Labor urged to overturn political campaigners bill
Calls from wide sections of the community for the retrospective Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Bill 2021 to be repealed as soon as possible, has found strong support from Annerley Branch members.
In a resolution adopted at its February general meeting, the Branch expressed its opposition to the controversial legislation, which was rushed through Federal Parliament without detailed scrutiny and proper public consultation.
The resolution describes the adopted legislation as ‘seriously deficient’ as it significantly broadens the definition of ‘electoral expenditure’ and conflates the everyday work of many charities and community organisations with so called ‘political’ activity.
Opponents of the new laws believe they are a ‘concerted attack on charities, community organisations, our democracy, and the right to publicly advocate for positive change’ and urge Federal Labor to repeal them if they gain government this year. Many branch members, however, expressed deep concern that the Federal Labor Caucus supported the legislation as part of a so-called ‘tactical trade off’ with the Coalition, despite it being slightly watered down from its original form.
Flawed religious discrimination bill opposed
Although the controversial legislation was eventually pulled by the Morrison government, after failing to stop it being amended, Annerley Branch members recorded their strong opposition to it being passed by Parliament.
Describing the so called Religious Discrimination Bill as ‘an attempt to further divide the nation’, the Branch called on all Members of Parliament to oppose the ‘unnecessary and divisive legislation’.
Members saw the legislation as unfairly privileging religious people and organisations, enabling them to discriminate against others.
Although the Annerley Branch believes that everyone has the right to freedom of religion or belief, members also believe that those freedoms must cease if they come at the expense of eroding the human dignity and basic rights of others.
Specifically, the legislation as it was originally framed:
• caused unnecessary division, based on religious lines, throughout communities across the country.
• overrode existing state-based anti-discrimination laws – in a significant departure from the usual approach to federal anti-discrimination laws.
• elevated statements of religious belief above all other statements of belief.
• in empowering religious bodies to hire and fire based on particular interpretations of religious dogma, the legislation unfairly reduced employment opportunities for non-religious people – and even many religious people of the same denomination – in taxpayer-funded sectors of the employment market.
• allowed corporate organisations – for example, the extremist Australian Christian Lobby – to sue, despite anti-discrimination laws usually applying to individuals only.
Another motion regarding this issue has been tabled for further discussion at the March general meeting.
Climate change policy under scrutiny
Branch members recently examined Federal Labor’s climate change policy, noting how Queensland will play an important role in demonstrating the economic benefits of addressing the issue.
The February branch meeting discussed the content of the newly released ALP climate change policy, which is still a major issue for the forthcoming federal election.
The core elements of the policy include:
• Cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 43% on 2005 levels by 2030, and ensuring 50% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. Also included is a long-term target of ‘net zero greenhouse gas pollution’ by 2050.
• Upgrading the electricity grid to fix energy transmission and reduce power prices.
• Installing 400 community batteries across the country.
• Rolling out 85 solar banks around Australia to ensure more households can benefit from rooftop solar.
• Rolling out energy efficiency retrofits for federal government buildings.
• Implementing a low emissions vehicle target for the Commonwealth fleet of 75% of new purchases and leases of passenger vehicles by 2025.
• Entering into Electricity Power Purchase Agreements for low-carbon electricity following the conclusion of current contracts.
• Using carbon offsets to offset residual emissions.
• Improving the Safeguard Mechanism so emissions can be reduced gradually and predictably over time
• Allocating up to $3 billion from Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund to invest in green metals and other technology.
• Investing in 10,000 New Energy Apprentices and a New Energy Skills Program.
• Developing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy.
Members noted that although some conservation and environmental organisations had wanted Labor to be more ambitious, there has still been a very broad consensus, even from some business and mining groups, that Labor’s policy was ‘balanced’ and ‘achievable’.
Additional feedback from members about Labor’s climate change policy was that it was ‘realistic’, ‘a step in the right direction’ and something that Labor could work with and improve once it was in a position to implement its key tenets. Significantly, the policy focuses on the roll out of infrastructure, which meant jobs, especially in the regions – another important part of the package.
More information about Labor’s climate change policies is accessible at https://www.alp.org.au/policies/