Policies

18 12 2007

Post-election I’ve been trying to think about what I want from our government. The big three for me are:

  1. Improve education
  2. Improve our health system
  3. Minimise our environmental impact

During a five-year uni course I saw the effects of imposed budgetary constraints begin to reduce the quality of education. I heard from many sources that it has been in steady, albeit slow, decline ever since. I also believe that our public primary and secondary school systems need an extensive overhaul. Teachers are underpaid (and flocking to a private system or, worse, to other careers) and years 7-10, for me at least, could have had a far more challenging curriculum.

I’m concerned that our health system is beginning to trend toward the American model. Which is OK if you’re wealthy. While I’m prepared to admit that money will always buy better medical service I’m a staunch believer that decent medical coverage should be for everyone. From what I’ve seen the public system has deteriorated much like the education system.

Climate change is of course a hot topic (pardon the pun) in recent years but I’m all for reducing the crap that we push into the environment. Even if you don’t believe the doomsayers wouldn’t you rather live in cities with fresher air and cleaner water supplies? I’d love to think that one day I could dip my toe in the Yarra without it falling off. 😉

Other issues close to my heart:

Public transport. It’s just good enough. Spend more money on PT less on roads I say. It’s the only way to make a large city accessible – roads simply do not scale. I’d be keen to see us take up driverless trains and have them run more regularly and through the night. However the train driver union is strong enough to make that progression difficult.

Housing. Buying a house, particularly your first, is damn hard. Any help would be appreciated. And get rid of stamp duty already!

Tax returns. Make them automated! Spend a bucketload of money to put everyone’s details in a consolidated system so we don’t have to pay accountants.

Invest in tech. In many ways Melbourne is a technological wasteland. There’s plenty of talent but few companies do R&D here. Why? No government benefits. Difficult to get funding. Many of our talented, highly educated people go overseas because it’s far more lucrative. I’ve definitely felt the pull to be drawn overseas… Ireland is the textbook case how to turn this around – the government offered incentives for companies to do business there and – in a very short time – they’ve become a global player.

Anyway, this post is getting too long and much more could be written. But tell me, what was/is important to you? What do you want our newly appointed government to do?

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5 responses

19 12 2007
Jiggy

Unlikely to happen – but make public transport free! I’ve heard that it’s free in Norway, but it may be somewhere else. How many more people would stop driving their cars as much if they could hop on a train, tram or bus whenever they like?

It’s obviously a bit of a dream, and there are many things getting in the way of making this a reality, but imagine how our greenhouse emissions would drop after making a change like this.

19 12 2007
Christine

Free public transport would change life in Melbourne so much, and we could take the money we spend on ticket machines, inspectors etc and put it into upgrading and maintaiing the public transport system instead. I’m sure the system would still run at a loss – but shouldn’t it be seen as a public service rather than a profit centre?

And YES on improving education and health. I have a friend whose Dad has just had a heart attack and needs bypass surgery … he’s waiting to get an appointment with a specialist in the public system and will then have to wait about another month for a surgery spot – hoping all the while that he’s still with us when that finally comes around.

20 12 2007
Mashy

In Canada when you trade in an old bomb they give you its value in public transport vouchers. And you can get public transport tickets pre-tax etc.

20 12 2007
trentini

Free public transport is a thorny topic. I like the idea but – after having read a bit about it – am not convinced that, on it’s own, it will have much of a positive effect.

The Age has a good article about this topic. And the PTUA (?) have a piece entitled Myth: Making public transport free will encourage use.

The premise is that people are happy to pay for PT if the service gets them to where they’re going efficiently and in a timely manner. If we simply made PT free the estimate is that only 7% more people would use it – not a huge uptake. PT is already generally cheaper than driving so most people who can use the service do. The argument continues by stating that to really increase usage the service needs to become more useful to more people.

Jiggy, if it were free would you take PT to Agilent? Of course not, because it would take you three times as long as the service doesn’t cater for you. If there was a service right now that took a similar time (or at least in the same ballpark) to drive your car and was relatively reliable I’m sure you’d use it even if it wasn’t free.

However, I’m all for cheap PT – it’s too expensive today. My parents for example choose to drive than take the train when they head into the city because it’s of comparable price if there are two or more of them are travelling (actually it’s probably as much to do with the fact that they don’t ‘get’ the train system but that’s beside the point!).

More important than making it cheap or free though is to make the service more compelling to more people and that means investing heavily in infrastructure. IMO.

Christine, sorry to hear about your friends Dad…but I wish it were the first story of it’s kind that I’ve heard. Alas it’s becoming an all-too-familiar tale.

Canada have got it together – I love those ideas about trading the bomb and tax-free tix. Can’t speak first-hand for all of Canada but the PT in Vancouver was excellent. Buses ran very often, as did their driverless trains – and it was all quite affordable. Having said that it’s a much easier city to design PT around because it’s smaller and not nearly so sprawling in every direction like Melbourne.

29 08 2008
Kavita

I agree with improving education. I was an education major, and it seemed as if everything revolved around the isats. My first year as a clinical student, teachers were more worried about them passing the test. Learning becomes less fun for teachers and students.

I think thats why I’m doing something else

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