Archive for the ‘Speeches’ Category

15th September, 2012 – Speech to Sustainable Population Australia – by Darren Churchill – (Australian Democrats endorsed) Independent Candidate for GINNINDERRA

25/09/2012

ACT ELECTION 2012 – SPEECH TO SUSTAINABLE POPULATION AUSTRALIA – by Darren Churchill – 15/09/2012 (Australian Democrats endorsed) Independent Candidate for Ginninderra

I am an independent candidate, in the sense that I am not part of an ACT registered group. But as was just stated when Christopher introduced me, I am a member and endorsed candidate of the Australian Democrats and I speak to you today both as an individual (the candidate) and as a member of that nationally registered organisation.

For 35 years the Australian Democrats have had enshrined in our constitution that “we accept the challenges of the predicament of humanity on the planet with its exponentially increasing population, disappearing finite resources and accelerating deterioration of the environment”.

I am great believer in our established position of the triple-bottom-line: responsible economic management, care for the environment and social justice.

Increasing numbers of Australians are recognising the importance of reining in population growth. The Public Health Association of Australia has adopted a population policy based on health, nutrition and environmental constraints, encouraging Federal and State governments to adopt policies that will lead to population numbers being held at sustainable levels.

In 2010, the Public Affairs Commission of the Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia issued a discussion paper which argued that “Unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment – ‘Thou shalt not steal’.” As a consequence, at their General Synod meeting in 2010, a “Caring for Creation: the need to acknowledge and respond to population issues” motion was carried.

And yet, despite the calls from these groups and other reputable studies, governments still ignore the warnings.

Australia faces serious environmental degradation as a consequence of increasing human population and urgent action must be taken to curb this.

The ACT Democrats believe the ACT region does not have the resources, such as water, to grow indefinitely. The argument that population growth can be sustained merely by having better urban planning is flawed.

Despite developers arguing for population increase and benefitting their own hip pockets as a consequence, taxpayers bear the cost of destruction of our unique natural environment, reduced housing supply and shortages of infrastructure.

Australia must consider the environmental limits – low rainfall, increasing temperatures due to climate change, and infertile soils – when determining the right number of people this land can support. And we in the ACT must play our part in managing that.

I believe Canberra’s planning should retain green belts between town centres, and promote transport efficiency and vibrant commercial centres. We need a planning authority that people have confidence in.

For Planning, I seek to involve communities in the planning process’ work towards development that leads to a sustainable Canberra; and make planning decisions independent and transparent.

I propose setting up a consultative body to collect scientific and community views so that future governments can plan to stay within our sustainable environmental limits.

Whilst there might be some argument for regional areas such as the ACT being used to take population pressure off the sprawling metropolises, with incentives to encourage immigrants and refugees to settle in regional areas (but not where there are no job prospects); it will not work in any lasting sense without a co-ordinated national population strategy to limit overall population growth. It makes no sense to simply move people around, if overall the population continues to increase unsustainably.

As a Democrat, I argue for an increase in the nation’s humanitarian intake balanced by a scaling back of the immigration intake to environmentally sustainable levels. Our party’s Immigration Policy argues for “a non-discriminatory immigration program, which gives priority to refugees and family reunion, the total number of which when included with overall population trends will not impede sustainability of the nation’s natural resources”.

Australia cannot solve the world’s refugee problems, but by reducing overall immigration numbers we would be in a much better position to meet our humanitarian obligations for what is really a small number of asylum seekers.

Canberra cannot continue to grow our population at the behest of the development lobby, which is the prime beneficiary of such growth. We must introduce sensible zoning laws that ensure new developments fit with the existing character of the neighbourhood and prevent ‘opportunistic profiteering!’

Environmental and well-being problems become harder to solve as population grows. Whoever forms government must create a Sustainable Population portfolio. To assist the Minister, public and environmental expert input must be sought through a population advisory panel to determine the upper limit to Canberra’s population growth and how best to deal with it.

This will involve real long term investment in social, environmental and economic infrastructure including ecologically sustainable urban and water planning, renewable energy, better public transport, health services and regional development. And as part of a regional approach we must also consider how we manage regional transport, food production and security, water and prepare for the impending problems of peak oil, peak phosphate and energy security.

If elected, I will introduce legislation to ensure that these matters are dealt with.

A growing population puts more pressure on us to find new ways of ‘keeping up’ with material demands that are one of the highest per capita in the world. And we must work at our local and regional level as part of an overall strategy to first stabilise then reduce Australia’s population to an ecologically sustainable level.

I have already mentioned the humanitarian/immigration balance. The ACT must also play our part in a national strategy to support families in making decisions about family size so that additional stresses are not placed on our unique environment, long-term agricultural productivity or infrastructure.

This involves expanding programmes that make all family planning options cheaper and more accessible to anyone who may choose them; and putting limits on baby bonus/family leave provisions and diverting resources to education, family planning and foreign aid.

Population growth does not necessarily create wealth, despite the claims of the development lobby, and it certainly does not improve national well-being.

How we manage population will require appropriate planning, proper consultation and a whole of government approach. We can no longer ignore the environmental implications of continued population growth. Nor can we allow the Assembly, and through it the Territory, to be captive to the development lobby.

I know the big end of town won’t like this approach, but the challenge of population is simply too important to ignore.

Advertisements

28th January 2012: Speech: Reclaim the Centre!

23/02/2012

 “Reclaim the Centre”

A speech by Darren Churchill, National President of the Australian Democrats, addressing the party’s National Conference in Melbourne,28 January 2012.

Thank you to our acting Secretary Roger Howe, and welcome everyone to the 2012 Australian Democrats’ National Conference.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, on which we meet, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We gather here only two days after the celebrations known officially as Australia Day. However, for many Indigenous people, that day marks over two centuries of hurt and injustice. I look forward to the day when we can all share in a time of true reconciliation.

Thank you to all members and delegates who are here at our National Conference. This is our first conference for some years and the first without having Senators or other members of parliament. However, this conference marks our entry into our 35th year as a political party. So, let’s use it to re-energise, and commence the road back into the hearts and minds of the Australian voters.

I thank our Conference organiser, Young Australian Democrats President Mark Carey, for the work he has done in putting this years’ conference together. Thanks also to our Secretary and Treasurer for the assistance they have provided to him.

I also extend particular thanks and a special welcome to our speakers and presenters. It is especially wonderful to have three former parliamentary leaders in our number; former Senators Lyn Allison and Brian Greig, and former South Australian MLC, Sandra Kanck.

The next Federal election must be held by 30th November 2013. So, barring any occurrences such as an early House of Representatives election or a Double Dissolution (for which a “trigger” seems at the moment unlikely), we can expect the 2013 election to be anytime after 3rd August next year.

That means we must start preparing now.

Already, we have commenced a programme to be by-election ready. That means having in each Division, a number of potential candidates endorsed, who can slot in to any of a number of electorates for which they are prepared. So, should a by-election be called (and I expect the Labor Party has already warned it’s MPs: “Don’t resign, defect of die!”); but should one be called we can be off the blocks and racing in no time.

Whilst, we have only even come close to winning a House of Representatives seat on three occasions in our history; the idea is that if we can achieve a result that shows a significant percentage of the vote, it will be something we can use to build a profile again.

So, we need to be clear in what we are trying to say to the public, as a party. What is our corporate image? It is important that we determine how we sell ourselves to the public. So, who are we? What do we stand for? How are we of use? How do we convey that message? What are our campaigns? Who are our spokespeople?

Then….how do we market this? Branding? Colours? Logo? Website? What ideals should they portray? How do they sell our public image?

What content should be on our website? What could be done differently? Better? How?

How do our candidates and members leverage of this information to engage their communities ?

What do the Australian Democrats stand for? How do we pursue the future and be true to our history? How do we regain relevance with the Australian people?

How do we interact with the community? Campaigns? Interest groups? Membership of community organisations? (such as the parents associations of school communities, ACOSS, Vegetarian Societies, Animal groups, gay groups, women’s groups, Civil Liberties groups, foreign aid groups, peace groups, Sustainable Population groups, environmental lobbyists, unions, business groups, congregations, service groups, JayCees?). How do we become activists again?

We need strategies, plans, implementation, and real action. Using the procedures, processes and guidelines laid down in our party’s Constitution and documents, and using those democratic processes to re-engage the members, the community and the people to support us.

These are just some ideas. There is probably a lot more that could be said here. But surely that could get us started and in the right direction?

So, what steps have we taken to address these issues?

Much of our politics is about social justice and about creating a framework, whereby the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, are provided with the opportunities to share in society’s prosperity, to participate in society. It is, as such, the role of government to ensure that there is a safety net to protect those who slip through the cracks of our economic and social structures.

In order to create a fair, democratic and liberal society, we must first write ourselves back into the picture. We can’t do much from outside the parliaments, so we need to get people elected. We need to play to our strengths.  To do that, we need to focus on the issues the other parties won’t touch; issues where we have members with the time, talents and resources. We can extend into the more mainstream areas as our size, influence and talent-pool grows (and hopefully with that our parliamentary representation).

Our National Campaign Committee has been busy with preparing campaigns on the issues the other parties seem afraid to touch. By launching our “Facing Up to Bullying” campaign, we have built on the work our party has already done, when our then leader Lyn Allison negotiated the national Safe Schools Framework,

In November, we re-launched our popular National Youth Poll, to re-engage with young people who are likely to become voters in the next few years. According to Youth Poll co-ordinator, Tim Neal, we have already had well over 5000 responses.

We understand Australia’s need to reduce our water and energy consumption – and to do so significantly. This will require a massive rethink in the way we live every aspect of our lives.

An economic system, which relies on constantly increasing production and constantly increasing consumption, will eventually get to the point where the bubble will well and truly burst.

Our Party Objectives state that we aim

“to accept the challenges of the predicament of humanity on the planet with its exponentially increasing population, disappearing finite resources and accelerating deterioration of the environment:” and our balloted Immigration Policy clearly states that we: “believe in a non-discriminatory immigration program, which gives priority to refugees and family reunion, the total number of which when included with overall population trends will not impede sustainability of the nation’s natural resources.”

With these ideals firmly in mind, in September we embarked on a bold campaign of “Towards a Sustainable Population.” This won me an interview on SBS Radio News and received extremely favourable comments from population experts, particularly for our key proposals of:

· Substantially reducing the numbers entering Australia through our business migration scheme while simultaneously training the 1.5m Australians who are unemployed or underemployed to gain the necessary skills;

· Doubling the numbers in our humanitarian intake; and

· Increasing our foreign aid budget and ensuring more money and effort is directed towards women in developing countries for sexual and reproductive health, including contraception.

There are more campaigns being currently planned. We have unfinished business with Peak Oil. So, building on the work started by Sandra Kanck’s Select Committee on the Impact of Peak Oil on South Australia, just over three years ago; we are currently preparing our campaign on Peak Oil, to be launched early in February.

Some products, had we known then of the risks we now know are associated with them, would never have been allowed onto the market. Tobacco, asbestos, uranium and alcohol are but a few. Scientific, medical and empirical evidence suggests that so-called “Energy Drinks” may be another. So a campaign to investigate the extent and warn of the dangers of such drinks is also currently under consideration.

Our work in making submissions to parliamentary committees and inquiries is also important. In 2011, we made three submissions. These were: “Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns,” “Development of a National Food Plan,” and “The Implementation of a Needle and Syringe Program in the Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT.” As a result of the first of those submissions, in August last year, we were invited to send a delegation to address the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. I understand this is the first time the Australian Democrats were invited to such a Committee since we had Senators. Quite an honour, considering the passion former Senator Andrew Murray had for that particular Committee.

At a policy level, the proposal to alter Clause 17 of our Energy Policy was recently balloted. I was delighted when members overwhelmingly voted to strengthen our opposition to nuclear energy including uranium mining. To even greater delight, only a week after the ballot was declared, an article by Russell Emmerson in Adelaide’s “The Advertiser” newspaper, reinforced the good sense of the decision.

We have also recently balloted our first “Alcohol and Other Drugs Law Reform Policy.” Again, a high voter turnout and strong endorsement of the proposals was encouraging. It was also encouraging and extremely refreshing to hear Sir Richard Branson tell a committee of British MPs earlier this week, that the tough, “War on Drugs” approach has failed and that a more scientific, evidence-based, and public health approach is needed. It is up to us now to continue to push for such an approach in Australia.

Other new policies will be presented for your consideration in the upcoming National Journals, including proposed policies for Oceans and Coasts, Invasive Species… and our first proposal for a Population Policy, for some years. These have already been circulated and available for discussion for some time.

We have started to revamp the National Journal. I have to say that the two editions put together by our new Journal Editor Drew Simmons and his team have been on a very high quality. I am also delighted that the December edition saw a return to a tangible, hard-copy National Journal, the first in three years; and the first in colour for some time longer. The ‘soapbox’ section entitled “What I Reckon” has proven very popular, as have the Guest Editorials from our former parliamentarians. It is my understanding that there are still more improvements to come.

Improvements to the National Journal are just part of how we improve our communication and engagement of members. National Communications Committee are currently working on ways to restart our e-Bulletins. We are also working on improvements to the website and the eventual transition to a new website which better suits our needs.

And we haven’t overlooked the 21st Century technologies of Social Networking. We now use this as one of our tools, carefully managed by our Social Media guru, Hayden Ostrom Brown.

Another thing your National Executive will be working on between now and the Federal Election, is restocking the war-chest. This will begin with soliciting donations from people and groups who support our policies and campaigns. It will also involve building new corporate partnerships with those who share our objectives.

Almost 35 years ago, the following words were said in the House of Representatives:

“… I wonder whether the ordinary voter is not becoming sick and tired of the vested interests which unduly influence present political parties and yearn for the emergence of a third political force, representing the middle of the road policies which would owe allegiance to no outside pressure group.”

The person who spoke those words was, as we all know Don Chipp, in his famous, resignation from the Liberal Party speech.

A few years later, at our first national conference, Sir Mark Oliphant described the Australian Democrats in the following way:

“a new party, dedicated to preserve what freedoms we still retain, and to increase them. A party in which dictatorship from the top was replaced by consensus. A party not ordered about by big business and the rich, or by union bosses. A party where a man could retain freedom of conscience and not thereby be faced with expulsion. A party to which the intelligent individual could belong without having to subscribe to a dogmatic creed. In other words, a democratic party.”

In the past few years we have seen exactly how vested interests do unduly influence other political parties. The heavy polluting industries; the mining lobby; the racist, xenophobic shock jocks; the tobacco companies; the live export industry; the gambling industry; the developers who urge a ‘big Australia;’ to name but a few.

New radicals, such as the Occupy movement, speak of the words “participatory democracy” and the concept of a “fair go,” as if the ideas no longer exist (or perhaps even never did). However, these are main stream ideas and are the life-blood of Australian Democrats policy, campaigning action and parliamentary change for 35 years.

So, how do we re-engage with the public? It involves getting out and involving ourselves with the type of community groups I mentioned earlier. It means interacting and talking to the person in the street, the pub, at church or mosque, in the workplace; being active in the community and practising grass-roots community politics.

On at least one, but I’m pretty sure two occasions, our British counterparts [then known as the Liberal Party (UK)] were reduced to six members in the House of Commons. They regrouped and merged with the Social Democrats (to become the Liberal Democrats) and got on with the hard work of the engaging the principles and practice of community politics. The new party now shares power in a coalition government.

We too are a party born of a merger. The fact that the Australia Party and the New LM had the foresight to realise the only way forward was to merge, enabled the Australian Democrats to enjoy 31 years in parliament and around 24 years as a significant player in Australian politics. As a party born of a merger, we must not be afraid to once again consider a merger, should a sensible and reasonable partner with similar principles present itself. Continual improvement and growth fights off stagnation and death.

Early this century, the Australian public fell out of love with us. Now, they barely know we even exist. Is the love affair over for good? Or can we reinvent ourselves in a meaningful way which makes the public say “Yes, that’s what I used to love about them. That’s what I miss!”? We need to take whatever steps we can to woo the voters back to us, and make ourselves relevant to them again. In time, as they recognise us again, they may love us again – and who knows, even vote for us.

Some years ago, singer Bob Geldof, from The Boomtown Rats, referring to their album “In the Long Grass,” named after what he claims is an old Irish saying which means ‘that you’ve been around only not really too visible.’ eg Q: “Where have you been?” A: “I’ve been lying in the long grass.”

So, I suppose, under the radar or keeping a low profile.

This has for the last few years made me think of how people ask about the Australian Democrats. “Aren’t they dead?” or “I thought they’d disappeared.” etc, etc. The truth is, we too have been lying in the long grass. The public don’t know we are around, when they don’t see us doing things.

The time has come for us to stand up, get out of the long grass and become a visible presence again. We can do it. We must do it. The current disillusionment with the other parties indicates that there is an opportunity for an alternative voice. Australians deserve better than what we are getting from the current parliamentary parties.

Labor has betrayed most of it’s left-wing and the old jokes are already resurfacing about ALP standing for Another Liberal Party. The Liberals are so ultra-conservative with their singular policy of “No, No, NO!” that even Malcolm Fraser has resigned. And the Greens just don’t get it. They seem to fail to understand the committee system and their all-or-nothing approach just doesn’t sit well with many people.

The crossbench was a better pace when we occupied it. it can be again. We know that it’s better to get 80 or 90 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing!

We can be the better alternative that is so desperately needed, restoring as Don Chipp described it “a balance of reason” to the crossbench. The gap is there. Its’ up to each and every one of us to convince the Australian voters that the gap is Australian Democrat shaped and that we are once again worthy of filling it and that we can Reclaim the Centre!

Thank you.

Have a wonderful conference!

A speech by Darren Churchill, 2010 Australian Democrats Senate Candidate for the ACT, at the Declaration of the Poll, Old Parliament House, 14 September 2010.

13/09/2010

A speech by Darren Churchill, 2010 Australian Democrats Senate Candidate for the ACT, at the Declaration of the Senate Poll, Old Parliament House, 14 September 2010.

Thanks Dr McRae.  I apologise for my lateness and for my voice (I’ve got a bit of the lurgy).

Firstly, congratulations to Senator Lundy and Senator Humphries on their re-election. Well done!

It was certainly an interesting campaign.

I’d like to thank the Australian Electoral Commission for their professionalism, advice and assistance before, during (and after) the election period. And for their professional and proper conduct of the election. I thank them for the respect and courtesy shown to our candidates. It is much appreciated, as is the AEC’s commitment to the electoral process.

It’s very difficult being the fourth horse in what some sectors portrayed as a three horse race. I’d like to thank the Canberra Times and The Chronicle (as well as the independent street papers) for their professionalism and acknowledgement of all candidates.

It is little wonder that one of my senior South Australian colleagues describes the Canberra Times as a “wonderful newspaper.”

2CC also deserve acknowledgement for their recognition of our part in the election.

I am incredibly impressed at how good those media were (on the whole) to us. Minor parties often have trouble getting coverage. But they acknowledged us and enabled the public to be informed.

WIN News, ABC Radio and SBS also gave us coverage in the last week of the campaign. And that has to be a first for the Australian Democrats. Although, I wish I could say the same for the first four weeks.

I must express my sincere disappointment at our ABC’s television coverage, which was not only biased, but their Stateline programme also seemed to see fit to engage in what can only be described as blatant political censorship. A change from three years ago when everyone was covered.

I thank the forum organisers, (especially) Tuggeranong Community Council, Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre, ACTCOSS and Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform for their inclusive and interesting fora. And I thank Michael Moore and John Warhurst for allowing us a say even when the organisers of other fora saw fit to exclude us.

Questions must also be raised over the participation of a pseudo-political party in the campaign. If organisations want to promote a particular agenda; and I believe it was a Labor-Greens agenda, they should declare their hand and be honest about who they are and what they want to achieve.

Despite many things being stacked against us, we did run good a campaign. We covered a lot of ground with a small and dedicated band of members and volunteers, a shoestring budget and a Senate-only campaign. I  thank the members and especially Anthony David (my running mate).  I could not have done any of this without him. Through all this, we held our ground from 2007, with only a minor decline of about 84 votes.

We raised good issues, pushed the Australian Democrats message, as a party of the progressive centre and were a part of the whole campaign. Even if some media and forum organisers deliberately chose to ignore this fact.

We now know which parties it will be who form the government. The message from the voters is very clear – you are all on notice. No party will have a secure majority – and to that end we should be glad of the result, even though the Australian Democrats were not returned in this election. The independents and minor parties will be under scrutiny like never before. And the spotlight will also be on the 24 hour media to make sure you are all held accountable.

The true test will be in whether or not members and Senators will have the guts to support legislation on it’s merits. Yes, a truly workable hung parliament relies on people crossing the floor. That’s how the Senate operated from 1981 to 2005. Now, both houses have the opportunity to see which “bastards” will stay honest to their constituents and which will toe the party line.

The Australian Democrats will continue to regrow. Liberalism is already showing a resurgence in other parts of the world (such as in the UK) and it’s time will come again in Australia. That time will see those of us who are not socialists, not conservatives and not greens – but who are true liberals, social liberals, returned as the progressive centre of Australian politics.

My sincere thanks once again to everyone. And congratulations to the newly re-elected Senators.

Thank you.

A speech to the ACT Council of Social Service Community Sector ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum for the 2010 Federal Election

17/08/2010

A speech  to the ACT Council of Social Service Community Sector ‘Meet the Candidates’ Forum for the 2010 Federal Election: 16th August 2010.

Thank you.

A bit of background about me. In spite of my advocacy for separation of Church and State, I am a practising Anglican – an Anglo-Catholic. For those of you who don’t know anything of Anglo-Catholicism, we have a history of being ‘the Church in the slums,’ ministering to the poor of the inner-cities. So, a social justice angle there.

The last few decades of Australia’s history have led to an increasing level of conservatism in our community. I don’t mean this as a political statement, but as a social comment. It started well before the Howard years and continues today.

The primary result has been an increasing level of selfishness by the well off in our community, and this has moved on into the political arena with a series of both governments and oppositions failing the disadvantaged – and creating a larger gap between the rich and poor.

We should have had political leadership that resisted this pressure and had the moral courage to improve conditions for lower income earners and disadvantaged groups, and as the topic here today “the contest for a fairer nation” implies, it really is time to regain lost ground.

The Australian Democrats have a proud record of being the people’s watchdog in the Senate. We speak for everyone and anyone who needs a voice.   We are committed to fighting for the rights of all Australians and our environment.

We are aware of our damaged environment and depleting water resources, and are prepared to stand up to protect them. We have called for immediate action on climate change. We speak on behalf of the Australian people, seek affordable health and free education, and aim to protect ordinary Australians struggling to pay their bills. We stand against the exploitation and marginalisation of Indigenous Australians and other minority groups.

We fight against discrimination and bigotry. Our long history of being led by strong women has given us the passion to fight for issues often ignored by male politicians – paid maternity leave, affordable child care, reproductive health and free education to name a few.

One of our important proposals in relation to money, is our income tax proposal to increase the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $25,000. A long-standing Australian Democrats position. And I acknowledge the work of my colleague, former Senator Andrew Murray, for his work on this policy.

Thank you.

—————————————————————————————————

The following points were included but not presented due to the tight, two minute time constraint:

Australian Democrats policy

To address some of the points in the contest for a fairer nation document, I want to give some examples of current Australian Democrats policy statements.

Income tax and incomes

The current income tax system is complex, unfair and highly inefficient due to significant churning effects and unnecessary tax concessions. The Democrats plan would improve equity, simplicity and efficiency.

Proposals from our 2010 Income Tax issue sheet include;

· Increase the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $25,000

· Index income tax rate thresholds to maintain their present value over time

· Remove unnecessary tax deductions and concessions such as FBT for company cars and other salary packaging and negative gearing deductions

Health and Mental Health

A quick selection of points from our 2010 health issue sheets includes;

· A 5-year Capacity Building Plan for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

· Increase the rate of carer payment to 75% of the standard minimum wage and double the rate of the carer allowance

· A national public dental health program that is free for concession card holders and special needs groups, and which includes a full dental check-up and basic dental treatment every two years.

· a national system of community-based mental health centres staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and psychiatric nurses

· coordinated case management for at least 12 months after discharge from mental health acute care

Climate Change and power bills

The science is clear – the world’s climate is changing fast. Greenhouse emissions must be reduced across the economy using a multitude of measures. Both the Stern Report and the Garnaut Report show that indirect costs of doing nothing will be higher than the direct cost of taking action. Increased direct energy costs must be tackled by;

· A carbon tax of $20/tonne until emissions trading commences

· A tax on coal exports of $5/tonne, with the revenue used to subsidise power bills for low income earners

· 6-star energy performance standards for appliances by 2012, 10-star by 2017 and a target of overall energy efficiency of 30% by 2020

· I also want to make it clear that the Australian Democrats are opposed to nuclear power.

Population

The Australian Democrats are not new to population policy. We have for years said that we cannot continue to grow our population at the behest of the development lobby, which is the prime beneficiary of such growth. We have rejected the flawed argument that population growth can be sustained merely by having better urban planning.

Perhaps total immigration rates should be capped?  This would be, however, without any reduction in refuge intakes, in order to meet our humanitarian obligations.   We want an eventual end to the skilled migration programme.  Australia must take responsibility for its own skills training.

Conclusion

Please think seriously about your vote.   Please think of the Democrats, You deserve better.

PHAA’s “Great Election Public Health Debate and Dinner”

14/08/2010

A Speech made to the Public Health Association of Australia’s “Great Election Public Health Debate and Dinner” – Canberra, Tuesday 10th August, 2010.

Thank you. I’m Darren Churchill, Australian Democrats Senate candidate for the ACT.

I must say it’s good to hear people finally addressing plain wrap packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products. The Australian Democrats have been at the forefront of the campaign against tobacco advertising. And this issue in particular is something Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans of the NSW Democrats has been hopping up and down about for a long time.  So, an Australian Democrats achievement there.

The Australian Democrats regard the highest priority for public health attention at the national level over the next term of government as being: Mental health – particularly early intervention and social supports; Prevention – particularly diet related; and Dental Health – particularly for middle to low income earners.

Australia’s focus has always been too much on acute care and too little on healthy lifestyles. Governments can do much more in education, public information, labeling of food and alcohol products and tighter regulation of advertising to discourage junk food and alcohol use.

For General practice we aim to address the Schedule Fee shortfall for standard and long consultations, which is a big cost the Medicare levy is not covering and has led to doctors shortage, particularly noticeable in Canberra and region. The GP Superclinics are not the answer with their patients as clients model and revolving door attitude to health care which is incongruent with GP’s being able to provide the frontline of preventative services in both physical and mental health services.

The Democrats have been at the forefront of calling for volumetric taxation on alcohol. We advocate: more explicit labeling on the alcohol content of drinks, on the health risks to minors and on safe levels of consumption; tax all alcohol products according to alcohol content and introduce the same tax and excise treatment to low and mid strength Ready To Drink beverages and wine as is applied to low and mid strength beer.

For programmes designed to improve health outcomes for disadvantaged groups, we recognise that women are a disadvantaged group in many ways and most particularly because of the impact on them of family violence. Our Women’s health policy calls for: increased funding for violence prevention, including public education campaign to challenge and eliminate violence-supportive attitudes and behaviour and to promote respectful relationships; teacher training in providing programmes for sexual health and respectful relationships, mental health and wellbeing, bullying, body mage, self harm and depression.

(Spontaneous applause occurred here)

Thank you.

For the disabled we call for: funding of annual comprehensive health checks for all Australians with a long term disability and encourage greater expertise in the medical profession in dealing with people with disabilities; establishing a national disability insurance scheme; substantially increase funding to in supported accommodation, respite and personal attendant services, using a population-based benchmark approach; a National Equipment Strategy to ensure people with disabilities can afford and access disability aids and equipment; ratifying and incorporating into law the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

People with mental illness are arguably the most disadvantaged in society. Our comprehensive mental health policy calls for $3-4 billion a year more to be spent in mental health to more closely reflect its prevalence and: Primary and early intervention with a national system of community-based mental health centres staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and psychiatric nurses; training for clinicians in screening for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders and in evidence-based treatments; programmes in schools and in the community to promote mental health and wellbeing and to address bullying, violence against women and children, alcohol use, body image, self harm and depression.

For Youth: a doubling of HeadSpace youth mental health clinics providing specialist consultations; and a national system of mental health centres for young people with emerging serious mental illness and substance problems providing: integrated assessment, crisis response, outpatient case management, inpatient care, group based treatments, mentoring, counselling and employment assistance

We advocate case management for at least 12 months after discharge from acute care; more secure extended care units and community based care units for those at very high risk; as well as universal screening of prisoners for mental illness, treatment while in prison, and release to supported accommodation; and among other things to guarantee consumers’ rights to be consulted on treatment and services; first aid training in mental health for those routinely in contact with people who may have mental health problems, especially teachers and police; ongoing programmes to destigmatise mental illness, identify early symptoms and treatment options and provide hope for living well with mental illness.

We want A National Institute for Mental Health with a quarantined budget.

For Indigenous Health: Better pre-service training and support for nurses in very remote Aboriginal communities and a minimum of 2 nurses in each clinic; improved availability in outback and remote Indigenous stores of affordable, nutritious food; breakfast and lunch provided at very low cost in all schools; support for Indigenous communities to tackle family violence and substance abuse, eg sexual assault services, outreach centres, safe houses, and legal aid; expanded sexual health education and awareness programmes; increase oral health promotion activity and targeted oral health services; comprehensive health services for the prison population; and better accommodation and transport options for Indigenous patients.

Dental Health. A national public dental health programme that is free for concession card holders and special needs groups, and which includes a full dental check-up and basic dental treatment every two years; outreach services for special need groups, particularly Indigenous Australians; and a programme of research into oral disease prevention and the effect of changing diet patterns on oral health.

Here are our plans for responding to climate change (which we have acknowledged does affect health) and our position on a carbon tax

We support an emissions trading scheme with all the watering down changes negotiated with the Coalition reversed and all permits auctioned by 2015.

The money raised in selling permits should be re-invested in major solar, wind and geothermal power generation and extending the power grid to reach these new projects; a home insulation programme with strict safety standards, ramped up over the next 8 years, allowing sustainable industry growth; and a prohibition on new coal-fired power generators and closure of the worst polluting generators over next 5 years using tight emissions standards.

Should government proceed to a carbon tax, we suggest: a carbon tax of $20/tonne until emissions trading commences; a tax on coal exports of $5/tonne, using revenue ($600m) to fund 60,000 household PV grants/year; national feed in tariffs set to allow the cost of household solar PV panels to be recouped within 5 years; and compliance with European standards of energy efficiency in vehicles, and grants for natural gas and electric vehicle refuelling infrastructure.

The Australian Democrats say the following principles should apply in designing a carbon tax:

•It should apply to CO2 emissions from the consumption of all fossil fuels and industrial processes such as oil refining and those using chemical reactions such as chemical fertiliser and cement production;

•It should be revenue neutral with the revenue raised rebated to households at a flat rate low income earners and/or to fund programs supporting greenhouse emission reduction opportunities not adequately captured by the carbon tax such as public transport;

•The price should start in 2011 at $20/tonne and be ramped up at $5/yr to $45/tonne in 2016 as a firm recommendation. This rate of increase would be expected to continue up to $70/tonne in 2021 but with a review each year after 2014;

•Imports should be subjected to an equivalent charge;

•Australia should press for a global system of carbon taxes in which each country levies an internationally harmonised carbon price or carbon tax on emissions.

Thank you.

(This is a refined and edited version of the speech actually given. I was not actually invited to participate in the debate. However, I thank PHAA’s CEO, Michael Moore, for allowing me the time to speak and present the Australian Democrats’ position.)

Speech: ‘Harm reduction is the guiding principle of Australian Democrats drug policies’

09/08/2010

“Candidates on Drugs Forum” – Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform – 9th August 2010

‘Harm reduction is the guiding principle of Australian Democrats drug policies’

Thank you.

I have a long history of supporting and advocating for drug law reform (as does my party).

As a bit of background, you might like to know what started my interest in drug law reform. Initially, it was school debates on legalisation of marijuana and heroin. I found the arguments fascinating.

Then as a university student in the 1980s, I joined the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The co-patrons of NORML were two of my heroes: Don Chipp (the first leader of the political party which I now represent) and Sir John Gorton (former Australia Party and Liberal Movement backed, independent Senate candidate for the ACT). If you haven’t picked up the connection there, I’m just pointing out that the progressive centre has always had a keen interest in drug law reform – a position which I now inherit as the current Australian Democrats candidate.

In the 1990s, I was a strong supporter of the proposed Heroin Trial and a safe-injecting room in the ACT. And this is a position, which my party has strongly advocated in ACT elections.

More recently, I have been quite outspoken about the idea that Random Roadside Drug Testing laws must be based on scientifically established driver impairment levels.

Reducing the level of damage inflicted by illicit drugs lies at the heart of the Australian Democrats drug policies.

The users of drugs are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters and our friends. They are not another species of human beings that deserve to be marginalised.

Drug abuse costs the community dearly. It touches not only the families who suffer from a loved one’s addiction, but all of us who pay the price for increased burglary to gain funds for drugs, and the cost of legal services and prison for those convicted.

The simplistic prohibitionist approach to illicit drug use has proved no more successful than prohibition of alcohol in the United States during the 1930s. Just as prohibition spawned a powerful criminal underworld, the ‘war on drugs’ is furnishing drug warlords with massive profits. Those profits are being used to corrupt both police and customs officials.

If these drugs are so dangerous, why do we leave the Mr Bigs in charge of them?

The Australian Democrats understand that zero tolerance does not work and only ends up costing the community money and lives, and keeps drug prices artificially higher, which provides greater incentive for more drug-related crime.

The criminalisation of drug abuse imposes a significant cost on the community and does very little to reduce drug use. It often means unnecessary exposure to the criminal justice system, and places drug users in a prison environment that may actually make their drug habit worse.

There is much evidence to suggest that burglary is most often drug related. In the ACT, the Democrats have called for increased research and support into alternative forms of punishment and rehabilitation for drug-related offences, such as a specialised drug court.

Prohibitionist and ‘tough on drugs’ approaches to illicit drugs are not working. Our lawmakers have repeatedly failed to base their decisions on the available scientific information about drugs. Drug and alcohol issues are more appropriately dealt with as health rather than criminal matters.

Nor is the ‘just say no’ approach to educating young people about the dangers of drugs effective. Where the message is heard at all it is often perceived as paternalist and hypocritical.

The Australian Democrats believe that effective education and realistic policies are the key to reducing all forms of drug use.

Many young people are impervious to the antidrug message when delivered by the ‘authorities’. We need much better information about what young people really think about drugs. That knowledge can then be used to develop more effective peer group education programs.

Until we strike the right balance, the war on drugs will continue to be a war upon ourselves. That balance falls between effective education and the judicious use of the criminal law.

This is to ensure that financial resources, and police and court time, are not wasted on the unnecessary prosecution and imprisonment of drug users and addicts; the focus instead should be on getting addicts the treatment they need. Police should concentrate their efforts on organised drug pushers and gangs.

We believe that drugs policy should always be based on independent scientific advice, which includes advisory bodies on the misuse of drugs being completely independent of government.

The vast majority of drug-related harm in Australia comes from the legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. With alcohol proving to be one of the most dangerous drugs being regularly consumed in our society, lifestyle advertising of alcohol must be curtailed so as to allow information only about brand, variety, price and sale points.

The Australian Democrats support trials of cannabis, ecstasy and heroin for medical purposes.

There is good evidence to show that ecstasy might be useful in the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; and heroin is still used in some overseas hospital systems to alleviate pain.

I advocate decriminalisation of the possession and use of cannabis with a nationwide expiation system for personal use of marijuana.

Turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals for the personal use of marijuana would be foolish and counterproductive. A supervised medical trial should also be conducted on the efficacy of cannabis as a pharmaceutical drug. Overseas research has suggested that the medicinal use of cannabis can be useful in alleviating pain of those suffering from cancer and other painful diseases.

Consideration should also be given to the idea that a way be found for a tax to be levied on the sale of cannabis.

Drug driving testing should extend to doctor-prescribed drugs, many of which are far more dangerous than recreational drugs; once a scientific means of determining a 0.05 BAC equivalent level of impairment can be established.

I’ll finish with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, which I think beautifully describes the criminal vs health approach to drugs:

“A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded … Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes.”

Reflections on the ACT 2008 Election

30/10/2008

Looking to the Future (Thoughts on the ACT Election and Beyond)
by Darren Churchill (ACT Democrats President)

Well, another campaign behind us. Sadly, not much of a result to show for it. Unfortunately, neither Greg nor I were successful in gaining a seat in the Legislative Assembly.

Despite the result, we did run good campaigns. We covered a lot of ground with a small and dedicated band of members and volunteers. We obviously don’t have the resources (human or otherwise) of the big parties. But we did put in an incredible amount of work and well done to everyone.

I am incredibly impressed at how good the media were (on the whole) to us. Minor parties often have trouble getting coverage. But we certainly got our share. The last two weeks of the campaign tended to go back to the print media picking favourites or trying to make their own opinion polls a reality. But with ABC Radio coming on board in the last weeks we were able to keep the media momentum going.

Elections ACT were wonderful in their professionalism, advice and assistance before and during the election period. And in their professional and proper conduct of the election. The respect and courtesy shown to our candidates is much appreciated, as is their commitment to the electoral process.

As you are well aware, our party faced some difficult obstacles to our participation in this years Election. The lack of a party column is what, I think, hurt us badly. We were ungrouped, so our vote reflected a typical ungrouped party’s vote. It’s now time to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

As of midnight last Saturday night, we can re-register without any need to rename ourselves or become something we are not. What we need is to build our membership up to strong levels again. We need 100 members to re-register. That is achievable. But what we need to do is put ourselves well above the 100 required members.

All this takes is for each and every member to recruit 1 or 2 friends, family members, colleagues or other to the Australian Democrats. Remember, your membership is your right to vote in party decision and policy. It is your ticket to being able to “make a difference.”

If you live in the ACT, please join, renew or re-join. If you don’t live in the ACT, encourage your friends, family, etc who do live here to do the same.

The campaign here couldn’t have been run without the effort put in by a number of people. I am incredibly grateful to those who gave their time, talents, money, and energy to the campaign effort. The nominators, letterboxers, shopping-centre stall staffers, speech writers, questionnaire answerers, website team, materials designers, corflute displayers, and those who gave me tip-offs about forums we might otherwise have missed, etc. I hope I haven’t left any group out. Our small band did the work the bigger parties do with hundreds and we still managed to maintain a visible presence in the campaign.

We raised good issues, pushed the Democrats message and were a part of the whole campaign. Even if our vote didn’t reflect the interest that was shown to us.

The final composition of the new assembly is now known. Congratulations to the parties elected and especially to the new members.

We don’t (at this stage) know which party it will be who forms the next government. No party will have a majority – and to that end we should be glad of the result, even though there will be no Democrats in this Assembly.

I learned a lot from the campaign. I’ve made some new friends and some new contacts. I do look forward to working with the new MLA’s and building our contacts with the Assembly and the community.

Communication and building new links with the community are essential. So, they are also part of the rebuilding of our “new” Australian Democrats.

We are the same party with our commitment to our 23 objectives and our history of over 31 years of honesty, tolerance and compassion. But we are “new” in the sense that we embrace the future and look forward with a positive focus and new energy as the great “progressive” party we are.

It’s now time to move into the future. Lets put ourselves in a good, strong position now, so in time we can contest the elections from a position of greater strength. And further down the track, we can look back and say: “We’re still going strong. And we still “keep the bastards honest!'”

Darren Churchill
President
Australian Democrats (ACT Division)
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
0412 196 473

(Darren Churchill (Ginninderra) and Greg Tannahill (Molonglo) represented the Australian Democrats in the 2008 ACT election.)

A speech by Darren Churchill, ACT Democrats president, at the Declaration of the Poll, ACT Legislative Assembly, 29 October 2008.

29/10/2008

A speech by Darren Churchill, ACT Democrats president, at the Declaration of the Poll, ACT Legislative Assembly, 29 October 2008.

I’d like to thank Elections ACT for their professionalism, advice and assistance before and during the election period. And for their professional and proper conduct of the election. The respect and courtesy shown to our candidates is much appreciated, as is their commitment to the electoral process.

As you are well aware, my party faced some difficult obstacles to our participation in this year’s Election. The lack of a party column is what, I think, hurt us badly. We were ungrouped, so our vote reflected a typical ungrouped party’s vote.

It’s now time to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. As of midnight on Election night, we can re-register without any need to rename ourselves or become something we are not.

Despite the result, we did run good a campaign. We covered a lot of ground with a small and dedicated band of members and volunteers.

I am incredibly impressed at how good the media were (on the whole) to us. Minor parties often have trouble getting coverage. But we certainly got our share.

We raised good issues, pushed the Democrats message and were a part of the whole campaign. Even if our vote didn’t reflect the interest that was shown to us.

The final composition of the new assembly is now known. Congratulations to the parties elected and especially to the new members.

We don’t know which party it will be who forms the next government. No party will have a majority – and to that end we should be glad of the result, even though there will be no Democrats in this Assembly.

It’s time to move into the future now. There are a number of new opportunities to explore as I take my party, the Australian Democrats, into that future and embrace it and look forward with a positive focus and new energy as the great “progressive” party we are.

In four years time we intend contest the next election, from a position of greater strength. And further down the track, we will be able to look back and say: “We’re still going strong. And we still “keep the bastards honest!'”

My sincere thanks once again to everyone. And congratulations to the new MLAs.

Thank you.

A Speech by Darren Churchill, Candidate for Ginninderra, to the University of Canberra “Candid Candidates” Election Event, UC Refectory, 15 October, 2008

15/10/2008

A Speech by Darren Churchill, Candidate for Ginninderra, to the University of Canberra “Candid Candidates” Election Event, UC Refectory, 15 October, 2008

G’day,

Folks, it could be said that the Australian Democrats have done quite a bit of work on Social Justice. That is true. Right from the beginning, my party was formed on the principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion, with policies based on common sense and fairness.

We are the true small “l” liberals, socially progressive, being a voice for Aboriginal reconciliation, human rights and refugees as well as championing the environment long before it was ever trendy to do so. In 2008, the ACT Democrats stand by those very same principles

The Australian Democrats have always taken a positive approach to the idea of Social Inclusion by recognising and responding to the diverse needs of all Australians, with particular emphasis on those in greatest need. We continue to do so.

Social inclusion is about social cohesion. It is about creating a framework, whereby the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, are provided with the opportunities to share in society’s prosperity, to participate in society.

It is the role of government to ensure that there is a safety net to protect those who slip through the cracks of our economic and social structures.

For many Canberrans the real threats to their security come from poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity or poor access to services.

I have been asked today to talk about four specific topics and I will focus the bulk of my speech on these areas.

Firstly, Cost of Living

The cost of living is a difficult statistic to calculate. People with different lifestyles spend their income on different “baskets” of goods and services. Are you a poor student? Or do you have a family and buying a house? Are you a retiree or a pensioner? Quality of life is a related concept. Some people choose to have a lower income so that they can live somewhere quiet and peaceful and some like the higher income and stress and congestion of city life.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that Canberra is the third most expensive capital city to live in, in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra has the second highest average income. Australia has a lower average cost of living than the USA or UK. But, from a Democrats perspective, what is more important than a single average statistic is the spread from poor to rich. Does our society give everyone a fair chance to get started – to buy a home if you want to? Do we have a decent welfare safety net to catch the disadvantaged? Can we all get a decent feed and medical attention?

The Democrats believe that the best way to avoid a cost of living problem is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity for full time employment. The ACT government has a significant role to play in planning for future employment and economic growth and stability. Canberra has never really had a long term plan to achieve this goal, and its something the Democrats have as a priority.

The Skills Crisis

Some people claim there is a skills crisis in Australia. I say there is business and industry management failure. Why are their job vacancies that can’t be filled (without cheap migrant labour)? Because either the pay or conditions just aren’t good enough. I don’t believe Australians are too lazy too work, but they are also not stupid enough to work for nothing. Business and Industries with a labour problem need to get their act together and offer decent conditions.

One of the major failures in industries where there is a supposed skills shortage is really the inability for workers to get a reliable income. You can’t work and plan for your future if you don’t have a steady income (unless you are on a hundred thousand dollars a year or more). With an ageing workforce and an increase in the expectation that people will cater for their own retirement income through superannuation, the casualisation of the workforce is just increasing the tax burden on those who do have regular incomes.

Sustainability of Development

Sustainability has three equally important aspects – economic, environmental and social. Its what we Democrats call the triple bottom line. It’s the core of the way that the Democrats judge good policy, by how policy meets those three criteria.

Economic sustainability means we need to develop a broad based and efficient employment base designed around what Canberra is good at. We don’t have minerals or agriculture as an economic base, so we have to have something else – and something other than reliance on being the seat of Australian government.

The Democrats support the development of high-tech, information-tech and green jobs. We want the ACT to capitalise on the research base we have in the CSIRO and our Universities to make Canberra a centre of excellence for housing construction processes that are energy efficient, water efficient and carbon neutral.

Environmental sustainability means maintaining a high quality of both urban and rural environment. Right now, we have to ensure that the international economic crisis is managed, but it can’t be allowed to overtake the importance of tackling the global warming problem.

The Democrats want the ACT to have long term water use and energy plans, to make sure that we can maintain a decent standard of living while maintaining good environmental water flows and minimising our carbon debt. Our transport policy aims to move an increasing percentage of commuters from cars to public transport – buses and light rail – and bicycles. Ideally, we’d like a full 24-hour bus service, seven days a week. But that’s something we have to work our way up to as Canberra grows. We accept that there are circumstances where private transport is still the only way to be flexible, and we need to cater properly for that too.

Social sustainability means having a range of housing, education and health services and infrastructure so that everyone has a reasonable standard of living. (And accepting that it is the role of the Federal government to manage things like unemployment and disability incomes)

The Democrats have a vision of Canberra with more high-rise, high density living around town centres and transport corridors while maintaining a suburban Bush Capital lifestyle for those who want it, and providing a decent supply of student accommodation and emergency welfare housing. We want to revert to a system of local neighbourhood primary schools to rebuild community cohesiveness and minimise travel. We want much more government funding for health to increase the supply of doctors (and especially bulk billing doctors), to reduce hospital waiting times and to increase community-nursing services for those who find it difficult to travel.

Higher Education Funding

This is to a large extent a Federal government issue, but there are things we can do at a local level. Governments have a responsibility to give every Australian a good education, but the Democrats believe that vocational training should mainly be the role of the business or industry that wants specific skills.

The Democrats have always opposed plans for commercial funding of educational institutions and believe that even at a tertiary level subject curricula should be designed to give an educational expertise rather than a specific narrow skill set just designed for a specific job. Job skills change as jobs come and go over time – education should be designed to give students the ability to be trained and re-trained as necessary. But, we also believe that individual companies or industries should provide scholarships and apprenticeships to individual students so as to be able to supply their own industry requirements.

Governance

For better governance, the Democrats stand by our principle that Governments should be held to honour their election promises. And recognise that a government has a mandate to govern and implement the platform it was elected to, but not to dictate or force through unfair legislation; it must be scrutinised and debated to “keep the bastards honest.”

We are the negotiators, the natural party of the cross-benches, the people who know how to make otherwise bad legislation into better, fairer legislation for all. We work for good outcomes. If laws are to be honest and just, the Assembly and the public must be given ample time to discuss all proposed legislation.

We don’t side with either Labor or Liberal. We maintain our independence. It is an obligation on Democrats politicians to vote with their conscience on all issues.

So, whether it is a re-elected Labor government, on Saturday. Or, whether it is a new Liberal government. If we are elected, as Democrats, Greg Tannahill and I (Darren Churchill) will maintain an independent cross-bench. We will be sensible negotiators. We will uphold the Australian Democrats principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion. And, we will “Keep the Bastards Honest!”

Thank you.

Darren Churchill’s short speech and comments to Gungahlin Community Council, Meet the Candidates Event, 08 October, 2008.

13/10/2008

Darren Churchill’s short speech and comments to Gungahlin Community Council, Meet the Candidates Event, 08 October, 2008.

Introductory 1 minute speech:

G’day!

I’m Darren Churchill. I’m the president of the ACT Democrats; “Ungrouped” candidate for Giinninderra. I’m a registered relief teacher. I’ve worked over at the Gold Creek School in wonderful Nicholls. I also work at one of the gyms here in Gungahlin as a Group Fitness Instructor.

I want to work for better education, better transport, a better health system that keeps it’s professionals in the system. I want to restore accountability to the Assembly to make an effective cross-bench. That regardless of which side wins in the next Election, that we have an independent cross-bench where someone is there from the Democrats to “keep the bastards honest’ a job which we do so well.

Thank you.

Housing:

We believe that every Australian deserves safe, clean, well maintained housing. The ACT Democrats believe in a strong public housing programme and an increase in crisis and emergency accommodation.

On the issue of affordable housing for purchasers, the ACT Democrats believe that it is the role of government to ensure that the land is used for all Canberrans not just for developers. So, we will abolish Stamp Duty for first home buyers, increasing their buying power relative to existing landowners. And ensure that existing development precincts include attractable low-cost housing, suitable for first home buyers. We also support multi-unit developments in a sensible measure in Town Centres where they blend in with existing development.

Decentralisation:

Yes, I agree with the idea of decentralising ACT Governments to Gungahlin. That will help get the workforce base here that creates rhe demand for private-sector businesses to come here to provide the needs for people.

Banning of Donations over $200:

No. The big parties would just find a way around it anyway. All donations should be on the public record.

Aged Care:

Look, I think we need to do something whereby Disability Services can come out and fit homes with rails, ramps and the other facilities for people as they age. I also think with aged accommodation, it’s not just enough to build the accommodation, it also needs to be adequately serviced – and access to medical services, support services and those sort of things as well. And for people staying in private homes, as they age, access to community nursing.

Traffic congestion:

Look, the simplest and most sensible way to ease traffic congestion is to improve the public transport system. And what we need is an overarching transport system that includes decent public transport, sensibly planned roads, a light rail network. And that will ease the congestion and get things happening again.

Thanks.