Meet the Small Parties: Science Party

It’s time for the very last party in this exciting Festival of Small Parties, which is, of course the Science Party!  In Victoria, they have joined forces with the Cyclists Party, in what strikes me as a natural alliance, given how many of the scientists I know ride their bicycles to work.

I think it is very important to take a truly scientific approach to analysing this party, so here goes.

Specific Aims: To find out what the Science Party is about and whether I want to vote for it.  To let you know whether you want to vote for it.

Hypotheses: 1. That the Australian Science Party will be rather towards the left end of the spectrum.  2. That they will want lots more funding for research. 3. That I’m going to like this party.

Materials and Methods: I’m going to read all the policies on their website and write summaries and occasionally sarcastic analysis.  In other words, business as usual.

Conflict of interest disclosure: I work in a Medical Research institute and spend half my life helping people write grants.  I am therefore very predisposed to like any party that wants to give more money to medical research.

Results:

Front Page:

The Science party tells us that it is ‘Building Our Future’ and has a slideshow of some of their favourite policies/principles, which include ‘9.6 B for schools in need – Computer programming in schools’ ‘Double research funding to 18.4 bn – Action on climate change – Support the CSIRO’; ‘Transform Australia’s economy – 1 million new economy jobs’; ‘Marriage equality – open government – whistelblower protection – end metadata retention’; Building infrastructure for the future’; and, my personal favourite, ‘Create an Australian Space Agency’.

I can’t resist a party that wants a Space Agency.  My inner science-fiction nerd just gets all excited.

They have links to pages about their policies, their principles and about their candidates.

At the foot of the page, they have a few bullet points under Science & Technology, Education, Rights, Good Government, Economy and Environment & Infrastructure.  These bullet points are all covered in the policies, so I will now move on to the Principles.

Principles

I’m just going to quote these in full, as they don’t summarise well, but I believe that Hypothesis 1 can be considered proven.

  • Science and technology to improve quality of life for all people
  • Education to drive social mobility, promote critical thinking and enhance skills
  • Environmental protection for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations
  • Economic development and progress through intelligent regulation and simpler, fairer taxes 
  • Public healthcare to improve and extend people’s lives
  • Evidence-based policies that are based on reason and the best available research
  • Open and efficient government to end corruption and reduce waste
  • A compassionate safety net that helps people in need
  • Migration to enrich the Australian community, economy and the lives of migrants
  • Individual freedoms including freedom of speech, sexuality and association 
  • Ending discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, age and religion 
  • Secular government to ensure fairness and freedom of beliefs

I’m on board with all of this so far.  Also, note the bit about ending government corruption.  They don’t actually call for a Royal Commission, but that’s OK, because their commenters are hinting at it.

Candidates

Most of the candidates seem to be in NSW – this is clearly where the party was founded, and they have a few NSW-specific pages – but there are Senate candidates running in Tasmania and Victoria.  They have managed to muster up a mere two women out of twelve candidates, but they manage a little bit of diversity with one Indian candidate and three who are Asian.  Facial hair is also quite well-represented, with one moustache and two beards on offer, as well as some designer stubble.  And is it possible to mention the candidates without making reference to the rather brilliantly named Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow, who also receives endorsement from my cat, generally at unsociable hours of the night?

Vision

The Science Party believes that our quality of life is improved primarily through technological developments, sourced through a scientific approach to knowledge in the context of democracy and peace.

The Science Party essentially believes that technology has the capacity to allow rapid change in the nature of society, and to benefit people now and in the future.  They are against censorship of the internet, which needs ‘the freedom to fulfil its primary purpose: mass producing information and spreading it in an efficient and expedient manner’.  They are very optimistic about the future, and modernity, and feel that this positive outlook is essential to improve the world.  They want to change our culture to embrace the future and the benefits of technology, and lament the tendency of science fiction to present a dystopian future.

Modernity has brought stability, freedom, abundance, health and happiness to the world.

I do think they have a point that it’s harder to motivate yourself to change things if you are already despairing, but I’m a little cautious when they say things like ‘People who believe that their position in the world cannot be improved will find it hard to motivate themselves to better themselves through education and hard work.’  While this is true, it edges towards blaming people who might be depressed or blocked by disability or poverty from education and the ability to work for any lack of improvement in their lives.  I don’t think this is their intention, but it might suggest an unconscious ablist bias.

That said, their optimism is refreshing.  I haven’t seen any other party that comes across so positively and happily.  I like the inclusivity of statements like this one:

Technological development is something that all people play a part in. All people are capable of using their intelligence to solve problems, to work more efficiently and create new inventions, no matter how small, in almost any field.

This seems to be the party of optimistic technophiles, who want Australia to feel as happy about the future as they are, and who want to make it possible for them to do so.

Policy

The Science Party has policies in 21 areas, which I’m going to group under their own categories of Science & Technology, Education, Rights, Good Government, Economy and Environment & Infrastructure.  This is very definitely not a single issue party, and they are definitely aiming to have quite a broad range of policies.  They also have a ‘Repeal Watch’ page, where they list legislation they want to repeal. These include the Marriage Amendment that says marriage is one man and one woman only, the divorce fee increase, mandatory data retention, anti-protest laws, mandatory sentencing laws, and restrictive abortion laws, among other things.

Science & Technology

The Science Party wants us to have a Minister for Science and Research again.  Yes, please.  They also want a Minister for Innovation and Industry.  They want to double governmental scientific and technological research spending from the current $9.2 billion (0.56% of GDP) to $18.4 billion. That’s my second hypothesis proven.

The Science Party believes that scientific research and technological development hold the key to Australia’s success in the future. The Science Party wants Australia to be a place that is known for its science and technology sector. To do this, we need to build a strong research industry, while training people to have the skills that this industry will require.

Yes, please. And if we could do this in a way that means scientists don’t spend a quarter of their working hours each year applying for funding, that would be nice, too.

They also want to keep existing facilities at the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor (OPAL), to provide medical isotopes and make sure we have the capacity for nuclear research should we need it.

Finally, the Science Party wants to establish an Australian Space Agency, and then become an associate member of the European Space Agency.  First it was Eurovision, now it’s the European Space Agency!  Who knows, maybe next we’ll be taking over England’s place in the EU?

Space provides exciting opportunities for advancing humanity. Technological development occurring in space research and related fields has already provided us with new technology in the fields of communication, transportation, energy, physics and biology. Some of these technologies are used regularly by people all over the world.

They point to Australia’s expertise in astronomy and also in innovation, and the economic potential of a space station. It’s a very detailed, well-thought-out plan, but I’m basically sitting here bouncing up and down, wanting to know when I will get to live in a dome on the moon. Or at least take my holidays there.  I’m still feeling bitter that the First Travel Guide to the Moon that I had when I was 8 never became reality…

 

Education

Short version: Lots more money for education, please.

The Science Party believes that public funding of education helps to lessen entrenched disadvantage and helps to advance society as a whole. We strongly believe in increasing funding to schools to ensure that we can reverse what appears to be a slipping in Australian school standards in comparison to the rest of the world, and to ensure a narrowing of the gap between academic achievement in disadvantaged students and other students. This position is backed by the conclusions of the Gonski Review.

The Science Party believes that Federal Government funding should not depend on the attendance of a non-government school. Instead, funding of students should be dependent on need, take into account levels of disadvantage and consider existing levels of financing to the schools (including state government funding and school fees).

They want a National Curriculum, and they want everyone to learn computer programming.  Of course they do.   They also want all students to learn ethics, and to get proper sex education, which is inclusive of diversity.  They also want mandatory STEM education at all levels.

The Science Party wants to create a national shared database by and for teachers, containing lesson resources in all subjects.  Teachers will be paid to contribute to this database.

Teachers will be paid to contribute to their own and others’ professional development by developing and producing resources that can be used for free in all schools. These resources will be matched appropriately to syllabuses around the country and will be tuned to all ability levels and supported by the education provider. They will also be updated regularly, helping to keep education fresh, interesting and relevant to the students. This will allow all teachers, educators and academics to have the chance to contribute resources to this system. In order to keep the most relevant resources to a manageable level, an open and real-time collaborative voting and commenting mechanism will be in place so that the tried and tested resources are at the top of the list.

This is an interesting idea, but I do worry that it might lead to devaluing teachers, if they are believed to be using materials created by others rather than their own lessons.  There are already plenty of people who feel that anyone could do the job of a teacher – this might add to the perception.

They want optional Extension Schools, that can provide help for struggling students, and more challenging curriculum for gifted children, and they want to attach career advancement for teachers to working in disadvantaged schools or with disadvantaged students, to encourage highly qualified teachers to stay longer in these areas.

The Science Party wants more opportunities for adult education, and they believe that education is a basic human right. While they believe education should be free, they realise that this is not practical, and are content with HECS/HELP as it currently stands, but with no lowering of repayment thresholds or deregulation of fees.

They want to provide better training and conditions for early childhood educators, and to subsidise childcare costs up to 90%.

Rights

The Science Party is big on freedom of speech, and absolutely opposed to internet filters, which they view as politically dangerous and restrictive of information.  They point out that filters which do not allow children to access sites with sex-related terms also prevent them from accessing sites about sexual health, which is a fair point – I believe such filters have also had the effect, in the past, of shutting down self-help and support forums for victims of sexual assault.  They note that also slow things down and are not, in any case, impregnable.

They want a treaty with our Indigenous Australians.  Good on them.

The Science Party is big on online privacy, and against data retention. They are against discrimination, and in favour of marriage equality, hooray!  They support legalising euthanasia, but under a fairly restrictive model, and would require euthanasia to be carried out either at home or in dedicated clinics or hospices:

Healthcare paranoia is a serious issue that prevents people from receiving healthcare. Some people are scared that indicating organ donation will result in doctors in killing them early to harvest organs. Other people refuse vaccinations for themselves and their children because they believe vaccines are unsafe. Allowing euthanasia to occur in normal healthcare settings may prevent individuals seeking care they need. If hospital stops being a safe place for some people because of the fear of being mistaken for a euthanasia candidate and accidentally being killed, the net utility of euthanasia laws may actually be negative. 

I have to say, their policy on euthanasia is the most interesting of its kind that I have seen so far.

Good Government

The Science Party wants to boot out the Queen, and make our Head of State a Governor General, to be elected by ‘a two-thirds majority of a joint sitting of both houses of parliament’.  They want this to be a non-political position, and they haven’t quite said what his role is.  They would like to change the structure of our Lower House so that seats are three times as large and have three local members, elected by proportional representation in the same way the Senate currently is.  This is a very interesting idea, and would probably be great news for the Greens.  Also, it destroys the concept of a safe seat, which means that people in boring seats like mine might occasionally get political attention.  I’m for it.  And there is no way our Government will ever allow it to happen.

They also want to make the whole of Australia into a single division for senate electoral purposes.  I am trying to imagine the size of that ballot paper.  I am failing to imagine the size of that ballot paper. I do feel a disadvantage of this system is that one is likely to lose any sense of local representation if the electorate is now the whole country, and I have a feeling that this would disadvantage less populous states.  Also, I can only imagine what a Senator’s inbox would look like with all of Australia emailing him or her, and not just everyone from Victoria.  Though perhaps other people are less assiduous in bothering Senators than I am (almost certainly).

They want transparent government, whistleblower protections, and secular government, with no government funding going to religious institutions.

And they want to move to a hybrid electronic/paper voting system, which actually looks as though it might work.

Electronic voting systems have the potential to reduce the cost of running elections and increase the speed of returning results for elections. It also has the potential to reduce informal votes by reducing error rates in those votes. What most electronic electoral systems lack is a paper trail sufficient to prevent fraud, and to show the voter that their vote has been cast in the order that they have intended.

The system also allows for testing of systematic inconsistencies in the vote. By choosing a sufficiently large sample of the votes cast, a comparison can be made between paper and electronic votes to determine if there are systematic differences between the votes cast and the results determined by the computerised system. This can ensure that every election has the benefit of being ‘double-checked’ without the costs of a recount.

Interesting.

On law and order, they want to make our justice system more rehabilitative than punitive, and subsidise employers who choose to employ felons re-entering the workforce after serving their sentences.  They are deeply concerned about Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which they say must be addressed immediately, but they do not have any detailed policy on how to do this.  And they feel that drug abuse is best addressed through a medical than a criminal model.

The Science Party is anti-war, and thinks that given our size and population, our best defense is getting along with our neighbours and not looking imperialistic.

And you will be astonished to learn that they feel National Secrets should only be kept secret for the minimum time, while they are operationally important.

Economy and Environment

The Science Party believes in a market economy and is a wee bit small government.  But they do think the government has a role to play in protecting the environment, in education, in transport, and in giving us a proper NBN (from your lips to God’s ears).  They are also against corporate monopolies, and feel that where a monopoly or duopoly is the only real economic option, for example in provision of utilities, this is another area where the government should step in.  So they are against privatisation.  I can’t tell if this whole economic bit is incoherent, or if I’m just jetlagged, but I do feel as though I’m sitting in a room full of people who all have different ideas about how things ought to work and someone is sitting there going ‘yes, alright, I’ll add that’.

They do have a fairly comprehensive policy for supporting start-ups with incubator spaces, small grants, education, and assistance in managing the bureaucratic/taxation side of things.

Unsurprisingly, the Science Party is concerned about global warming, and wants carbon pricing and investment in renewables, with an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a target of zero emissions from electricity by 2030.  Interestingly, they do not support biofuels, which they claim have poor energy conservation values.

Australia must move towards a fossil fuel-free economy as a matter of urgency. Redirecting funds from fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy research would serve us better environmentally and economically.

They want better electricity infrastructure, including Smart Meters, and a connection between the Eastern and Western Australian electricity grids.  This will take some of the load off during peak energy usage times, because these vary across the country.

Connecting the east and west will also lead to increased viability of renewable energy technology. Variability in wind and sunlight availability is a limitation of renewable energy as a base power supply. By connecting the east and west coasts, local fluctuations in renewable energy production will have less impact, as other areas can compensate for the reduced production in a particular area.

They want more research into renewable energy, but they also want to look into the possibilities of nuclear energy, and also nuclear fusion research.  They do a pretty good job of laying out the risks and objections, and addressing them, but while their safety arguments are fairly compelling, the issue of nuclear waste is not addressed.

On tax, they want to retain negative gearing, but increase capital gains tax, including on owner-occupied houses.  I’m not sure about this one.  Wouldn’t that mean that if you sell your house and want to buy another one, but the entire housing market went up by 200% in the years since you bought, you might then find yourself taxed to such an extent on this profit that you can’t afford a house in the new housing market?  Or am I misunderstanding something?  They would restore CPI indexing, but the housing market has gone up rather more than the CPI.  I’d rather throw out negative gearing, which only affects your second house, not the one you actually need to live in.  They would also like to replace Stamp Duty and Council Rates with a Land Tax, so that people are not penalised for improving their properties.  I am cautiously optimistic about this one, not because I particularly understand it, but because I remember the Quakers being all for it a few years ago when the Henry Review was written, and they are usually pretty reliable on social justice.  Sorry, but I’m aiming for transparency here!

They want to increase the tax free threshold again, and simplify tax rates.  And they want to remove welfare traps, whereby people who might be on benefits and working part time may find themselves worse off if they work more than if they simply stayed on benefits, due to loss of subsidies or through tax.  Essentially, this disincentivises people from working.  The Science Party wants to ‘Ensure that each dollar earnt in employment results in no more than 60% of the value of the dollar taken from that person in welfare benefits and taxes.’

They are also concerned that when the government raises revenue from things like cigarettes and pokie machines via ‘sin taxes’, there is no incentive for the government to discourage people from using things that may be harmful for them.  They therefore propose that ‘The maximum rate of tax on these products should be set by the independent body such that the total amount of tax returned to the government represents the amount that the government is required to spend ameliorating the harm caused by the products.’.

On the Environment side, the Science Party wants to end logging of native forests, which will not win them many votes in Tasmania.  They want carbon pricing, primarily to enable the research into mitigating climate change to be viable, but

Given the global political inertia in achieving prevention, more work needs to be done on adaptation and mitigation to climate change. We would fund more research into the specifics of how climate change is likely to damage various sectors of the economy and the environment. We would fund greatly increased research into geoengineering – with the caveat that we would unequivocally oppose any attempt to conduct large geoengineering experiments or interventions until very thorough research had been complete on the safety, costs, side effects and alternatives.

An unexpected note of pragmatism there.

Oh, and I like this.

The science on Global Warming is not settled – because that’s not how science works. Scientists weigh evidence, balance probabilities, make predictions, construct and falsify models, and try to come to the most accurate possible picture about the world. The answer is never perfect; even the laws of gravity are subject to revision.

The best current picture science gives us is that the Earth is undergoing long term warming. This is true beyond what you might call reasonable doubt. So at a minimum, we need to start making preparations for the world getting warmer.

The best current picture also tells us that humans are responsible for most of this warming. Again, this is very, very likely, although not quite so far beyond doubt as the fact that the Earth is warming. Exactly how quickly the Earth is warming, and exactly what share is because of humans, is again, less certain.

You can hear the exasperation in the tone of voice, can’t you?  I get the impression that this is not the first time whoever wrote this had to explain it to someone.  They also point out that we really need to do our share rather than demanding that smaller, poorer countries do theirs first.

The Science Party is OK with GMOs, subject to restrictions.  They don’t want them getting out and interacting with wild-type organisms in an unplanned and untested way, for example.

Infrastructure

The Science Party wants a new city!  It is to be called ‘Turing’, and will be a new University Town between Canberra and Sydney.  Turing, which I will henceforth refer to as Utopia, because I am a cheeky person, will:

  • Lie between Sydney and Canberra on a high speed rail line.
  • Be established as a university town, focusing on low-capital-cost science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
  • Have a mandated high population density (for example, 50 000 people per square kilometre).
  • Be designed from the outset to reduce surface congestion by creating subterranean roadways, which will increase surface area that is available to public space and parks
  • Be developed primarily through private investment and for private sale
  • Have slightly different immigration rules to the rest of Australia, allowing the city to grow in size, while allowing Australia to take advantage of the large number of potential immigrants that Australia turns away under current immigration rules.

The goal is that by starting from scratch with new rules, they can fulfil demands that cannot be met in existing cities because the people already living there object.  They hope to make this the new Silicon Valley.

Much of this sounds lovely, but I have a few concerns.  First, why put the city between the two cities in Australia that are already closer together than any others?  Surely, given urban sprawl, it would be more sensible to go south of Canberra or North of Sydney – or even inland?).  Secondly, I’m not quite sure how a town that is developed primarily through private investment is going to work.  I am a bit suspicious of privatisation of infrastructure, and really do feel that this works better when it is the responsibility of a government rather than someone who needs to turn a profit.  But I would totally live in this town, because underground roads and aboveground parks sound lovely.

They also plan to have underground networks of driverless cars (!!).  The city will be a territory much like Canberra, with looser immigration rules, but those who immigrate on these rules will be required to live and work or study there, though they will have access to regular tourist passes for other parts of the country.  I’m not sure about this part, which seems to me to create a second class of Australian permanent resident.  I think it has the potential to be exploitative and potentially drive wages down for these immigrants who cannot leave easily to work elsewhere – and thus drive wages down for Australian residents in this town who need to compete.

The Science Party wants to improve housing accessibility, largely by increasing housing density, and releasing more land (while still also increasing public greenspaces in these new areas), while decreasing regulations both in terms of what can be built where and how it is built.  They also want to remove negative gearing, which is fair enough.  They are very big on housing affordibility, and want to make more public housing available.  I think this is all reasonably good policy, but I’m a little concerned by this:

There are many regulations that prevent the construction of housing that is affordable for a wide range of people. These regulations mandate minimum standards which do not add to the safety of the building. Many of these regulations mandate building styles that most people would consider an optional luxury in older buildings. 

I believe many of the newer minimum standards relate to accessibility, which is hardly a luxury if you are movement impaired, or have a small child in a pram, or even shopping cart full of groceries.  And some of the regulations relate to environmental standards, such as insulation.  So… I’d be cautious about throwing these ones out.

The Science Party views transport as ‘a priority area for further research investment, to identify the most efficient ways to move people from one place to another’. They want better railway lines, especially in outer suburbia, better transport infrastructure, a high speed railway line from Brisbane to Melbourne, and the development of driverless cars.

Driverless cars have the potential to reduce collisions and hence cut road related mortality. Driverless cars can also drive more efficiently, find quicker routes, prevent intoxicated driving, increase the mobility of people who cannot drive due to disability or age (both young and old)… The introduction of driverless cars will herald a new era of car sharing. One car can be shared by multiple people, picking up one person at 8am and dropping them off at 8:15. Rather than standing idle for 8 hours like a regular car, a driverless car could then travel to another suburb by itself to pick someone else up at 8:30. Driverless cars can help make individual transportation faster and easier, all while reducing waste and increasing utilisation of existing infrastructure.

This fills me with ridiculous joy, especially all the very sensible parts about car sharing and prevention of accidents, which are here to show you that the Science Party really and truly hasn’t just been reading too much science fiction.  (If they had, it would be flying cars.  Speaking of things which I was expecting to have by now when I was 8.)

Unsurprisingly, they want a proper NBN, with the original Fibre to the Premise model.

Health

The Science Party is in favour of universal healthcare, not limited by one’s ability to pay. This includes dental care and preventative care, and a better understanding of healthy aging.  They would like electronic health records to become more common (with the patient’s consent), making it easier to transfer between doctors.  (Though I note that this means it would also be harder to leave behind comments in your file if you have a doctor who, say, thinks that your chronic illness is all in your head or all about your weight.)  They also want to create an opt-in health monitoring system which sounds like an enhanced FitBit.

They want healthy eating initiatives and food labelling laws, including nutritional information on alcoholic beverages.

The Science Party is pro-choice, with medicare funding for abortions, and pro-decriminalisation of drugs.  They also want to increase funding for e-cigarettes which they view as ‘a safe and effective way to reduce smoking, especially for those people who find it difficult to quit by going cold-turkey or using traditional smoking cessation methods like nicotine patches’.

They have a pretty good mental health policy, wanting more funding for early intervention and for people with chronic serious mental health conditions who are not in crisis right at this very moment.  They also want more frontline health professionals to have mental health first aid training.

Regional Australia

The Science Party wants to increase salaries for frontline service staff, such as teachers and doctors in regional areas, based on the need and remoteness of the community, in order to encourage experienced people to move and stay in these regions.  This is a good idea as far as it goes, but it might be worthwhile trying to find ways to create packages for families – if your doctors is moving to your town to work, her husband is moving too, and what is he going to do?  Even if money is not an issue, being out of the workforce for years at a time is disadvantageous on many levels.  Assistance in finding jobs for spouses of such staff might be a better policy.

They would provide bonuses to universities who can deliver degree courses in a distance education / online format, with attendance on campus required for only once per year, for a maximum of three weeks.  The latter part might be restrictive – I’ve done distance ed myself, and we usually had to do one week per semester on campus, which wasn’t excessively onerous, and allowed each subject one week of intensive face to face time.

They would like to reduce regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles for use in rural areas, for scientific and agricultural use.  And they would like to advocate to remove agricultural trade barriers, which they feel benefit only large agribusinesses in the EU and USA.

Immigration

The Science Party is the first party I’ve ever seen that has wanted to increase Australia’s population – to 40 million by 2035.  I’m a little stunned by this – I’m not sure we currently have the resources to sustain a population so large.

They have not yet made up their mind about refugees.  They want to increase our humanitarian increase, but to take them from recognised refugees already waiting in Malaysia and Indonesia.  Offshore processing is not mentioned – even in their draft discussion document, they seem to avoid the question of how refugees are being treated in detention centres.  I’m not thrilled with this, to be honest.

They do, on the other hand, want to introduce a class of ‘sponsored compassionate visa’ for family members of Australian residents who have serious health conditions that currently bar them from reunion visas.  There would, however, be an ongoing sponsorship requirement from the Australian family members.

Animal Welfare

The Science Party has an animal welfare platform that aims to end battery cages and sow stalls, and support honest labelling of animal products.  They oppose live export of animals unless the system can be significantly improved to ensure their humane treatment. They want to further regulate greyhound and horse racing.  They do, however, approve the use of animals in medical research, subject to the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.  The Science party would like to institute an independent Office for Animal Welfare and – ooh! It’s science fiction time again – they want to do research into in vitro meat production.

The Animal Justice Party won’t like this much, but I think it’s a pretty good, moderate platform for animal welfare.

Discussion

I find it interesting that the Science Party seems to contain more wide-eyed idealists than the Arts Party – rather going against stereotype here.  I wonder if this is because it’s still possible to make a living in science, but not so much in the arts? Or is it just that science fiction (dystopias aside) is generally more optimistic than literary fiction?

Conclusions

All three hypotheses have been confirmed – I do like this lot, they do want more research funding, and they are generally left of centre, though a little less than I anticipated.  I really am disappointed by their stance on asylum seekers, and the fact that the current awful conditions on Nauru (and particularly for women and children) do not seem to enter into their calculations.

I do think their all-consuming love for technology occasionally blinds them to the downsides of some of their policies, but I admire their optimism and their lateral-thinking in policy making.  They really do have a number of policies that are totally different to anyone else’s.  I wish them luck.

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