Australians casting ballots in general elections

July 2, 2016 8:09 am

Voters fill in their ballots at a polling station at Town Hall in Sydney, July 2, 2016. ©AP

People in head to
the polls to elect a new government for the next three years as surveys
show a close race between the country’s two major political forces.

Polling
stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time on Saturday (2200 GMT on
Friday) and will close at 6:00 p.m. local time on Saturday (0800 GMT on
Saturday), with some 15.6 million Australians eligible to take part in
the voting.
Those competing in the election delivered their final
pitches to voters on Friday after an eight-week campaign across
Australia, where voting is compulsory.
Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull, the leader of Australia’s ruling conservative coalition,
dissolved both houses of the parliament in May in an attempt to oust
independents in the Senate who opposed his economic plan.
The government currently has 33 seats in the 150-seat Senate and needs six more to pass the plan.
However,
the coalition faces a strong challenge from independents as well as the
main opposition Labor Party, led by Bill Shorte, a former union chief.

Australian
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull casts his vote for the general election
with his wife Lucy at the Double Bay Public School in
Sydney, Australia, July 2, 2016. ©ReutersThe
latest Newspoll in Corp Australia publications placed the coalition
at 50.5 percent, compared with Labor’s 49.5 percent in two-party
preferred terms.
Turnbull has accused the opposition Labor party
of having no schemes for jobs, growth and the country’s economic future,
saying, “In an uncertain world, Labor offers only greater uncertainty.”
After
voting in his Sydney electorate, he said, “There has never been a more
exciting time to vote for a stable, majority coalition government and an
economic plan that secures our future.”
Shorten, however, has warned against reelecting the governing coalition, vowing to boost spending for health and education.
“The cuts are severe and they are real,” the opposition leader said, referring to the government’s health and education policies.

Malcolm
Turnbull and Bill Shorten shake hands as they arrived for a debate in
Canberra during the election campaign in late May. Photo / AP

Most people would prefer the dentist’s chair over sitting down to
hear politicians ramble on about negative gearing or tax rebates.
Granted,
these are important issues, but it can be hard to switch on when even
the politician selling them doesn’t really seem to know what they are
talking about.
With Federal Election voting underway and parties keener than ever to give you an ear bashing, Daily Mail Australia has sifted through pages of sleep-inducing policy and boiled it down so you don’t have to.

Children

Childcare
costs the average family at least $90 a day in Australia and both
parties have proposed to shake up the system if elected.

With $3billion packages set aside to help families it’s the
slight variations that could make a world of difference for your
children.
Coalition
The Coalition has
promised to help Australian families ‘get ahead’ by offering those with
incomes between $65,000 and $170,000 around $30 a week for childcare –
or $15,000 annually.
In addition, the current yearly cap on
subsidies of $7,500, will be removed and families earning more than
$185,000 could claim up to $10,000 a year.The $3billion Jobs for Families child care package
involves a major shakeup of the system and is hoped to be introduced by
July 2018.
Labor
Labor plans to increase the childcare rebate by 15 per cent, leaving some families up to $31 better off per week.
The
childcare rebate cap would also move from $7,500 to $10,000 from
January 2017 – a year earlier than the current government’s plan.
A further $160million to increase childcare and after-school care will also be provided for areas of high demand.

Education

Coalition
Gonski funding was started in 2014 to ensure that all schools were resourced according to their needs.
The
Coalition has said it will fund the next two years of the Gonski
programme and has committed another $1.2bn towards it from 2018 to 2020.
To
justify where the funding is needed, young students will be tested on
reading on maths to find out those who need the most help.
The
Coalition has also budgeted to cut $2bn of funding from universities and
will hold a consultation before these are identified.
Labor
Labor has differentiated itself from the Coaliation by making substantial funding commitments for education.
The Gonski programme will receive $4.5bn from 2018 to 2020 and total education funding will reach $37bn in the next 10 years.
To
help pay for this in part, polytech students at private colleges will
be restricted to $8,000 per year – saving $6bn over the next decade.

Health

Coalition
The Coalition will keep a lid on the value of Medicare rebates paid to doctors until at least 2020.
Medical
experts have warned this could make it more expensive to go to the
doctor – with patient charges rising to $25 a visit by some estimates.
A cash injection of $2.9bn has been put aside to fund public hospitals.
Labor
Labor will not freeze Medicare rebates in an effort to keep the cost of a doctor’s visit down.
They also plan to get rid of additional payments for pathology services and price increases for some medicines.
Public hospitals will also receive a funding boost under Labor, to the tune of around $5bn in the next four years.

Immigration

Coalition
The Liberals have promised to keep their hard-line positions on immigration and border protection.
Australia’s humanitarian intake will stick at 13,750 and the ‘stop the boats’ pledge will remain,
The Liberals also oppose relocating Manus Island and Nauru refugees permanently relocated to Australia.
Labor
Labor has pledged to lift Australia’s refugee intake from 13,750 to 27,000 – but will do so over the next 10 years.
Similar to the Liberals, they will keep a tough anti-asylum seeker stance.
They will look to relocate Manus and Nauru detainees to other United Nations countries.

Housing

Coalition
The
Coalition has ruled out any changes to negative gearing, saying it is
used by more than a million Australians, two thirds of whom have taxable
incomes below $80,000.
It instead wants to help first home
buyers and others get into the market by increasing the number of houses
on the market, and through other policy areas like tax cuts and job
creation.
There is also a plan to crack down on work stoppages by
construction unions, which it claims force up building costs,
particularly on apartments, by bringing back the Australian Building and
Construction Commission.
Labor
Labor has
pledged to tackle housing affordability head-on by taking a blowtorch
to negative gearing, which is widely held responsible for ballooning
house prices.
The party would limit negative gearing to new properties.
The
idea is to both reduce house prices by making investment properties
less attractive, and increase housing stock by encouraging investors to
build new ones.
However, it has been criticised on the grounds
that it would cut house prices, by up to five per cent, making current
homeowners worse off.

Marriage equality

Coalition
The
Coalition has promised to hold a $158 million plebiscite for the
Australian public to vote on whether people of the same sex should be
able to legally marry.
A plebiscite is not legally binding and so
the government would be able to ignore its results, however Turnbull
has pledged to honour the results.
Labor
Labor
has pledged to hold a free vote in parliament and considers the
national vote ‘unnecessary’ as polls show Australian’s favour marriage
equality and the matter could be dealt with straight away.
The
Liberal’s plebiscite has also been criticised over suggestions the
ensuing public debate would be toxic for the LGBTQI community.

Climate change

Coalition
The
Turnbull government aims for more than 23 per cent of Australian
electricity to come from renewable energy by 2020. $1billion has been
pledged to fund large-scale solar projects.
The Coalition plans
to reduce emissions by 28 per cent by 2030 and have invested
$2.55billion to incentivise businesses to reduce their emissions.
The government also introduced the ‘Green Army’ to plant trees across the country.
Labor
Labor says the right policies will drive jobs creation and put downward pressure on power prices.
The
party plans for 50 per cent of electricity to be sourced from renewable
energy by 2030 and has pledged to support solar investment.

Roading

Coalition
The
Coalition is promising $50 billion in infrastructure funding to improve
road and rail links around the country. Much of this was in the Budget.
It
has put a lot of stock in its City Deals, which are coordinated
development plans for metro centres from Townsville to Perth, including
major road upgrades and projects like the Western Sydney airport.
One of the key aims is to slash travel times around major cities so you can get anywhere within 30 minutes.
It
will also help fund a slate of projects state governments are already
working on or proposing, such as WestConnex in Sydney, Midland Highway
upgrade in Tasmania, and upgrading 1,000km of freight rail in regional
Victoria.
Labor
The centrepiece of
Labor’s plan is giving Infrastructure Australia $10 billion a year to
loosen private sector purse strings for building projects through loans,
loan guarantees and equity investments.
But there’s a catch –
projects will have to prove they are sustainable and have used new
technology to get the most out of the new road or rail, such as using
flexible lane allocations on arterial roads.
It also wants to
coax people out of their cars onto public transport, or get them cycling
or walking instead to ease pressure on gridlocked roads. Projects will
have to show they tried this and new projects are necessary.

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