By : Vish Viswanathan
When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for July 2 double dissolution poll on 8th of May and giving a 55-day election campaign period, the clock started ticking for all political parties and independents to prepare their list of goodies for the common man such as improved healthcare, superannuation, education, employment, transport etc. etc. Promises and Promises! There has not been one single day without promises by both the leading parties Liberal party led coalition and Australian Labor Party. According to Fairfax media reports such election promises by the two parties amount to $5.8 Billion with Labor leading Coalition by $1.2 Billion. However, it is important that the funding model and costings behind such promises to be made transparent before the important date – July 2.
The INDIAN TELEGRAPH asked five questions to both the main contenders leading the respective parties Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.
THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP, PRIME MINISTER
1. Why do you believe the Turnbull Government should be re-elected?
At this election, I am asking Australians to back the Coalition’s Plan for a Strong New Economy. We’ve always been a lucky country – but today, more than ever, in these times of both opportunity and challenge, we need to make our own luck. We do that with a clear vision and an economic plan every element of which will deliver stronger growth and more jobs for Australians. Our innovation and science plan brings more great Australian ideas to market, and prepares our children for the jobs of the future. Our defense industry plan creates thousands of new hi-tech jobs in advanced manufacturing right across Australia. Our export trade deals support farmers with better prices, tourism with more visitors and opens doors for our services and industries into the expanding Asian markets. Our tax cuts encourage small and medium business to invest and employ, and back hard working families to get ahead. A sustainable budget means we can provide guaranteed funding for health, education and infrastructure.
With your support, we can secure our future with our clear economic plan, and succeed as we have never done before.
2. What actions will be taken by you to control increasing cost of living and
improve housing affordability in big cities like Sydney?
The Coalition is committed to helping Australian families get ahead. To do this, the Turnbull Government is giving hard working Australians the ability to earn more without being taxed more. Middle income Australians are bearing a growing tax burden – without action, the average full time wage earner would face the second highest marginal tax rate this year and nearly half of all taxpayers would be in the top two brackets in ten years’ time. The Government will prevent average full time wage earners from moving into the second top tax bracket by increasing the 32.5 per cent tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000. This will stop around 500,000 taxpayers facing the 37 per cent marginal tax rate. This will reward hard working Australians for doing more overtime, picking up more shifts, taking a promotion or a better new job, without being penalized by paying more tax through the higher rate. This change also builds on the tax cuts provided to those on incomes of less than $80,000 to compensate for the carbon tax. By abolishing the carbon tax and keeping this tax relief, we delivered a genuine tax cut for those earning up to $80,000 a year. The Government is also helping families with the cost of child care. The Government’s more than $3 billion Jobs for Families child care package will make child care simpler, more affordable and more accessible for almost one million Australian families. As a result of these reforms, families with incomes of between $65,000 and $170,000 will be around $30 a week – or $1,500 a year – better off.
Under Labor, the cost of child care increased by over 50% in just 6 years. Our reforms will put downward pressure on child care costs. We will continue to support negative gearing in its current form. We oppose Labor’s new housing tax, which will limit negative gearing to new residential property, drive down house values and force rents to rise.
According to ATO data, it is middle-income Australians who benefit most from negative gearing. Around two thirds of those who use negative gearing for property investment have a taxable income of less than $80,000. The challenge of housing affordability is a very, very real one. We understand that. It has been created by a failure of previous governments, previous state Labor governments, to keep the supply of new housing up to meet demand. There is plenty of demand for housing but the supply response has not been enough. The Coalition’s cities policy, in very practical terms, is going to make it easier for supply to catch up with demand and the way you improve housing affordability is by increasing housing supply.
3. How multiculturalism will be further improved under your Government?
The Coalition acknowledges and supports the immeasurable contributions that
migrants have made and continue to make to Australia. Australia is the most successful multicultural nation in the world. This is something that every Australian be greatly proud of. Australia has settled more than 850,000 refugees since World War II. They and their offspring have helped make us what we are. We cannot imagine modern Australia without their contribution. We are focused on ensuring that our extraordinarily successful multicultural society continues to be successful. We make considerable investments in settlement services – teaching English and helping bridge what, for many, is a very difficult transition. If re-elected, we will continue to do so. We will continue to support migrants who have chosen Australia to raise their families and live peaceful, engaging lives.
I rejoice in the vibrant diversity of our migrant nation. And barely a day goes past when I don’t celebrate that we are the most successful and harmonious multicultural nation in the world. But we cannot be under any illusions about what our multicultural success is built upon.
The reason Australians welcome high levels of immigration – the highest since the
early post war period – is that we have confidence that our Government is in control
of our immigration program, deciding who can come here and ensuring that when they do they receive the support needed to integrate into Australian societies.
We can welcome 13,750 refugees a year – the world’s third largest permanent refugee resettlement program in proportionate terms – because our borders are secure. Strong borders are the foundation of our high-immigration multicultural success.
4. How does your government propose to benefit from growing numbers of skilled Indian community in Australia?
The Coalition strongly values the contribution the Indian community in Australia makes to our successful multicultural society. Indian Australians have contributed much to the economic, social and cultural life of Australia. The Indian community is renowned for its commitment to hard work, enterprise, community spirit and building strong families.
India is also at the forefront of Australia’s international partnerships. India is the fastest growing large economy in the world and has huge potential. Our economic relationship has grown strongly in recent years and, if re-elected, the Coalition will conclude an export trade agreement with India to drive jobs, investment and closer ties. The Australia-India CEO Forum enables businesses from both countries to engage directly on ways to build our trade and investment relationship and the Australia-India Council is working successfully to increase knowledge and understanding between our peoples and institutions. These connections are nurtured by India’s standing as Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and second-largest source of international students.
Australia and India share a commitment to respect for international law and international norms, democracy and fundamental human rights. The Turnbull and Modi governments are also working well together to build regional institutions and to deepen our defense dialogue.
5. Please list three priorities for Turnbull Government if elected on 2 July.
1. Delivering on the Coalition’s Plan for a Strong New Economy to drive jobs and growth.
2. Supporting small and medium family-owned businesses with tax cuts.
3. Keeping Australians safe and secure.
HON. BILL SHORTEN MP, Federal Leader of Opposition
1) Why do you believe Australia deserves a Labor Government?
Only Labor will put people first and stand up for middle and working class families.
Our message is clear – if you vote Labor, you’re voting to save Medicare, ensure every school across the country properly funded, stop $100,000 university degrees, prioritise renewable energy, build important infrastructure and create new jobs.
In stark contrast, Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are seriously out of touch. They are putting big business before every day Australians. A vote for Mr. Turnbull is a vote to give big business a $50 billion tax cut while cutting money from schools and hospitals in Australia.
2) What actions will be taken by Labor to control cost of living and improve housing affordability in big cities like Sydney?
Labor’s housing affordability plan will level the playing field so first home buyers can compete with property speculators. It will boost housing supply and create tens of thousands of new construction jobs.
Our plan will put the great Australian dream back within reach of working and middle-class Australians. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for jobs and it’s good for young families.
Any current investments – and any made before 1 July 2017 – will not be affected under our plan. Labor’s version of the great Australian dream is to see as many families as possible own their own home.
3) How multiculturalism will be further improved under your Government? 4) How does your government propose to benefit from growing numbers of skilled Indian community in Australia?
Diversity is our greatest strength. Australia is a vibrant multicultural nation that has been enriched by the contribution of migrants. We are one of the most diverse societies in the world.
This was no accident and has been the result of hard work. We cannot stop now. Promoting social cohesion and economic inclusion will see the multicultural dividend grow into the future.
The Indian community has played a big role in this success. A Shorten Labor Government will renew investment in Australian multiculturalism.
We’ll invest $28.3 million in new funding to help strengthen our multicultural communities and encourage greater participation and inclusiveness. It’s essential that we fight for equal opportunity for all Australians, regardless of where one’s from. This funding will help improve our cohesion, celebrate our diversity and make sure the most vulnerable within our community are supported. Labor knows how valuable migrants are to our social and economic fabric. We also know the ability to speak English is the single most important factor in getting a job. By funding migrant support properly in the short term, Australia will be better off over the long term. We need to improve our programs and policies to ensure new migrants have the support the need to successfully call Australia home.
An Office for Multicultural Affairs will be created in the Australian Public Service to help service these families, streamlining and improving future policy development.
For too long, support for new and established migrant communities has occurred without the right infrastructure. That’s why Labor will invest $11.3 million to fund capital works for settlement and community sector organizations.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government, in one of their first decisions in 2013, slashed the Building Multicultural Communities program. Even after letters of successful grants had been received by many organizations, overdue projects were snatched away at the last minute.
Labor will also invest in the people who support new and established migrant communities, with $7.5 million to help organizations equip their staff with better skills to get the jobs they want.
By listening and working together, we can ensure that all multicultural communities across our great nation continue to thrive.
Unlike the Liberal Party, the Labor Party values the contribution that immigration has made to this country and will continue to champion the benefits of a diverse multicultural Australia.
5) Please list three priorities for Labor Government if elected on 2 July?
Education — Every parent wants to make sure their child gets a great education. Only Labor will fund the Gonski reforms in full, giving every child every chance to succeed, no matter what their background. Labor will deliver needs-based funding to all schools, so every student can reach their potential.
Health — Only Labor will save Medicare and ensure all Australians have access to the care they need. Care that is determined by your Medicare card, and not your credit card.
Infrastructure — Labor will invest in nation building infrastructure – roads, rail and a first-rate National Broadband Network – creating more jobs, strengthening the economy and boosting future productivity
LiBERAL PARTY chooses iNDIAN origin CANDIDATE for chiefly
Seat of Chiefly – Candidate: Mohit Kumar
Mohit Kumar is excited, humbled and privileged to become the Liberal Candidate and to be part of PM Malcolm Turnbull’s team for this important election. Although proud of his Indian origin, Mohit Kumar does not feel any different to any other candidate.
If elected Mohit Kumar, will serve all the constituents equally. He believes he would be actually benefitting from his Indian heritage to understand and serve subcontinent community more effectively. If elected his priority will be “jobs, jobs and jobs” considering the high unemployment rate in Chiefly. He would “empower them with right tools and skills through Liberal Jobs (PATH) program to improve the rate of employment and hence the quality of life for the people.
Community endorses independent candidaTeS
Seat of Greenway – Independent Candidate: Avtar Singh Billu
In a surprise blow to the big parties, Avtar Singh Billu announced his candidacy as an Independent for Greenway two weeks ago to take on that very challenge. It wasn’t just a surprise to the parties, it came as a surprise in the community too as no-one held much idea that Billu had any interests in running for politics. There were the obvious reactions of why is he standing, why as an independent and what can be achieved.
The answers to which were given on 3 Jun, through an impromptu and hastily organised event at Bowman Hall in Blacktown. This power of networks was quickly realised when around 500 people from across Sub-Continent nations came with a common cause. To support Avtar Singh Billu.
Everyone from the first speaker to the last had similar concerns which were that community is fed up with the major parties scouring their votes during election time, taking their money through fundraisers and providing party candidates with a never ending supply of photo opportunities. After the election quickly forgetting their promises whether they get in to or left in opposition.
The major parties may hold on to the mantra that an independent cannot win and maybe that’s true; but the clear message of the day was – Independents can certainly help you lose!
Avtar Singh Billu is focussed on the communities not well represented so far with a non-English speaking background, commonly called CALD (Culturally & Linguistically Diverse).
The election issues Billu is focusing on are:
- CALD Representation: The Government of the day to give appropriate representation of CALD issues and not take CALD communities for granted.
- Bringing & Keeping Families Together– ensuring migration laws are more effective in keeping families together rather than force them apart.
- Employment: Small businesses are local and Australian, they create jobs that are within the reach of where people live. Government needs to invest more in small business.
- Environment: Saving and protecting the environment starts locally, everyone can do more and should be encourage to.
- Tax Fairness in Business: Big business and corporates continue to evade, avoid or just not pay tax, small businesses that employ local people pay through the nose at every turn. This needs to be addressed by Government. Government should also reimburse small business who at their own cost collect GST for the Government.
Seat of Parramatta – Independent Candidate: Mahesh Raj
- Bring “innovative technology” to make Parramatta a smart city
- Secure more funding for increased sports and recreational activities around Parra.
- Make Parramatta “all time safe”
- To support small businesses
- To make Parramatta as a culturally diverse hub
- To support adequate funding for education, health and aged care
Seat of Chiefly – Independent Candidate: Ammar Khan
The successful Indian subcontinent businessman Ammar Khan and a self-made millionaire has been a Mt Druitt resident for the past 28-years. He’s passionate about becoming a politician that will make a big difference to people’s lives, and the public office.
Mr. Khan said, “I plan to work tirelessly for my constituents to make a positive difference to their lives, make a positive difference to our region, and work in perfect harmony with NSW Government, local councils and other political parties.”
His goals include:
1. A ‘Chifley Committee’ comprising of community groups and political parties for planning and decision making on the vast range of his planned initiatives
2. An alliance of Federal-State-Local governments with the commercial sector for implementation of major projects in Chifley
3. Major upgrade of Mt Druitt Hospital, partly or fully funded by a new Mt Druitt Private Hospital and/or other private medical facilities
Mr. Khan says, “I am absolutely committed to transforming our electorate, with new housing, community facilities, and commercial development – all of which will be self-funded within our region under my detailed plans. My heartfelt goal is for Chifley to become an Economic Powerhouse for NSW and Australia”.