Pirate Congress 2023/Minutes
This document is a record of a meeting. Do not edit this document without contacting the relevant group first.
This document is currently under development and is not approved or endorsed by the party.
Some statements may be incorrect, unverified or otherwise objectionable to party policy or intention, and until such time as it is endorsed by the party, it does not represent the views or intentions of the party.
Please read the discussion on the talk page before making substantial changes to this document.
The recordings and logs are as follows:
- Text chat logs
- Saturday livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JR6auYEpjM
- Sunday livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or4qJLmXcz0
Note: proceedings were livestreamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JR6auYEpjM
Day one: Saturday
- 09:00 — Set up
- 10:00 — President opens the Annual National Congress
- 10:10 — Housekeeping
- 10:15 — Adoption of Standing Orders
- 10:20 — Outgoing National Council reports
- 10:50 — 10 minute break
- 11:00 — Treasurer's report
- 11:15 — Motions (in order)
- Constitutional amendment motions
- Formal motions
- Policy motions
- 12:30 — Lunch
- 13:30 – Set up resumes
- 14:00 — Motions (continued)
- Floor motions permitted once other business completed
- 15:00 — Guest Speaker (Sven Clements from Pirate Party Luxembourg)
- 16:00 — Close of day one
- President Miles Whiticker (the CHAIR) opens the Congress.
- Acknowledgement of Country.
- Agenda, start times, finish times
Standing Orders [10:11]
- The CHAIR reviewed the standing orders.
Outgoing reports [10:15]
- Our first full year within Fusion.
- Some changes for both of us.
- My focus has been on campaigning - indeed I think I've spent more time on Fusion things than Pirate specific things.
- This is consistent with our aim (being a part of Fusion to continue electoral campaigning)
- It's been great to see so many Pirates stepping up to work on and influence things within Fusion.
- Fusion contested Victorian state election and Aston by-election this last year
- I've worked on a member drive, and done a lot of work on volunteer organisation & strategy
- Really excited by the progress that we've made campaigning, esp. Owen Miller's result in Aston. Possibly the highest result any of us have ever gotten across the history of Fusion.
- QUESTION from John August: why do you think Owen's campaign was so successful?
- Miles: I've written a 10,000 word reflection on the campaign. It's a truism that campaigns are won by the work leading up to the final day. We had a great phonebanking campaign to activate a relatively large volunteers which fed into a strong pre-poll effort.
- From a Pirate-specific perspective, with so much energy going into Fusion it's been a bit quieter here.
- Exciting work with an identity survey, some initial tech issues (we didn't want to use Google Forms...)
- Some key points from the survey:
- 47 responses, good sample
- what labels do you identify with?
- Progressive and Socialist, in tech-, market- and eco- flavours
- Lots of identification with libertarian and liberal identities too
- Lots of cumulative and overlapping identities
- There's a theory (due to Chris Poole) that identities are quite "prismatic" and contextual
- In PPAU we'll have great internal fights, but happily agree externally
- Policy concerns around multi-national corporations, foreign policy (China, A/Pac), government transparency, surveillance, public healthcare & education
- Attempted a multinomial regression but that might be a bit too out there :)
- In conclusion, looking to continue the relationship with and support of Fusion
Secretary's Report [10:32]
- "Short report from me today"
- tl;dr: the world is run by those who turn up - so turn up!
Treasurer's report [10:35]
- "A generic year" - keeping things ticking over
- Finances have ticked up a little this year
- Could not run a serious election campaign with current funds though
- There's also a lot of fraud out there - we got stung by someone claiming to be NordVPN over direct debits; that money was recovered.
- In the past, Fusion has largely figured out who can stand where without too much contention
- QUESTION from Wade Johnson: why would there be contention?
- John: in the case of a by-election (or the lead Senate candidates) we have a higher chance of two branches both wanting to take it on, in a general election we have resources spread more widely. Usually the branch or candidate with the greatest capacity have taken the lead.
- COMMENT from Owen FM: there were several people up for selection in Aston.
- Miles: yes, several options. Tight timeline, a few meetings held, one dropped out, and then the remaining two agreed on Owen.
- QUESTION from Adam W: can you speak about how Fusion and Pirate funding intersect?
- As a candidate, I got some money via Fusion fundraising, some money from the Pirate Party, some reimbursement from Fusion later, and some money out of my own pocket.
- Miles: when Fusion started up each branch put in $500 startup money, and for tax reasons most donations should go through Fusion. Most of the remaining donations to the Pirates are going towards sustaining our IT operations
- COMMENT from Alex: I invite all members to review the financial report
MOTION to accept the reports [10:49]
- The CHAIR moved to accept the outgoing President's, Secretary's and Treasurer's reports.
- Ayes (Andrew Downing, Miles Whiticker, Alex Jago, David Kennedy, John August, Simon Gnieslaw, Adam Woodings, milspec) + star_tube & zach__
- CARRIED unanimously at 10:51 AEST .
10 minute break [10:51]
- Relatively uncontentious: just reducing the quorum for National Council meetings
- In keeping with the Three Pirate Rule
- MOTION: approve CAP-1
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Carried unanimously (TODO: check logs for names) and will proceed to online voting
- Simon Gnieslaw speaks to his motion
- "Realistically, there are other associated parties out there which aren't competitors for AEC registration" - examples of Non-Human Party and Public Interest Before Corporate Interest
- Hoping to reduce barriers to entry
- COMMENT from Alex the main point of Full Membership (currently) is that by being a Full Member you're pledging your support to us for AEC purposes
- COMMENT from Star_Tube re principles and objects being undefined; Simon points to Part I of the constitution.
- Motion: Accept CAP-2
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Ayes 7
- Nays 2
- CARRIED (11:21) and will proceed to online voting
- Simon speaks to his motion
- We have membership categories for permanent residents and international people, but technically all members are required per 4.1(e) to be on the Australian electoral roll. This changes it to being a function of Full membership.
MOTION: accept CAP-3
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Ayes 11
- Carried unanimously 11:25
- Proceeds to online member vote
- Motion to rejoin Pirate Parties International
- Jay Stephens from the Foreign and International Relations Committee speaks to the motion
- Thanks to all those who've been part of FIRC over the last couple of years
- (stream hiccup)
- Since we left PPI in 2014, they've addressed almost all of our issues.
- Therefore, why not rejoin?
- Fees are likely to be minimal
- Enthusiastic welcome - everyone would like to have us back officially
- Everyone wants worldwide Pirates
- Simple principle that it's better to be inside than out.
- Miles: to echo Jay, we went through an engagement process, going to their events.
- They have a General Assembly next weekend, which we are welcome to observe
- Jay: note that the motion is to rejoin at the GA in Northern Hemisphere Winter - they have one coming up next week!
- Comment from David Kennedy: Note that joining PPI doesn't impose any real obligations on us here in Australia. The common element is pirate politics / direct democracy. The way policies play out in various countries obviously vary.
- Miles: yes, there's a broad variety of stances among parties worldwide
- Question from Star_Tube: Wasn't a significant reason for leaving disparate treatment between in person and online attendees of their meetings?
- Jay: yes, and from what we've observed over the last two years, that's been fully fixed. By almost unlucky coincidence they switched to mostly-online GAs shortly after we left anyway.
- Miles: it was pretty mediocre at first, primarily in-person with a lot of background noise, in-person voting with coloured flags, etc (which is how we did it too). They have now improved significantly.
MOTION: accept FM-1 [11:37]
- That Pirate Party Australia apply to join Pirate Parties International (PPI) at PPI's upcoming General Assembly in northern-hemisphere winter.
- Ayes: 11
- Alex, Simon, Miles, Adam, David, Jay, Andrew, John, James, JedB, Bryn
- CARRIED at 11:41 and proceeds to full online member vote
- Marriage policy update
- Simon speaks to his motion
- It's been bugging me for a while.
- Post plebiscite we updated our policy to be polyamory friendly
- but the concept of "everyone gets a civil union" can come across the wrong way and can give the wrong impression about us - that we're trying to eliminate marriage because of the plebiscite.
- The SSM campaigners were clear that they want "marriage", not (just) a "civil union".
- I'd also be happy to repeal the policy altogether, which has also been suggested.
- Comment from JohnA: I'd support repealing it
- Comment from Alex: I support the update - expanding to include poly support is good
- Comment from JedB: shifting the focus towards defacto relationships will likely make "divorces" aka breakups an even bigger mess than they already tend to be
- Simon: I see this as a streamlining, regardless of whether they have a piece of paper
- Comment from James: This policy seems to have little to do with core pirate principles. While it may be a policy that many people support there are some who agree with core pirate principles but not with this seperate policy.
- Comment from David: It does make sense to change things now that the Marriage Act itself has been updated, but at the same time from a libertarian standpoint, relationships sbouldn't be regulated by the state.
- Comment from Andrew: I don't mind removing it entirely, but I don't agree with the description of the fault. The "civil Union" representation of it was not a renaming, but a separation of concerns, so that the government basically got out of the way in regards anything except matters of law and benefits.
- Comment from Owen: I think the state always needs to be involved, otherwise a *marriage* is just a pinky promise with no meaning left.
- Comment from James: In relation to this, the idea of Civil Union is quite old in and of itself and has operated parallel but seperate to Marriage.
- Comment from John: Pirates are very concerned about the relationship between the individual and the state, I see the issue as naturally emerging from that concern.
- Andrew and Zach make similar comments about a civil union being about government, marriage being about community.
- Comment from JedB: aside from consensualness and children guardianship, the state has interests in marriage regarding property ownership, taxes, and ability to provide legal testimony
- Some discussion around mechanics of putting a "repeal the section" amendment.
- Simon: "the ability to get married, not just civil unioned, was hard fought for and we should respect that".
Comment from JedB: updating laws to look at the actual level of commitment between partners sounds like it could have significant privacy implications, much like how the current questions centrelink asks those to determine defacto relationships can get potentially invasive
- MINUTES Note: discussion was moving too fast to get all of it, refer to the recording for full details)
Motion to amend PM-2 [11:57]
- The CHAIR put a motion to amend PM-2
- Motion: Amend PM-2 to read "Repeal and remove from the party platform section 2.5 Marriage"
- Ayes 4
- James, John, Andrew, milspec
- Nays 7
- Miles, Bryn, Alex, Zach, David, JedB, Jay
- Abstain 2 (Simon, Adam)
- Motion NOT CARRIED at 12:07, PM-2 remains as is.
Motion to accept PM-2 [12:12]
- The CHAIR invited Simon to move to accept PM-2 and progress it to a full member vote.
- MOTION: Accept PM-2 as written to update the Marriage Policy
- Put by: Simon Gnieslaw
- Bryn, Simon, Jay, Miles
- Zach, Andrew, James, JedB
- JohnA, David, Adam, Milspec, AlexJ
- Motion LAPSEs, PM-2 will not be put to the membership.
- Before lunch, the President invites members to run for Policy Development Officer.
- Procedural MOTION: adjourn for a 1 hour lunch
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Carried unanimously at 12:29
Motions cont. [13:35]
- Milspec: "I'm a progressive libertarian and a fan of capitalism. But I want to address market failures too, and level the playing field with rules which are as level as possible to avoid distortion. There's an overall shift here away from income tax, to land tax and capital gains
- I've chosen a name "Citizen's Dividend" to reflect the recipients aren't quite universal. Citizens deserve a slice of the returns from the country's wealth. It's not welfare, it's something you deserve.
- It's also aspirationally more than basic needs. It should scale based on the wealth of society. It's a post-scarcity vision.
- Looking at the net income graph, you can see a fairly substantial uplift, and an avoidance of the welfare trap at about the $25000/year region. Everyone is incentivised to work in the same way
- You might think "isn't this a bit regressive? Aren't we giving the high income earners a tax break?" Well, everyone gets a boost, and the way we're paying for it is in a very progressive way - capital gains and land tax, etc.
- You might be wondering "what about negative income tax"? The argument for NIT is that we don't have to collect money and then give it back. But that increases complexity because you have to report income in near-real-time like the welfare system today. A simple payment that goes out to everyone avoids this.
- We also avoid discrimination between citizens and non-citizens on the tax side - everyone gets the same.
- With the NIT you'd have to nominate one employer, like today, as your primary employer regarding thresholds. With the Dividend, every job is PAYG at the same rate.
- I've worked to balance the books on this - there shouldn't be net inflation. But I expect there'll be localised inflation. We're taking money from capital gains and land prices and giving it to lower income households. This should settle over time, especially with a phased introduction.
- There's a section on displaced and retained existing welfare. The general rule I've applied is that income-based payments are displaced by the CD but payments for specific issues are retained (veterans, NDIS) - that subset of people also need more support than the CD can provide.
- Miles: there's certainly a long discussion to be had today. Generally Pirates agree with these principles.
- Question from JedB around intersection with (e.g.) minimum wage law
- Comments from JohnA: I'm overall supportive. I think we need to emphasise that wealthy people will be taxed more overall, even if they get an income tax cut.
- I want to bring up the weirdness budget: some things are a bit radical, but the richness of the proposal overall is impressive and I think that makes up for it in appeal.
- I'm a bit leery of the "visa rent" and "taxing gifts/inheritances" sections - I worry it will freak prople out. But we can talk about economic issues in a way the bigger parties can't.
- Finally, we should treat cryto mining as a business activity, not a capital gain.
- Comments around still calling it a "basic income" for branding reasons
- Our current policy is for an NIT, but we market it as a basic income
- Question from Adam W around how this would apply to overseas Australians
- Milspec: intention is for expats to get it
- Milspec: I echo John and Andrew on a weirdness budget - we want to make headlines!
- There's a bit here for the capitalists, and a bit here for the leftists who want to help people
- So there's some things which can be shifted here which might change the balance
Section 1.2: flat income tax
- We already have a flat tax as policy so this shouldn't be too controversial.
- It's levelling for couples with very different incomes
- With earned income making up a smaller percentage, we should adjust our tax structure accordingly
- (much discussion, see recording)
- Comments on the philosophy of progressivism in the tax system
- Comment around the need for a tax-free threshold for permanent residents
Motion: remove section 1.2 "Transition to a Flat Income Tax System"
- Put by: Swashbuckler
- Ayes 4
- Swashbuckler, idcrisis, Alex Jago, Jay
- Nays 9
- James, Zach, Adam, Andrew, Milspec, Bryn, Gold, JedB, JohnA
- Abstain 3
- David, Simon, Miles
- Not carried, section retained
1.3 Land Value Tax
- Milspec: the foundation here is that natural resources' wealth should be returned to the people
- LVT is a lever that we can pull to moderate land value.
- What I propose is to pull land value growth, in real terms, down to zero
- The issue with existing state based LVT is portfolio-splitting across states and corporate structures
- LVT also should be replacing payroll tax and stamp duty (and the proposed amount raises enough money to reimburse states for that)
- Question from Adam: with this plus the fertiliser tax, isn't this a big hit to agricultural producers?
- Miles: in theory, a land value tax can have exemptions carved into it for pro-social uses of land
- Milspec: a lot of proposals exclude it. I've included it because it's the same rules for everybody.
- Question from Simon: can LVT also replace council rates?
- Several comments around council funding streams
- Questions around conservation land:
- milspec: using the land for conservation programmes should be supported by subsidy in a different programme
- Miles: sure, but those aren't in the proposal right now
- Support for a transitional provision to recognise stamp duty paid
- Needs an amendment motion
- Some discussion around the relative value of excluding owner-occupied housing
- The CHAIR indicated intention to adjourn discussion on this subsection.
- Adam noted possible intersection of this with Fusion housing policy.
- Several minor amendments to be drafted overnight and returned to tomorrow.
- Sven Clements is an elected MP in Luxembourg
- degree in business informatics (Uni. Saarbruecken)
- Elected in 2018 as one of two MPs with the Pirate Party
- Indicted for "data theft" in 2012 after a whistleblower discovered a data leak
- Sven was charged as part of his actions in exposing that
- Since it's 35 minutes after the intended starting time, Miles and Sven will record an interview overnight instead, at a time more convenient for Sven!
- How did Sven get elected? - Simon
Miles had a few stimulus questions too:
- Q: What was your background before you got into politics?
- Q: What initially sparked your interest in Pirate politics?
- Q: What is your role now, and what do you spend time doing?
- Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your election campaign?
- Q: How does Pirate Politics apply at a local council level?
Close of day one [15:40]
MOTION: adjourn for the day
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Ayes 15
- Carried unanimously
Note: proceedings were livestreamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or4qJLmXcz0
Day two: Sunday
- 09:00 — Set up
- 10:00 — Housekeeping
- 10:10 — Nominations and nominee speeches
- National Council
- Dispute Resolution Committee
- Policy Development Officer
- 11:00 — Guest Speaker (Bridgid O'Brien, Yarra City Councillor)
- 12:00 — Discussion topics
- Strategy and party-direction discussion
- Party-improvement proposals
- Policy-direction discussion
- Free discussion
- 12:30 — Lunch
- 13:30 — Location of next Annual National Congress
- 13:45 — Discussion topics (continued)
- 16:00 — Close of day two
Start of Day Two [10:00]
- Miles Whiticker, party president, opens the meeting
- Acknowledgements of Country
Guest Speaker — Bridgid O'Brien [10:06]
Minutes note: This is a summary of key points.
- Yarra City Councillor, second term
- "I guess I've always been involved in community activism"
- Recent opposition to East-West Link freeway - a big win
- A fan of pirate aesthetics for a long time
- Icelandic Pirates' win in 2015 made the link to politics
- Local government is more than roads, rates and rubbish
- Yarra Council does lots of work around climate and greenspace
- Policy divergence at times between Council[lors] and professional staff
- Cat curfew an example of a notable policy issue - 4.5 years' work!
- Pushing for more community consultation which often gets the wins
- Working on improving transparency
- Councillors get a lot of confidential briefings from staff
- As an independent, it's necessary to engage the community on issues as they come up
- ... and it's difficult to do this when so many documents are "confidential"
- Miles notes the necessity for personal strength in favour of whistleblowing and transparency
- Bridgid: even at the local government level there are things we can do, e.g. we put a motion in support of Assange
- Got pulled up to the local government inspectorate for breaching confidentiality after talking about an upcoming "bin tax" proposal - fully exonerated
- Miles: are there administrative officers in YCC who act against you on behalf of the Mayor or council majority?
- Bridgid: yep - e.g. when trying to abolish prayers at the start of Council meetings state wide, we supported it in YCC but our delegate to the municipal association left the meeting before that vote
- Miles talks about the saliency of secular humanism within Fusion and Pirates
"You've been a councillor for a while now - how do you campaign, what are your current campaigns?"
- Initially a support candidate for first election
- Lead candidate got 40%!
- Filled the casual vacancy after a resignation
- Community support for re-election
- Pandemic, so extra weird
- So a community-driven campaign is necessary
- Already campaigning for next election
- Community street meetings to engage people (and find candidates)
- Curveball question from the chat: "what does evidence-based mean, and is it humanly possible to see it all?"
- As a Councillor, you have to rely on your Council staff
- But they don't always get it right - e.g. for CEPTED issues, focusing on cameras rather than sensitive lighting
- So we find there's a huge amount of community expertise, but that's often cherry-picked by staff
- E.g. drinking in public places local law - I read every submission, and some were clearly against the law but misclassified as being in support
- So it's necessary to be on top of the evidence in your own right, and also taking a critical eye to what you're presented by your own staff!
- It's even down to how the questions are posed in community surveys, and ensuring that survey data analysis is done by people with expertise in data, not just managers
Question from John: if other councilors are being dodgy - that might mean abusing committee process, trying to push things towards being confidential, or generally being dodgy in broader ways hard to define ... how to you manage to hold them to account and communicate the concern to the broader ratepayers?
- There's the local govt inspectorate, there's calling people out in the council chamber
- But I caution people against being too negative
Question from Alex: do you have commentary on the incoming ward changes?
- Absolutely - Victoria is bringing in single member wards across councils
- Currently YCC has three three-member wards
- Single member wards are much harder for underrepresented groups to find success in
- Easier to be across very local issues in a smaller ward though
Miles: how do you work with people you have disagreements with?
- Bridgid - it's about having long conversations and finding consenses.
- Luckily YCC is quite inner city progressive and so the range of positions aren't perhaps so great
- perhaps things would be different in NQ!
- Miles notes the experience of a candidate from Fusion who ran in Cairns
Miles: If there was a campaign you were part of and they had a big assembly which effectively deselected you in favour of someone else, would you respect that?
- Absolutely - it's a big part of the community independents model
10 minute break [10:48]
The CHAIR moved for a 10 minute break
- 10 ayes, 1 nay, 1 abstain
Nominations and nominee speeches [11:00]
Dr. Liam Pomfret assumed the CHAIR.
Motion to accept all nominations [11:01]
MOTION: amend as much of the Standing Orders as needed to consider all nominations up to the time of that positions' consideration.
- Put by: Alex Jago
- Ayes 11
- Nays & Abstentions 0
Miles Whiticker [11:06]
- Incumbent President for the last few terms
- Involved with the party since its earliest days (under 18 back then so not a founding member)
- Increased involvement from about 2016 onwards
- Volunteered with campaigns from 2013 on
- Candidate in 2019, but better in a support role
- Much time going to Fusion now, pioneering techniques for campaigning with Fusion
- Work with web dev
- Big love of hiking and rock climbing
- Author or lead spokesperson for vast majority of press releases over the last few years
- "In conclusion, vote for me to keep doing what we're doing"
Deputy President [11:11]
- Nominated for Councillor last year but stood down at the last moment
- Tried to be more active over the last year, better feel for it all
- "I'd like to become a lot more active within the Pirates"
- 2025 will be a huge year for WA elections and a great opportunity
- Looking to expand efforts
- Deputy President was unfilled last year, and since so much of the workload falls to the Presidency, I'd like to help out where I can
- General dogsbody
- 2022 support candidate on WA Senate ticket
- IT worker at a WA uni, previously in hospitality
- Passion points around anti-corruption, digital rights (esp. to be forgotten), media reform
Question from idcrisis: why can't we have a gender/sexuality spectrum, like for autism?
- I don't see why not. They already are. I do want to draw a gender/sex distinction and there are spectra for both.
Question from Miles: what specific area does your interest in the party lie eg candidate, campaign organising, comms/promoting/policy etc?
- Well, I never could stand social media. But I would like to work on organising and really trying to collate efforts and campaigns, spreadsheet work. I'd like to work on policy more - I haven't put my hand up there but I'ld like to do more there. And I'm definitely looking to get more involved on the campaign organising side of things. I'm going to help Legalise Cannabis in the Rockhingham by-election to get some more experience there.
Miles: assuming there was an active, vibrant and strong WA branch of pirates/fusion, would you prefer to stay focussed on WA organising or switch over to focussing on national organising?
- If WA was working well, I'd be happy to hand the reins to others and pitch in federally.
Milspec: more WA meetups?
- Yes, once the sun's back
TODO: minute this
- Perennial candidate
- Previously Deputy President
- Mark Gibbons an inspiration
- "Give Mark a break" - and took over as Treasurer, at least nominally
- Probity and day-to-day ops
- Credit to Alex who does a lot of it too
- Also tries to do speeches - Speakers Corner events double as Pirate meetups
- Effective Sydney coordinator
- In response to the gender question, there are things around us that should be a choice, not an obligation. If the clothes don't fit, that needs to be acknowledged. If they do fit, then celebrate it.
- I've taken an interest in mental health issues. Some are genuine and need pharmaceutical intervention, some are definitional problems - society judging others.
- Not a vampire, but can tell you about haemoglobin. When I have anxiety attacks, my awareness of my circulatory system gives me confidence in my body and helps conquer those attacks.
- note: 3 positions open, one nomination
- Member from 2012
- National Councillor 4 years running
- Support candidate in SA last year, good experience
- Also fairly heavily involved in early Fusion talks
- Have been a branch rep within Fusion for Pirates too
- Core focuses on civil and digital rights, personal freedoms, govt transparency
- In terms of Pirates and Fusion, I'm certainly supportive of the coalition - it was the only way to move forward. Very happy to be working with Science rather than (friendly) competition as we're so similar in policy.
- Background as a full-stack .NET developer, did 7 years with Telstra
- Big ups for prog metal and EDM
Dispute Resolution Committee [11:37]
- Unavailable to speak this weekend
- Nomination was read out by the CHAIR.
Floor nominations [11:39]
- The CHAIR called for any additional nominations from the floor.
- With no further nominations flagged, the CHAIR declared nominations closed.
- The RETURNING OFFICER announced that in the absence of contested elections, all nominees were elected to their positions.
- Liam Pomfret vacated the CHAIR.
- Miles Whiticker resumes the CHAIR.
Policy Motions (continued) [11:45]
Land Value Tax
- Yesterday we left off having considered up to the Land Value Tax
- Alex Jago has two proposed amendments:
- Credit the cost of the most recent stamp duty paid against land value tax obligations, as a transitional mechanism
- milspec accepts this amendment
- Exempt conservation land
- milspec requests this one goes to a motion
MOTION: amend PM-1 to exempt conservation land from land value taxation
- Put by: Alex Jago
- Ayes 8
- Nays 2
- Abstain 2
- Carried at 11:56
Capital Gains Tax reform
Milspec speaks to this part of the motion
- Four subsections here: inheritance, loans secured against assets, the 50% discount, and the PPOR exemption
- Currently CGT isn't taxed on inheritances, which is a loophole for generational wealth
- Additionally, the cost base resets on inheritance, which means if a property is sold post-inheritance
- Most of these changes are aimed at collecting CGT more regularly
- Have removed some of the mathematical complexity from last year's edition
- Also treat getting a loan on a property as a CGT event
- Every time you get a loan on a property, it gets a valuation, so that's fine
- Removal of the 50% CGT discount
- This was originally put in with the argument of it being an approximation for inflation
- Instead we propose allowing adjusting for inflation directly
- Finally there's the PPOR exemption
- This has a bit of interference with the Land Value Tax element, since that's expected to reduce house price growth
- The exemption sounds good on paper initially, but if you want to remove exemptions and carveouts and instead help people directly...
- In practice rich people buy more housing than they need to take advantage of the exemption
Question around valuation without sale
- There's statistical models available to determine this (both for land-only and total value)
Comment around the 50% discount disincentivising high frequency trading
- Better to capture that directly with a Tobin-type tax
Question re a tax free threshold for PPOR?
- Considered, but people start skirting it
- People avoid marriage just to claim two PPORs
- Better to have as general a tax base as possible and increase the CD
Question: the LNP ran a scare tax against the ALP on a "death tax" that the ALP opposed. How do we market this?
- Milspec: I'll talk about this more in the next section, but I acknowledge the challenge here. I'm trying to be bold and fearless here in presenting a moral argument.
Further discussion on the above points.
Motion: remove section 1.4.1 "Inheritance" from PM-1 [12:18]
- Put by: Zach__
- Nay 12
- Alex, milspec, Gold, Andrew, jedb, JohnA, Swashbuckler, Adam, Miles, Morton, idcrisis, Bryn
- Abstain 2
- Not carried
Gifts and inheritances, GST exemptions, Superannuation concessions [12:26]
- Subtle, but there's a discrepancy between "earned" and "unearned" income. It doesn't make much sense for me. If I work for my Dad and I earn $x a day, I pay tax. But if I sit around and he gives me $x/day in an allowance, that's untaxed.
- Bring in a system (similar to Fringe Benefits Tax system) and tax gifts and inheritances above that threshold
- GST exemptions are very complicated
- Like all other parts of the policy, reducing exemptions
- High income families pay more in GST, so broadening it and putting that money back into the CD is net progressive
- Superannuation concessions have received a fair bit of attention from think tanks
- Putting money into super tax free, earnings within super are concessional, withdrawals are tax free
- Increasingly large tax break for the wealthy - 60% goes to the top 20%
- Labor have already started latching on to this
Question: what sort of threshold do we set for gifts & inheritances?
- Yes, not specified currently. Thinking something like $5k/year
Comment from JedB: NZ doesn't have the essential-items exemption?
Question from Zach: does it matter if the rich are taking advantage as long as the exemptions are still helping poor people?
Comment from Simon: this isn't going towork politically. It was a big deal adding menstrual products to the exemptions list, for example, and women aren't getting more CD.
Question from Adam: exemption for medical items and services?
- Milspec: better to expand Medicare/NDIS to support it.
Question from Andrew: wouldn't it be better to just cap super exemptions? Then lower income people can use this to save, but the ultra-wealthy can't take advantage.
- Milspec: yeah, that's basically Labor's proposal
Comment from Swashbuckler: anything that is necessary for some group but not for everyone should probably have some exemption. otherwise some people are getting burdened more than the general population
- Yes, but there's arbitrarily many groups here. Prefer a subsidy approach
MOTION: Exemption to GST to remain for certain Medical and Personal Care items, by schedule, similar to the PBS [12:40]
- A fair amount of discussion regarding this
- Wording went through several changes
- Put by: Simon, Adam, Miles
- Simon, Adam, idcrisis, Satch, Miles, mandrke, Morton, Alex, Swashbuckler
- Gold, Jed, milspec, Andrew
- Zach, John
- Carried 12:46
- Some work needed to actually modify the text
Motion: break for lunch until 1:30 AEST
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Ayes 11
- Nay 2
Policy Motions (continued) [13:35]
- The CHAIR called for further motions on 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7
1.8 Visa Rent [13:43]
- "I want to say I'm pro-migration; I'm a migrant myself and I want to see more migration."
- Australia has a staggering 1 million people on the wait list
- Very intrusive scrutiny process on the relationship side
- Also a very arbitrary process on the jobs side - shortages decided by industry lobbying
- Think tanks suggest a minimum threshold for salary
- What we really want is not just high income jobs but when people would earn much more here than in their home countries
- The proposal: a "Visa Rent" - if it makes economic sense for you to be here, let's charge accordingly
- Stay indefinitely as long as you can pay, avoid needless disruption
- Removes necessity to be sponsored by an employer
- All current visas to be grandfathered in
- Comment-question: if your income is tripled but your CoL is too, are you really winning?
- Up to the individual to choose
- Question: how do you afford a 25% income tax and visa rent as a fruit picker?
- The exploitation of current fruit picking wages is enabled by visa limitations
- Price set as a constant amount, not as a percent of income or whatever
- Not proposing a change to the number of migrants, more setting the visa rent level to effect that quantity
- Isn't this a mechanism for rich people in places with bad rule of law to come here and not work?
- Fine by me
- Also intention to charge visa rent in arrears, including humanitarian-type migration in system
- Possible to have a carve out for a certain number
- There's a moral hazard whereby people becoming citizens represents a substantial loss of government revenue
- "This selects for increases in income, but not for increases in welfare. A low-income migrant has higher benefits by moving here, but a higher income migrant is much more able to."
- Yes, but a higher income migrant having less to gain is less likely to
- Gold: "How do you balance the ethical concern that a rich person may hoard a visa, not utilising it effectively compared to someone who depserately needs the visa instead to improve their quality of life?"
- We could say this about so many other things, too. Land, water... it's just part of the market economy
- Simon: "I think that this goes beyond refugees. To take not refugees as fundamentally different circumstances is icing on the cake of how this hasn't been thought through enough. But even non-refugee workers supporting essential roles which keep things ticking in jobs Aussies we don't want to do, this would be a major shock. just because higher paid jobs are available doesn't mean we should abandon farming. How does migrant workers in the middle of the country impact a migrant working in IT in the city."
- If we get worse at farming, it'll be because we get much better at something else
- Adam: "Do you see any need to change the requirements for citizenship if we adopted the visa changes?"
- JedB: "farming is a somewhat noteworthy sector in that maintaining enough farming to feed your own country, if you have enough arable land to do it, is a national security issue"
Motion: remove Visa Rent from PM-1
- Put by: Andrew Downing
- Andrew, Alex, Simon, Jed, Swashbuckler
- Zach, idcrisis, JohnA, Adam, milspec
- Miles, Satch, Gold, Morton
- very close!
- The CHAIR restated the question and asked if anyone wished to change their vote.
Motion: exempt student, tourist and humanitarian visas from visa rent [14:26]
- Put by: Alex Jago
- Ayes 14
- Abstain 2 (milspec, Jay)
- Nays 0
The Education Dividend [14:30]
- Includes children in the dividend
- Goes to the guardian, with preference going to childcare, education, parental leave
- Fairly wide scope of what counts
- Issue with moving to catchment areas of "good" public schools
- Discontinues all direct public funding to private and religious schools in line with existing policy
- Deducts public school funding approximate cost from Ed Dividend if people send their kids to public school
- Better than a school voucher system: less price sensitivity
- JedB: this is micromanagement - on the one hand we take away FTB, but on the other hand we do this?
- Yes, acknowledged
- JedB: this still doesn't really get around geographic restrictions
- Yes, but it's giving families money for private school and therefore competition
- Milspec: I want to note that with a voucher system the parents don't actually see the money, whereas with this system they will. And public school funding is a little less than half of that.
- A fair level of opposition to the private school funding element
- Further discussion revealed that removing the public-private schooling distinction (keeping
Motion to amend
- Remove the education dividend from PM1 entirely, and add a section for the citizen dividend that applies to children equivalent to 50% of the adult rate
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Accepted by Milspec
Sovereign Wealth Fund
- Minor re-draft of existing policy
Motion: adopt SWF policy [15:07]
- Put by: Milspec
- Passed without objection
Removing religious tax concessions [15:11]
- Very similar to current policy
- Zach questions whether regular church services constitute charity or community service
- Extensive debate
- Alex Jago proposes a motion to replace the dotpoints in the proposed policy with those from the existing policy.
- Milspec accepts
Motion to specify non-discrimination re charitable activities
- MOTION: Include a statement that the qualifying charitable activities must be non-discriminatory, both in who they accept into the activity, and how they deliver it to not discriminate against any margionalised group.
- Put by: Simon Gnieslaw
- Carried at 15:30
- Question around the carbon tax number from Alex
- it's Gillard Era
- Amendment from John:
- MOTION: Amend and include the following paragraph: "As pirates, we endorse personal choice. It is not the intention of this section that we limit people's freedom to make choices, however we would like to ensure people may for the consquences of their choices others".
- Accepted by milspec
Straw polls on amending this policy:
- Removed pesticide and fertiliser
- Retained Congestion, Pay as you throw, sugar, tobacco and alcohol.
- JedB proposes alternative wording re Sugar which was accepted.
Sugar Tax: To combat the negative externalities associated with high sugar consumption, we propose a tax on added sugar in beverages, to be levied on the manufacturer or importer. By increasing the price of such drinks, that tax would encourage ingredient lists to be reformulated to healthier levels and generate revenue to fund public health initiatives.
Income Tax part two [15:46]
Motion: set the tax-free threshold for non-citizens at the level of the Citizens Dividend
- Put by: Simon Gnieslaw
- Ayes 11
- Nays 2
- Abstain 2
Motion to adopt PM-1 as amended [15:51]
- Ayes 12
- Jay, Miles, Andrew, Alex, idcrisis, jedb, mandrke, JohnA, Adam, David, Gold, milspec
- Nays 2
- Zach, Swashbuckler
- Abstain 0
Next Congress [15:54]
Motion: hold National Congress 2024 online [15:54]
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Ayes 12
- Abstain 1
Motion to extend the day til 4:30pm [15:56]
Guest Speaker: Sven Clements [16:00]
- Sven introduces himself
- Cofounder of Luxembourgish Pirates
- Have contested most elections since founding (2013 onwards)
- This year, went from 2 to 19 seats in local councils
- On track to 2x to 3x seats in national assembly this October
- Luxembourg is a small country, but it's bigger than all the other "small" countries combined geographically.
- Population of about 620k residents
- plus about 200k daily commuters from neighbouring countries
- About half of residents aren't citizens
- Strong proponents of European integration
- Eurovision song contest per-capita success!
- Pirates continuing success in Europe
- Targeting mostly older people, as it turns out
- "skewing poorer and less educated than I expected"
- not just for hip young rich white IT workers, though that's the start naturally
- being given a chance by people who've given other parties a chance in the past
- Miles: Euroskeptics tend to be older and poorer, so since you're pro-EU that's interesting
- Sven: Over 70% of Luxembourgers are pro EU - it's like asking Sydney or Canberra to leave Australia
- Question: "it looks like you sit with the government coalition, but you're not in government. What's the dynamic there?"
- Most LUX laws pass by consensus. We align with the progressive government more often than the conservative opposition, but we're certainly an opposition party, calling out scandals and proposing changes - they don't like us that much!
- Luxembourg also has a stable party system - the government has 31/60 without us - but sometimes our support gets amendments done.
- Studied information systems at uni
- Ended up in Pirate politics - in 2009 I was in another parties' youth wing, and saw the proposed creation of a Pirate party. None of the others were for me, so I joined, and ended up becoming the chairman at 20 years old.
- Miles relates the story of how Stephen Conroy's firewall proposal radicalised so many AU Pirates
- Sven: yes. I recommend the Spotify series on Netflix which depicts the time where so many people who didn't understand the internet wanted to regulate it with a sledgehammer, and that spurred the movement.
- Miles: We now have a need to reinvent ourselves, because the major parties don't have the same internet issues they did a decade ago
- Salient issues as an MP:
- Obviously lots of personal freedoms issues
- Not the anti lockdown people during COVID. We sought to have restrictions to preserve life, but lift them ASAP.
- Radical centrism - trying to find solutions that work over ideology in many cases
- Freedom of speech - there is a necessity to regulate platforms which are too large and can endanger democracy, while at the same time protecting minorities
- Animal welfare - it's a big thing for us, we might have more vegans than the Greens. Not about imposing a way of life on others, but making sure anyone can live animal free (e.g. with school canteens)
- Then there's the big ones: social justice, taxation, housing
- Housing is particularly tricky - all the existing parties have failed on this
- Part of our platform calls for 10-euro-per-square-metre public housing. There's government owned that the government could develop on. The pension fund could invest in this rather than losing money on the market. This could cover our gap and a bit more. Much like Singapore, but at lower density. They're a benevolent dictatorship, but they've solved housing and we can learn from that.
- Question: what was your pathway from being unknown, to getting elected?
- "I got sued for being a hacker". If you Google my name you'll see the controversy.
- When I went to the doctors' I saw a post-it with a username and password, went home, was able to access a large chunk of PII
- Disclosure largely ignored, then the police raided my home
- Made front page news
- Practically, we ran a campaign of being highly visible on the street.
- Lots of posters, door to door, always a smile
- Did well enough for public funding and then actually got seats the next time around
- The challenge is always to get voters to know about you. You can't count on free press or other parties talking nicely about you. Meet people, defuse their prejudices, and show that you want to show their problems.
- I know this is difficult. It means manpower and money. But it's how we managed to break through.
Re local council campaigning
- Local government elections are hyper local - different push button issues everywhere.
- A hotel that should or shouldn't be built, showing that you listen and care
- LUX councils are proportionally elected, BTW, very helpful
- Managing to get your own small part of a region behind one issue can get a breakthrough
- Lots of constituency work.
- I stood on the street distributing muffins and listening to people talk about their most important issue (many different issues)
- We also invested a lot in people who seemed to be electable and could communicate their electability
- Also put a lot into the name as a gadget, not a stumbling stone. Pirates are normal people.
- Before being elected, we also made sure to show up to all the functions and be in the pictures. Photobombing works!
- Question: do you also face issues of overrepresentation of predominantly male IT guys being in the Pirate Party? Have you done anything, and to any success, in broadening the demographics?
- Yes, By actively recruiting underrepresented voices and enabling them to be heard (without quotas) through encouragement and training
Miles thanks Sven for his time talking to us.
Presentation: swarmwise organising [16:34]
- Based on Miles' experience
- With Fusion we have a greater mass of people, but it comes with a different culture
- Trialled a more "swarmwise" approach with the Fusion member drive
- More anarchist than conventional PPAU approach
- Very similar to XR techniques - surprised to see the lack of reference in XR docs
- Fusion is often more hierarchical than this
- Settled on a more hybridised system - some autonomy, some processes with process owners
Making a swarm:
- Goals must be inclusive, credible, tangible and epic
- similar to S.M.A.R.T.
- New members recruit better than old ones
- Scaling out, not up
- Old members' social graph already have heard the pitch
- Radical trust: three pirate rule
- If three people agree something will further the movement - go do it!
- do-ocracy is scary but it has great payoffs
- Fusion got on board with this
- Scaffolding matters, but it should be descriptive more than prescriptive
- Activation ladder: haven't heard of us, have heard of us, passive supporters (voters), volunteering / joining, active membership...
- Organisational Flow based on unified goals, achieving them, then reinventing itself around new goals
- "seasonal" analogy
- In politics we have a similar cycle based on the electoral cycle, and we can leapfrog process & momentum between levels of government
- Organising groups based around Dunbar's number(s)
- Scaffolding should minimise admin and maximise action
- if all you do is admin, you lose track
Building a swarm
- Leadership means delegating authority and accountability
- There's an element of radical trust - usually it's not a zero sum outcome
- Offline bonds are stronger than online bonds
Maintaining a swarm
- "Keep your eyes on the target and paint it red daily"
- Heartbeat messaging communicating progress
- Organisation is nothing more than relationships between people
Bridgid chimes in:
- There's a lot to be done at a local government level. It's very grassroots.
- I do want to touch on one point Sven made, about acknowledging the masculinist-ness of the organisation. I have ideas around addressing those issues, which is something for future work
- Not minuted: what Bridgid's up to as a Councillor and her upcoming campaign events
End of Congress [16:55]
- Motion: close National Congress 2023
- Put by: Miles Whiticker
- Carried unanimously at 16:57
The CHAIR thanks all of the participants for their work over the weekend.
"We're trying to make the world a better place. It won't happen overnight, but we're getting there."