On for young and old this election

THE latest Newspoll survey of voters across the country puts Rudd’s Labor neck-and-neck with the Abbott Coalition in the race for control of the Federal Parliament.

It would be a poor outcome for Australia if either old party gained unfettered control of the Parliament.

We have seen bad outcomes when either party calls the shots or when they vote together, as they did last year, to kick single parents off benefits and onto the dole. Or when they work together to demonise people fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in Australia.

There is an alternative.

We get better outcomes when we sit down, listen to the experts and negotiate good policy.

Australia now has a price on pollution and a clean energy fund thanks to negotiations with the Greens.

Climate scientists are clear that we need to reduce air pollution and shift away from fossil fuels.

Australia’s clean energy package is simple and it sets up the framework required to achieve what the scientists say is necessary.

The current legislation makes the top polluting entities (currently 377) pay for the pollution they produce.

This money raised is channelled into benefits for all Australians (including tripling the tax free threshold) and into a Clean Energy Finance Corporation to encourage investment in clean energy projects.

The National Renewable Energy Target also helps to drive expansion of the clean energy sector.

While the framework is good, according to the scientists, pollution reduction and investments are not happening fast enough. We need to boost our efforts.

The Greens have released plans to increase the current renewable energy target to achieve 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and to increase the investment through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from $10 billion to $30 billion.

While the old parties are talking about reducing or removing any burden on the polluters, The Greens say the polluters should pay and we should use this money for the clean energy transition.

Newcastle can benefit from the transition with improved air quality and local investment in clean energy where we have good electricity infrastructure and a port that can export to the world.

Newcastle needs a strong advocate to drive these changes.

On another matter of national importance, a recent government-funded expert review into higher education found that Australia was the only OECD country where the public contribution to higher education remained at the same level in 2005 as it had been in 1995.

The expert review specifically proposed a 10 per cent increase in funding to maintain educational standards at their current level.

Instead, the Labor Government announced $2.3 billion cuts to higher education, continuing decades of underfunding by both the old parties.

In Newcastle, where our university is a major part of our economy and society, we need a strong advocate for investment in it.

The Greens plan to increase funding for all universities by 10 per cent as recommended by the review.

A society that cares for its future invests in education.

There is an alternative to the old parties; someone who has the courage to stand up for what matters in Newcastle.

Michael Osborne is the Greens candidate for the federal seat of Newcastle.

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