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Federal Elections 2016 – What are the major issues for Indian community?

Indian community Source: Getty Images

Many people of Indian-origin who are eligible to vote in this election are keeping a close watch on major parties and their key issues.

Federal election to determine all 226 members of the 45th Parliament of Australia will take place on Saturday 2 July 2016.

It is the first double dissolution election since 1987.

Voting in Australia is compulsory.

Australia has a two-party system, with two dominant political groupings in the Australian political system – the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/National Coalition.

Apart from Liberal and Labor, also in fray are Australian Greens, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, Family First Party, Glenn Lazarus Team, Jacqui Lambie Network, John Madigan's Manufacturing and Farming Party, Katter's Australian Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Nick Xenophon Team, Palmer United Party, National Party of Australia, Liberal National Party of Queensland, and Country Liberal Party (NT).

This is one of the longest Federal Election campaigns in Australia’s history.

All political parties are trying to convince old and new voters that they’re the best for their community and Australia.

Many people of Indian-origin would be eligible to vote in this election and are keeping a close watch on major issues.

SBS Hindi’s Amit Sarwal interviewed Indian-origin residents to see what issues are close to their hearts in Federal election 2016.

Sanjay Sethi, a local community leader, feels medicare, infrastructure and community safety top the list.

Sanjay says the present government’s freeze on medicare patient rebates should be lifted.

Dr Ganesan Duraiswamy agrees that under the Coalition, and even previous governments, medical and health issues have suffered. But, the freeze on medicare rebate has severely impacted the ordinary middle-class Australians who have to see their GP.

The Coalition government has announced that it would continue the indexation freeze for all Medicare schedule fees until 2020.

On the other hand, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten has announced a plan to end the freeze, and restore indexation of the MBS from 1 January 2017.

Sanjay also feels that with growing migrant population smart suburbs and cities should be on government’s agenda. In new suburbs, transport infrastructure allows people to get wherever they need to go — home, work, school — within half an hour.

Bhavna Thakral, a working mother, says increasing the childcare rebate should be on the agenda of whoever wins the federal election. The childcare rebate covers 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs, but is capped at $7,500 a child per financial year.

Bhavna says - “We are full-time working parents and our three year-old son has been in day care for over two years and it's been really important for me, really important for other Indian families, that childcare rebate is increased from $7,500.”

Both, the Coalition and Labor, has pledged to overhaul the child care sector with a $3-billion package.

While, the coalition plans to streamline subsidies with one means-tested payment, under Labor's policy, the cap on the childcare rebate will be lifted to $10,000.

The loss of arts funding is also a major election issue.

Shriram Iyer (popularly known as Siyer), a Melbourne-based writer and artists, believes that multicultural arts and artists should be given some extra funding support.

Siyer, who has fifteen years of stage experience, says that right now there are a only few grants available and chances of getting it are rare.

He feels that Indian community artists are either not aware about these grants or are not judged fairly!

A major problem he highlights here is lack of training in grant application process.

Saksham Katyal, a Melbourne based IT and leadership expert who specializes in training migrant youth, says that the next government should join hands with community youth to create a vibrant Australian society.

Tarak Shah, President of Masala Football Club, agrees with Saksham’s views on assimilating migrant youth into Australian culture.

Tarak adds that sports, especial Australian Rules Football (Footy), has and will play an important role in bringing multicultural communities together.

Tarak says with education funding as a key election issue, funding to multicultural sports club should be part of the agenda.

Other major issues that people shared with SBS Hindi are: jobs, same-sex marriage, schools infrastructure, house prices, rent rates, negative gearing, climate change, innovation/start-up funding, penalty rates, minimum wages, domestic violence, and long-stay visa for parents.