Sustainability Party of Australia - Home Page

"economically literate environmentalism"

At the Sustainability Party of Australia, our goal is to bring rationality, honesty, robust debate and common sense to sustainability, economics and politics.

We vow never to put polls or public opinion ahead of speaking our mind and doing what is right. We promise not to shy away from difficult issues. We will promote meaningful policy and leave out the empty rhetoric. We will confront the public with their own hypocrisy rather than trying to validate it in a quest for votes.

The Sustainability Party has been at the forefront of key policy changes. Some of the changes we have helped bring about include:

  • A carbon tax. The Sustainability Party has promoted a carbon tax since our inception. A green tax shift forms the core of our policy. The party will campaign against Laborís plans to switch over to a trading scheme in a few years time and anticipate another backflip from Labor on this issue.
  • Water pricing. The party supports higher prices for water. These should cover the marginal cost of increasing our water supply capacity. Water pricing should be variable to reflect scarcity and natural variation in availability. Water pricing should reflect the environmental cost of draining our rivers, as well as the economic cost to downstream fisheries and the social cost and loss of amenity. The party opposes water rationing, forcing people to carry a few cents worth of water round in buckets and other arbitrary restrictions on water use.
  • Legalisation of Kangaroo meat. The party actively supported efforts in California to legalise Kangaroo products, including meat and leather. These efforts were recently successful. The ban on Kangaroo products is the type of empty headed, knee jerk environmental and animal welfare policy the party opposes. We will oppose such policy not only where Australian industry is the victim, but also where Australians deny foreign countries equitable treatment out of ignorance. This is why we also support the resumption of commercial harvesting of Minke Whales. We urge all Australians to consider the details on this issue rather than blindly supporting the outdated blanket ban on whaling. We will pursue this policy regardless of the Ďimage problemí it creates for the party. Thatís how we roll.

For more information or to join our mailing list, send us an email at spa@ozpolitic.com

Membership is free.

The Sustainability Party of Australia stands for:

  • a productive, resilient environment
  • a strong economy
  • a healthy, comfortable lifestyle
  • good food
  • freedom and democracy

Expressions of interest are sought for a new political party. The party will focus on two general areas which tend to get ignored in mainstream politics:

  • long term sustainability of our society
  • using revenue raising tools (taxes) to correct market failures

Sustainability Party Long term issues tend to get ignored because politicians tend to focus on the election cycle, which doesn't hold them accountable for the long term impacts of their policies.

Targeted taxation has a huge potential as a policy but is also ignored and has unfortunately become a bit of a 'taboo' topic among larger parties. There is a tendency to focus only on what politicians promise to spend money on, rather than how they raise it. However, how governments collect revenue and how much they collect has more impact on society than how they spend it. The reason for the lack of political will in this area is that spending money on a group of people will tend to win their votes without costing the votes of those who pay for it via taxes. On the other hand, taxing a group of people will tend to lose their votes while not gaining the votes of those who aren't directly affected. Even an arbitrary change in the taxation pattern will only lose votes because only those who are potentially worse off take a strong interest.

Domestic policies include:

  • A slight reduction in the total tax burden on society (as a percentage of GDP). Tax brackets should be indexed to wages to prevent bracket creep.
  • A shift of the tax burden from environmentally and socially benign economic activities to activities that harm society. Tax reductions will be targeted at low income earners in order to avoid regressive shifts in the tax burden (ie shifts that increase the wealth gap by benefiting the wealthy more than the poor).
  • All communal resources should remain communal property. Things like air, water, fish and native wildlife which cannot be fenced in should not be sold off under licensing schemes. Instead, commercial harvest, consumption, use and pollution should be restricted by taxation. This is especially applicable where current management regimes already require monitoring. The level of taxation shall be adjusted dynamically, to have the same long term effect as a limit on extraction or pollution. These 'effective limits' will be made public and should be the target of political decisions, while converting the limits to tax rates is a more technical matter. Where licensing schemes have been in place and functioning for sufficient time to establish a recognised and trusted market in licenses, those licenses will be bought back at a reasonable price from those who have purchased them. Limits on extraction or pollution need not be lifted and should usually be left in place as an additional precautionary measure. However a tax will make them less significant.
  • Water consumption should be controlled through taxation. The amount of tax will vary with the amount of water available, so that water is cheap when rivers are in flood and more expensive during a drought. All users within a catchment shall be charged the same amount per unit of water consumed, if it is 'the same water.' Under current management regimes, surface water is given away until none is left. Instead, water should be taxed sufficiently to allow some return of natural flows to over drained rivers. Subsidies for residential water tanks should be phased out, as well as water rationing. State laws that prevent tenants from being charged for the water they consume should be withdrawn and tenancy contracts should default to 'tenant pays' for water, as with electricity. The bill is currently sent to the landlord instead, preventing the tenant from even finding out how much water they consume.
  • Subsidies should only be applied where they are justified by sound economics, rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to an uneconomic industry encountering financial difficulties. Drought assistance for farmers is a subsidy and should not be given in the same area more than once a century. The baby bonus is a subsidy and should be eliminated unless the total (gross) population starts to decline. Subsidies may be applied to positive externalities where the cost of monitoring is not prohibitive and the cost to society of taxation is outweighed by the benefits from subsidising the positive externality. They can also be applied to research and new technologies, on the expectation that some of this research will pay off in the future. They should not be applied to established technologies for which there is already a market.
  • The adoption of voting by delegable proxy in the Queensland parliament or the federal senate.
  • An end to the baby bonus and limits on immigration to achieve zero net population growth.
  • An end to the first home owner grant. This is largely self defeating because it has caused an artificial spike in house prices.
  • Greater use of public lands in urban areas to grow fruit and nut trees. Where the economics justify it, this will extend to maintenance of these trees to increase productivity. However, no artificial pesticides or herbicides will be used in urban areas to support this scheme. As well as producing food for local consumption, this will facilitate public education on species suitable for the local soil and climate.
  • Greater use of marine parks as fisheries management tools, with a focus on heavily fished areas close to population centres, rather than more 'pristine' areas.
  • Advertised bank interest rates are currently deceptive. The advertised annual interest rate charged on home loans etc is smaller than the actual interest rate. Banks 'compound' interest and advertise rates as being compounded daily or monthly, but calculate the daily or monthly interest rate as a 'simple' rate. Are the banks really incapable of calculating the true compound interest rate that matches the advertised annual rate?

Foreign policies:

We call for an immediate end to:

  • farming subsidies, especially in the US and EU
  • bans on taxing fuel for international flights
  • bans on the importation of Kangaroo meat (for example into California)
  • laws in the Netherlands that effectively legalise bestiality by requiring sheep to testify against farmers in order to obtain a conviction

We support the immediate ratification of the Kyoto protocol and support efforts to include developing countries and to further restrict emissions. The federal government should retain emissions rights on our behalf. It should tax emissions to keep them below our allotted targets and generate income by selling emissions rights. While developing nations should also make efforts to limit their emissions, lack of action on their behalf should not be used as an excuse for inaction on our behalf, especially while our per capita emissions are far higher. Countries should be compared on a per capita basis and Australia should not expect to be able to emit more per person because of our low population.

We support the spread of democracy and promote electoral reform in countries with clearly inferior voting methods (primarily 'first past the post' systems).

The Sustainability Party will avoid populist yet ill considered policies. We will pursue all strategies available to get our policies enacted, even if this means encouraging other parties to take them on and acknowledging positive changes in the policies of other parties. If necessary we will place the pursuit of our policies before the pursuit of power (ie getting elected). We can achieve significant change merely by controlling a block of votes and maintaining pressure on other parties via the media.

We must get broad public support for our policies if they are to be enacted. Hence our strategy will focus on informing the general public of the benefits of our policies. This does not exclude direct lobbying of elected officials. It is just recognition that no politician will support our ideas while the public remains ignorant or fearful of them.

Unless otherwise stated, our policies on how to spend money (ie, education, law enforcement, health etc) will be similar to those of the major parties. We believe that the real differences between the major parties on these issues are less significant than their policy failures on issues related to sustainability.

Major Party Comparison

The following table shows how the policies of the major parties compare with SPA polices. It will be used to generate a 'how to vote' guide. If you can help fill in some of the blanks, please let us know. We are also seeking independent and minor party candidates who share our views. We are not afraid to give credit to other parties where it is due.

One Nation Family First Nationals Liberals Democrats Labor Greens
reduction in overall tax burden yes         yes  
green tax shift              
taxation instead of licensing              
carbon tax       no yes yes yes
water tax         yes    
end tank rebate           no  
end water rationing         yes    
fewer subsidies              
end first home owners grant       no      
end baby bonus       no yes    
electoral reform         support PR    
reduced immigration         yes    
food trees on public land         yes    
marine parks              
truth in advertising (banks)              
end farming subsidies       yes      
end ban on plane fuel tax              
end ban on roo meat              
ratify kyoto       no   yes yes

View list of forum discussions about the party.

Discussion

For more information or to join our mailing list, send us an email at spa@ozpolitic.com

Membership is free via email, but donations would be appreciated.

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