This is a little story about why I hate the Westminster system.
The other day, I had an idea. It was about paid parental leave.
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have PPL plans. Gillard’s offers the same amount to everyone, is more affordable, but means that incentives differ based on different base wage (ie. it’s easier/more appealing for someone toward the lower end of the economic scale to have a baby and take PPL than for someone at the top). Abbott’s plan paid people their salary, up to 150k/year, which is obviously problematic in that it gives MORE money to the wealthy- never a good idea.
So I had a little idea. Instead of reducing the corporate tax rate to 29%, make that reduction a tax credit, only available to companies that, as part of their employment practice, match the difference in salary between the Gillard plan and the employees base salary. And then offer government risk pools to small businesses to share risk of maternity leave, so it’s still a financially viable decision for small businesses.
So here I was, laying in bed, pretty happy with this nice little idea that, I think, solves a number of problems at once. And then I thought, what do I do with my idea?
And I realised, there was nothing.
I couldn’t call my local member. PPL policy is well outside the bounds of her JD. I couldn’t call write a letter to the minister, because I’m not in their district, so they have no cause not to ignore me. Same with the opposition.
If I were in a system that were more open, like the American system, I could suggest it to my local member, and they could write a bill. If they ignored me, I could run in the primary against them, with that is a key policy platform. I could talk to my senators, because they can introduce bills too. I have a number of options available, so that I could, at least, FEEL as though my idea has some chance of being heard.
But instead, I languish in a system in which I do not feel remotely empowered, and in which the only way I have to make my voice mean anything is to join a party. And where the only outlet for my ideas is my blog.
It’s hardly an ideal of democracy…