- The Federal government is increasingly isolated from the challenges faced by ordinary Australians.
- The political class, including the media and bureaucracy, live in a “Canberra Bubble”.
- We propose a plan to burst the Canberra Bubble and bring about more transparency, accountability and efficiency to government.
The Canberra Bubble
The 'Canberra Bubble' isolates politicians and the bureaucracy. Australian Conservatives believe there is a better way, where principles are put before politics, and policies are more important than personalities. We must bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to government.
1. Stop Post Parliamentary Benefits
Benefits handed out to politicians after they leave parliament are not reflective of societal expectations and Australian Conservatives will stop any new payments for former politicians. Those who have qualified previously for Parliamentary Pensions will only be eligible to receive them upon reaching retirement age. Further, whilst recognising the status of the office of Prime Minister, a former Prime Minister must serve a minimum of four years in that position to be eligible for post-Parliamentary benefits.
2. Reform the rules on donations to political parties
Donations to political parties, candidates and associated political entities should only be made by individuals and capped at an annual amount. All contributions in excess of the disclosure threshold should be disclosed in ’real time’.
3. Disclose the costs of operating political offices
Australian Conservatives believe that every citizen should be able to see how politicians spend taxpayers’ money. All publicly funded expenditure incurred in supporting a parliamentarian whilst in office should be made publicly available in real time.
4. Public database of government spending
Australian Conservatives support introducing a publicly available, easily searchable database of spending across the whole of government as a means of improving transparency and accountability of public spending.
5. Support our Federation and system of Federalism
We will respect the division of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the States in order to improve the efficiency, decision-making and accountability of government and reduce waste.
6. Reform of Parliament
We support the introduction of term limits for all politicians and restoring the principal role of the Senate as the States’ house. Australian Conservatives support Senate reform including: having Senators sit in State instead of party blocks, having no Senators form part of executive government and constitutional reform to resolve deadlocks without recourse to a double dissolution election.
7. A Pay Freeze for Politicians and Senior Public Servants
Those who formulate and implement public policy must be held accountable for the outcomes of their policies and we will continue to push for a freeze on politicians’ and executive-level public servants’ pay until the budget returns to surplus.
- Australia needs a strong and capable defence force, free from political or cultural interference.
- We will build strong regional strategic alliances.
- We will ensure that our military veterans and their families are given the assistance and support they deserve, including with their transition back into civilian life.
Defence of Australia’s citizens
The primary aim of government is the safety and security of its citizens, of which a strong and capable Australian Defence Force is imperative. This requires a well-resourced defence force funded at 2% of GDP, with Australia’s national security as the primary focus of all spending decisions. We will pursue efficiencies to eliminate additional costs that were borne for short-term political expediency.
Similarly, the ADF must be allowed to do its job free from the constraints of political correctness and excessive social and cultural sensitivities. Australian Conservatives will guard against uniformed ADF personnel participating in political or social activism or decisions that compromise the effectiveness of front-line combat capability.
We will cease defence funding of gender re-assignment treatment or surgery and cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment unrelated to training or service injury.
Strong regional alliances
Australia needs to play a role in our region and we will forge strategic defence alliances with our regional partners and traditional allies.
We will strengthen our existing ties with New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States but will also look to develop closer ties with India, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Support and assistance for veterans and their families
Our combat veterans have been prepared to sacrifice their lives for our country, and this should be recognised in service and post-service support and assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and transition to civilian life.
Families of those wounded or lost in action must similarly be given the appropriate care and support to cope with the physical, financial and emotional challenges they face.
Economy, Budgets and tax
- The budget must be brought back into surplus.
- We advocate for limited, efficient and focussed government.
- Taxes and regulation should be as low and as simple as possible to stimulate growth in the economy, create jobs and generate prosperity.
- Tax bases should be broadened and the tax law streamlined to enable lower tax rates, less complexity and reduced accounting and legal costs.
Budgets to be brought back into surplus
Australia cannot continue to run deficit budgets and accrue inter-generational debt. We have a moral obligation to our children and their children to repay in excess of $500bn in debts generated since 2008. Australian Conservatives will reduce the spending and inefficiency of government to ensure that we repay existing debt.
We support bringing back the debt limit so that future Federal governments will require the permission of Parliament before incurring more debt.
Limited, more efficient, effective and accountable government
We believe in the constitutional separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. We also recognise and support the division of responsibility between the Commonwealth and the States.
Governments should spend taxpayer dollars wisely to minimise the size, scope and waste associated with government.
We commit to methodically reducing Federal government spending to less than 20% of GDP to pay off debt and reduce taxation.
By encouraging personal responsibility, mutual obligation and community spirit, we will reduce the underlying pressures on our burgeoning welfare budget.
We support zero-based budgeting across the forward estimates. This entails having every expense justified on a rolling basis every four years, based on demonstrable needs, costs and outcomes. To achieve this, we will undertake a line-by-line assessment of all government spending based on two guiding principles:
- If we were starting afresh, would we do this again?
- If so, are there any better and more efficient ways to do it?
To facilitate this approach, we propose sunset clauses for all legislated government programs, requiring them to be resubmitted to Parliament for appraisal and re-approval every four years.
Lower, simpler, fairer taxes and deregulation
Individuals are far better placed to decide how best to spend their own money than governments. Our economy will be far stronger and more responsive to changes in preferences and circumstances when taxation and regulation are as low and as efficient as possible.
We will streamline the taxation system and reduce the number of personal tax brackets. To support this, we will rationalise the number of tax offsets, rebates and deductions, as well as standardise them and limit their accessibility.
We will restore confidence and certainty in the superannuation system to ensure those who have worked hard to achieve financial self-sufficiency will not be disadvantaged by government decisions.
We will remove the tax-disparity between single income and dual income households with the same income levels.
We will streamline regulation by adopting a one-in, two-out approach to remove the red and green tape strangling business, investment and job creation. We support having an annual Regulation Repeal Day.
We support the removal of taxes and tariffs applying to new car imports, saving Australian motor vehicle purchasers over $1 billion a year.
We support the principle of 'royalties for regions' programs to improve regional roads and other infrastructure.
Benefits of tax reform
By reducing the number of special tax categories, concessions and deductions, the tax law can be simplified and dead-weight accounting and legal costs can fall.
The extra revenue raised from such streamlining can be used to lower tax rates for all. By reducing distortions from taxes imposed, and freeing up resources for more productive uses, we can strengthen our economy.
- Australian Conservatives believe in a ‘back to basics’ approach to education.
- We believe in the importance of reading, writing and maths as the foundation of learning.
- We need to unclutter our school curricula back to when student achievement was higher.
- We believe in the importance of children understanding the values of Western culture.
- Education is a state government responsibility and Australian Conservatives support limiting Federal funding to the provision of a universal student voucher system.
- We support the removal of all political indoctrination from the curriculum.
Back to basics approach
The early years of education should concentrate on the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. These are the foundations for a child’s learning career. We understand the value of unstructured, voluntary play, particularly outdoors, in developing healthy well-adjusted and resilient young people.
Secondary education should focus on developing a child’s fact-based knowledge, critical thinking and conceptual and analytical skills whilst preparing them for a productive adulthood.
Our children need their school curricula to be rationalised and de-cluttered back towards what they used to be when student achievement was higher. This could free up resources and school cost structures to invest in rewarding better teachers and performance, or lowering tuition fees.
Australian Conservatives support the return to tried and tested methods of teaching.
Australian Conservatives respect and acknowledge the importance of Western civilisation in the development of Australia and establishment of our civil society. Every Australian child must know what underpins our enviable way of life.
Exposure to Western literature, music and art is essential for any child growing up in Australia.
We want parents to have genuine choice in the school their children attend. We advocate a voucher system to increase competition, raise standards and give parents more say in their child’s education.
No more political indoctrination
Educational institutions are now used as a way to channel political propaganda on our children (such as the discredited ‘Safe Schools’ and ‘Respectful Relationships’ programs). We believe such indoctrination is wholly inappropriate for a school environment and are committed to their removal.
Universities must be made financially accountable for the educational outcomes they provide. They have an obligation to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to secure jobs in the field of their study. We support increased choice and competition in the higher education market.
We support vocational education programs that are successful in getting young people into jobs. We support changes to apprenticeship programs – including allowing industry to play a larger, more pivotal role in giving and tailoring courses at vocational institutions – to better align training with the needs of apprentices, their future careers, industry and the Australian economy.
We support treating apprentices and trainees as students and the principle of income supplementation whilst training to provide a supportive earning and learning environment.
- Australians deserve the most reliable and affordable energy in the world.
- With electricity generation, we are technology-agnostic but subsidy-averse.
- We support nuclear power and a nuclear fuel cycle industry.
- We support all forms of electricity generation and will provide them with legislative certainty and legal protection.
- We do not support any renewable energy targets.
- We will remove all taxpayer and cross subsidies to electricity generation.
- We will require all electricity supplied to the grid to be useable – that is, predictable and consistent in output (kWhrs) and synchronous (at the required 50 Hz range).
- We will allow market forces to provide the most efficient power generation available.
- We will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Australia should have the cheapest and most reliable electricity in the world. We have world-scale and world-class coal, gas and uranium reserves. Yet our electricity sector no longer reflects that.
Australian Conservatives are open to any form of electricity generation, and will provide legislative certainty for the ongoing use of fossil fuels. We will remove the barriers to building more dams for hydro-power and clear the way for nuclear power as well as a nuclear fuel cycle industry.
Australia should also have the cheapest and most reliable gas supply in the world.
We will support landholders’ rights to allow gas production on their properties, and to a reasonable return for that access and extraction, to help ensure there are sufficient quantities available for our domestic and export markets.
Renewable Energy and Climate Change
Australia produces less than 1.5% of global CO2 emissions. Even if our emissions were reduced to zero, it would make no perceptible difference to the climate.
Ideological obsessions with uneconomic renewable technologies to meet unrealistic emissions targets to prevent 'climate change' have made our energy unreliable and expensive. Targets and subsidies for renewable energy distort the market and disadvantage consumers. Australian Conservatives are open to renewable energy as an option for electricity generation but we oppose taxpayer and cross-subsidies to support it.
Australian Conservatives will scrap all taxpayer and cross-subsidies for electricity generation and allow market forces to determine the best outcomes for Australian consumers and business.
Foreign Affairs & Trade
- We will revisit all free trade agreements every ten years to ensure they are aligned with our national interest.
- We will initiate a reciprocal requirement in respect to foreign ownership of land and infrastructure.
- We will review all existing treaties including those with the United Nations and withdraw from agreements deemed no longer in the national interest.
- We uphold that free markets will generally deliver the best prices, range and quality for our consumers and the greatest access to new markets for our exporters.
- We will substantially reduce the level of foreign aid we give and improve its delivery method and effectiveness.
Free trade agreements
Australian Conservatives believe in freer markets and trade driven by healthy competition, innovation and entrepreneurship. The liberalisation of markets and trade benefits our export industries, consumers, business and productivity.
We will periodically review all trade agreements to ensure they are still operating in the national interest and delivering the benefits promised.
Foreign ownership of Australian assets
Australian Conservatives understand that we need foreign capital to help develop our vast natural resources and grow our economy.
We welcome commercial investment into Australia - however, strategic, non-commercial investments by foreign state-controlled entities or their associates are unlikely to be in our long-term interest, particularly where significant or strategic Australian assets are targeted.
We must not compromise the national interest or our long-term economic well-being for the foreign capital we need – there is always a balance to be struck between the economic benefits of foreign investment and our national interest.
We support the ‘ethic of reciprocity’ in our foreign investment and free trade agreements – where foreign investors are granted similar rights to what Australians are granted in their countries.
It makes little sense to ask the Australian people to endorse their government borrowing money to provide foreign aid, when there are so many pressing issues at home.
We recognise the need for regional aid to maintain the stability of Southeast Asia and Oceania, but our own population must come first, and we will not continue to provide foreign aid from government debt. Foreign aid will therefore only be approved where it is substantially in Australia’s strategic national interest or on compassionate grounds.
Australian Conservatives will review Australia’s involvement and funding of the United Nations. In recent decades, the UN has promoted a selective and highly politicised agenda which appears to be increasingly hostile to Western interests.
We will examine all our existing UN treaties and obligations to determine whether they are working in our national interest. Further, we will focus on bilateral and multilateral solutions to foreign issues, which continue to deliver far better and lasting results in contrast to the United Nations.
Immigration & Citizenship
- Immigration to Australia must be in our economic, social and cultural interest.
- Migrants should contribute to Australia and repay welfare through the tax system.
- We will withdraw from the UN Refugee Convention, and never resettle those who arrive here illegally.
- We will reform all classes of visas and the processes used to obtain them.
- Termination of permanent residency and changes to requirements for citizenship.
Immigration must provide a positive benefit to Australia’s economic, social and cultural interests. Current immigration levels are too high, putting pressure on services, infrastructure and family incomes. We will immediately halve our current net immigration intake which will result in our population and big cities growing at a more reasonable and manageable rate
Contribution to Australia
Migrants must be committed to making a positive contribution to Australia. Welfare payments will be limited in scope and duration to better encourage migrants to participate in our workforce, become a regular taxpayer and be self-sufficient. Those settled in Australia should contribute to our economy, not be welfare-dependent.
Refugees and illegal arrivals
We will withdraw from the UN Refugee Convention to allow Australia to determine its refugee intake free from external constraints.
Australian Conservatives support our world-leading offshore processing and illegal boat arrival turn-back policies. However, all determinations of visa applications will take place within Australia.
All visa applications from identified high-risk countries will take place within Australia.
The family reunion stream is misused and we will legislate that family members may only be brought to Australia if those members are declared at the time of the initial visa application.
We will also critically examine the student and temporary skills shortage visas to ensure they work in our national interest and are no longer open to misuse or abuse.
Termination of residency and changes to citizenship
Permanent residents will be subject to ongoing character tests, and permanent residency will be withdrawn in the event of significant criminal conduct, either within Australia or overseas. This includes going to unsanctioned conflicts as a ‘foreign fighter’ or actively co-operating with Australia’s enemies. Foreign-born dual nationals travelling to proscribed zones like Syria without prior approval will have their Australian passports revoked. Residency withdrawal will be extended to include family members who entered Australia under the same visa application as the individual concerned.
The residency requirement to obtain Australian citizenship will be extended to ten years. Applicants must have paid income tax (net of all government welfare) for at least seven of those ten years in order to qualify.
Law & Order
- The rule of law is a fundamental building block of civil society.
- Australian law should apply to all Australians, regardless of circumstances.
- We believe in a strong criminal justice system whose primary focus is community safety.
- Australia needs a realistic approach to the challenges of Islam.
Rule of Law
The rule of law is a pillar of Western civil society, including the key principles that:
- All Australians are subject to the same laws, system of justice and punishments
- No group of people is to be given special or preferential treatment, and
- Those accused are entitled to a fair trial and presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Australian Law applies to all
Every Australian is equal before the law and no other, parallel, legal systems should exist. Further, we believe that sharia law or tribal law must not exist alongside Australian law.
Strong criminal justice system
Australian Conservatives believe in a civil, respectful society, and that a strong criminal justice system is an essential part of that society.
We support an adequately-resourced police force focussed on targeting the criminal element, not law-abiding citizens. We oppose revenue-raising measures that governments force upon police that are not genuinely about improving community safety.
Our prisons must be focussed on community safety and preventing future crime.
Judicial sentencing must reflect community standards.
Children must be protected from sexual or serious physical or psychological abuse and, as such, the sex offender sentencing & monitoring, child protection and family law systems must all be overhauled and constantly reviewed to genuinely put the best interests of children first.
We support a public register of convicted child sex offenders to protect families and children.
Respecting property rights
Western societies, to remain democratic and prosperous, must maintain property rights that are clearly defined, respected and enforced. We oppose property rights being curtailed or usurped through red and green tape effects, and certainly without prompt, fair and just compensation.
Realistic approach to Islam
Islam poses increasingly significant challenges to Western democracies, and Australian Conservatives will engage in a rational, honest and realistic appraisal of Islam in Australia.
We do not consider Islamic (Sharia) law to be compatible with our democratic values, institutions and freedoms and do not support suspending Australia’s legal system to support Islamic practices.
National Broadcasting (ABC and SBS)
- Australian Conservatives recognise the importance of the National Broadcaster to many Australians, particularly those located in rural and remote communities.
- We also recognise that a diversified and financially sustainable media industry is important for all Australians.
- Australian Conservatives will merge the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
- We will require the new, merged broadcaster to strictly adhere to enhanced charter obligations of balance and a diversity of views.
- We will ensure that it puts a greater emphasis on rural and regional broadcasting and alleviating other important gaps in commercial media coverage.
Merge and reform
The media sector in Australia and around the world is undergoing significant disruption and national, taxpayer-funded broadcasting cannot be insulated from these changes.
Australian Conservatives will merge the ABC and SBS into a single, consolidated broadcaster saving taxpayers over $1 billion per year with the savings dedicated to debt reduction.
Greater focus on the bush
Australian Conservatives will give the consolidated broadcaster a greater rural and regional focus – to ensure that the few remaining gaps in the Australian media landscape, including providing critical information during natural disasters and emergencies, are well-covered.
We will reform the board arrangements and Charter of the current ABC and ensure that the consolidated broadcaster is truly impartial, unbiased and presents a diversity of views representative of the Australian nation.
Reduced scope and presence
Australian Conservatives will limit the consolidated broadcaster to two TV stations – covering news, current affairs, drama and entertainment.
We will limit the consolidated broadcaster to two radio stations available nationally with local and national content.
Further, Australian Conservatives will limit the provision of online services by the consolidated broadcaster to on-demand viewing of the local news, entertainment and current affairs programs produced by the broadcaster.
These changes will save taxpayers over $1 billion per annum which will be used to repay national debt. They will further strengthen the diversity of the media market by limiting the size, scope and reach of government funded broadcasting.
Society & Culture
- Australian Conservatives recognise our Judeo-Christian heritage and institutions and the achievements of Western culture.
- We believe in freedom of thought, expression and association and equality before the law.
- We have great pride in our country, flag, history and Constitution.
- Families and traditional marriage are the foundations of a prosperous and civil society.
- We extol self-sufficiency, resilience, individual responsibility and pride in performance.
Western culture, based on centuries of development and refinement, is the most successful democratic model for civil society. We believe that our Judeo-Christian heritage, our national identity, our institutions, legal and political systems, our arts, culture and history are things to be recognised and respected.
The West is under a significant threat from ideologies that seek to undermine our way of life. The gradual dismantling of Western culture in other areas of the world has left a vacuum into which alternate cultures have expanded and taken root. We will stand up for Australian values in the face of these threats, and will ensure that our heritage and way of life are strengthened and retained.
Freedom of expression and equality before the law
Freedom of speech and expression is one of the pillars of Western society, and the marketplace of ideas (where dissenting views are heard and argued against), must be protected and strengthened, not silenced or suppressed.
We will repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and similar laws that ban ‘offence’ and ‘insult’ as these terms are far too subjective and stifle free speech.
Australian Conservatives also believe in the fundamental principle of equality before the law. We reject ‘identity politics’ and believe that Australians should look to the many ties that bind us, and not be divided by ancestry, race, creed or gender.
We will abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission. Rather than defending or upholding key Western liberties, rights and freedoms of the individual, this institution has become an expensive agent for their undermining, suppression and destruction, often in the pursuit of identity politics and political correctness.
Pride in our country, flag and history
We are proud of who we are and commit to restoring pride in our country, flag, institutions and the Australian way of life. We will oppose moves to change ‘Australia Day’, war remembrance observances, our flag, Constitution and other civic celebrations.
Support for families
The traditional family is the foundation stone of civil society. We commit to supporting families by defending the traditional definition of marriage and easing the cost of living pressures on families through tax and transfer payments reform.
Self-sufficiency and pride of independence
We encourage all Australians to become self-sufficient and break the cycle of welfare dependency. We also encourage individual entrepreneurship and small business as a driver of the Australian economy and personal prosperity. These virtues are not only good for society and the individuals concerned, but they also free up government funds to help those in genuine need, or to lower taxes.