Michael White MP Werriwa

Freedom of speech

For our democracy to continue to be strong, we must learn to live with the different world views in our community. People of any faith and no faith should be able to publicly state their opinions, even though not everyone will like what they say. Rather than vehemently trying to silence those with whom we disagree, we should value their right to say what they think as much as we value our own.

If you are religious, it is better to care about freedom of conscience for all than to seek exemptions for faith. In a free society, your faith will be fine. If we don’t have an overall culture of being free to live as we wish, how long will the exemptions last?

The free flow of ideas is essential. We should restrict calls for violence and hatred, but restricting free speech on the grounds of people taking offence is going too far.

Marriage and gender

Don’t get distracted by the Liberals and Labor attacking each other. Vote for something that matters – putting meaning back into marriage.

Almost all adults see themselves as a man or as a woman. However this very basic identity is no longer referred to by our marriage laws. If you’re in a traditional marriage, the law no longer sees it as a marriage between a man and a woman. If you’re in a same sex marriage, your marriage also has no legal definition as a man and a man, or as a woman and a woman. The Marriage Act just specifies marriage as a ‘union of two people’.

The defining feature of marriage – gender – has been removed! Who gets married without regard to gender? Virtually no one. The starting point is gender. People know which gender they want to marry before they even begin to assess compatibility or form feelings for someone else. We need to put reality back into the law. It’s simply a matter of respect for all couples. It’s as if we had a cathedral and decided to replace it with a dreary block of flats.People should have the option of their marriage being recognised as between a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. We can also retain the current definition of ‘two people’ for any couple who find that suits them.

All categories would be legally equivalent. An amendment of this kind to the law recognises the different views held by the Australian community on what constitutes a marriage. Equality is not compromised and inclusion is promoted.
The removal of gender from marriage makes it more likely that gender will also be removed in other areas. We have already seen this in the ACT and Tasmania, which recently made gender/sex optional on birth certificates. If what is happening makes you uneasy, then vote for a candidate who will not unthinkingly go along with this worrying trend.

If you’re a Labor voter who voted No to same sex marriage (which is a large majority of you in Werriwa and throughout Western Sydney), you should remember that Labor did its best to stop you having that vote. So why should you give them your vote now? Labor didn’t want to know the opinion of its heartland, and certainly won’t stand up for your freedom of conscience if you don’t want to express support for SSM.

Owning a Home

The decline in housing ownership needs to be tackled. A lot of money gets spent on housing assistance, but most of it simply helps pay the rent. Instead of subsidising intergenerational poverty, what about looking at ways to help people own a property? As one example, the rent paid by public housing tenants could be treated as part of a long term mortgage. With the decline in full time jobs and the rise of the gig economy, fewer people will be able to qualify for a bank loan. We should look at cheaper housing options, and government backed loans for people who have a good record of making rental payments.

Better Suburbs

The poorly planned way our cities have expanded has been a national disaster. Public transport just wasn’t on the agenda. A rail corridor should always be put in before new suburbs start to grow – it’s much cheaper to do before roads and buildings get in the way. All new communities should have a station – whether light or heavy rail – as their hub.

I believe ‘small is beautiful’ in urban design. Schools should have landscaped gardens and natural playspaces. When people have to commute on crowded freeways or trains in surrounds that are not on a human scale, it’s no wonder we have a depression epidemic.

In suburbs that will be next door to a new airport, Werriwa need an MP who will be vigilant against the electorate being marked on the map as ‘No beauty required here’.

Environment

I support an orderly transition to a green powered economy. I don’t condemn anyone for having doubts about the extent of climate change; I would just say that we don’t have two planets to experiment on with action vs inaction, to find out who was right. Action to reduce fossil fuel use is the most prudent choice. I don’t support the opening of new coal mines. We should develop an export industry for renewable hydrogen fuel, following up on recent CSIRO research. Electric car manufacturing is just getting going in Australia – let’s keep it going.

We need to get recycling right. Shipping our waste overseas leads to chaos when other countries decide not to take it anymore. We need a national plan to create markets for reused materials, and create jobs in the process. The waste industry has such a plan, but is being frustrated by government indifference. The ultimate goal should be zero waste to landfill.

If you want to vote for ecofriendly suburbs and climate caution, but aren’t so sure about the social policies of the Greens, I’m giving you an alternative.

Population

I’d like to see Australia be more generous towards refugees than it has been. Immigration as a way for Australia to interact with the world and be a responsible global citizen is something I support. However, the high rates of immigration in recent times are not necessary to achieve these goals. Governments don’t like to draw attention to this, but it’s a fact that almost all economic growth over the past decade has been caused by population growth; we aren’t actually getting better off per capita, or only very slightly. As an economic strategy, high immigration hasn’t worked well for individual Australians.

We should aim for a rate of population growth more in line with the OECD average. We don’t need to be one of the fastest growing countries in the world, with no particular plan as to why. That’s a frontier mentality, rather than the action of a mature and confident nation. Taking more time to plan where and how more people are to live would take the pressure off our cities.

Electoral Participation

I’m concerned about the above average informal vote in Werriwa and the high number of people who don’t turn up to vote. If we also include people who should be on the roll but aren’t, and new immigrants who aren’t citizens yet, I would hazard a guess that between a quarter and a third of adults in Werrriwa won’t have a say at this election. When I was collecting one hundred signatures for my nomination (thanks to everyone who signed!), it wasn’t always easy to find someone who was actually on the roll. It would be great to work on improving this participation rate, through better electoral education and encouragement to those who (for whatever reason) aren’t turning up at a polling booth.

In the course of my travels in the electorate, I met a man who said he couldn’t vote. I found this odd, given his age and Aussie accent. He explained that this was because he had committed a serious crime. I saw his point of view. He’s served his time. What is to be gained from not allowing him to vote now? If he is deemed safe in the community, surely it’s safe for him to vote? This was a good reminder of the neccessity of caring about everyone’s concerns, even when it may not be an electorally popular cause.

If you like these policies, make the party you normally vote for pay attention to your opinion – vote Independent first, and put your preferred party second. Voting Independent is an effective use of your vote.

 

But doesn’t voting Independent cause instability, which is why it is better to vote Liberal or Labor? Well, Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison… Need I say more?

If elected, my time would be spent on making well-considered decisions on the legislation before the House, and doing what I can to help the people in my electorate. I won’t be distracted by infighting with party colleagues or plotting the next coup.

I don’t see Parliament as a taxpayer funded playground for pursuing my own ambitions. Being a Member is about undertaking a duty to do what you can to make Australia a better place.

Michael White MP Werriwa