Morgan from Melbourne says she wants to see a future that centres dignity and respect for all Australians. She has her doubts, especially since the results of the 2019 federal election. Here’s why.
I had a gut feeling we were building up to a Coalition victory in the 2019 federal election. Why? Because globally we are trending towards conservatism. I wanted to believe that as a collective, we would vote in favour of investing in communities doing it tough. As a citizen and someone who sees the consequences of policy that fails to prioritise the dignity of everyday people, I feel let down and disappointed.
The result of the election does not align with what I voted for. I voted for action on climate change, greater commitment to and investment in affordable housing, and support for those in crisis to help lift them out of poverty.
Looking at the Coalition’s Climate Solutions Package released in February 2019, it promises to “retain Australia’s current emissions reduction target of 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.” This target falls excruciatingly short of what is needed to meet The Paris Agreement goals, and I find it especially embarrassing considering Australia has been ranked 55th out of 60 countries in a Climate Change Performance Index, trailing behind Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) recently released a study titled Australian National Outlook 2019, which compares two versions of what Australia could look like in 2060. It signals that Australia faces a “slow decline” if it takes no action on the most significant economic, social and environmental challenges; including greenhouse gas emissions, energy affordability, and more liveable major cities.
A brief search of the current Government’s policies shows me that when it comes to housing, the Coalition wants to support first home buyers. Of course, this is a great thing but with the current housing crisis facing our country, policy platforms such as this only benefit the most privileged among us. Low-income earners lose out, as they don’t have the money to save for a deposit. There has been no policy commitment for affordable housing stock, something that would significantly reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness by ensuring those who can’t afford or access accommodation in the private rental market are offered other suitable housing options.
Also, it was announced that the Coalition promised a $247 million expansion of the schools chaplains’ program, despite ongoing and widespread concerns about the “government paying religious organisations to provide chaplaincy services in public schools,” arguing it restricts freedom from religion. At a time when supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians should be a national priority, it seems we are regressing instead.
I voted to see support for those experiencing disadvantage, through initiatives such as Raise the Rate; an advocacy campaign with a goal to lift the singles rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and other related social security payments by at least $75 a week. New research has found that Newstart is one of the worst unemployment payments in the world.
To me, the election outcome is a reflection of political decisions that don’t represent the communities I belong to and care about, and I fear it’s a snapshot of what’s to come. I’ve spoken to many people, young and older, about this election and what it represents to them. The common word that keeps being expressed is ‘disheartened’, and this echoes my own feelings about where we’re at.
I want an Australia that wants to take care of everyone, especially those who bear the brunt of punitive policies and political scapegoating. This is a tool we often see used by politicians to shift blame onto people and communities with less power, like blaming immigrants for rising unemployment, rather than telling the whole truth. I want to see leaders who reflect the communities that are fighting on the frontlines for basic human rights every day.
I yearn for truly progressive voices in Australian politics with fairer visions for the future, those who have ‘been there’ themselves and know what it feels like to have personally experienced the issues they advocate for. I want leaders who I know are fighting for the fighters.