A RECORD vote for The Greens at the last election was a major factor in the hung Parliament, but the party’s Calare candidate David Mallard feels people should choose The Greens while the major parties turn their back on voters.
“Labor and the Coalition are competing with each other to look after big business in particular the mining industry,” he said.
“They are competing with each other to be harsh and even cruel to people who are vulnerable including asylum seekers and people struggling to make ends meet.”
The former State Parliament policy advisor lives in Orange with his partner Liz.
He feels Calare could become a leader in the clean energy industry if there was more investment.
Labor’s decision to bring forward the shift from a carbon price to ETS and cut investment in clean technology and the biodiversity fund had weakened action on climate change.
Dr Mallard said a plan to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy was needed.
He opposes coal seam gas exploration, labelling it “unsafe and unnecessary”, and ideally would like to see a moratorium on new exploration licences.
“The Greens have been the party that have stood with the landholders and communities concerned about coal seam gas at state and federal levels,” he said.
“We don’t think gas is necessary to meet the energy needs because of the risk to land and water.
Dr Mallard described the national broadband network (NBN) as a crucial piece of 21st century infrastructure and said The Greens believed it should be accessible and affordable for everyone.
“We’ve supported Labor’s NBN with fibre all the way to people’s homes apart from the people in more rural and remote areas,” he said.
But the party did not back Labor’s paid parental leave scheme or the offering from the Coalition.
Dr Mallard feels the right model lies in the middle ground.
“Paid parental leave should be a workplace entitlement, rather than a minimum wage welfare requirement,” he said.
“When people have a baby a lot of their expenses remain unchanged so a system where people get their regular salary is more appropriate.”
Dr Mallard said The Greens’ scheme would be cheaper than the Coalition’s with salaries capped at $100,000 not $150,000 meaning everyone would get their full salary except for the top 10 per cent of income earners.
“It’s costed and paid for and it doesn’t run into the budget issues the Coalition’s does,” he said.
Dr Mallard said his party was the only one pledging to increase the base rates of Newstart and Youth Allowance by $50 each week and add an extra increase for single parents, despite both houses of Parliament passing motions that Newstart was too low.
The Greens would also allow Newstart recipients to work more hours before they lose their payments as an incentive to get them back to work and has had the policies costed by the parliamentary budget office.
“We propose to pay for it by getting people who are doing much better to support people doing it tough,” he said.
An expanded mining tax, removal of the fossil fuel subsidy, a levy on the big four banks and increasing the income tax rate for people earning more than $1 million would fund the boost.
Dr Mallard does not feel a budget surplus was an indicator that the economy or the government was doing well.
“Obviously you want the government to be responsible ... but when economic times aren’t great it’s important we’re still providing the services that people need,” he said.
The Greens are the only party in the Parliament where all members would vote to introduce same-sex marriage, removing the discrimination against gay and lesbian people.
“For me it’s not a conscience issue ... what we really needs is for the leaders of all parties to support same-sex marriage,” he said.
When it comes to asylum seekers Dr Mallard said a compassionate and humane approach was needed so people no longer feel desperate enough to get on a boat.
“We want to increase the humanitarian intake to 30,000 per year,” he said.
“What we need is a genuine regional partnership to help give asylum seekers a way to a better life rather than throwing billions of dollars into outsourcing the problem to other countries.”