While we appreciate the initiative that the Australian Greens have made in putting a version of Universal Basic Income (UBI) forward, Pirate Party Australia long ago developed the idea into a practical and costed policy that is good for Australia.

While some criticisms of the Greens’ approach are valid, our own UBI policy has many fundamental differences. However, many criticisms of the Greens’ UBI policy are unfair and only show the ignorance of the critic, often being based on “intellectual guilt by association”, without any real engagement with the detail.

The Pirate Party UBI policy is not a universal payment to all, but rather part of an integrated taxation and welfare system, where an citizen earning $40,000 a year pays no tax nor receives any benefit. Above this income, they pay tax. Below this income, their income is topped up to a maximum of $15,000 a year, representing an effective UBI.

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Brendan Molloy, President of Pirate Party Australia

The Annual National Congress is due to be run in July. After careful consideration, I have decided not to recontest any position on the National Council this year and take a break from politics.

It takes a lot of work to develop a self-sustaining political party, and eventually we all need to take a step back to reflect on many years of hard work, while taking a break to recover from the very physical and emotional toll that day-to-day political work has on a person.

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The following is an open letter to Premier Campbell Newman sent by Queensland Coordinator Michael Keating regarding the Queensland State Government’s consideration of banning canvassing at polling booths during elections.

Dear Premier Newman,

It is with concern that I read in the Brisbane Times on the 24th of April that you and your government are considering banning polling booth canvassing at elections. Such recommendations that you are looking at implementing have the potential for causing issues with the natural democratic process in this state.

The proposed change to polling booth canvassing is a potential issue for the free democratic process we enjoy in Australia. As a member of Pirate Party Australia, we gladly support the improvement of conduct during elections – both from politicians and their supporters. However, there are several issues with attempting to restrict or ban canvassing at polling booths. Chief among them is that it will take away the opportunity for people of all political backgrounds to be able to provide information to voters about their policies, backgrounds and any other relevant information. Restricting this would be restricting the normal democratic process, for what can only be seen as being for your own benefit. This also raises the potential issue of these laws being used to restrict free speech in airing political opinions at times of elections.

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This is an opinion piece authored by Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. It has been sent to The Guardian for publication.

On Thursday the new Attorney-General, George Brandis, announced his Chief of Staff: former Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General, Paul O’Sullivan. Brandis used this announcement to signify his desire to ‘have a strong national-security focus‘[1] in the role of Attorney-General.

This announcement raises serious concerns for anyone wanting to curb the power of Australian intelligence agencies’ abilities in their never-ending quest to better snoop on our private lives. The last Coalition Government granted new powers to intelligence agencies repeatedly, with no public consultation or regard to the impacts on the civil liberties of Australian citizens.

Although both major parties have pushed for more draconian surveillance powers, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was the one that had the courage to announce a public inquiry into their proposals for greater powers for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The inquiry into new national security powers and provisions saw a massive response from Australian citizens with 236 papers being submitted; the vast majority were opposed to greater powers for Australian spooks. As a result of such a powerful response, new laws were not passed.

Since then Australia has been implicated in the massive, dragnet surveillance system being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA), which was uncovered in the leaks provided by security contractor, Edward Snowden. The Australian Signals Directorate (formerly the Defence Signals Directorate) has been exposed tapping undersea telecommunications cables[2] and participates in the Five Eyes surveillance agreement, along with agencies in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

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This is an opinion piece authored by Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. It has been sent to ABC’s The Drum for publication.

The balance of power between citizens and the state is shifting on a number of fronts. On one hand, government agencies are becoming increasingly secretive, exemplified by recent recommendations to the Attorney-General’s Department to reduce access to government documents through Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. On the other hand, there is increasing surveillance of citizens and a continual, rapid growth in the reach of security agencies.

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