12 July 2019

ACT's progressive policies nationally popular and proven to work, research says

| Lachlan Roberts
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The research said 71 per cent of Australians support the light rail network. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Following the large swing towards the Labor Party in the 2018 Victorian election, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that his state was the most progressive state in the nation, but it looks like Mr Andrews is wrong.

According to a recent study by the Australian Institute, a majority of Australians support some of the ACT’s most controversial policies, including pill testing and 100 per cent renewable energy.

The report, which was authored by researcher Bill Browne, showed that the ACT’s progressive policies are actually more popular than people might first expect.

The Canberra-based institute conducted polling last year to measure the nation’s views on 11 of the ACT’s most progressive policies, including the decriminalisation of cannabis, introducing an assisted dying scheme and construction of a light rail network.

Even though the ACT has been accused of being “cushioned from reality”, over 50 per cent of 1459 respondents supported the decriminalisation of cannabis, 57 per cent supported the move from stamp duty to a land-based method of taxation, while 58 per cent also supported the ACT’s pill testing policy.

The only policy that was not supported by a majority of Australians was the ACT Government’s ban on outdoor billboard advertising, with 46 per cent against the policy and only 30 per cent in favour.

Mr Browne said several successful policies have emerged from the “social laboratory” that is Canberra.

“The ACT proves that governments can implement innovative, controversial policies while involved in various power-sharing arrangements in the parliament,” Mr Browne said.

“New national polling shows that most Australians support these policies. Policymakers and politicians in other jurisdictions could learn from the success of these proven and popular policies.

“The success of these reforms shows that Governments can pursue bold, progressive policies – and be re-elected. Other state and territory governments should consider following the ACT’s example.”

The Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said that the ACT has implemented innovative policies that are politically controversial, but extremely popular with the Australian public.

“The ACT’s leadership means other governments now have a suite of popular, innovative policies that could be adopted in their own states and territories,” Mr Oquist said.

“In the wake of the recent Federal Election, reactionary analysis from some quarters has incorrectly said that the only way to win power in Australia is to abandon progressive ideals and opt instead for a small target strategy.

“Progressive governments and opposition parties across the country would do well to learn from the ACT, which has been successfully implementing progressive reforms, under a power-sharing government, for over a decade.”

The nation’s views on 11 of the ACT’s most progressive policies:

  • spending on programs to reduce youth crime and incarceration (88 per cent support, 6 per cent oppose)
  • 100 per cent renewable energy (78 per cent support, 14 per cent oppose)
  • legalising and regulating assisted dying for the terminally ill (76 per cent support, 14 per cent oppose)
  • building a light rail network (71 per cent support, 14 per cent oppose)
  • building public housing so it is spread out throughout all suburbs including new developments (69 per cent support, 20 per cent oppose)
  • exclusion zone around polling booths on election day, where people cannot hand out electoral material (67 per cent support, 18 per cent oppose)
  • allowing people at music festivals to test the contents of recreational drugs for poisonous substances (58 per cent support, 32 per cent oppose)
  • a public holiday for “Reconciliation Day” to share Indigenous cultures and history, and explore reconciliation in Australia (58 per cent support, 30 per cent oppose)
  • removing the tax on buying and selling houses – stamp duty – and replacing it with a progressive rates system (57 per cent support, 23 per cent oppose)
  • decriminalise cannabis for personal use (56 per cent support, 3 per cent oppose)
  • a ban on outdoor billboard advertising (30 per cent support, 46 per cent oppose)

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Here’s a progressive policy: stop relying on population growth to make the economy work. It’s not sustainable.

Honestly, i thought there has always been a ban on billboard advertising in the ACT, a rule imposed by the NCDC or it’s predecessor i think. Probably a standard condition of the leasehold land system. That’s why we see Pantechs parked on roadsides with advertising on them. And why would people even want billboard advertising?

What an odd question to put to people. Not what I’d call a progressive policy.

Capital Retro8:11 pm 18 Jul 19

Regarding the 100% renewable energy policy, how many slaughtered birds are going to allowed?


Comments please Mr Rattenbury?t

Honestly, i thought there has always been a ban on billboard advertising in the ACT, a rule imposed by the NCDC or it’s predecessor i think. Probably a standard condition of the leasehold land system. That’s why we see Pantechs parked on roadsides with advertising on them. And why would people even want billboard advertising?

What an odd question to put to people. Not what I’d call a progressive policy.

I support wind turbines. I live near the ones that supply Canberra. A gazillion more birds get killed exploring chimneys than get hit by blades.

Capital Retro3:33 pm 19 Jul 19

Do you know the difference between a billboard and a chimney?

michael quirk2:53 pm 15 Jul 19

The ACT electorate is not representative of the rest of the country.

The acceptance of progressive labor- green policies has been aided by a socially conservative opposition, who struggle to gain the middle ground regardless of the performance of the mediocre Barr-Rattenbury government.

It’s irresponsibility is demonstrated by the development of the light rail which has sucked funds from health, education and housing areas. A busway would have provided similar transport and city development benefits at a much lower cost.

Publishing anything from the Australia institute as if it isn’t heavily biased is pretty amusing.

These findings are pretty much completely the opposite to the opinions of the vast majority of people I know.

HiddenDragon5:54 pm 14 Jul 19

“Even though the ACT has been accused of being “cushioned from reality”…..”

Good luck to any other jurisdiction which tries to get away with a switch from stamp duty to land tax in the same way as the ACT. Without the benefit of the much higher average household incomes in the ACT, the baseball bats would be well and truly out.

rationalobserver4:50 pm 14 Jul 19

Was this survey limited to green party members?
It’s so far from what everyone I know thinks.

Capital Retro3:10 pm 14 Jul 19

“You know your mates – the water rorters, coal industry bribe takers and racist xenophobes. “

Thank goodness we have all those peace loving, ethically forthright trade unions to set an example that counters the actions of the other people you have named.

Our policy making is being done with our hands tied behind our back.

Section 122 of the Constitution allows the Parliament of Australia to override a territory law at any time.

Until the Constitution is amended to give territories the same rights as the states, I see no value in touting our progressive policies.

Before we pat ourselves on the back, we need to focus on getting equal rights under the Constitution.

Capital Retro8:41 am 14 Jul 19

In one section this survey says it was conducted exclusively in Canberra.

Elsewhere, it says this: “The Australia Institute conducted a national survey of 1,459 people 26 October and 6 November 2018, online through Research Now, with nationally representative samples by gender, age and state and territory. Results are shown only for larger states.
Voting crosstabs show voting intentions for the lower house. Those who were undecided were asked which way they were leaning; these leanings are included in voting intention crosstabs, but results are also shown separately for undecideds. “LNP” includes separate responses for Liberal and National. “Other” includes Centre Alliance, United Australia Party and Independent/Other.

Like everything else the AI does, it is about politics, left-leaning that is.

Or perhaps its because people vote on parties and not policies. Plenty of “leftie” policies have been very popular over the years. Original NBN and same sex marriage for example. If you actually list policies and don’t mention the party, many left wing policies are very popular because people tend to believe in doing the right thing in general. Its when you add money and tax and party politics to it, that it gets muddy and people tend to vote the other way.

Or because when you give people vague policies that look like they would do good or provide new “free” stuff without any notion of who would actually pay for it, people are generally predisposed to be supportive in polling.

Capital Retro8:02 am 15 Jul 19

The NDIS is a classic case. It has turned into a giant, unfunded rort.

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