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Who Should I Vote For? The Labor piece

So, why vote Labor?

Cool people: Kevin Rudd. Penny Wong. Tanya Plibersek. Anthony Albanese. Kate Ellis. Mark Dreyfus. Laura Smyth. Cath Bowtell. Anna Burke. Take your pick of any of these all-stars to have a nerdgasm over.

Policies for a better Australia.

But, on a serious note – a vote should be sound and educated, and based on an evaluation of the core policies for governance and law reform that each party has, and weighing up which of the parties, and their plans, best represents your view for a better Australia. One policy does not a government make, and there are policies on everything. Climate change? You bet. Adoption? Certainly. Electricity pricing? You know it. The economy? Bet your bottom dollar.

I find that the core tenants of the Labor Party are a sound investment in education, quality healthcare, and fair working rights for every Australian, and social policies that seek to enfranchise marginalized Australians in achieving a fair go.

This ethos has been seen in the actions of the Labor Party since its election in 2007: Labor has continued its high standard of funding to education, with a 40-50% increase ($17 Billion) to base funding in higher education as indicated by the Bradley Review, and a $1.2 Billion injection into pre-tertiary schooling in the adoption of the Gonski Reforms. Furthermore, Labor has invested the establishment of 8,900 new training facilities to allow disadvantaged young Australians the ability to pick up a trade or skill.

Labor has invested in an improved health system, with a 26% ($900 Million) increase to health funding in Victoria alone. Statistics have shown that since 2007, there have been 200 hospital upgrades and 2,446 new beds created within hospitals around Australia, 5,500 new doctors have been trained, 26 regional cancer centres have been sustained, and a staggering 64,000 additional elective surgery operations delivered. That means less waiting times, more doctors on call, and better quality medical attention for you and your family.

Labor strongly values the protection of workers and their working conditions, as shown in the abolition of WorkChoices, and reform to the Fair Work Act – legislation that codifies minimum wage requirements, the ability to ask for flexible work conditions for family responsibilities, and freedom against discrimination within the workplace. Alongside these reforms, Labor established Fair Work Australia as an independent ombudsman to fairly arbitrate disputes between worker and employer, and have shown a solid commitment to not cut jobs in the public sector.

Finally, in terms of social policy, Labor has championed the NDIS (DisabilityCare) reforms for targeted, person-specific services for people living with disabilities, committed to an equal marriage bill being put to parliament within 100 days of the election if re-elected, and have been rigorously committed to progressing the state of women in regards to equal opportunity, access to abortion, and breaking down the glass ceiling (see ‘Julia Gillard’ and ‘Misogyny Speech’).

Myths about the party and their decisions.

1. There aren’t progressive people in the party that care about my issue!

Wrong. Labor, being a factional party, has members from across the political spectrum that voice dissent for a range of policy choices of the party at large, especially through lobby groups such as Labor for Marriage Equality or the Labor Environment Action Network. For instance, Labor Member for Chisholm (Monash, Oakleigh, Burwood area), Anna Burke, has recently spoken out against the Labor PNG refugee policy, and seeks to promote party reform on this issue after the election.

2. The changes in leadership within the Labor Party mean that the party is broken and unfit to govern.

Wrong. Changes in leadership occur often, and do not affect the ability for a whole party to make decisions (e.g., Tanya Plibersek didn’t just suddenly stop being Health Minister when the spill was happening, and then after that, she didn’t spontaneously lose the ability to do her job!) Additionally, fun fact – the Coalition changed leaders four times since 2007, so why is it that Labor is ‘unfit to rule’? Hypocrisy!

3. Failure to balance the budget and the economy was bad. That means Labor is bad at being in power.

Julia Gillard put it plainly – “Our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity… and these in turn rely on the education of our people.”

Why are people so scared to be in debt? Most of the developed world is in debt. Heck, almost every student in higher education is in debt. Why is it such a problem for Australia? Robert Menzies, a previous Liberal Party Prime Minister, handed down 17 consecutive budget deficits, and yet when Labor chooses to invest in growth of our nation – to avoid the downfall of the global financial crisis, and to invest in the future of Australia on the global state (see ‘National Broadband Network’ and ‘Higher Education Funding’) – people seem to suddenly have a problem with the idea. We’re a ‘Triple A’ rated economy that has risen from being the 15th largest to being the 12th largest economy in the world within the reign of Labor. How is that evidence of a failure?

4. All the policies that the Labor Party has are amazing, and there’s nothing wrong with the party.

Wrong. No political party, or policy platform is perfect. The Monash ALP Club, alongside progressive institutions such as Labor for Refugees, and Young Labor Left, believe in being critical of policy decisions that have been made by the Labor Government.

Policies such as the change from a carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme, the “PNG Solution” to refugee migration, the $2.3 billion cuts to the higher education sector (known as the ‘Gonski Cuts’), and the recent cut to single parents payments have all been policies that have experienced backlash from individuals that are involved with the party, and members of the wider community.

If you care about these issues, there is still a place for you within the movement. The policies are constantly up for debate, and there is always room to build for change.

This time last year, marriage equality seemed like a far-fetched ideal within Australia, but due to the collective activism of the ‘Equal Love’ campaign, the outcry by members of the community, and through the internal lobbying by progressive politicians within the Labor Party caucus, we do not only have a Prime Minister that believes in marriage equality, but we have an election promise to bring it to a vote.

Julia Gillard once said, “I know reform is never easy. But I know reform is right.” She is on record as passing the most legislation per day than any other Prime Minister in Australia’s history, despite the leadership struggles, her gender, and having to negotiate every bill with Independents and Greens members. Anything is possible.

Because if you believe in change, if you believe in the power of people, and if you believe in yourself, it is achievable. Labor. We. Not me.

If you are interested in getting involved with Monash ALP Club, or have any questions about the Labor Party, feel free to email monashalpclub@gmail. com.

John Jordan

The author John Jordan

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