Archive for the ‘Federal Election 2007’ Category

Post Election Thanks:

26/11/2007

Many thanks to the people of FRASER who voted for me and to those who wished me well.

Many thanks also to my supporters and helpers, both members of the Australian Democrats and others.

We held our ground from the last election, getting roughly the same percentage of the vote. And that’s not easy to do when people have made a clear choice between the two major parties.

My result was the second best House of Representatives vote for an Australian Democrats candidate, in this election.

Thanks again for your effort and support and the faith of those who voted for me.

Darren Churchill

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23/11/2007

Tired of the Liberals?

Never vote Labor?

There IS an alternative:

Vote DEMOCRATS!

The Australian Democrats are not beholden to big business or the unions or chained to any extreme ideology or religion. We are a party that makes judgments based on what is fair and just and moral. We are the only party that simply fights for what is right.

For honesty, tolerance and compassion.

Choose Common Sense

AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS!!!

You CAN change the world!

VOTE DEMOCRATS!!!

Give a Damn!

As the elected member for FRASER I will:

23/11/2007
  • balance economic policy with social and environmental considerations. Good economic management is about getting the balance right. It’s a “triple bottom line;”
  • introduce human rights and privacy legislation that will protect all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or place of origin. NO privacy invasions, NO Access Card;
  • ensure that law enforcement agencies are accountable to the courts and the parliament;
  • maintain the traditional Democrats principle of supporting legislation that is fair and equitable and seek to amend and make fairer that which is not;
  • support social spending programmes for affordable housing and Paid Maternity Leave;
  • ensure that whichever party forms the government, they are held accountable for their actions;
  • support industries that create jobs and are kind to the environment, and not those that will make problems for future generations. NO uranium mining and NO nuclear reactors;
  • encourage investment in sustainable agricultural practices and sensible rural water management.
  • encourage sensible use and management of urban water;
  • encourage and support environmentally sustainable practices in renewable energy and energy efficiency

Media Alert: 23 November 2007: Mr Churchill’s Whereabouts

23/11/2007

Bring Back Balance

ACT Democrats             2007

Media Alert

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser will be spending the day greeting voters at the large polling booths in his electorate

Mr Churchill will be at:

Kaleen South Polling Booth:

Photo opportunity

8.00am – Voting

8.00 am to 12.00pm Greet voters and hand out how-to-vote cards at Kaleen South

12.00pm to 4.00pm Greet voters and hand out how-to-vote cards at Kaleen, Palmerston, Lyneham, Turner, Campbell, Evatt, Melba, Aranda and Macquarie.

4.00pm to 6.00pm Greet voters and hand out how-to-vote cards at Kaleen South

6.00pm Close Kaleen South booth

6.30pm Australian Democrats Election night party

Later: expecting to be at the national tally Room from about 8.30/9.00pm.

Available for interviews, photographs, etc

Darren Churchill can be contacted on 0412 196 473

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

Darren.Churchill@act.democrats.org.au

0412 196 473

23/11/2007

Tired of the Liberals?

Never vote Labor?

There IS an alternative:

Vote DEMOCRATS!

The Australian Democrats are not beholden to big business or the unions or chained to any extreme ideology or religion. We are a party that makes judgments based on what is fair and just and moral. We are the only party that simply fights for what is right.

For honesty, tolerance and compassion.

Choose Common Sense

AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS!!!

You CAN change the world!

VOTE DEMOCRATS!!!

Give a Damn!

Some Thoughts on Human Rights

23/11/2007

International Obligations on Human Rights
Australia must back up our international obligations with domestic legislation and action.  If people are acknowledged as refugees under the UN Convention, which Australia has ratified, we have at the very least a moral obligation to grant them protection.  We have accepted international co-operation as part of that convention and should honour our obligation as part of the international community. We have also ratified the international convention on human rights and we must ensure our laws are consistent with that agreement.

Refugees

Since when is it an offence to flee from persecution and war?  And to try to save the lives of your family members by taking them away from trouble?
In my opinion, the Australian government committed an offence under Australian law AND international law in 2001, when (with the co-operation of the opposition) it passed retrospective legislation to justify it’s actions in ordering our military to invade the Tampa (a Norwegian vessel carrying 400 frightened human beings) and took them without their consent to detention camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.  It should have allowed the ship to bring them to Australia!
Refugee asylum seekers should remain in reception centres for a maximum of fourteen weeks for processing and health checks.  The 45 day rule and Temporary Protection Visa system (which is discriminatory) should end. Refugee status should be determined efficiently and refugees be issued with a bridging visa and released into the community with access to services including medical services and English classes. This would bring them into line with asylum seekers who arrive on visas and apply for asylum once onshore.
There is a moral obligation to provide a safe-haven for people fleeing from persecution.  To send a human being back to somewhere they may be killed or tortured makes us just as bad as those doing the killing or torturing.  We have a moral responsibility and a duty under international law to protect people from being returned to persecution, torture or death.

A Bill of Rights?
Both the ACT and Victoria have Human Rights legislation.  But we really need national legislation on this issue. Introducing a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities would be the first step towards setting down clear guidelines for the treatment of our citizens and residents and it will be my first act if elected. I think the action taken by the ACT and Victoria has been the right thing to do.  I’d like to see the other states and territories following their lead.  But I’d also like to see Human Rights legislation enacted at the federal level.  And I’d like there to be consideration of enshrining it in the Constitution.

Accountability

A person should not be held in custody without a proper legal hearing.  Law enforcement must be accountable to the courts.  The right of habeas corpus has long been a protection of liberty in Common Law countries and has historically allowed people to challenge unlawful custody.  Only a court should determine whether a person has a right to be held in custody for any length of time; and people held in prison should always be brought to a speedy trial.  We need to guarantee this in Australia and fight for it to be the case when our citizens are held in custody on foreign soil.  No law should be exempt from this, including anti-terror laws.  The argument of “national emergency” should only apply if International Humanitarian Laws and the Geneva Conventions and their protocols are upheld.

Retrospective legislation should be opposed at all times.  Charging a person with an offence from a law tailored to fit the alleged offence makes the law all-powerful and denigrates the notion of a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.  Back-dating a law to the date of an announcement of intention for that law denies proper scrutiny and accountability to the parliament.  Regardless of the seriousness of the matter it is being legislated for, retrospective legislation is also (for the reasons I have just mentioned) a very serious matter.  It is “legislation by press release” and should not be a part of a democratic system.

Language Tests

The use of an English language test in qualifying people for Australian citizenship is potentially divisive and risks placing unnecessary stress on refugees and migrant who are educationally disadvantaged.  Government funded English language programmes for all migrants would help increase skills in our common language and if properly conducted would include it’s own assessment and measurements of proficiency.

The Death Penalty
Australia opposes the death penalty domestically and we need to take a strong, fearless stand against this and other human rights abuses and violations in our region.  We oppose the death penalty at home and we must also oppose it abroad, regardless of the circumstances.  We must show some leadership on this matter, especially in the Asia-Pacific (but also elsewhere)  and therefore, we must not allow our opposition to the death penalty to be seen as in any way ambiguous.

Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians have very good reason to be critical of the way the have been treated by Australian governments.  Forty years after the passing of the referendum which finally recognised indigenous Australians as people, there is still much disadvantage and inequality faced by indigenous Australians.  It is high time for tackling social, economic and political disadvantage; for targeting government services to indigenous communities; and for regional autonomy and an elected national voice for indigenous people.  This needs to be done in a way that is inclusive nad consultative with indigenous leaders.  The paternalistic ways of the past (which the government has shamefully revisited in recent months) are not the way forward.  The way forward is about fairness, equality and respect and negotiation.

(This document didn’t copy very well when I cut and pasted it from the original Word Document in which I wrote it.  I hope you were still able to read it with ease.)

Media Release: 23 November 2007: Democrats say NO to Ads on Aunty

23/11/2007

Bring Back Balance

ACT Democrats 2007

Media Release                   23 November 2007

Democrats say NO to Ads on Aunty

“With all the spending promises of the old parties we can expect cuts to services.  And that will include the ABC.” Said Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, Darren Churchill.  “ I expect advertising will be on their agenda too.”

Advertising has been allowed on SBS for some time and has been widely criticised.  The Liberals have made clear their support for advertising on the ABC.

“The ABC needs to be free and impartial in it’s content and it’s news, politics and current affairs discussion.  This means it should be free from commercial interests.  The ABC should be funded on a recurrent basis from public monies.  And that should be locked in without any risk of political pressures.”

“An ABC with an independent board and journalists who aren’t afraid to speak out on all issues and to criticise all political parties can only be achieved by implementing base-level funding.” Mr Churchill said

“Specific purpose funding can also be provided for the development of Australian content programming and fostering young Australian talent.”

“The Democrats are strongly opposed to commercial advertising on ABC radio, television or websites.  An independent ABC, free from political and commercial pressures is achievable.  It begins with a vote for me in Fraser, and for the Democrats in the Senate.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

Darren.Churchill@act.democrats.org.au

0412 196 473

Darren’s statement about Carers

23/11/2007

As the Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, I call on Mr Howard and Mr Rudd to outline what they will do do to provide ongoing support for people who care for friends and relatives with disabilities.

I attended the launch of National Carers’ Week in Canberra at the start of the election campaign. It deeply concerns me that carers have been virtually ignored during this campaign.

Carers have been the forgotten people of this election campaign. There still isn’t adequate respite for Carer’s in the ACT. There are not enough group houses, despite the involvement of both the government and private welfare sectors.

Financial difficulties, depression and the need for greater support structures are just a few of the problems faced by carers. But they highlight the need for greater government assistance for carers both financially and with the provision of services and programs. The assistance of emotional support for carers is also in need being addressed, with depression being an area which needs greater awareness overall.

I call for an increase in Carer payments and allowances, greater tax relief for carers, provision of more respite houses, and extension of the eligibility for carer payments and allowances.

The Australian Democrats Carers policy can be found at: http://www.democrats.org.au/docs/ActionPlans/Disability_Carers_2007.pdf

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers can be found below.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

0412 196 473

The Australian Democrats statement about Carers

The Democrats have long acknowledged that the work of carers receives little in recognition or financial reward and we have a long history of addressing and raising in the Senate the difficulties, both financial and social, that carers face. For example, we have had a specific campaign on increasing carer payments for over a year now.

The Australian Democrats believe that additional support and help should also be provided to young carers, ageing carers, parents of children with disabilities and carers of the profoundly disabled.

The Australian Democrats will continue to advocate for carers at the federal level and provide as much support and advocacy for Australia’s carers as we possibly can in the future.

Our key policy commitments for each of the 5 issues that they have highlighted follows. We also have a commitment to introduce a Family Responsibilities and Carers’ Rights Act as recommended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in its report ‘It’s About Time: women, men, work and family’.

1. Integrated support for carers
Establish a National Office for Carers with responsibility to develop a national carer framework and advise on the impact of new policies on carers.

2. Carer financial security
Increase the rate of carer payment from $215.65/week to $383.25 (75% of the standard minimum wage) and double the rate of the carer allowance to $98.50 per week. Convert the $1,000 Carer Bonus into an annual, indexed payment.

3. Carer workforce participation
Establish a national one-stop carer workforce participation gateway, an Employers for Carers program, provide financial and other incentives to encourage employers to participate. Support the right to flexible work hours and part-time work for carers.

4. Carer health and wellbeing
Fund a carer health program

5. Carer education and training
Increase access to employment, education and training, and without fear of losing financial assistance

Media Release: 23 November 2007: Democrats warn about Databases and Identity Theft

23/11/2007

poster.gifBring Back Balance

ACT Democrats 2007

Media Release 23 November 2007

Democrats warn about Databases and Identity Theft

“How much personal data should the government be allowed to keep about people? Identity theft is a real concern and highlights the dangers of an Access Card” warns outspoken ID card/database opponent and Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, Darren Churchill.

In July 2000 the Liberal government with the support of the Labor opposition set up Crimtrac, an agency supposedly to facilitate sharing of criminal information between states/territories. It also has access to information about minor traffic infringements and parking fines. And has recently been classified as an enforcement agency.

Last nights episode of Lateline, on ABC TV contained a report about two computer disks being stolen/missing from a government department in the United Kingdom due to an administrative bungle. The disks contained personal information about people receiving government benefits.

The Australian government plans to replace the Medicare Card with an Access Card (a national identity card with data storage and record keeping capabilities) by 2010.

“This shows why an identity card is such a ridiculous idea. Imagine what would happen with cards containing peoples’ personal information and able to be accessed by anyone with a scanner, being lost. Identity theft is allegedly the fastest growing white-collar crime in the UK. And the British had the sense not to go down the Identity Card line. But even that hasn’t avoided the loss of stored personal information.” Mr Churchill said.

“The questions that have to be answered are:

  • Does the government need to keep centralised personalised information?
  • How much information is allowed to be held about a person?
  • What right’s to challenge personal information held in databases (accuracy and whether the person wants that information held at all) are put in place?
  • How open, accountable transparent and available is a person’s right to know the information held about them?
  • And is there a limit on how long information can be held?”

We need answers to these questions!“ Mr Churchill insisted

“It is horrendous that the Liberals want to take us down this path. And that Labor won’t speak out against it.”

“We delude ourselves if we think large-scale identity theft can’t happen in Australia. Centralised databases and ID cards are a serious threat to privacy. We need safeguards to protect our personal financial, health and welfare information, and restriction on what is actually allowed to be held about people.” declared a concerned Mr Churchill.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

Darren.Churchill@act.democrats.org.au

0412 196 473

Media Release: 23 November 2007: Put balanced education back into schools say Democrats

23/11/2007

Bring Back Balance

ACT Democrats 2007

Media Release 23 November 2007

Put balanced education back into schools say Democrats

“Our schools need to be places of learning, not places of indoctrination.” Says Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser, Darren Churchill

Education Minister, Julie Bishop recently announced plans to write curriculum guides for English, Maths and Science. And the Prime Minister has stated that education funding should be linked to the teaching of of subjects, especially history.

“This sound like a government trying to stamp it’s own interpretation of subjects into our schools. A National Curriculum would make movement between the states and territories easier. But it needs to be developed by expert educationalists, co-operating between the states’ and territories’ education systems, not by a panel appointed by politicians.” Mr Churchill said.

“Curriculum development is a complex area and needs to incorporate a range a range of perspectives (gender, multicultural, indigenous, etc) as well as enabling the development of language, reading and writing, and technology skills.”

“Funding for education also needs to be based on fairness and equality (with special funding for disadvantaged schools). Not linked to some narrow, politicised teaching of history.”

“We need greater support for teachers, who should be allowed to teach without the burden of administrative tasks. Smaller class sizes would allow a better learning environment through lower teacher/pupil ratios. It is obscene to link teacher pay to how many kids they push through the system, or to a checklist of outcomes criteria.” said Mr Churchill (a qualified teacher himself).

“I’d like to see some kind of Civics education in schools as part of any consideration of a National Curriculum. Young people need to know how our political system operates, including the House of Representatives and Senate; the names of their local members (state/territory and federal); and how to actively participate in politics. The more we understand the system, the less politicians are able to pull the wool over our eyes, and the greater the accountability.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

Australian Democrats candidate for Fraser

Darren.Churchill@act.democrats.org.au

0412 196 473