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Election 2022: The state of play

18 May 2022 at 5:04 pm
Danielle Kutchel
To ensure you have the most informed view of this election, we give you a final run-through of the sector’s demands and how some of the candidates responded.

Danielle Kutchel | 18 May 2022 at 5:04 pm


Election 2022: The state of play
18 May 2022 at 5:04 pm

To ensure you have the most informed view of this election, we give you a final run-through of the sector’s demands and how some of the candidates responded.

The past six weeks have seen a flurry of announcements as politicians on all sides woo voters with promises and pledges to do more should they be rewarded with power over the country come 21 May.

We’ve been keeping track of all of those promises and have compiled those most relevant to the for-purpose sector in our handy election tracker, which you can find here.

Given the noise of the past few weeks we wanted to make it easy for you to see what the sector wants and how that stacks up against what’s been promised. Here, we cover your final policy pleas as well as what some of the candidates have committed to, should they gain your vote.

Sector announces its final demands

Pro Bono News sent comprehensive enquiries to the following MPs in the lead up to the election, putting your questions to them:

  • Michael Sukkar – Liberal, assistant treasurer and minister for housing and homelessness, social and community housing
  • Bill Shorten – Labor, shadow minister for the NDIS
  • Linda Reynolds – Liberal, minister for the NDIS
  • Angus Taylor – Liberal, minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction
  • Chris Bowen – Labor, shadow minister for climate change and energy
  • Jason Clare – Labor, shadow minister for housing and homelessness
  • Jordon Steele-John – Greens, spokesperson for disability rights and services
  • Mehreen Faruqi – Greens, spokesperson for housing

Only Faruqi and Steele-John have provided a response before deadline, and you can read their responses below. If you missed it earlier in the week, you can also catch up on our interviews with Dr Andrew Leigh, shadow minister for charities, and Senator Janet Rice, Greens spokesperson for the charity sector.

Over the past week, many of you have listed your final demands for whoever forms government. You can check how this aligns with what the parties have offered in our election tracker above.

Here are some of the things we’ve heard from you over the past week:

  • The Community Council for Australia (CCA) commissioned a pre-election survey of over 3,400 voters in the 20 most marginal electorates in the country, and found that 91 per cent thought charities were important to the community and the future. David Crosbie, CEO of the CCA, said the results showed that voters “expect their politicians to do more than pay lip service to supporting charities.” He said charities want a fair go from government – less political favouritism in grant programs, and inclusion in the making of important decisions for the country. CCA has called for a dedicated minister for charities in the next government to work with the sector. 
  • National Shelter has released its checklist of demands against promises made by the major parties. You can read it here.
  • ACOSS released a statement welcoming the Greens’ policy of lifting income support payments above the poverty line.
  • ACOSS also released a statement criticising the Liberal party’s super-for-housing policy, saying it joined “a long line of policies that inflate the cost of housing, making it less affordable for people on low and modest incomes”. Likewise, the organisation said the housing-for-super policy would “make it easier for wealthy older people to transfer their savings into superannuation to take advantage of generous tax concessions”. The organisation also does not support the Liberals’ proposal to exempt the proceeds of sale of a person’s home from the Age Pension income and assets tests for two years. Instead, ACOSS proposed a substantial investment in social housing, lifting of income support payments and doubling of Commonwealth Rent Assistance, removal of negative gearing concessions and halving of the capital gains tax concession to ease the housing crisis.
  • Diversity Council Australia asked both the Labor and Liberal parties a series of questions on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Find the responses on their website.
  • Anglicare Australia has called on the next government to address the cost of living crisis and the housing crisis.
  • Researchers at The Lowitja Institute say the Uluru Statement must be “core to the promises made by all parties” not just in the lead up to this election, but beyond it too.
  • Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) set out two proposals – both of which have been supported by the Greens this week – that will help ensure the safety of the disability community during climate-induced emergencies like the recent floods. The commitments are to refund QDN $2 million over two years to continue to operate its Targeted Outreach project, and a commitment to the development of a national plan and roadmap for disability-inclusive disaster preparedness, resilience, and recovery, as well as investment for multi-sector targeted responses.
  • The WA Children’s Policy Advisory Council has presented a list of demands to local candidates, including asking all parties to commit to implementing a National Child, Youth and Family Wellbeing Strategy; ensuring no child grows up in poverty; reforming national childcare funding to ensure universal access; developing a national workforce strategy for early education and care; funding more mental health services for young Australians in schools and communities; raising the age of criminal responsibility; and giving children and young people a voice in decisions that affect them. 
  • The Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed Labor’s funding for conservation work and threatened species on the Great Barrier Reef but said stronger environment laws and an independent regulator needed to be implemented in the next term of government.
  • People with Disability Australia have ranked candidates, including independents, on their commitment to the proposals made in its election platform.

“How do disabled people want their futures to look?”

Jordon Steele-John, a Greens senator and the party’s disability rights and services spokesperson, said the Morrison government has “repeatedly failed to ask” disabled people how they want their future to look.

“That’s the key point here, because the failures of the NDIS exist precisely because disabled people are having decisions made on our behalf by people who don’t and frankly can’t understand our needs or desires,” he said in a statement to Pro Bono News.

 “We want to be independent. We want to feel safe and secure. We want to be able to care for our children. We want to live our lives on our own terms.

 “That’s entirely possible under the NDIS. That was the vision behind the scheme in the first instance.”

While the Greens have announced various policies aimed at fixing the NDIS, including removing the staffing cap, removing the over-65 limit for acceptance into the scheme and ensuring staff receive the training they need to support participants, Steele-John said the party is also looking at the lives of disabled people outside the NDIS.

“Beyond the NDIS, we need to remove the physical and digital barriers that block disabled people’s full participation in society,” the senator said.

“That looks like establishing a new $3 billion Accessible Infrastructure Fund. It looks like implementing a 20 per cent quota for full disabled employee representation in the Australian Public Service by 2030. And it looks like creating more accessible housing and healthcare.”

Steele-John condemned the Coalition’s attempted introduction of independent assessments and ongoing plan cuts.

“It’s never been particularly good under the Morrison government, but we’ve seen the effects of these awful decisions get significantly worse over the past six or so months. My office has been inundated with people seeking help to get critical funding restored, or to get accepted onto the scheme in the first instance,” he said.

 “It’s difficult to put into words just how distressing it’s been to see the impacts of these heartless political decisions on individual people. The government is trying to gaslight disabled people into thinking our basic needs are unnecessary, extravagant luxuries.” 

Steele-John added that the Greens’ plan to increase funding to disability advocacy organisations to put disabled people in the driver’s seat of policy design would benefit Australians with disabilities by removing the ableist barriers they face.

“A home is a human right”

Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for housing, is unequivocal in her belief that “everyone deserves to have a roof over their head” and that housing should be viewed as just as essential as infrastructure like hospitals and roads.

During the campaign, the Greens unveiled a plan to build one million publicly-owned homes over 20 years. A similar, smaller plan in New Zealand failed – but Faruqi isn’t deterred.

“Australia is in a housing crisis. Big problems require big solutions. Our policy has the level of ambition needed to solve Australia’s current housing crisis and prevent rising inequality,” she said in a statement to Pro Bono News.

“We are confident that if Greens are elected into the balance of power we can push the next government to support this policy and provide housing based on people’s needs, not on the profits of the banks, property developers and speculators.”

Not only would the plan “slash public housing waiting lists and end homelessness”, but also put downward pressure on house and rental prices, she said. On rentals, the Greens have proposed that 125,000 of those one million homes would be universal access rentals, prioritised for essential workers and people at risk of housing insecurity.

“Homelessness has been viewed as an unfortunate inevitability rather than the result of policy choices that governments make,” Faruqi said.

“The federal government has continually underfunded homelessness services and fuelled the housing crisis that perpetuates homelessness. Schemes that benefit big banks and lenders, encourage risky lending and further inflate house prices will not do anything to solve housing insecurity.

“If the Greens hold the balance of power after the election, committing the Commonwealth to boosting our supply of affordable housing will be a priority,” she said.

The elephant in the rapidly heating room

In our pre-election poll, you told us you wanted to see more action taken to address the escalating climate crisis. Other polls, including the ABC’s Vote Compass, also show that voters more broadly want the same.

But despite the climate crisis being top of so many people’s minds, it has barely rated a mention in this campaign – except from the Greens.

Another issue that has received little attention is family violence. 

This week, the Fair Work Commission announced a provisional model of 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave for 2.6 million permanent employees. Each party has announced plans aimed at addressing the safety of women and children, but questions remain around whether they will go far enough to end the deadly crisis. The Vote for Safety website collates information around which candidates have committed to greater action in this area, as well as their track record in the past. Similarly, the Australian Gender Equality Council scored the parties on the actions they had committed to taking to address gender equality.

Other issues that have not been canvassed as well include the NDIS. During the election campaign, the Liberals did not release a specific NDIS policy. They did, however, commit to fully funding the NDIS in this year’s budget. Similarly, the Liberals did not respond with a like-for-like policy to Labor’s promise to double philanthropy by 2030. And neither of those two parties committed to raising the rate.

Regardless of who wins this weekend – or whenever we hear a result – Pro Bono News will continue to hold them to account. Using our tracker and with your support, we will measure progress on the stated campaign objectives of the winning party and make sure the sector continues to feature in their minds.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting.

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