To invest in universities is to invest in our future

Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced cuts of $2.8 billion to the expected funding for student support and universities, already on top of a $1 billion in cuts announced late last year.

 

I don’t know about you, but to me it really makes no sense.

 

According to OECD figures, our public investment in universities ranks just 25th out of 29 advanced economies. Meanwhile, the strongest nations in our region are investing more and more in universities to drive skills, science and research.

 

That is, nations in our region are investing into their best resource – their minds – while we are going in the opposite direction.

 

As a student at RMIT University where I recently completed an undergraduate degree, I became well aware of the financial situation. RMIT’s primary analysis suggested that the funding cuts would cost the University more than $25 million over the next four years.

 

Even with the government’s promise to maintain indexation, the massive reductions have made the framing of future budgets increasingly difficult, as RMIT is still carrying the effects of cuts imposed on higher and vocational education in 2012.

 

Australians have the potential to transform our economy and indeed the world.  Despite having less than 0.3% of the world’s population, we account for over three per cent of the world’s scientific research output.

 

The Bionic Ear, Black Box Flight Recorders, spray-on skin for burns victims and WiFi are just some Australian innovations that come to mind.

 

Who do you think drives the innovation behind such products and services and industries? Our universities.

 

Furthermore, the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency found that each extra one dollar invested in tertiary education grows the economy by $26 and grows tax revenue by $8. I really can’t think of any public funded investment which pays itself off better than investment in tertiary education.

 

To invest in universities is to invest in our future.

 

I don’t understand politicians. I don’t think most people do. But to me it’s clear: the Federal Government needs to stop cutting and start investing more into our tertiary education.

 

 

 

By Vince Stefano

Full time carers are ending up in poverty – it’s about time we fix this

There are over 500,000 unpaid primary carers in Australia.

These primary carers are often people caring full time for a family member such as an elderly parent or disabled child.

I cannot think of a commitment that could be more commendable. It is in a sense a giving up of one’s life for the service of another, a great act of love and generosity that is indeed a prime example of the beauty found in selfless humanity.

Acts of great generosity have a power that touches and moves us, I’m sure you’ve felt it before.

While caring is an experience which deepens friendships and relationships, it can also be very physically and emotionally demanding. It can be very hard work. The more hours spent caring, the greater the decline in carer health, because carers end up having less time to maintain their own health.

What I find very concerning is this: their role as a full time carer prevents them from obtaining full time employment and receiving compulsory superannuation payments available to employees.

Because of this, most will reach retirement age with little or no means of financial support.

Sure, full time primary carers are eligible for welfare benefits. But these are only enough to get you by a day at a time. As soon as these welfare payments stop, you are on your own. Full time primary carers have been retiring into poverty, because decades without paid employment means decades without superannuation.

In my opinion, this is simply not acceptable. These people do not deserve to finish up in poverty the way they do after years and often decades of full time service to not just a person in need of great care, but also service to the community and indeed the nation.

As these carers provide a major contribution to society and a massive saving to Government expenditure, they are should be entitled to receive a government funded contribution based on 9% of average weekly earnings.

The Democratic Labour Party believes that the government should fund superannuation contributions for full time primary carers. 

I find it an absolute disgrace that such an initiative has not been sought after by successive governments on both sides of politics.

The DLP are likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate after this year’s federal election but as always, it comes down to votes.

 

 

By Vince Stefano

DLP blog site now live

We are please to announce that we now have a separate blog site: federalelection.com.au

While the DLP website will still maintain its blog page, federalelection.com.au will be the official blog site of the Democratic Labour Party.

 

 

 

Which party really understands small business?

There’s not a drop of doubt that small business is underrepresented in Australia, as highlighted in the previous small business post. With the Federal election near at hand, let’s take a look at some of the small business policy platforms being proposed by some of the main political parties.

 

 

Australian Labor Party (ALP)

The ALP website highlights what the party has already done for small business, but nothing new is being proposed. It gives mention to the following:

  • the establishment of a Minister for Small Business (Unfortunately, the Minister the Hon. Gary Gray has no experience in small business what-so-ever)
  • the establishment of Enterprise Connect
  • certain financial entitlements

 

With nothing new being proposed, one can’t help but wonder how the current situation for small business could be improved if the ALP retains government.

 

Interestingly, the ALP has no separate ‘small business’ policy, but places it into an ‘Australian Business’ page on their website, together with big business plans like the NBN and Tourism 2020. It begs the question: does the ALP really understand how small business is different to big business?

 

 

Liberal Party of Australia

The Liberals are proposing a lot of changes for small business, and these can be found in their policy document Our Plan: real solutions for all Australians. The Liberal Party’s policy is intended to:

  • lowering taxes and business costs
  • cutting red and green tape
  • double the annual rate of small business growth
  • relieving competition laws and policy
  • extending unfair contract protection to small business

 

Cutting bureaucratic tape and conducting a review of competition laws would be greatly welcomed by small business. However, there are some pretty big ‘ifs’ with the other policies.

 

The Liberals’ plan for lowering taxes and cutting business costs hinge on their intention of abolishing the carbon tax and funding from savings in the budget.

 

Will the next parliament pass legislation to abolish the carbon tax? Will there be a slice of the pie for small business made from savings in budget cuts, when the Liberals are desperate to deliver a budget surplus? These are arguments for another day; for now I’ll leave it for you to decide.

 

And doubling small business growth by adding more than 30,000 new small businesses every year? If they have a master plan, you’d think we’d know of it by now.

 

 

 

The Greens

The Greens don’t have a small business policy. Don’t believe it? Take a look at their 2013 election website to see for yourself.

 

 

Democratic Labour Party (DLP)

The DLP are likely to hold the ‘balance of power’ in the Senate following this year’s federal election, so let’s see what this resurgent party has to say on small business. Their policies seek to stop big business making life hard for small business, increase cash flow, cut back bureaucratic tape and make it easier to get a new small business up and running. The policies are:

 

  • stopping big businesses’ and government’s unfair practice of lengthy delays on payments for goods and services provided by small business by introducing a maximum of 30 days standard trade for such payments;
  • deferring small business company tax for one year for the first seven years followed by a generous catch up period;
  • having superannuation and WorkCover costs covered by Federal Government for the first year of a small business employing its first full-time employee, covering a wage of up to $48,000 per annum;
  • establishing local small business mentoring programs comprised of both retired and current small business owners;
  • opposing undue and excessive Federal and State Government and local council bureaucracy for small business operators.

 

It is worth mentioning that not only does DLP Senator John Madigan have over 25 years of small business experience under his belt, but if this year’s DLP Victorian senate candidate Mark Farrell joins him, you can add an extra 16 years on top of that.

 

That would mean the DLP would be holding the balance of power in the Senate, with a combined total of over 41 years of experience in owning and operating a small business. Indeed, this would create refreshingly new dynamics to Australian politics.

 

Voting for a minor party might prove a lot more effective than some may think.

 

 

By Vince Stefano

‘Balance of Power’ … what is that again?

The ‘balance of power’ is a term we often hear in politics. But while many of us may be familiar with the term, we may not be as familiar with its definition or implications.

In this post I will discuss three things. First, I will provide a simple explanation of what the ‘balance of power’ is. Second, I will provide examples of the balance of power occurring in Australian politics. And third, I will discuss the likelihood of who will be holding the balance of power following this year’s federal election and what implications that will have for Australian politics until at least the next election.

 

Definition
The ‘balance of power’ is the position held by a minor party, group or individual when their vote is necessary for bills or motions to be passed.

Consider this basic scenario. There are 76 seats in the Australian Senate. Let’s say there are 36 reds (the government), 30 blues (the opposition) and 10 yellows (minor party).

Now, anything that is voted on in parliament requires a majority in of total votes in order to pass. In this case, that would be 39 votes (76/2+1).

Therefore, if a bill is introduced by red, and not supported by blue, it will require the votes from yellow in order to pass with a majority of total votes. Yellow holds the balance of power – any bill or motion can’t pass without yellow’s approval.

 

History
The scenario of balance or power occurs often in the Australian Senate (upper house), but is very unlikely in the House of Representatives (lower house). That is because government is formed in the lower house, and in order to attain government, a party must secure a majority of seats in that house.

We experienced the rare case of a hung parliament following the 2010 federal election, when neither the ALP nor the Liberal/National Coalition won more than half the seats in the lower house.

There were 5 independents and 1 Greens, and the ALP managed to gain the support of 4 of them, giving the ALP the numbers to form a minority government. In this case, the 5 independents and the Greens MP held the balance of power.

A minor party holding the balance of power in the Senate has occurred several times over the years in Australian politics.

Between 1955 and 1974, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), a minor party formed by a number of anti-communists who split from the Australian Labor Party, held the balance of power in the Senate, having between one and five seats in the Senate during that period.

In 1981, the balance of power in the Senate was secured by the Australian Democrats, which they managed to hold until 2008 when their 4 Senators failed to be re-elected at the 2007 election.

In 2010, the Greens won a Senate seat in each of the six states at the election, bringing them a total of 9 senators and giving them an outright balance of power in the Senate, similar to the red-blue-yellow scenario painted above.

 

2013 Federal Election
It is very likely that a minor party or group of individuals will be holding the balance of power in the Senate following this year’s federal election.

The political pundits are tipping DLP Senator John Madigan to be holding the balance of power in the Senate, either in his own right or together with another Senator like Independent Nick Xenophon, depending on how things go on polling day.

However, it is worth noting that if the DLP gain another senator at this year’s election, then it would be the DLP holding the balance of power in the Senate, without a doubt.

Senator Madigan has already gone on record saying, “what we will be doing if we find ourselves in this position is encouraging transparent discussion on issues and the Senate operating as a true house of review and scrutiny.”

You will often hear Senator Madigan say, “play the issue, not the person.”

 

 

By Vince Stefano

Historic Result at Lyndhurst By-Election

LyndhurstOn the 27th of April, around 50 committed DLP men and women survived the windiest election day in recent memory to hand out how-to-vote cards for Geraldine Gonsalvez, the DLP’s enthusiastic candidate for a by-election in the Victorian Parliament’s lower house seat of Lyndhurst.

As a local woman she has put considerable time and effort over a number of years into service for the community, fighting for a number of causes and serving as Dandenong Ward Councillor. The response of the people of Lyndhurst on election day showed how highly they regard her, giving her 11% of the primary vote, the best result for the DLP in over 30 years.

The result put the DLP in third position for first preference, narrowly behind Family First, but more importantly ahead of both the Sex Party and the Greens.

The DLP would like to thank all those wonderful people who contributed on polling booths before and on election day and those who assisted with letterboxing. A special mention should go to our Senator John Madigan, who flew back from commitments in Adelaide on the afternoon of the 27th out of respect for all the volunteers and to celebrate with Geraldine whatever the result. This action emphasises that the DLP really is a party of principle and of the people.

A VERY special mention should go to campaign manager Des Kelly, who tirelessly worked for months leading up to the election on one of the best run DLP campaigns of late. Without his fantastic work and that of Geraldine with the support of her wonderful family, this momentous day for the DLP would not have happened.

There is now a great sense of hope and anticipation within the Party which we are sure will translate over the coming months into momentum for the DLP, heading into the federal election in September.

If you would like to see the full by-election results they are available at: http://www.abc.net.au/elections/vic/2013/lyndhurst/result.htm

Lyndhurst By-Election

Lyndhurst By-Election

 

DLP Candidate Geraldine Gonsalvez

 

  • Local resident for proven local action
  • Work towards a satisfactory solution with the Hazardous Waste Facility
  • Protect and develop our Victorian Manufacturing sector
  • Protect local jobs and the rights of all workers
  • Respect and protect families and life

 

Click on images for a larger view

How2vote GeraldineDLP 6 panel brochure 2 web-page-002
DLP 6 panel brochure 2 web-page-001