How do Australian parties differ on key issues?


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The centre-left opposition Australian Labor Party has outspent the ruling conservative Liberal Party-led coalition on campaign pledges in the six-week campaign leading up to Saturday’s vote.

Labor says more spending is needed to boost economic productivity and counter China’s influence in the South Pacific. The Liberals argue that Labor policies prove the party cannot handle money.

Here are some of the main policy differences:

HOW TO RESPOND TO CHINA?

The Labor Party has vowed to set up a Pacific Defense School to train neighboring armies in response to China’s potential military presence on the Solomon Islands on Australia’s doorstep.

The Australia-Pacific Defense School would strengthen institutional links between the Australian Defense Force and its regional counterparts while serving the needs of the region, the party said.

Labor has condemned a recent security pact between China and the Solomons as the worst failure of Australian foreign policy in the Pacific since World War II.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has insisted there will be no Chinese naval base in his country and China has denied seeking a military foothold in the islands. But the pact has rattled Australia and the United States, and Washington has warned it will take unspecified action if the cooperation agreement with China poses a threat to allied interests.

Senior government lawmakers say the timing of the pact during an election campaign is proof that Beijing was trying to undermine the ruling coalition’s re-election prospects. The government argues that Beijing wants a change in leadership because a Labor administration would be less likely to oppose Chinese economic coercion.

Foreign Secretary Marise Payne proposed in November to double Pacific aid funding to 2.88 billion Australian dollars ($2 billion) a year to counter China’s growing influence, it was reported on Friday. the Australian newspaper. But the cabinet’s national security committee rejected any increase in funding.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to confirm or deny the newspaper report due to the secrecy surrounding the committee’s deliberations.

Labor also pledged to spend an additional A$525 million ($369 million) over four years on aid to Pacific nations and East Timor.

The state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. would be funded to deliver more Australian television, radio and online media content to a wider Pacific audience. Partnerships would be established with Pacific broadcasters to bring Australian voices, values ​​and identities to the region to counter Chinese television and radio.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE HOUSING MARKET?

The Liberal Party and the Labor Party have different plans to help Australians buy their first home in a booming property market.

The Liberals would allow buyers access to 40% of their pension funds up to a limit of A$50,000 ($35,100) to buy in a residential property market that rose 24% in value last year .

Most economists say the policy would drive prices up further and leave more Australians on government pensions.

Workers would buy a 40% stake in new houses and collect the same share when the house was finally sold.

Labor says its policy would not be inflationary because it would only be available to 10,000 homebuyers a year. The Liberals say their policy will help more people.

GAS EMISSION TARGETS

The Liberal Party recently matched the Labor Party’s long-term commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

But the Liberals stuck to the same pledge they made in the Paris Agreement in 2015: 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Labor has pledged a 43% cut.

Morrison says his government would exceed its target and could cut emissions by 30-35% by the end of the decade. But junior Liberal coalition partner The Nationals will not let the government commit to a bigger goal.

CHEAPER CHILD CARE?

The Labor Party’s most expensive election promise is a 5.4 billion Australian dollars ($3.8 billion) pledge to provide cheaper childcare to low- and middle-income families.

Childcare is the most expensive of Labor’s election promises, which includes better nursing home care for the elderly, which would increase Australia’s deficit by 7.4 billion Australian dollars (5, $2 billion) over four years.

Labor argues that cheaper childcare would boost Australia’s productivity by encouraging parents to work longer.

The Liberal Party says the rising deficit was proof that Labor was bad economic managers.

The Liberals intend to more than make up for their campaign promises of A$2.3 billion ($1.6 billion) by cutting funding for the civil service by A$3.3 billion ($2.3 billion). of dollars).