Setting the progressive agenda: CPD readers respond

Hundreds of CPD readers took the time to add their ideas to ours by completing our More than Luck Survey. Here is a quick pick of some of your thoughts on the best and worst policies of the Labor Government, and your ideas on what needs to happen next.

“The best policy of the Rudd Government so far…”

Many readers thought that important progress has been made – for example in ratifying Kyoto, apologising to the Stolen Generations and taking swift action to avert the worst effects of the GFC in Australia. Here are a few of the policies that CPD readers admired:

Paid parental leave scheme. We should have had one years ago. We have the lowest participation rate of women aged 25 – 40 of all OECD countries. This policy will go some way to redressing this issue. LAURA GILTRAP

Financial management. Together with the Reserve Bank gave excellent initiarive abd leadership enabling Australia to avoid the depradations of the GFC. Also major cintributions in reversing objectionable IR laws, Child care rebate and age pension improvements,withrawal from Iraq, restoring University funding, bold attempts to put price on carbon destroyed by Coalition. ANTHONY BOWRA

The economic stimulus package. This textbook Keynesian response to the GFC not only saved Australia from a significant recession; it also contributed a once-in-a-generation infrastructure injection into Australian schools. BEN ELTHAM

I submit two achievements of the Rudd Government as being equally important. One was to get the economic stimulus package through Parliament. Without it, the Australian financial institutions could have suffered a crisis of confidence that would have infected the whole Australian community. An equally important achievement was to help create the G20 and get Australia into it, thus replacing the Eurocentric G8, which did not pursue economic policies that were globally representative. RICHARD BROINOWSKI

Fair Work Act – the restoration of collective bargaining, safety net, independent umpire and protection from unfair dismissal – was absolutely necessary for equality and maintaining standards of living in Australia. New provisions such as low paid bargaining and general protections are good. There is of course room for improvement! I think the mining tax is a close second – it’s good economic policy. We should be using our resource advantage to build a strong future that doesn’t rely on Australia being the world’s sandpit. PETER FERGUSON

“The worst policy of the Rudd Government so far…”

It was often the implementation of policies under the Rudd government that most concerned CPD readers – the list was long and varied but there was very strong concern about the government’s lack of real action on climate change – an issue Rudd described as the moral challenge of our generation. The continued intervention in the Northern Territory; a failure to commit to a Human Rights Act and a lack of spine and compassion when it comes to the plight of refugees were some of the other disappointments CPD readers told us about. Here are some of the thoughts you shared with us:

Compulsory income quarantining. This is the most totalitarian policy that any Australian government has introduced since the forced separation of Indigenous children from their families in the 1960’s. Extending income quarantining to most people on income support across the country, regardless of their circumstances, is an act of a paternalistic government convinced that it knows what’s good for people in welfare better than these people do themselves. It is the most arrogant policy ever devised by any Australian government in our history. RAY MANLEY

Suspension of processing asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – it appeals to the worst nature of society in promoting the fear of others, it violates our international responsibility, it has no reasonable argument supporting it and it is plainly inhumane. ALEX BALLANTYNE

Particularly disappointed in the Rudd governement’s backflips on asylum seekers, poorly conceived and promoted ETS, failure to withdraw from NT intervention. Complete squib of Bill of Rights, poor timing and handling of mining tax that we should actually have. IAN NEERING

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The scheme squandered its chance to reform outdated polluting industries. It would have delivered windfall profits to coal-dependent aluminium exporters -for example- at a huge cost to the Australian taxpayer. It should have built in a steadily increasing price on Carbon to enable long term planning around this price, using revenue to fund renewable infrastructure. ANNE O’BRIEN

The Internet Filter scheme because it is ill-thought out, ineffective, unenforceable, won’t do what it is being touted as doing, limits the freedom available on the internet, is so open to abuse by this or future governments and is yet another extension of government power becoming more paternalistic and less democratic. MAUREEN SHERRY

The worst for me is, I think, that on refugees, because it symbolises the worst in our national character – our meanness, in the richest country on earth, and our government reflecting that meanness. We can never “afford” to look after our own poorest, or the world’s most hard-done-by. And we can’t “afford” to price carbon; etc, etc, etc. ROGER KEYES

“The most important idea that a federal government could act on in the next three years…”

We were encouraged by the many ideas CPD readers identified that we need to make matter – and that our leaders should take notice of as they head to the election and the next term of government. Many of you picked climate change as the most important area for real and urgent action – and there is plenty of work to do in other areas too. Here are just some of the great and varied ideas from you, our readers and the CPD community:

The need to take genuine action to address climate change. Leadership is required. Legislation must be implemented. Policy cannot be handed over to market forces. TONY SMITH

Responding in full to the Henry Review’s recommendations – not just a selected few that happens to be politically palatable to a very risk-averse government. This would include undoing the regressive arrangements in capital gains tax and super tax concessions – both areas where the rich benefit on the taxpayer’s dime. JOSH FEAR

A fair share of the nation’s wealth for all. Do something about long-term unemployment, put real money towards dealing with mental illness and disability, invest in education at all levels and build a sustainable transport system that doesn’t leave us dependent on oil. Yep, people will have to pay TAXES, heaven forbid. Above all, LEAD with language about equality of opportunity and ensuring that everyone gets to share in the prosperity. Make us into a community again. CATHY RYTMEISTER

The single most important idea the government can act on in the next three years is to close the gap in Aboriginal infant mortality, Aboriginal literacy and morbidity. The government should do ratings on the Canberra bureaucracy as it is doing in schools. There is a desperate need for more accountability, less setting up inquiries and less reports on what everyone knows is a huge disgrace. MARY OSBORN

Reform of mental health care in cooperation with states and territories so that all Australians with mental health problems including the most serious could be confident of getting quality mental health care no matter where they lived, their age & gender, & level of disposable income, with a focus on care in the community not just in inpatient settings. DR VALERIS GERRAND

Link policies and programs to clear values and principles. What does the government believe in? JOHN MENADUE

Constitutional reform that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ First Nations status PROF SARAH MADDISON

Only one? I have a few. Fixed-term elections, preferably four years with a two term limit for leaders. This would facilitate better fiscal policy and mitigate the cynical advantage that incumbency provides in controlling election timing. It would also address the tendency of leaders to hang on to power when their policy zeal has gone. More grass root initiatives fostering climate change action such as a national feed-in tariff scheme. Real tax reform that includes rationalisation of the disparate family payments system and greater incentives and support for parents who wish re-enter the workforce, such as lowering Effective Marginal Tax Rates. Real action and support for those on the Disability Support Pension in assisting them back to work where possible without stigmatising them or leaving them on a merry-go-round of welfare dependency the outlays for which now stand at a projected $12 billion for 2010-11. TIM HAMILTON

Changing the universal mantra from “economic growth at any cost” to an “environmentally sustainable development” model that addresses the imperative for the nation to move to a low carbon economy. LEONIE STUBBS

The next federal government will have a lot of unfinished business to address – and at CPD we’ll be doing our best to make sure they pay attention to big, bold ideas to steer us to a fairer and more sustainable future.

Thanks for all the great ideas.