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Who Should I Vote For? The Greens piece

REFUGEES

It is important to remember when discussing refugee and asylum seeker policy that we are facing an international humanitarian situa­tion; it’s not a war, or a national emergency, or a border security crisis. The Greens will not play politics with people’s lives. Instead, they will save lives by offering a safe, legal and humane alternative to dangerous boats. Deterrence does not work – a fact which the Rudd Government acknowledged in 2007 (before he joined the populist race to the bottom against Tony Abbott).

The Greens believe that Australia should:

•increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to 30,000, which will make a difference and provide hope to people waiting;

•resettle to Australia an emergency intake of 10,000 more genuine refugees from our region;

•urgently resettle 3,800 refugees directly from our immediate region as recommended by the Houston Panel. The Government hasn’t acted on that recommendation and only accepted 600 refugees from Indonesia this year despite the large backlog of waiting refugees;

•provide an extra $70 million per year in emergency funding for safe assessment centres in Indonesia which would provide shelter and welfare services to refugees while they wait for assessment and reset­tlement (and decrease their need to board boats);

•boost the capacity of the UNHCR in Indonesia and Malaysia to speed up refugee assessments and resettlements;

•shut down all offshore detention in Nauru and PNG, with Australia to assess the claims of people who arrive by boat (saving billions an­nually); and

•remove all children from detention.

EDUCATION

The Greens recognise universal access to education as fun­damental to Australia’s economic prosperity, well-being and social fulfilment. The Greens want federal funding to be allocated to both public and private sectors primarily on the basis of need and equity, prioritising public education to ensure public schools provide the highest quality education, setting national education standards that are accessible for every child.

The salaries and conditions of educators should reflect the im­portance of their work, provide secure career structures and encourage committed, capable professionals into all levels of education.

At universities, the needs of the whole community, the values of service to the public and scholarship and academic freedom should take priority over sectional and commercial interests. The Greens advocate free university education for Australian students by reducing and progressively phasing out fees and significantly reforming the existing regime for the repayment of HECS/FEE-HELP debts at public universities.

The Greens see decision making in education as something which should be open to input from teachers and academics, their unions, parents, and of course, students, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities able to exercise meaningful control over the design and delivery of educational services for their communities.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Greens believe that human induced climate change poses the greatest threat to our world, and urgent and sustained local, national and global action is required in this critical decade to ensure a safe climate. Current global climate change is already visible and contributes to the dis­ruption of human societies through sea level rise, extreme weather events, desertification and other effects. This is the overwhelming consensus of international scientific research.

Australia is a wealthy nation and is therefore ideally placed to lead the world in addressing climate change rather than being one of the larg­est per capita contributors. The Greens are committed to ensuring that Australia takes that lead.

The Greens have a comprehensive climate change policy. The policy objectives include:

•an aim to reach net zero or negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation;

•binding national emission targets for each year through to 2050 sup­ported by a detailed strategy to reduce emissions from the energy, trans­port, industry, waste, agriculture and land management sectors;

•no new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines, plus the development of programs to assist coal dependent communities to make the transition to other more sustainable sources of economic prosperity;

•the adoption of the precautionary principle in relation to carbon capture and storage (geosequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of CO2 leakage; and

•research, development and commercialisation of sustainable alternative fuels.

ECONOMY

The Greens are the only political party to have had 39 of their policies costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office (with the remaining four currently being completed). Neither the Coalition or ALP have submitted a single policy for costing. The Greens have a four-step plan, which will raise an extra $42.7 billion by:

•Fixing the mining tax: so that multi-national mining corporations pay their fair for mining our natural resources. An improved and effective min­ing tax will raise $21.8billion over three years.

•Abolishing tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry and assistance to carbon capture and storage programs. This will raise an additional $12 billion over the forward estimates. Please note: These proposals are directed at big mining companies and ending tax breaks for fossil fuels. They will not impact farmers in any way.

•Introducing a Public Support Levy on the big banks. A 20 basis point levy on bank assets over $100 billion will raise $8.4 billion over the three years.

•Increasing the marginal tax rate on incomes over $1 million. Increasing the rate to 50 per cent from 1 July 2014 will raise $500 million over the forward estimates.

This money raised will be used to:

•Reverse Labor’s uni cuts and increase base funding by 10 per cent;

•Lift overseas aid to 0.7% GNI by 2020;

•Increase the amount available to the Clean Energy Finance Corpora­tion to $3 billion a year for 10 years;

•Provide $3 billion to house the homeless;

•Boost funding to Regional Arts by $10m over the forward estimates;

•Increase Newstart and Youth Allowance by $50 a week;

•Double Labor’s funding for the Gonski school reform;

•Increase investment in research and development to 3% of GDP by 2020, encouraging greater uptake of private investment in R&D and restoring funding to the Sustainable Research Excellence program; and

•Identify and protect important habitats and increase funding for threat­ened species.

The Greens also aim to create a fairer Australia by enabling the ACCC to adequately ensure a fairer marketplace through preventing the formation of monopolies which may abuse their gross market power, implementing sensible measures to reduce executive salaries, provid­ing better incentives for superannuation funds to invest in government securities and public infrastructure, and to increase the rate of minerals resource rent and broaden the commodity base as Australia inevitably moves into a clean energy economy. All federal Greens policies can be found at http://greens.org.au/policy-platform

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