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

Lachlan Roberts 14 July 2019 43

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)

What’s Your opinion?


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43 Responses to
ACT’s progressive policies nationally popular and proven to work, research says
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michael quirk 2:53 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.

Grimm 9:49 am 15 Jul 19

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.

1:29 am 15 Jul 19

And a lot of these policies are only favoured by labor, the crazy greens and unhinged lefties. The majority of ratepayers are sick of these rate increases. Libs must win in, 2020 to get rid off these policies.

1:25 am 15 Jul 19

Will dudes why did labor lose?

HiddenDragon 5:54 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.

5:27 pm 14 Jul 19

The new bus system? We weren’t asked about the awful detail of that before it was imposed.

rationalobserver 4:50 pm 14 Jul 19

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

4:18 pm 14 Jul 19

Urban infill and ugly high rise ... progressive much ... ?? 🙄

    4:53 pm 14 Jul 19

    So your solution, ugly suburbs spreading all the way to Yass and Cooma?

    5:25 pm 14 Jul 19

    Julie Macklin no! Not at all. More attractive and environmentally friendly high rise is possible. We are setting the example on other issues, why not this too.

    6:14 pm 14 Jul 19

    ACT has always been progressive..,even when I lived there in the 50s - social housing in every street, preschools and primary schools in every suburb, shops and playing fields within walking distance, and semi-detached double storey housing in many suburbs saved on land - so green medium and high density housing should be possible as nowhere else!

    6:15 pm 14 Jul 19

    Julie Macklin buildings that become vertical forests, rather than visual pollution.

4:16 pm 14 Jul 19

Yet very few of you do anything about the absurd price gouging on fuel. You all believe the spin and hubris about transport costs and lack of competition.

3:43 pm 14 Jul 19

There is nothing progressive about the current state of the bus network.

    4:10 pm 14 Jul 19

    Colette Robinson yes public transport is dysfunctional but when you look at it I would not like to have to organise it. But most people really would prefer money spent on Stadiums than public transport...

    4:16 pm 14 Jul 19

    Trevor Watson I have no need for a stadium. I do need functional public transport though. Especially on weekends. In this weather.

    5:22 pm 14 Jul 19

    Where is the evidence to support the claim that "most people really would prefer money spent on Stadiums than public transport"? Has this question been asked in a public opinion survey? Is there a link to the survey results?

    10:34 am 15 Jul 19

    Trevor Watson By 'most people' I guess you mean you. I don't want any money spent on stadiums. And as for attending; difficult to think of anything more boring. I would prefer to go out somewhere bushwalking, cycling, etc and get some exercise myself. Or stay home and do gardening.

3:30 pm 14 Jul 19

What's a "progressive" policy?

3:10 pm 14 Jul 19

Tia Grayson Jerod Blyton Georgia Rossiter pill testing and trains ❤️

Clara 2:05 pm 14 Jul 19

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.

1:58 pm 14 Jul 19

Do the majority of Canberrans think the current system of under funded under staffed hospitals is a really good idea?

12:13 pm 14 Jul 19

Ask the people who live here.

11:56 am 14 Jul 19

Given the last Federal election result, I’d take any such research with a pinch of salt.

When push comes to shove people will vote for whatever meets their self-interest and ‘progressive’ policies will be a distant second.

    4:13 pm 14 Jul 19

    Gabriel Spacca of course they do. I think for a lot of Canberrans the situation is quite desperate and they are living payday to payday so if they can get an extra $10 thats who gets the vote. What they don't realise is that the $10 is quickly absorbed by increases in everything they have to buy...

    12:41 am 15 Jul 19

    Labor won every electorate in Canberra in 2019 and every polling booth bar 2 in 2019, so...

11:56 am 14 Jul 19

Is this the same majority that supported a change in government?

    12:26 pm 14 Jul 19

    Christopher Mawbey Canberra returned all its House of Reps seats to Canberra. And despite the hype the LNP only got a handful of extras seats nationally overall, so let's not swallow the News Limited fairy tale hook, line and sinker.

11:35 am 14 Jul 19

I agree with most of what we do here, just a shame that it makes everything so expensive for everyone

10:45 am 14 Jul 19

George do some travel mate, Canberra gets more things right than wrong. We are very quick to vocalise the negative and shy away from celebrating the positive things in society

10:16 am 14 Jul 19

What else would you expect when Canberra is a leftist haven full of elitist.

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