are shared with rural areas via an allocation from a sovereign wealth fund.

Transport Infrastructure

  • The development of a new single-gauge national rail loop system.
  • Working in conjunction with State and Territory governments to align a national rail loop system with secondary rail development projects.
  • Expansion of a cohesive national roads system, the maintenance of existing roads, and the subsidisation of local and regional governments road maintenance programmes.
  • A significant increase in Commonwealth investment in urban public transport.
  • Opposition to the privatisation of transport infrastructure and public transport.
  • Re-nationalisation of public transport previously sold off.
  • Prioritisation of Public Mass-Transit.
  • Measure, report on and set goals to improve air quality near major roads/most traffic pollution affected areas.
  • Modernise vehicle registration costs.
  • Reclaim road or parking space as the transition away from private car-centric transport progresses.

CSIRO and Research

  • Reform the CSIRO funding model to increase financial security.
  • Increase funding for all research.
  • Develop commercialisation expertise to improve returns on investment.
  • Create a new division in the CSIRO and set up a government Venture Capital fund.

Defence Industry

  • Maintaining a minimum of 2.75% of GDP for the defence budget.
  • Maintaining defence support industries in Australia.

Space Industry

  • Build Australia a long term, productive, presence in Space
  • Establishment of an independent advisory body on space priorities and funding.
  • Develop Australian based orbital lift capacity.
  • Promoting close working relationships with other nations developing their space industry.

2016 federal election

In the 2016 Australian federal election, the Australian Progressives fielded two senate candidates in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. It also stood a candidate for the northern Melbourne seat of Batman in the House of Representatives.[6]

2017 Bennelong by-election

In the 2017 Bennelong by-election, Australian Progressives preselected Policy Director Christopher Golding, who was an employee of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, but resigned in order to be compliant with Section 44 of the Constitution.

2019 federal election

In the 2019 Australian federal election, the Australian Progressives contested 5 electorates, being all three ACT seats: Bean (Therese Faulkner), Canberra (Robert Knight), Fenner (Kagiso Ratlhagane), as well as Longman (Jono Young) in Queensland and Sturt (Angela Fulco) in South Australia.[7]

References

  1. Tim Flannery and Catriona Wallace (February 2015). "Fixing politics: how online organisation can give power back to the people"The Monthly. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  2. "Australian Progressives". Current Register of Political Parties. Australian Electoral Commission. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  3. Shalailah Medhora (28 October 2014). "Australia's two new progressive parties share a name – and mutual dislike"Guardian Australia. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  4. "Notice of intention to deregister Australian Progressives" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  5. https://www.facebook.com/AusProgressive/posts/3126287294062971
  6. "Candidates for the 2016 federal election". Australian Electoral Commission. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. "Candidates". Federal Election 2019 guide. ABC. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
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