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The most recent Newspoll conducted for The Australian this week revealed that support for minor parties and independents had jumped three points over the past fortnight to 15 per cent, bringing it to its highest level for this group during a formal election campaign.

The results also showed a rise for the Coalition in the two-party preferred standings, bringing them even with the ALP on 50 percent while both major party leaders saw another drop in their personal satisfaction ratings. 

 Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.39.59 PM

Credit: Newspoll and The Australian

In other news, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten released the ALP’s 10-year economic plan which will see the budget worsen in the short term but return to surplus by 2020-21 – the same timeframe as the Coalition outlined in their 2016-17 Budget.  Also released this week, was the Coalition’s Mid-Campaign Report.

Today, Bill Shorten was joined by Opposition Treasurer Chris Bowen and Finance spokesperson Tony Burke to announce cost-cutting measures Labor plans to use to balance the budget.  Mr Bowen said the ALP will be announcing 11 cost saving measures including the following:

  • From July 1, 2017, the private health insurance rebate will not be available for health insurance which covers natural therapy. This is said to produce savings of $180 million over the forward estimates and $704 million over the next 10 years.
  • An elected Labor Government will continue the threshold freeze for private health insurance rebates for a further five years from 2021 – 26.  This measure is expected to save $6.1 billion over the next decade.
  • A reduction in the Family Tax Benefit A supplement by 50 per cent for families earning over $100,000 with an estimated saving of $2.1 billion over the next 10 years.

Mr Bowen did not announce all 11 cost saving measurers during this announcement however is expected to do so over the coming days and weeks in the lead up to the Election on July 2.

A number of key policy announcements and commitments by the ALP, Coalition and The Greens was announced during week four and five of the election campaign, an overview of these announcements can be found below.  

(The Australian’s Newspoll: One in four voters may spurn voting for major parties, can be found here).

Key Policy Announcements and Commitments

Labor Party

Keeping Super Fair

An elected Shorten Government will act on the following commitments in a bid to ‘keep super fair’:

  1. Reform the tax exemption for earning on superannuation balances that exceed $1.5 million, which would reduce the tax-free concession available to people with annual superannuation incomes from earnings of more than $75,000. Those earning above the $75,000 threshold will incur the same concessional rate of 15 per cent that applies to earnings in the accumulation phase.
  2. Reduce the Higher Income Superannuation Charge (HISC) threshold from $300,000 to $250,000.

More apprenticeships means more good jobs and real skills

Labor will introduce a plan to book apprenticeships across the country if elected on July 2; part of this plan will see one in 10 jobs on Labor’s priority infrastructure projects filled by apprentices.  They will work with the States and Territories and industry to develop procurement rules for apprentices that will apply to all infrastructure, construction and defence projects with capital expenditure over $10 million. 

Labor will also establish an Apprenticeships Connect search portal which will allow young people who are considering doing an apprenticeship search for training and job opportunities near them and connect with Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Providers.

They will also establish a dedicated Apprentice Advocate to work on important issues like quality of training, portable skills, retention and completion rates for apprentices across the country.

Addressing the child care squeeze

To address the growing issue of child care waiting lists, an elected Labor Government will invest $100 million over three years from 2017-18 to increase services in areas of very high demand with priority to be given to community and not-for profit services which would otherwise not be able to expand.

They will also commit $63.2 million over three years from 2017-18 to establish or expand up to 1,200 Outside School Hours Care Services. This will see grants of up to $50,000 be made available to those centres in high demand areas.

Labor will deliver fairer and faster child care help

An elected Labor Government will introduce a package to support and deliver child care services which are more affordable for the average Australian family. This package will include an increase of 15% to the Child Care Benefit and an increase to the annual cap on the Child Care Rebate from $7,500 to $10,000 per child.

Labor’s plan will also include an investment of $50 million to support improvements to the Family Day Care System; an increase of 15 per cent to support children in Budget Base Funded services, and $150 million towards developing the early education workforce, which will include the development of a new Early Years’ Workforce Strategy and the establishment of a nation Educator Professional Development Program.

Labor will axe the Liberals’ Baby Bonus payment of $1.2 billion over the next ten years.

Labor’s plan for a more creative Australia

To restore the arts and creative industries in Australia; an elected Labor Government will:

  • re-establish the Australia Council for the Arts by restoring the Australia Council’s ability to make independent funding decisions, redirect money from the Liberal Governments Catalyst funding scheme to the Council and provide $20 million a year worth of new funding over four years from 2017;
  • invest in local drama by providing $60 million for the ABC to produce local drama;
  • grow regional creative industries by increasing the Regional Arts Fund by $8 million over four years and increasing employment and professional development opportunities for regional and remote artists;
  • strengthen live music with a $5.4 million investment into the contemporary live music industry; and
  • boost music in schools with a $2 million a year investment to expand school music programs and $350,000 a year to continue the SongMakers program beyond 2017;

Labor’s plan for Tasmanian tourism jobs

Labor will establish a $44 million Tasmania Tourism Infrastructure Fund to support the tourism industry and create local jobs. Grants will be made available under the fund with the first four announced by Labor leader Bill Shorten during the election campaign as:

  • $1.275 million towards completion of the Burnie Waterfront Masterplan through development of a coastal promenade and shared pathway;
  • $4 million for the last stage of the Three Capes Walk;
  • $10 million to transform ex-HMAS Tobruk into a drive wreck off Tasmania’s north-east coast; and
  • $15 million for Cradle Mountain amenities upgrade.

Funding for this fund will come from the axing of the Liberal Party’s baby bonus scheme, capping VET-FEE Help loans and not proceeding with the tax cut for multinational companies.

Labor’s plan for community renewable energy

Labor will commit $98.7 million towards their plan for Community Renewable Energy. This funding will go towards the development of a Community Power Network that will deal with the challenges of implementing renewable energy solutions in social and community housing, rental properties and apartment-style living.  The Network will oversee the creation of up to ten Community Power Hubs in the areas of most need which will work in communities to support the development of local projects to address local barriers.

Liberal Party

Supporting jobs and growth through the NDIS

The Coalition Government will invest $34 million towards a range of projects through the Sector Development Fund to support the transition to the NDIS if re-elected in July.  This package will provide support for businesses and workers to grow and develop with the NDIS over 2016-17 and 2017-18 and will include $15 million for a Sector Transition Support Programme, $10 million for a NDIS Regional Coordinator Initiative, $5 million towards an Innovative Workforce Fund, $2 million for a NDIS Worker Orientation Project and $2 million for an Allied Health Placements and Training Project.

$4 million commitment for new sporting facilities in Higgins

The Coalition Government will commit $4 million towards the development of a new multi-purpose sporting facility in Higgins. This funding will go towards the establishment of new netball courts that can be used for basketball, futsal, volleyball and soccer, and will encourage more female participation in sport.

$5 million to help local recovery efforts for threatened species

A re-elected Coalition Government will establish a $5 million Threatened Species Recovery Fund to support local communities in protecting Australia’s vulnerable wildlife. 

The Fund will provide seed money and community grants for local projects that align with Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy.

Coalitions plan for access to affordable diagnostic imaging for all Australians

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced a re-elected Turnbull Government will immediately commission an independent evaluation of the commercial pressures facing diagnostic imaging providers which will improve safe and affordable access to frontline diagnostic imaging services and help with the early detection and management of cancer, neurological disorders and other conditions.

Subject to the outcome of the evaluation, this investment by the Coalition Government is likely to be work up to $50 million per year.

Delivering jobs and growth for South Australia

The Coalition Government will establish a South Australian Enterprise Scholarship Program which will create 1,200 new scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education students undertaking studies in South Australia. 

In addition, a re-elected Coalition Government will provide $750,000 to SYC – a South Australian not-for-profit organisation – to establish a pilot job placement coaching scheme to help young unemployed people get a job. This programme will see SYC partner with Queensland University of Technology and the Australian Centre for Social Innovation to deliver the Sticking Together project; a project which will provide coaches to mentor and support young unemployed people, and support for their employers, over the first 14 months of the job.

$5 million redevelopment for Campbelltown memorial oval

A re-elected Turnbull Government will invest $5 million towards the upgrade of Campbelltown Memorial Oval.  This funding will include the construction of a play space, fitness station and pathway network and will contribute to boosting the number of women participating in sport with an additional two netball courts and female specific change rooms.

This commitment is part of the Coalition’s approach to building healthy and active Australian Communities.

The coalition will ban cosmetic testing on animals

If re-elected, the Coalition Government will introduce legislation to ban the sale of cosmetic products which are tested on animals. In a media statement released last week, the Turnbull Government announced their policy to ban the testing of finished cosmetic products on animals in Australia, the testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals in Australia and the sale of cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals outside of Australia. This policy will bring Australia in line with the European Union and will help to produce consistent streamlined policy. The ban will take effect from 1 July 2017.

$3.75 million investment for Mount Barker Regional Sports Hub

A re-elected Turnbull Government will invest $3.75 million towards a new Mount Barker Regional Sports Hub. The funding will go towards creating a two-level, 350 seat regional function center and recreational areas. Stage one of this project will incorporate a full size AFL standard oval, eight five-a-side soccer pitches, soccer clubrooms and grandstand, six netball courts, improved lights, car parking and vehicle access.  This is part of the Coalitions plan to deliver Jobs, growth and stronger communities.

A stronger plan for broadband and communications under the Coalition

The Turnbull Government will continue its roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) which is on budget and on track to meet its corporate plan target of 2.632 million premises ready for service this financial year. The Coalition Government has committed $220 million funding to remove mobile phone blackspots in regional and rural Australia.

The Greens

Greens announce support for solar on homes and businesses

The Greens' plan to help homes, businesses and schools embrace solar technology: Renew Australia – repower our homes and businesses outlines their desire to see Australia powered by 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and includes:

  • A $5 million information campaign to promote the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s schemes to support Households and Businesses installing solar with no upfront costs.
  • Ensure a fair price for solar is paid by energy companies
  • Roll out the $192 million Sustainable Schools Program
  • Establish a Solar Ombudsman within the Clean Energy Regulator to facilitate a ‘right to solar’ for renters
  • Work to reform laws that will enable access to solar energy for residential and commercial tenants
  • Reform the legislative objectives and rules of energy market to democratise and modernise our energy system.

Greens commit funds to protect native wildlife on World Environment Day

The Greens have launched their election policy to protect wildlife and biodiversity worth $2.1 billion. This commitment will include $130 million over four years to stop threatened species habitat being destroyed. In addition, they will commit $2 billion over six years to protect our World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Indigenous Protected areas and private conservation programs.

Greens in Illawarra to discuss public transport plan

The Greens have unveiled their Transport plan which includes $10 billion over four years into public transport.  This will include $500 million nationwide for greener buses, $125 million of that in NSW. This funding would allow for up to 834 hybrid and electric buses to be on the roads in NSW. 

$250 million annually will also be allocated from this plan towards establishing an Active Transport Fund which will see greater investment in cycling and walking in Australia by building better bike paths and footpaths to encourage people to use active transport. Also included in this plan is a strategy to encourage road users to switch to electric cars with $151 million in grants to be given to local and state Government and car park operators to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Greens launch domestic violence package in Sydney

The Greens have made the biggest commitment to domestic violence out of any party; their policy will include:

  • $5 billion to establish a National Partnership Agreement on Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women to specialist services;
  • $128 million over four years to roll out more effective perpetrator interventions including men’s behaviour change programs and early intervention programs;
  • $8 million over four years to fund a national peak body for specialise domestic violence services;
  • $100 million over 2 years on crisis accommodation;
  • $200 million per year for legal assistance;
  • $5 million over two years to support State and Territory governments to roll out specialist domestic violence courts;
  • A $60 million package to make family law safe;
  • Building long-term affordable housing to clear the bottleneck in the system, including immediate construction of 14,500 affordable dwellings funded by changes; to negative gearing; and
  • Provide 10 days of paid domestic violence leave as a right for every worker.

Greens push to extend Frome Street Bikeway and boost SA Public Transport

The Greens will allocate $18 million to fund the completion of the Frome Street Bikeway which would see it extended to the River Torrens. This is part of the Greens half a billion dollar policy for public transport and cycling infrastructure in South Australia.

In addition, under the Greens’ plan, South Australia would see around $70 million invested into improving bikeways and cycling infrastructure, including $6 million towards the East-West cycling corridor along Waymouth Street for fully separated bike lanes as per Frome Street and $2.6 million towards Stage 4 of the Amy Gillet Bikeway through the Adelaide Hills.

Greens commit to keep community radio by restoring funding cuts

The Greens’ costed policy is to restore the $1.4m of funding per annum, with indexation, which supports the 37 metro-wide community radio services across Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. This will ensure that community radio is sufficiently funded into the future.

Real Commitment to Melbourne Airport Rail

As part of their $10 billion commitment to transport funding, the Greens have announced they will allocate $1 billion to Melbourne Airport Rail to offer travellers an easier, cleaner and more reliable option which will reduce the risk of them missing their flight because of chaos on the roads.  

Greens outline vision for clean transport future

The Greens have dedicated $10 billion worth of funding over four years to prioritise public transport needs in Australia to address traffic congestion, reduce pollution and make out cities and towns healthy and liveable.

The funding will go towards priority projects which are still awaiting federal funding contributions, such as:

  • $1bn for Sydney light rail connections
  • $1bn for Airport Rail in Melbourne
  • $500m for MAX Light Rail in Perth
  • $500m for the AdeLINK tram network
  • $82m for Hobart Light Rail
  • $2bn for Brisbane Cross River Rail
  • $400m for Canberra Light Rail stage 2

The Greens full clean transport plan will:

  • Provide $10 billion over four years for priority public transport projects around the country
  • Establish an annual $250 million Active Transport Fund for cycling and walking infrastructure
  • Fast track high speed rail
  • Commit an additional $500 million to shift freight onto rail through new rail freight lines
  • Invest an additional $250m in arterial road works to maximise efficient traffic flow and enable better bus services to suburban and outer-urban communities
  • Commit to $300 million in additional funding for the Black Spot road safety program
  • Accelerate the electric vehicle revolution through $201 million in infrastructure and fleet grants, and five years’ worth of free registration for new fully electric vehicles.

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