1 Victorian politics needs a thorough clean up
2 Melbourne’s population growth is out of control
3 Service delivery is riddled with excessive bureaucracy
4 Taxpayers are subsidising the private sector via Major Projects and PPPs
5 Transport infrastructure and services are in crisis
6 Public education is stuck in a one-size-fits-all model
7 There is a jobs crisis in many communities
8 The cost of housing is beyond the reach of ordinary people
9 The Department of Health & Human Services is a bureaucratic nightmare
10 Planning has been taken away from communities and favours developers
11 Action on the environment is too politicised and bureaucratic
12 The justice and corrections systems no longer hold the confidence of the public
1. Politics needs a thorough clean up. We need to make politicians more accountable and outlaw the abuse of government machinery for party political ends.
Both Labor and Liberal parties subject parliament to party political ends and abuse the political process through taxpayer funded political advertising and party political appointments to government posts. Both promise more transparency and disclosure in opposition, but do the opposite when in power. The pattern repeats itself, election after election.
1. Reducing the number of politicians in the lower house from 88 to 48.
2. Introducing a maximum tenure of 3 terms for MPs (then back to your day job).
3. Removing public funding for political parties and candidates to force them to rely on their members and community support – those without community support should not be propped up by taxpayers’ money.
4. Permiting only individual citizens – not companies or unions – to make donations to political parties, up to a yearly maximum of $10,000.
5. Establishing a unit within the Victorian Electoral Commission to conduct Citizens’ Jury processes on public matters referred to the Commission for adjudication including:
a. approval or rejection of government advertising to ensure it is free of party political content;
b. approval or rejection of party political appointments to government posts;
c. approval or rejection of remuneration and expense claims by politicians;
d. approval or rejection of improper use of electoral allowance claims;
e. approval or rejection of pork-barrelling claims in government expenditures.
In these processes, the VEC will select citizens by sortition (random selection) and train them to adjudicate on matters referred to the VEC for adjudication by either of two methods: a vote of either House of the Victorian Parliament, or public petition by a certain number of citizens. Decisions of Citizens Juries in these matters will be binding on the Government.
6. Introducing a ten year period before retiring ministers may engage in lobbying activities, prohibit all payment for access arrangements to ministers, prohibit the payment of success fees for lobbyists on the Victorian Lobbyists Register, and broaden the definition of lobbyist on the Lobbyists Register to include any company with more than 100 employees that engages in lobbying activities on its own behalf (retaining the current exemptions for not-for-profit organisations).
7. Introducing Senate style parliamentary committees into state parliament to make executive government more accountable.
8. Introducing an Independent speaker not aligned with the government of the day.
2. Melbourne’s population growth is out of control.
Both Labor and Liberal parties support high immigration. Politicians in Canberra want mass immigration because it allows them to claim they’re delivering economic growth. In reality, per capita wealth in Australia is declining, while urban congestion, the infrastructure deficit, and exclusion of low and middle income people from the housing market are on the rise.
The costs of dealing with urban congestion, strains on schools and hospitals, and investment in public infrastructure fall to state governments. Victorian taxpayers have born the brunt of this impact in recent years, since Melbourne is the preferred destination of immigrants coming to Australia. In the last financial year, 125,000 additional immigrants settled in Melbourne.
The impact of this rapid demographic change is huge. Business benefits from guaranteed growth in domestic demand, but the financial and social costs are disproportionately born by ordinary citizens. The gap between elite opinion and the experience of ordinary people opens the door for extremist views to gain a foothold. When politicians fail, it is up to ordinary citizens to restore common sense.
1. An inclusive public debate about the impact of high immigration on Melbourne’s population growth and its effects on housing, infrastructure, urban congestion, public services and social cohesion.
2. Establishing a twelve-month public inquiry into the factors driving the development of ethnically and linguistically-specific enclaves in Melbourne’s suburbs, and possible policy and social initiatives to encourage interaction across ethnic and cultural lines and social diversity in neighbourhoods and localities, to report to the Victorian Parliament by June 2020.
3. Introducing a Neighbourhood Cohesion Program of matched grants of up to $1,000 for street and neighbourhood-based initiatives which aim to foster interaction, friendships and language learning across ethnic and cultural lines. The Program would match contributions from citizens for expenses up to $1,000 for these initiatives, on an annual basis. Eligibility for grants would be restricted to unincorporated informal citizen initiatives.
3. Service delivery is riddled with excessive bureaucracy.
Getting government departments and agencies to focus on services to the end-user rather than their internal needs is very difficult. No-one knows how much of the taxpayers dollar goes into program administration and how much is allocated to front-line service delivery. Every incoming state government promises to reduce the state public service (excluding front line service staff such as teachers, nurses and police), and every state government ends up adding bureaucrats to the state payroll.
1. Requiring state government departments and agencies, and local governments to report annually to the State Ombudsman and disclose to the public the proportion of their revenue allocated to internal management and administration, and the proportion allocated to front line service delivery.
2. Establishing a legislated right for citizens to receive service entitlements in the form of an NDIS-style individualised funding method (direct payments, vouchers or individual packages) to introduce service accountability to the user of services in education, vocational training, child care, maternity care, aged care, chronic and mental illness, disability, social support, family services, homelessness services, and drug and alcohol services.
3. Commissioning a whole-of-government audit of service delivery to determine the extent of over-bureaucracy, waste of resources, and inefficiencies, to report to the parliament by 31 March 2020 with its findings.
4. Commissioning a parliamentary inquiry into political appointments throughout the state public service as a first step to de-politicising departments.
5. Introducing a self-funded insurance scheme for community organisations, environmental and sporting groups to enable public liability and other insurance cover with a significant reduction in cost and red-tape.
4. Taxpayers are subsidising the private sector through Major Projects and Public-Private Partnerships.
Both Labor and Liberal Governments have been obsessed with subsidising ‘Major Projects’ since the Kennett era. Both have failed to disclose the extent of their allocations of taxpayers’ money to benefit private sector developments. The Labor Party is in bi-partisan agreement with the Liberal Party in favouring Public-Private Partnerships for public investment.
1. Reviewing all public-private partnerships and publish the full cost to taxpayers of these arrangements.
2. Removing “commercial-in-confidence” clauses from all contracts involving taxpayers’ money.
3. Establishing specific-purpose Public Benefit Bonds to finance essential infrastructure, based on the model of Public Benefit Bonds introduced by the NSW Government in 2011.
4. Removing public subsidies from for-profit private sector projects such as the Motor Racing Grand Prix.
5. Returning to traditional fixed-price contracts in procuring government projects.
6. Placing a moratorium on taxpayer handouts to elite sporting events and facilities until waiting lists for essential services have been reduced to zero.
7. Removing all restrictions on the ability of small businesses to collectively tender for government contracts.
5. Transport infrastructure and services are in crisis, our roads are congested, and nothing connects with anything else.
Melbourne’s public transport system was designed a century ago, and has stagnated over many years. We have no public mechanism for investment in transport infrastructure, no integrated transport planning authority, no vision for linking our major private and public transport routes, and no plan for integrating public transport services. Subsidies continue to be handed out to privatised operators of trains and trams with no improvement in service quality.
1. Establishing an integrated transport planning authority which combines all planning powers for road and public transport infrastructure.
2. Issuing Melbourne Transport Investment Bonds as a government-backed Public Benefit Bond to investors, businesses, not-for-profits and individuals, offering financial returns which are linked to reductions in traffic congestion, reductions in carbon emissions and improvements in air quality in Melbourne.
3. Retaining the user pays principle for the construction of new road and tunnel infrastructure, and return to public financing and borrowing rather than private sector investors: “user pays for the cost, not for the profit”.
4. Transferring the licences of tram and train operators to local consortiums of consumers and small businesses, as they fall due.
5. Outsourcing the management and non-technical operations of Melbourne’s railway stations and tram depots to not-for-profit community organizations, to transform railway stations into community hubs and social centres, co-locating community hospitality, information and security services, and retail services in these hubs.
6. Re-instating the role of tram conductors as volunteer roles with a focus on assisting children, the frail and the aged, providing travel information to travellers, and monitoring security. Introduce a rail equivalent for trains.
7. Enabling not-for-profit community organizations to establish non-fixed route community transport services (on-demand small buses and multi-passenger taxi services) operating from railway station and tram depot hubs.
8. Abolishing fees for acquisition of taxi licences to enable local governments and not-for-profit community organizations to operate taxi services in their localities.
6. Public education remains stuck in a century old model of one-size-fits-all schooling, while increasing numbers of state school teachers and administrators vote with their feet and send their own children to private schools.
Victoria’s primary, secondary and special education schools require major change to meet the needs of students, the expectations of parents, and the aspirations of conscientious teachers.
1. Establishing a Schools Information Service, independent of the Department of Education and Training, to provide comparative data to parents on school cultures, programs and student supports.
2. Legislating to entitle every child and student to a portable online Individual Learning Plan that will be accepted by schools, teachers and specialist practitioners across Victoria and across different types of schools as an ongoing learning tool for the design and management of each student’s learning.
3. Legislating to entitle every parent to negotiate with and enter into an agreement with schools and other education providers to govern the educational philosophy, culture and pedagogy that best fits their child’s learning.
4. Allowing every parent take their school funding allocation for their child in the form of an NDIS-style Student Funding Allocation (SFA) with a weighting for educational and socio-economic disadvantage, rural and remote location, and disability or developmental challenges, so that parents may use their SFA as leverage in selecting an appropriate school for their unique child and in negotiating with schools and other education providers for individually-tailored learning plans.
5. Giving every parent a right to receive an annual financial report from their school on how their Student Funding Allocation is spent.
6. Trialling in 20 public schools around Victoria a program whereby schools may voluntarily transfer their educational leadership and management to non-government not-for-profit entities (foundations, community organizations, teacher co-operatives, parent entities) to fast-track changes in school culture.
7. Establishing fifteen specialist schools around Victoria for children with social and behavioural difficulties as centres which provide intensive personalized support with the aim of returning each child to the mainstream system when they are able to resume mainstream participation.
7. There is a jobs crisis in many communities.
Victoria faces a steady decline in manufacturing employment which neither Labor nor Liberal can stem. Instead of equipping individuals and communities with the capacity to rebuild employment, both Labor and Liberal offer handouts of taxpayers’ money to the corporate sector to preserve short-term jobs without a long-term strategy.
1. Abolishing payroll tax by replacing it with adjustments to land tax to shift the tax burden from employment to location-based value.
2. Abolishing stamp duty for social enterprises to purchase new housing for home ownership schemes for low-income and disadvantaged people.
3. Establishing Regional Investment Bonds as public investment government-guaranteed investment funds in four high unemployment regions (Geelong, the Western Suburbs, the Northern Suburbs and the Latrobe Valley) to harness investments from individuals, businesses and institutions for regional investment.
4. Facilitating the creation of Mutual Self-Employment Teams of unemployed and under-employed people in selected localities to develop alternatives to the ineffectual employment services system, whereby unemployed and under-employed people may collectively receive and allocate the dollar value of state and commonwealth employment services and training resources, business development resources, and enterprise facilitation expertise, in developing mutual self-employment ventures.
8. The cost of housing is beyond the reach of ordinary people.
Victorian housing is in a bubble. A combination of loose credit, artificial land scarcity and immigration-driven demand has blown out the differential between household income and property prices. Housing is too expensive. First home purchases are at historic lows.
1. Outlawing the practice of ‘land banking’ by developers (releasing small tracts of land each year of available holdings to inflate prices).
2. Abolishing stamp duty for blocks in new subdivisions including their subsequent transfers and abolish the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution, and introduce the Henry Land Tax reforms (land tax will be charged on a per square meter basis, introduced on a revenue neutral basis).
3. Allowing new estates the option of using the “Texan Model” for infrastructure provision, which enable repayment of infrastructure costs over a 30 year period instead of an upfront payment.
4. Introducing a levy of $100 per bedroom per week vacancy charge on properties not used as primary residences and left vacant for a total of void periods longer than 6 weeks per annum.
5. Tasking the State Revenue Office with enforcement of Federal Foreign Investment Review Board regulations which prohibit non-resident foreign persons from buying established dwellings as investment properties or as homes.
6. Establishing a market in social housing to encourage private investment in social housing provision.
7. Introducing a self-funded builders insurance scheme to protect builders from financial volatility.
9. The Department of Health & Human Services is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Users of services and their families in the health, disability, ageing and community care systems face fragmented services and a plethora of disconnected providers and institutions. No part of the system assumes responsibility for its overall effectiveness or responsiveness to consumers. Governments of both persuasions have for years been captive to service providers with vested interests, and have put off the challenge of integrating care in the interests of the service user.
1. Closing the Department of Human Services by 31 December 2018 and replace it with a new Department committed to person and consumer-centred care, de-institutionalised service provision, and integrated, holistic solutions to disadvantage and adversity. Its commission will be to:
a. integrate care systems across health, disability, ageing, mental health and community services with an emphasis on early intervention, preventative care, and continuity of care;
b. introduce system-wide consumer-centred information systems;
c. introduce a wide range of supported accommodation and independent living options for people requiring care; and
d. include families, friends and social supports in the building of lifelong care strategies.
2. Introducing NDIS-style individual care packages in chronic illness, maternity care, aged care, drug and alcohol services, employment services and homelessness services, and re-establish support packages in mental health for those deemed ineligible for NDIS.
3. Converting 50% of public funding for hospitals into NDIS-style packages for consumers with chronic and mental illnesses (diabetes, heart disease, dementia, lung cancer, obesity) so that consumers and their families can acquire the means and capacity to direct their illness management and prevent hospitalisation.
4. Redesigning the child protection and domestic violence systems to place an emphasis on early prevention, the repair of relationships, and the building of peer and community supports for at-risk and risk-of-offending individuals.
5. Shifting the focus in alcohol and drug intervention to intensive support and rehabilitation for legal and illicit drug users with then aim of leading the user towards a drug-free life.
6. Introducing an Advocacy Voucher for each user of services in health and community services to take to the advocate of their choice to represent their interests, and end the public funding of provider and professional industry bodies in health and community services.
7. Establishing a Human Services Ombudsman, independent of departments, to act on behalf of consumers with grievances.
10. Planning has been taken away from communities and favours developers.
Neither Labor nor Liberal have been able to curtail the power of developers in shaping urban planning and increasing costs of living for residents. A fairer and more mandatory set of planning regulations is needed which removes discretionary loopholes that favour developers. The cost of planning disputes at Councils and VCAT is unfairly born by home-buyers and taxpayers who subsidise the costs of developers.
Inappropriate high density developments have been forced on many communities. Urban consolidation is not a solution to Melbourne’s continuing sprawl, and is ruining many of our suburbs and neighbourhoods and depriving many new communities of the traditional Australian delight in space, a garden and a backyard.
1. Returning planning powers to local communities.
2. Legislating more effectively for a fairer, less complex and more mandatory set of planning regulations which mandate better design for urban consolidation (including green open space) and which eliminate the present discretionary loopholes that encourage developers to argue about the degree of applicability of every policy.
3. ReformingVCAT to ensure it makes decisions only on matters of law and does not overturn local planning decisions.
4. Introducing user-pay principles in conducting planning disputes and remove tax-deductibility for developer expenses so as to remove unfair taxpayer subsidies for developers in dispute processes.
5. Repealing uniform state-wide bans on building homes on rural blocks smaller than 40 acres.
11. Action on the environment is too politicised and bureaucratic.
Environmental protection, energy pricing, resource sustainability, and responses to climate change have become highly politicised and ideological issues, rather than issues that demand practical solutions. Neither Labor nor Liberal have been able to drive effective transitions on energy use and carbon emissions. Both place their faith in top-down government regulation rather than community-based innovations in sustainable living and working.
1. Creating a level playing field in energy and resource industries by removing concessions and subsidies in energy, extraction and resource industries.
2. Transferring the licences of energy retailers to competing local consortiums of consumers and small businesses as they fall due to drive downward pressure on energy prices.
3. Removing regulatory obstacles to communities and households developing decentralised energy generation systems and selling energy back to the grid.
4. Removing regulatory obstacles to communities and households developing water harvesting, reuse and recycling systems aimed at reducing water consumption.
12. The justice and corrections systems no longer hold the confidence of the public.
Neither side of politics has been able to reform the justice system or lead a rational public debate about crime prevention, justice and sentencing. Evidence-based approaches to reducing the level of crime in society, reducing the numbers of people in prison, and enhancing community safety have been ignored by both sides. The costs of accessing the justice system remain prohibitive for ordinary people.
1. Leading an inclusive public debate based on international evidence about justice reform.
2. Reducing the overall numbers of people in prison by introducing set minimum terms for high-level violent offences, more community settings for low-level non-violent offences, and diversion of mentally ill and autism-related offenders to non-prison specialist support settings.
3. Cutting the recidivism rates by overhauling the post-prison release process to strengthen ex-offender employment, social and personal support.
4. Establishing a new high security 300 bed specialist facility for offenders who are people with mental illnesses for intensive treatment and rehabilitation.
5. Introducing best-practice innovations in restorative justice to introduce elements of public restitution to victims by offenders, and the reestablishment of appropriate social relationships with offenders as the primary consideration in sentencing for low-level non-violent offenders.
6. Abolishing the costs associated with lodging civil actions in the courts, abolish the technical rules of evidence in civil matters, and prohibit lawyers from representing parties in these matters.
7. Legislating to expand the fields in which facilitated mediation opportunities are mandated as a pre-requisite to court proceedings.
8. Limiting overnight opening hours of alcohol retail outlets.
9. Examining areas where public risk and liability may be quarantined from litigation to limit the costs of public liability and its exploitation by litigants in favour of a more balanced public culture of risk and responsibility.