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Election Coverage – Week 3

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten and their respective teams were on the streets talking to people across the country again this week announcing a number of election policies and commitments each party will deliver on if elected come July 2.

With four weeks still to go until the Federal Election, one of the main focuses for the two major parties this week seemed to be on infrastructure, with the Opposition Leader announcing Labor’s $1 billion commitment to Perth’s METRONET rail network and the Prime Minister outlining a number of infrastructure projects for the Coalition, including a joint commitment with the NSW Government to deliver two major gateways for the Far South Coast and in addition a $2.5 billion commitment to their dams policy for Queensland.

The Greens priority this week was on domestic violence, with leader Richard Di Natale announcing a 10-year, $5 billion commitment to secure long-term funding for preventative and supportive services for this issue.

Please see below for an overview of these policies plus others announced by the each of the major parties and the Greens during week three of the election campaign.

Liberal

INFRASTRUCTURE

Gateways to the NSW South Coast 

Malcolm Turnbull jointly announced with the Baird State Government, the Coalition’s commitment to assist in the development of two major new gateways to the Far South Coast of NSW.  

The Coalition will commit $44 million to expand the Port of Eden which will enable the world’s largest cruise ships to dock on the NSW Far South Coast for the first time. This expansion will include $29 million of new funding from the State Government, this is in addition to the $3 million they have already committed, $2 million from the Bega Council and $10 million from the Federal Government; the project is expected to be completed by 2018. 

The second project announced was a $5.6 million upgrade of Merimbula Airport which will allow larger planes to regularly service the Far South Coast from interstate capitals and leverage new international flight routes from Canberra.  Work is expected to commence this year on the Airport upgrade, which comprises of $1.2 million from the Federal Government and $4.4 million from the State Government. 

The joint commitments aim to increase interstate and international tourism and trade and drive regional jobs and growth. 

Coalition begins rollout of $2.5 billion dams policy in Queensland

Malcolm Turnbull has announced the Coalition Government will deliver on their $2.5 billion commitment to building ‘the water infrastructure of the future’ by investing $150 million into fast tracking the feasibility assessment and construction of water infrastructure across Queensland.

$19.8 million will be allocated to fast-track 14 feasibility assessments and business case developments, $2 million will go towards funding the completion of the Rookwood Wei business case and up to $130 million or 50% of the construction costs will be contributed if the business case meets all the necessary requirements.

Media Release

HEALTH AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS 

Coalition plan to fight rare teen cancer

A re-elected Turnbull Government will invest $7 million towards a ‘Encouraging More Clinical Trails’ policy with the core pillar being to assist young Australians who are fighting rare and deadly cancers to have better access to potentially life-saving clinical trials.  

The policy aims to remove barriers for adolescents and young adult cancer patients in accessing clinical trials for anti-cancer therapies. 

Media Release 

The Coalition’s Policy to Develop Indigenous Business Opportunities

The Coalition will commit $115 million to an Indigenous Entrepreneurs Package with the aim to build the Indigenous business sector and create new employment opportunities across the country.

This package will consist of a $90 million Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund which will provide grants for new and existing businesses for infrastructure development; refocus $23.1 million Indigenous Business Development and Assistance Programme to support businesses to become sustainable and link them to indigenous Business Australia and commercial finance and $1.9 million for an Indigenous business sector strategy. This funding will also go towards building the Governments partnership with employers through the Employment Parity Initiative and building on the Indigenous Procurement Policy.  

Media Release

COMMUNITIES AND PARKS

$30 million to support local parks and environment 

Malcolm Turnbull and Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, announced this week the Coalition Government will deliver a $30 million funding package to support local parks and environments if re-elected in July. 

This package will include a $24 million towards the establishment of a new ‘Improving Your Local Parks and Environment Programme’, which will support local councils, community groups, environment groups and others to undertake revitalisation, maintenance, management and improvement works at local parks, nature reserves, rivers, coastal areas and community facilities. 

$1 million from this funding will go towards surf lifesavers and local beach clubs to support upgrades to cleaner outboard engines that have lower emissions and running costs. In addition, a $5 million Solar Communities programme will be established to help local community organisations go solar. 

Media Release

Coalition to deliver $2 million for purpose built athletics track for The Mornington Peninsula 

Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced a re-elected Coalition Government will invest $2 million for a new purpose built athletics tract for the Mornington Peninsula. The project will help deliver an International Association of Athletics Federation compliant and accredited athletics facility, assist in construction of a synthetic 400-metre circular track, facilities for all field athletic events, clubrooms, storage facilities, lighting and viewing facilities and create a safer standard of playing facilities for local children to train and compete on. 

Turnbull Government commits $60 million to Mobile Black Spot Programme 

A re-elected Turnbull Government will contribute $60 million to the Mobile Black Spot Programme which will provide additional handheld coverage to 68,600 square kilometres and new external antenna coverage to over 150,000 square kilometres. 

The funding will cover black spot locations that have not previously received funding under the Programme, as well as locations that have been overlooked by mobile network operators. This additional funding will bring the Coalitions contribution to this Programme to $220 million; the Programme has previously delivered 499 mobile base stations around the country in order to cover about half of the 6000 black sports nominated by the community. 

Media Release – Malcolm Turnbull and Fiona Nash. 

Labor

INFRASTRUCTURE

Labor will Build Perth METRONET

If elected, Labor will contribute $1 billion over six years to extend Perth’s rail network.  A Labor Government will work with the Western Australian Government on the ‘METRONET’ project to get the planning phase underway and submit a full business case to Infrastructure Australia. 

To fund this investment, Labor will not proceed with building the Perth Freight Link. The METRONET project’s main priorities include, building a Morley-Ellenbrook Line, extending the Northern Suburbs line to Yanchep, Extending the Armadale Line to Byford, commencing a Circle Line linking the Mandurah Line to the Thornily Line, building a new station at Karnup on the Mandurah Line and removing level crossings on the Midland, Armadale and Fremantle Lines. 

$45 million to reduce Wanner Road congestion 

Labor have committed $45 million worth of funding to two grade separation projects on one of Perth’s busiest commuter routes. This funding is in addition to the $1 billion already announced for the METRONET rail project, $80 million for the North Lake Bridge and $25 million for the Denny Avenue grade separation project. 

This funding will provide up to $22.5 million for the grade separation of Wanneroo Road and Ocean Reef Road and provide up to $22.5 million for the grade separation of Wanneroo Road and Joondalup Drive.

EDUCATION AND JOBS

Labor’s plan for Vocational Education 

If elected, Labor will develop a comprehensive National Priority Plan which will define the role of TAFE as a public provider within the VET sector and deliver on this plan by working with States and Territories to provide ongoing guaranteed TAFE funding. 

Labor will work with the states and territories to rebalance the contestable and non-contestable funding model to ensure it delivers the outcomes that are intended. 

Protecting Students and Restoring Integrity to VET FEE-HELP 

If elected, the Labor Government have committed to act immediately to:

1      Cap VET FEE-HELP loan amounts at $8,000 indexed to CPI;

2      Work with the sector to increase student success rates by ensuring funding mechanisms are changed by legislating to ensure that a proportion of the payments to providers are only paid if the provider reaches a progression benchmark;

3      Set national priorities on the distribution of VET FEE-HELP loans to help meet the skills needs of industry;

4      Crackdown on brokers by requiring all brokers, third party agents, recruiters and aggregators to be licensed by the Australian Skills Quality Authority; 

5      Ensure that only the highest quality colleges get access to funding. Labor will introduce a number of measures to ensure that only the highest quality of providers can access VET FEE-HELP and they will introduce a four-year time limit on provider status; and

6      Legislate to give the Department of Education and Training powers to suspend VET FEE-HELP payments to a provider for non-compliance with the Higher Education Support Act and VET guidelines, strengthen audit and information-gathering powers and take action against a provider subject ASQA compliance action. 

HEALTH

Labor’s Medicare Guarantee 

To protect Medicare, a Shorten Labor Government will deliver a three-part guarantee:

1      Abolish Malcolm Turnbull’s GP Tax by stealth 

2      Scrap Malcolm Turnbull’s $5 increase in prescription costs 

3      Legislate to ensure Medicare remains in the public hands. 

Dying Well: New Models of Palliative Care

A Labor Government will invest $35 million over four years to roll out new models of palliative care. 

$21.7 million of the funding will go towards establishing ‘Palliative Care at Home’ packages which will be administered by Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and will be funded to commission the services that Australians want to stay at home at the end of their lives. These services will include pain management, nursing services, and training support for carers.  This measure will begin in two PHNs in 2016-17, and expand to three PHNs from 2018-19. Labor will work to evaluate this initial stage implementation process and adapt the Palliative Care at Home model with a view to develop a plan for a national rollout. 

A further $9 million will be invested into rolling out a Proactive Palliative Care model over a four-year period. This model will fund specialist palliative care needs rounds in pilot sites and will partner with residential aged care facilities to promote palliative and end-of-life care.  Initially this package will be rolled out in two PHNs from 2016-17 and three PHNs from 2018-19; it will be evaluated and developed for a possible national rollout following this process. 

Labor will also commit $2.3 million over three years to allow Palliative Care Tasmania to continue its important work and $1 million over three years to improve paediatric palliative care support. 

INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes

Labor have committed $29 million over four years to ‘close the gap’ in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. A number of programs have been outlined in their strategy.

Labor will provide $5.5 million over four years to roll out the Deadly Choices program across Australia. This program is a school and community based chronic disease prevention and education initiative aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is an initiative of the Institute of Urban and Indigenous Health (IUIH). This program has been implemented across South East Queensland since 2011 with IUIH looking to lead the expansion across the country.

Labor have committed $295,000 to convene a National Taskforce on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney disease. The National Taskforce would be convened for a period of six months and would undertake community consultations and work with community-controlled health services, major hospitals, home dialysis training centres and other related support services.

$9.5 million will be invested by a Labor Government to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vision loss. Labor will deliver additional funding to increase visiting optometry services to address general eye health and also increase the funding for ophthalmology services to address specialist eye health care service delivery to Indigenous communities.

Labor Doubles Indigenous Rangers

A Labor Government will double the number of Indigenous rangers employed under the Working on Country Indigenous Ranger Program if elected. The program, established in 2007 to assist with training, jobs and careers paths for Indigenous Communities, currently employs 775 Indigenous people in communities across the country to perform many activities to support environmental and cultural conservation.

Labor’s commitment will see 1550 Indigenous rangers employed under the program by 2020-21.

Supporting a new generation of young Indigenous Leaders

A Shorten Government will invest $10.7 million in the AFL Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre’s full time Indigenous training facility.  This investment will build on the training and education of future Indigenous AFL stars, as well as allowing the centre to house 30 students at Year 9 level for intensive academic development.

This funding will provide for the construction of a new training facility at the centre where students will undertake traineeships in hospitality or trades.

Greens

Greens unveil plans for an innovation nation

The Australian Greens have unveiled their Innovation Policy to back startup enterprises, support STEM education and boost innovation funding. 

Senator Nick McKim announced in Melbourne this week, a $679.9 million investment over four years to increase Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics uptake in schools and universities.

The Greens Innovation Policy will move to appoint an Innovation Commissioner who will work with industry, universities, business, government agencies and Innovation and Science Australia to advance the innovation agenda. The Innovation Commissioner will also be responsible for developing a national Social Innovation Strategy. 

Greens announce $1.4 billion boost for Mental Health sector 

Greens Leader and former GP, Dr Richard Di Natale has outlined his party’s commitment of $1.4 million to the mental health sector which will focus on prevention and early diagnosis. 

The Greens policy includes an add-on $400 million for the Primary Health Networks’ (PHNs) flexible mental health funding pool, $280 million extra funding for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, maintaining funding for headspace and Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres and $280 million for rural mental health – including the development and implementation of a workforce plan and funding for step-up step-down support services and accommodation. 

Media Release 

Greens commit $5 billion in long-term, secure funding for Domestic Violence Services

The Greens have released their plan to commit $5 billion over ten years to provide long-term, secure funding for domestic violence services. The plan will be part of a comprehensive domestic violence services package which includes $500 million each year over ten years for specialist domestic violence services such as women’s shelters, crisis phone services and perpetrator programs. This package also includes a $60 million commitment to put safety first in family law.

Media Release

Greens announce reboot of Medicare for Chronic Disease

The Greens have announced their plan to reboot Medicare to better assist those dealing with chronic disease. 

The Plan, outlined by the Party’s Leader, Richard Di Natale, will involve the voluntary enrolment of one million patients with GPs to prepare a plan for the care and management of their health, with $1,000 per year being to be received by GP’s for each patient enrolled. These payments will be linked to standards and benchmarks for patient care in place of the current payment incentive systems. 

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