Federal Election 2016: A Look at Each Major Political Party and Their Policies

Now that the federal election is steadily creeping towards us, it’s a time when many people are considering who to vote for.

Being able to decide which political party is going to run the country is a privilege many of us take for granted. Don’t default to the choice that your parents or friends make or have always made without considering your own standings.

In the smoggy haze of awful election campaign advertisements, it’s easy to get caught up in the popularity contest of the leader, rather than the policies that the party is spruiking.

In an effort to clear up some of the confusion, here is a list of the main political parties (and a brief look at independents), who runs them and a quick overview of what they’re offering the Australian people.


The Liberal Party


Run by current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, The Liberal Party is labelled as Australia’s right-wing conservative option of the two main players.

You may also have heard them being referred to as the Coalition. This is a political alliance between the Liberal party and other smaller centre-right parties including The National Party of Australia, The Liberal National Party and the Country Liberal Party.

Key policies

Their main policies include cutting the company tax rate to 27.5 percent for businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million per year (dropping the rate to 25 percent for all businesses by 2026), no changes to negative gearing, an already outdated NBN and of course, a hard-line stance on immigration to stop the boats (whilst breaching the UN anti-torture convention).

The Liberals are known for their prioritisation of economic management over other issues, though many believe they haven’t been doing great job. The current government would also like to fully deregulate universities, making tertiary education more expensive. While that likely won’t happen, they are still contemplating 20 percent funding cuts and increasing student fee contributions.

In a move to change superannuation for the wealthy, they have also proposed that funds over $1.6 million will be taxed on anything over that limit, as well as lower caps on voluntary catch-up contributions.

Like Labor, The Liberal Party plan to legalise same-sex marriage, but they will do it by way of a plebiscite (public vote). This method is expensive and some say it hill be hurtful to the LGBTIQ community.

Why would you vote for them?

If you own a business of any size, you’ll probably be on board for the tax cuts. If you believe that these cuts will allow businesses to thrive, create new jobs and grow the economy, you’ll likely be on the Coalition’s bandwagon, but there are many that aren’t buying it.

If you’re also fan of negative gearing and plan on using it after July 1 next year, the Liberal’s will probably have your vote over Labor, who plan on restricting the measure (but will grandfather properties that are already negatively geared).

If you believe, like the party, that the economy should be the focus of the government from which everything else will fall into place, vote for The Liberal Party.


The Labor Party


Run by opposition leader Bill Shorten, The Australian Labor Party is traditionally to the left of the two-party system. According to their constitution, “The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields”.

In other words, Labor are seen as the guardian of the everyday Australian. They favour unions that support workers and often back progressive policies.

Key policies

In this election, the party is spruiking more funding for education and healthcare, limiting negative gearing to new properties only, protecting penalty rates for workers, pursuing multinational companies for tax avoidance and introducing a same-sex marriage bill within the first 100 days if elected.

They’ve also set a target of running on 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050. On top of this, they’ll upgrade the NBN rollout to Fibre to the Premises, rather than the Coalition’s slower Fibre to the Node.

The Labor party have also pledged to rectify Tony Abbott’s damage to the UN Refugees Convention, which we are currently breaching. While they’ll continue to turn the boats back, they have promised to protect children and process refugees faster to minimise the time spent in detention. If you’re curious as to how we could ever be breaching a UN anti-torture convention, we highly recommend you watch this film.

Why would you vote for them?

If you support same-sex marriage and refugees, think the NBN in it’s current state is in shambles, work for penalty rates, have kids or attend university, you’re probably on board with Bill’s plans.

If you’re after a progressive alternative to how the country is run that puts people over business, vote for The Labor Party.


The Greens


The Greens, run by Senator Richard Di Natale, are Australia’s far-left alternative that places the environment and society over all else.

Key policies

Their policies in this election involve switching Australia to 90 percent renewable energy by 2030, limiting tax deductions for the top 1 percent of income earners, low income earner tax reform, redirecting funding from private to public schools, abolishing negative gearing completely and increasing our refugee intake by 50k, as well as shutting down the Nauru and Manus detention centres.

While they have never held a majority government, their influence over major policy has increased with every election. They currently hold 10 seats in the senate.

Why would you vote for them?

The Greens are often a popular alternative to the two major political parties and as climate change has become a real threat, their prioritisation of the environment has become an important factor in many Australians voting decisions.

If you support the party’s four pillars; “social justice”, “sustainability”, “grassroots democracy” and “peace and non-violence”, The Greens will likely win your vote.

If you’re voting for The Greens or an independent party, it’s important to note where they will preference their votes, because they could end up going to a party you don’t want them to. There is a great explainer on preferential voting here.


Independents


Independents are not affiliated with the major parties and thus can create their own rules and policies.

Independent parties can be great if they appeal to you in a particular way, but they can also dangerous. Take Pauline Hanson for example. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, she had proposed a total ban on all Muslims in Australia, then went even further, comparing the entire religion to dangerous dogs.

“We have laws here that we don’t bring in pitbull terriers because they are a danger to our society… we have laws to protect Australians,” she said in her latest video.

While this article is not intended to dissuade voters from any particular party, Pauline Hanson is a dangerous, uninformed, racist exception. Don’t vote for this idiot.

At the end of the day, who you vote for is entirely your choice and your choice alone. You should make yourself aware of what each party is promising and vote in a way that aligns with your best interests. And while this piece has only grazed the surface, articles like this, along with tools like this will give you a better understanding of where you stand in the political landscape.

A vote is an incredibly powerful tool that we should all use with enthusiasm and above all, it should not be wasted.