[If you think it reasonable for candidates to answer questions from the public then please email the recalcitrants]
1) whitelaughter asked: Would you support abolishing self-government in the ACT? Please include a “yes” or “no” in your answer.
No, the Australian Greens support self-government in the ACT.
2) neanderthalsis asked: Do you support the proposed internet mandatory ISP filter and Data Recording Directive that record the browsing history of all internet connections?
The Australian Greens’ communications spokesperson Senator Scott Lundlam has been the Parliament’s most vocal opponent of the Government’s proposed mandatory ISP filter. Like the entire ICT sector, he considers that the filter will not achieve its stated objectives, but it will potentially cause problems with internet speeds and reliability, and it runs the risk of restricting freedom of information and expression beyond what is acceptable to much of our community.
The Greens’ policies on Media and Communications and Science and Technology support ‘network neutrality’ which Wikipedia defines as a principle that advocates no restrictions by either Internet Service Providers or governments on ‘content, sites, platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached and no restrictions on the modes of communication allowed’.
The Greens have proposed a more effective use for the $40.8 million the Government has budgeted for cyber safety – an approach involving PC-based filtering, further research into cyber safety risks, strengthened law enforcement, and net literacy education. You can read a recent media release on these issues here.
3) 54-11 asked: Comsuper and DFRDB pensions are indexed by the CPI rather than by a wage-based index. The former Government, with the full support of the then Labor Opposition, stopped using the CPI to index the Age Pension more than a decade ago because it was considered an unsuitable and unfair way to adjust pensions. As a politician, your super is indexed to the increase in Parliamentary salaries and allowances, which is far more generous than for anyone else. Do you support, and will you actually do something about, fair and equitable indexation of all pensions?
The Australian Greens are solidly behind the campaign by Commonwealth public servants and military personnel to have their superannuation pensions linked to wages rather than the consumer price index as is presently the case. Latest forecasts indicate wages growth in the next two years will be around 7.9%, compared with a projected consumer price index increase of 5.1%. Because the CPI measures inflation rather than the real cost of living, many retirees are now struggling as their pensions have not kept pace.
In contrast, both the age pension and veterans’ pensions are linked to the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE). Likewise, pensions enjoyed by politicians and federal judges regularly increase in line with the wages of their professions. So it is simply a matter of fairness that pensions of public servants and military personnel are also increased in line with wages.
The Government went to the last election with a promise to address the indexation issue but after commissioning the Matthews Review, it decided against any change. Earlier this year, Greens leader Bob Brown strongly urged the Government to reconsider its stance and will continue to push this issue strongly with the next elected Government.
In July this year, ACT Greens Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds issued a media release on the issue entitled Give Commonwealth and Defence Retirees a Fair Deal. Lin Hatfield Dodd’s leaflet on this issue is embedded at the end of this word document.
4) Thumper asked: What do you consider to be the maximum sustainable population for Australia and how do you intend to ensure that that this maximum is not breached whilst continuing to encourage immigrants as well as accepting genuine refugees?
Sustainability is a core concern in all areas of Greens policy, and this includes population. We do not support growth for growth’s sake; rather, we would like to see a deliberate approach to a sustainable population that takes into account our natural and built environment’s capacity to support us, the impact of population on our quality of life, and the full range of other relevant issues. This is a complex area that incorporates questions of how we live, how we are distributed across the country, our resource use, urban planning, service delivery, transport, and many other issues.
Australian Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, has called for an independent national inquiry into population to consider the full range of relevant issues in consultation with the Australian public and make recommendations for a national population policy. This would provide a platform for a more considered, transparent, apolitical approach.
Unfortunately, Senator Brown’s motion in the Senate in May 2010 seeking such an inquiry was opposed by both major parties. However, we remain committed to this approach.
I would also point out that the ACT Assembly’s Climate Change Committee, due to it being an item in the Labor-Greens ACT Parliamentary Agreement, are launching an inquiry into the ecological carrying capacity for the ACT and region, and I encourage you all to make submissions.
A media release from Senator Brown on the issue is available here and the Greens population policy can be found here. Note that until recently the Greens were the only political party with a comprehensive policy on population and related issues.
5) Primal asked: Why were you deemed the best candidate for your party in the seat you’re contesting?
The ACT Greens do their pre-selection process via postal-ballot.
6) Jivrashia asked: If a man says something, and the wife isn’t there to hear him, is he still wrong?
If a woman says something, and the partner isn’t there to hear her, is she still right?
7) colourful sydney racing identity asked: Did you prepare this response to RiotACT questions yourself or was it done by your party office?
A combined effort
8 ) p1 asked: Do you think that the Commonwealth Government should be able to overturn laws passed by the ACT?
No. People who live in Territories have just as much right as people who happen to live in states to self-determination on state-based issues. The ACT has the right to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to get married, just as people in the NT should be able to decide whether or not to accept a radioactive waste dump.
I believe the Commonwealth Government has far too many powers with respect to the ACT (and also the Northern Territory).
For example, unlike the original states which made up the Australian Federation, which must have a minimum of five members of the House of Representatives and twelve Senators each, there is no constitutionally guaranteed minimal level of representation in the Federal Parliament for the territories.
Under the Australian Constitution’s Section 122 the Commonwealth must determine the extent of representation in the territories as it sees fit (reference). I believe it is quite unjust that Tasmania, with a population of just over 500,000 has 12 senators and five lower house members, while the ACT with a population around 350,000 has only 2 lower house members and 2 senators.
In line with Australian Greens’ policies supporting proportional representation in the House of Representatives and local government, while our Senators are elected via a proportional voting system, I believe in the number of parliamentary seats allocated to the ACT should be in line our population. This would make the overturning of ACT laws by the Commonwealth much more difficult.
9) bd84 asked: What are the top priorities or projects for Canberra that you will be lobbying the new Government for?
If elected on Saturday I will take up a seat in the Senate as soon as the new government resumes, I would expect to ‘share a balance’ with fellow Greens senators and we will be strident in our efforts to addresses issues such as climate change, job security, compassionate and legal treatment for asylum seekers, indigenous equality, preventative healthcare and a better Medicare system, which includes cover for dental health, water use and protection of our remaining high value forests. Particular concerns of mine are decent welfare payments and adequate funding for mental health services and supports.
10) Pommy bastard asked: Witches on Mt Ainslie, should their freedom of expression be protected from interference by fundy nutsacks?
The Australian Greens support freedom of expression and the diversity of forms it may take, as well as supporting the right to protest.