Independents targeting Labor voters

Apr 18, 2024
Elections in Australia. Hand voter holding ballot paper putting into the voting box at place election against the Australia flag background. Freedom democracy concept. Close-up photo.

The Teals have targeted Liberal voters in wealthy electorates, so their focus has been on transparency, women’s rights and the environment. These are issues of concern to the Liberal-leaning who are unhappy with many coalition policies. I expect this to continue in the next election. However, we need to focus on the strategy to adopt in Labor-leaning electorates for people who are unhappy with Labor policies.

This requires going back to the traditional Labor values which have been de-prioritised of late. Labor has become too afraid to give them priority due to the fear of losing an election when lobbyists and media criticise them if they do. It is therefore essential that Independents target Labor seats so these values can again be prioritised.

The key priorities relate to equity – a focus on the needs of the general population not on the growth desires of the elites. How they need to be addressed is very different to the unworkable compromises developed by the government, which has chosen approaches to try and satisfy all people a bit and therefore they satisfy none. Courage, and conviction about the best approach for the people, is what Independents can provide by listening to their constituents. For example a large proportion of the population supports Palestine but politicians mainly support the Israeli government as the party machines are afraid of going against the media and lobbyists.

A minority government forming a coalition with Teals and other Independents would be great. Julia Gillard and many European countries have implemented policies more aligned with the needs of the people due to being forced to operate outside party positions.

A few suggested policy positions for the Independents in Labor-leaning electorates are as follows. Priorities will need to be decided by Independent candidates in discussions with the local community:

  • An adequately funded collaborative housing policy agreed with states/territories/local governments whereby homelessness is eradicated. This would involve proper maintenance of government-owned rental properties and accommodation for disadvantaged groups. Currently a large amount is vastly sub-standard, or so poor it is kept empty. The priority should be for government to provide social housing, some community housing by NGOs, but not commercial housing by businesses.
  • Medicare should be greatly expanded to include both dental care and aged care. There should be no tax advantage for private health funds. As well as free nurse practitioner clinics which are great there should be free clinics for government employed GPs and dentists so as to reduce the commercial mega-companies running health care services. This community health approach still works well in the much-maligned NHS in the UK where I trained years ago.
  • Community aged care should be run, as in WA, by nurses who assess the need and then provide the services (home nursing, home help, home modification, links to other supports, etc). There is no need for an administrative top level. Health visitors in the UK, Europe and Africa, and Public Health Nurses in Canada, have been doing this for 70 years successfully. No more home care packages with the delays and limitations – just sort it out with the community nurses and provide adequate funds which would be much less than at present with so many businesses wanting to make a profit – all should be funded directly by the public purse. Regarding those who need institutional care (which should be greatly reduced with good home care), the aged care review showed that public aged care facilities were the best with some NGOs doing OK, but most for-profit ones were not well run. The focus on funding should be on public first with a few NGOs, and to end contracts for private facilities over time.
  • The Gonski Education recommendations should be implemented as planned so there is equity. And religious and other private schools should only get subsidy from the government to bring their funding up to the required level for the identified needs of their students – so if they get huge income from fees and building funds and Foundations they would not require any government funds at all. This is how most European school systems operate.
  • Tertiary Education should be more heavily subsidised by government so as to reduce the need for Institutions to focus on obtaining high fee-paying overseas students, some with limited English, who reduce the standards of some courses due to their inability to understand/contribute adequately. Ideally education should be free but a reduction in fees would be a first stage. A melding of University and TAFE for some courses (with some feed-in from schools) would allow for more Applied Courses, so students learn the theory but also learn the practical, so they are work-ready at the end. Currently at University only a few such as doctors, nurses, engineers, do practical work as part of their degrees – It should become the norm. In applying for a masters in community studies in Australia I had to have done 2 years of community work before being accepted. It was a great course with superb theoretical and practical discussions across disciplines, but later (luckily after I finished) the University cancelled the course as they said it was not theoretical enough – to obtain high ratings the university had to focus on theory !
  • Union membership should be encouraged so that workers’ concerns are considered by management. In earlier times Unions did wonderful work relating to OH&S, work hours, personal leave etc. In recent years the focus has been on pay which has resulted in some conflicts. Unions need to be encouraged to be more active in issues like working from home, having workers on management boards, having school and tertiary students having placements in workplaces, and in influencing environmental issues. This works well in Germany. The local member could work to get legislation to ensure Unions work much more in such areas, not just relating to pay.
  • Migration services should be just to fill needed shortfalls in skills, for family re-unions of close relatives, or for refugees. The practice of selecting highly qualified people from developing countries for further study and then allowing them to stay after the study should be ended. This is Immoral. In Afghanistan when I was Team Leader of the EU Technical Cooperation Program to the Ministry of Public Health I was asked to be on the selection team for the Australian postgraduate scholarship program. Each person selected signed a commitment to return for 2 years after their training to the Ministry. Australia allowed those who chose to stay to do so afterwards. Most of these students are trained through aid programs in country before being sent overseas, and are needed for the development of their countries. We should take refugees and train them here, not take the best already trained from developing countries.
  • The local member should encourage partnership between the people and government, private and community services. Encouragement to do things cooperatively for the community and not to expect government to provide all services is important. In rural areas if a tree comes down, people are out with chainsaws to move it off the road. In cities people tend to put in a request to Fix My Street. Similarly, years ago when I was at University in England when slums were in the city centre, I volunteered with Shelter to do up slum houses on Saturdays just behind the Uni. The family of about 20 moved out for the day. We took the coal out of the living room and put it undercover outside. We scraped the grease off the kitchen walls. We scrubbed, we filled the holes with plaster. We then wallpapered the ceiling and walls (too bad to paint) and painted the windows and doors. I became an expert wallpaperer. The mental health of the family improved greatly. Nowadays people donate to Shelter, and unskilled people do a working holiday to build houses in developing countries, when the money they spend to do that would be better spent training and employing locals to learn how to build houses. Doing practical things in our communities is so much better than donations, and living well is working cooperatively with others on needed tasks. Living well is not growth and making lots of money. The independent will need to work with the community to encourage engagement, not the complacency that over-servicing by business or government can provide. Money should be spent by government and business on essential services for equity not on increasing wealth of those with enough. Above and beyond “enough” we have to make our own future. Independents can assist get the right balance.

Share and Enjoy !

Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter
Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter


Thank you for subscribing!