Amend section 92 of the constitution to explicitly prevent state governments from restricting the domestic freedom of movement of Australian citizens
The Covid-19 pandemic has denied interstate freedom of movement to Australian citizens under the guise of “stopping the spread”. Section 92 of the Australian constitution states “Customs, trade, commerce and intercourse among the states, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free”. The High Court has ruled that states are able to abridge this clause if the rationale is “justified”, but the Federal Government can amend this clause and stand up for the freedom of Australian citizens.
Level the playing field in the energy sector
Despite being a resource-rich country, Australia has some of the highest energy prices in the developed world, continuing to skyrocket in recent years. Endless subsidies to renewable energy corporations has stifled competition and obfuscated the key goal of energy – to provide cheap, reliable power for all Australians.
Make liquid nicotine a Schedule 2 drug on the poisons list
Multiple studies have found liquid nicotine to be a far safer and cost effective transitory way for people to give up smoking cigarettes. Government regulation from the TGA has made liquid nicotine a Schedule 4 poison, meaning it can only be legally purchased with a prescription from a certified GP. This is an unnecessary roadblock for people looking to ease off smoking cigarettes to the safer and cheaper alternative. It also creates a black market of liquid nicotine goods, which increases the chances of faulty goods being bought that damage people’s health upon usage.
Remove taxes on the purchasing of tobacco
An ATA report from 2021 found that the average smoker consuming 12.9 cigarettes a day, will end up paying $5,196 in tobacco excise tax annually, accounting for a quarter of their annual disposable income of an individual in the first quintile of income earners. The tobacco tax is one of the most regressive, punishing the poorest addicts in our community the hardest and leaving them with less disposable income to provide for their family or to take out a home loan. Coupled with the difficulty of getting a liquid nicotine prescription, the Federal Government is using addicts as cash cows, instead of providing them with alternatives.
Simplify and halve taxes on the purchasing of alcohol
The Australian alcohol excise tax is among one of the highest in the developed world and aims to change the drinking culture in our nation. Despite this, Australia is one of the biggest consumers of alcohol per capita in the world, meaning the current approach isn’t achieving its goal. Furthermore, the differentiation of the excise varies based on your drink of choice with some beverages taxed 250% higher than others. For bottled spirits, the government collects nearly 50% of the purchase price through GST and the excise, compared with approximately 14% for wine or cider. Standardising and simplifying the alcohol excise tax is essential, along with halving this regressive cash grab for the benefit of low income Australians.
Decentralise the minimum wage
The minimum wage has been growing at a rate that has outpaced CPI since the global financial crisis. As the ATA revealed in 2021, annual increases to the minimum wage meant 94,230 jobs that could’ve been created, were not, due to the minimum wage elasticity of demand. Federalising the minimum wage ignores the reality that living standards differ from state to state and region to region. It would be fair to say that $10 for lunch goes a lot further in low socioeconomic communities than it would in an affluent leafy green area like Toorak in Melbourne’s East, yet our federal minimum wage does not reflect this reality. Decentralising the minimum wage would put the power back in the hands of councils to implement what they believe is a suitable price floor in their areas.
Prohibit the Fair Work Commission from involving itself in enterprise bargaining agreements and wind back penalty rate stipulations
The Fair Work Commission is a body of unelected bureaucrats who justify their existence by entangling themselves in relationships between the employer and the employee. They negate the purposes of collective bargaining undertaken by unions and often intervene in contravention of an industry’s interests. Penalty rates set by the FWC are a prime example. Award rates for certain industries lead to surcharges for the general public, hiring cuts on weekends and, often, reduced trading hours. Finally, the same penalty rates apply regardless of a business’s annual turnover meaning a local coffee shop is burdened with the same requirements as the local McDonalds. It is the bureaucratic control of the FWC that has created these regressive award rates and their influence must be wound back.
Privatise the ABC
A report the ATA published in 2021 revealed the ABC had spent nearly $1 million dollars of public funding on legal cases for their chief political reporter Louise Milligan for defamatory comments she made about Coalition MPs outside of work hours. Misallocation of taxpayers’ funds aside, it is an outdated notion that Australia still requires a public broadcaster in the age of internet, along with a diverse media scene.
End government funding for private schools/universities
Public funding of private schools and privately funded universities gives the Federal Government a stake in the curriculum and teaching methods undertaken in these institutions. Private schools ought to be afforded independence, free from any governmental restraint or involvement.
Implement a school voucher system
Children should have the opportunity to receive a top quality education. It is unfair that their academic endeavours could be hampered by a parent’s inability to afford the costs of private education. This is why the Federal Government should begin providing vouchers for gifted students at public institutions to attend a local private school. The average public school student costs the government $4,000 in annual fees which could form a voucher for gifted students to subsidise the costs of attending the local private school. This initiative would be at no greater cost to the taxpayer and would ease the burden off the public school system which, in many areas, is unable to cope with the growing number of students. In the long run, allowing for greater educational choice destigmatises the notion that private schools are only for “rich kids”; allows public schools to teach at a more refined academic standard; reduces the rate at which new public schools are needed, and will result in a more educated generation of school students whose parental income was not a barrier to them receiving a quality education.
Legislate for academic and intellectual freedom on university campuses
Federally funded universities have been corrupted by left wing academics who think it is okay to teach students “what” to think and not “how” to think. This has dire consequences for freedom of speech on campus and has resulted in a climate where divergent opinions are considered taboo. Furthermore, with the influence of the Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute, we have seen multiple instances where a student’s right to protest has not been upheld on campus even when objecting to war crimes perpetrated by a foreign government. There are currently very limited protections for academic and intellectual freedom seen most recently in Dr Peter Ridd’s High Court dispute with his former employer James Cook University over his right to question the quality of scientific data being used to substantiate the notion that the Great Barrier Reef is suffering irreparable ecological damage due to coral bleaching. Our universities should be a place of rigorous academic debate and discussion, not an echo chamber of inner-city elites.
Abolish section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
The Australian Human Rights Commission has stifled the right to freedom of speech by weaponising section 18C of the RDA. It states: It is unlawful for a person to do an act if it is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate another person or a group. The subjectivity and vagueness of such a clause has been used to stifle legitimate debate about the harrowing crime statistics that still occur in remote indigenous communities. As the criteria of what constitutes “offence” shrinks year on year, laws like this need to be abolished.
Remove all identity-based publicly-funded welfare schemes
Australia’s generous array of welfare initiatives should be tied to things like individual circumstances, financial hardship and personal initiative, not characteristics such as someone’s race or gender. The ATA supports private individuals and organisations who seek to give endowments or bursaries to minority groups but believes the government should not entangle itself in the complex world of identity politics. The notion that an individual’s race or gender somehow makes them more worthy of governmental support is outdated rhetoric.
Decriminalise all victimless crimes
Each year, Australians spend millions on prison costs for people who have committed crimes where no victim was involved. Thousands of Australians are serving jail sentences for personal-use drug possession, despite only posing a threat to themselves and their own health. The idea that taxpayers should be forced to fork out for the accommodation, food and resources needed to house an inmate who simply made a personal decision to use recreational drugs lessens the concept of what it means to be a “criminal” and diminishes personal responsibility of the individual.
Abolish the fuel excise tax
In the 2022 Federal Budget, the Coalition government announced a 50% temporary cut to the fuel excise tax, largely due to the ATA’s pre-budget submission and relentless lobbying for the removal of the tax. While the reduction is welcomed, it simply does not go far enough. The idea that fuel prices will have radically reduced in six months time is a fantasy, so the theory that this quick-fix policy was nothing more than a last minute election ploy is transparent. It is low income earners living further out who are often unable to use public transport and face lengthy daily commutes, so the fuel excise is another tax disproportionately harming blue collar Australians. Only removing the tax in its entirety will remove this inequity in our tax code.
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