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Marriage Equality

This tag is associated with 6 posts

WE DON’T SERVE THE GAYS HERE! Innovative Marketing solutions

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Are you a business worried about your right to refuse service to the gays? Well listen up and save Shelton’s bank roll for your legal costs and stop Brandis worrying about writing legislation to allow you to legally refuse service to the gays.  I know he isn’t the Prime Minister Tony is but, Malcolm is always challenging us to be innovative, so here are my top three, yes top three – exclusive and free innovative ideas for you, to help you refuse service to the gays. There is no need to be worried! There will be no need to refuse service! It is in your control! Marketing is so innovative! 

Uniform Revamp

The right uniform can have a very positive impact on your business. Professionalism and authority (authority is like nationalism but sexier!) are the two most highly rated indicators directly influencing consumer purchases. In a study by Suffolk University in 2011, it was found that Uniforms influence consumers on product knowledge and expertise more than the other six strategies; such as radio, television, internet etc.,

So the answer for your business is to revamp your uniform and just openly advertise your bigotry. That way the LGBTIQ community, their families and allies can walk into your shop and see clearly your deep seated hatred by your uniform.  Be warned, they may give you the middle finger! But all is good. They will take their service elsewhere.  It saves the embarrassment of defending your right to bigotry in court and the freedom to express your homophobia and bigotry openly.  Here are some great choices below:

uniform-change

Call to Action Marketing

Call to Action marketing is an online concept to directly attract the ‘right’ people to your business by them clicking on your online advertising. This takes the right customers direct to your website for sales and sign ups! Great targeted marketing tool yes? And you could go viral!

Here are some solutions to keep all LGBTIQ people, their family and allies away. This way, not only will you attract other bigots just like you, but you will most certainly win the internet by keeping basically 70% of Australia away from your business!

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Re-branding! (Not Re-Brandis – Re-Branding)

Re-branding is a great way to really revitalise what your company is all about!  It allows you to express a newly invigorated heart and soul as the demographic for your product changes, or you want to really hit some of that solid target market. Re-branding can stir deep feelings within other human beings and connect them to your business.

If you want your customers to share your deep homophobic and and anti-gay feelings – what better way to sell this than to stimulate these feelings through a new brand!  Hopefully these fantastic re-branding ideas will help you!

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Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed these free tips I have shared. There is no need to be worried about refusing same sex couples service ever again, with these new marketing tricks. I hope I have helped you and your business today to find new and inventive ways to express your hatefulness, homophobia and bigotry with the FREEDOM you desire!

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Plebiscite. NOT a civil and respectful debate

A Shorten Labor Government promises to pass Marriage Equality within the first 100 days if they win the election.   An Abbott-Turnbull Government favours a plebiscite. Both of these cases were argued at the first Facebook leaders debate last night.

Leadership Debate 17 June, 2016 – Marriage Equality Plebiscite

Malcolm Turnbull:  I support same-sex marriage, if we are returned to Government, there will be a plebiscite, then all Australians will get a say on the issue.  I’ll be voting yes. Lucy will be voting yes. We will be urging people to vote yes.  I am very confident it will be carried.

Bill Shorten: Now the argument says, Oh Plebiscite, it’s very democratic.  But the truth of the matter is that this is a debate where I don’t believe that people’s relationships and love for each other need to be submitted to a public opinion poll.  I think we have seen two terrible events in the last week that shows hate and extremism exists in modern societies. And I don’t want to give the haters a chance to come out from underneath the rock and make life harder for LGBTI people.

Malcolm Turnbull: With great respect to you. I believe Australians are better than that. I believe we can have a discussion about marriage equality. It can be civil. It can be respectful and we will make a decision as a nation and then, as a nation we will respect the outcome.

The debate on marriage equality so far, has been anything but civil or respectful. Therefore, one can conclude Turnbull is one or more of the following:

  • Outright lying
  • Responding with empty platitudes
  • Playing semantics with the words ‘can be’ and ‘will be’
  • Intentionally arrogant and insulting towards the people who have already expressed they have been harmed by this debate
  • Ignorant and out of touch with the commentary already occurring within this debate
  • Supportive of the hateful and harmful commentary from the Anti-Marriage Equality lobby and considers this commentary, a civil and respectful debate.

Let’s take a look just a small taste of how the marriage equality debate has developed thus far. It has been far from civil.

*Warning: This post contains comments and pictures that may be upsetting and hurtful to LGBTI people, their families and allies. 

A Taste of the Respectful and Civil debate thus far:

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Leaked pamphlets, to feature in an upcoming campaign against same-sex marriage, suggest children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to “abuse and neglect” and more likely to be unemployed, abuse drugs and suffer depression.

The pamphlets, obtained by Fairfax Media, have been prepared and funded by Chris Miles, a former Liberal MP and member of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

“Not only is the information on this flyer wrong, it will put the lives of young gay people and the children of same-sex couples at risk by reinforcing the message that they and their families are broken.” (Croome, AME)

The Rainbow Noose
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Australian Marriage Alliance advertisement opposing marriage equality

AUSTRALIAN anti-gay-marriage group Marriage Alliance has depicted a woman with a rainbow noose around her neck in its latest internet campaign.

The group is claiming that same-sex marriage will increase suicide because people who are against it will be bullied over their views if it becomes law.

What About the Children?

Australian Marriage Alliance television advertisement opposing marriage equality. The central message that only children who have a mum and a dad “Miss out” on a real family.  

Alexander Regan, a 17-year-old boy with two lesbian mums, said on the petition that he was deeply offended by the commercial.

“I’m signing this because I’m a child of two absolutely loving lesbian parents and I’m really offended that this advertisement blatantly slandering same-sex parents’ ability to be parents simply based on their homosexuality,” he wrote. “My mums are amazing and I honestly need nothing more than them and their love in my life.”

Booklet

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said,

“This booklet denigrates and demeans same-sex relationships and will do immense harm to gay students and students being raised by same-sex couples.”

“The booklet likely breaches the Anti-Discrimination Act and I urge everyone who finds it offensive and inappropriate, including teachers, parents and students, to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks.”

Mr Croome said he has received several complaints from teachers in Catholic schools who were horrified to learn at staff room meetings that the booklet will be distributed.

Comparing Marriage Equality to Animal Sexual Activity

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A federal Nationals MP has drawn a comparison between same-sex relationships and two rams having sex in a paddock, provoking condemnation for the ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate’ statements, with the Greens calling on him to apologise and retract them.

Educating Children and Parents about the dangers of Marriage Equality

 

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Parents took to social media to express concern over the event some described as “highly offensive’’, “extremely bigoted’’ and “totally inappropriate to be sent out through a Catholic school parent email list’’.

In a plea sent to the school, obtained by the Mercury, one parent said: “Although the teachings of the Catholic religion is one of husband and wife I find it inappropriate that the Catholic Diocesan of Wollongong  would find it appropriate to be “informed” about this topic by a (group) with a clear agenda leading up to a federal election.’’

“There are many families within our school community that would be extremely offended by this type of ignorant propaganda as they are not a ‘family’ as is defined,’’ the email said.

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The Australian Christian Lobby has compared same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program to the Holocaust, dubbing them all “unthinkable things” that happened because societies lacked strong moral guardians.

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Peter Madden is running for the Tasmanian Senate with the Family First party and his campaign is anti-marriage equality and anti-Safe Schools.

On Monday he made a comment on Twitter: “Though Orlando is abhorrent, it doesn’t change the real & present dangers of the gay marriage agenda to Aus children.”

People have condemned the insensitive tweet and even called the hopeful politician “scum”.

“Absolutely disgusting. Completely offensive,” one commented.

As I live in a Regional Town, I am dedicating a section just to debate within regional communities. 

There are extra complexities to consider in regional communities for LGBTI people. There is no Mardi-Gras. There is no wide-spread community support. Young LGBTI people often move away from the area quickly and there is a high rate of suicide. A harmful and hurtful debate only places further stress on young LGBTI people in regional communities.

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ssm6Mr Christensen, the Member for Dawson, posted a photo on social media showing a gun loaded with a rainbow coloured magazine.

“My point is that people saying ‘let’s follow America’ in their argument for same-sex marriage … well what about the right to bear arms?” he said.

“I mean, you wouldn’t follow America on that one.

George Christensen, LNP Member for Dawson.

 

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“Many kids do flee Mackay straight after high school,” she said.

“I am sure this has something to do with it. People do not feel welcome here. You get shunned. So people leave and go to places where it is acceptable.”

BuzzFeed News asked Christensen (QLD LNP MP) what he thought about LGBTI teenagers in the area feeling as though a program like Safe Schools is needed.

He (Christensen) likened it to children wanting to eat ice cream.

“Kids love everything. Kids would love free ice cream at school,” the MP said. “Is that good for them? Y’know. Of course they are going to defend something they are being told is good.

“But is it good? Is it social engineering? I think it is clearly social engineering.”

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Using the plebiscite as campaign fodder.

The Capricornia Young LNP accuse the Labor candidate of vandalising the LNP member’s office.  (The Labor candidate responded in the original thread that she was there to support the rally and was writing “Love is Love” on a heart-shaped post it note.  The other person in the photo is the gorgeous Ben Norris from Big Brother, who spoke at the rally.

marriage equality rally

I attended this Equal Love Rally.  We held a peaceful rally. Marched a distance to the LNP Member’s office and those who desired could place a post it note on her door with a message in support of marriage equality.

Equal Love Rally

SMS to the Editor – Rockhampton Morning Bulletin

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This is such a small sample from the commentary within  the debate against marriage equality thus far and it does not do justice to the plethora of uncivil and disrespectful commentary from the Anti-Marriage equality lobby found within this debate. 

This quote from Shirleene Robinson, spokeswoman for Australian Marriage Equality calls for people to understand that language and narrative can cause deep hurt to people.

“Words can inflict terrible harm sometimes and we would ask that people of all opinions remember that,” she said. “The use of intemperate language can cause deep hurt among LGBTI people and their families.”

Deciphering the Leaders Debate Comments.

A plebiscite – Abbott-Turnbull Government

I refer back to Turnbull’s comments within the leadership debate:

“….then all Australians will get a say on the issue”
“….we will make a decision as a nation”

Normally Turnbull palavers on with great verbosity and his words can be deciphered and reduced to something quite simple.  On this occasion he used a few words, but it translates to much more:  That is:

“When considering marriage, Australia currently recognises two groups of people: heterosexual people and LGBTI people. Australian law currently only respects the right to marry belongs to heterosexual people and excludes LGBTI people and discriminates based on gender.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government thinks the appropriate way to redress this gender based discrimination is for Australian citizens to decide if LGBTI people are the same as them, or a lesser class of citizen.  LGBTI people belong to a minority group.

The Government will ask LGBTI people (the minority group the current law discriminates against) to vote on this.

However  we will ask the majority – their friends, their allies, people who are apathetic and indifferent, but we also think it is important to ask people who do not consider LGBTI people ‘the same’ or ‘normal’ and should not have the same rights and also those who harbour a deep-seated hatred and contempt for LGBTI people.  

These people will make up of the majority group who will decide whether to uphold discrimination towards the minority group.

To ensure people are informed before they vote, as part of this, we will force LGBTI people and their families, loved ones and allies, to listen to the hateful rhetoric from people who argue that we should uphold this discrimination and LGBTI people should remain as a lesser class of citizen, which could cause deep hurt and harm to this group.

To ensure enough information is out there to decide whether LGBTI people are a lesser class of citizen or not, this will cost approximately 160 million dollars of taxpayer money.

It should also be noted that if a majority votes to continue discrimination towards the minority group, then discrimination based on gender should be fully respected and upheld. “

End Translation.

The Legislative Approach – Shorten Government

The legislative approach states that: Discrimination exists within our marriage law and separates citizens and discriminates based on gender. We will move a bill to redress that discrimination and ensure every citizen is equal under the eyes of the law.

Marriage Equality NOW.  Say NO to a plebiscite.

Marriage Equality. How Tolerant?

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Today marks another year of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Malcolm Turnbull will be the first Prime Minister to attend the Mardi Gras. Our Prime Minister will be smiling and waving at the very people he denies the basic right of marriage to. A right that he himself enjoys.

 

This blog post is about a question of tolerance and if the widely accepted norm of tolerating opposing views is regressive and harmful to our progress in this debate and if there should be any debate at all.  To argue to maintain tolerance of the anti-marriage equality stance, we need to recognise that democratic societies are not pure and that there is an imbalance of power in debates for progress.  I will discuss this further in this piece.

In an earlier blog post “The biggest consequence of marriage equality” I said this:
Tanya Plibersek believes that the vote should be binding within the Labor Party.  As a member of the Labor Party; I fully support this.  I support this for the reason that it is discrimination.  I listened to Anthony Albanese (Albo) on ABC Qanda on 1 June and he indicated in his response we need to tolerate and respect the views of others to bring them along with us.   I question whether this is a necessary patience or a subconscious accommodation for the class of people who understand discrimination well enough in other contexts; but not when it involves stamping out discrimination for something they fear.  The same class of people who use religion and/or prejudice as a shield to ward off progress. As a progressive, I do not feel I need to respect groups or individuals who actively fight against progress and who uphold discrimination.

To me, asking me to respect people’s opinions against marriage equality, is like asking me to respect people who are for racism, ableism, and sexism. I don’t respect that.  It is not a question of conscience. It is a question of enabling discrimination.

I look forward to a world where I am not asked or expected to respect people who actively uphold discrimination and who stifle progress.

This, of course triggered much debate about freedom of speech and also if I considered myself a bigot.  A person intolerant of other points of view.  These were confronting yet important questions. This led to much soul searching and subsequent researching and this has led me to Marcuse’s work on repressive and discriminate tolerance.  Marcuse is a post-Marxist philosopher, socialist and political theorist.

Repressive and Discriminate Tolerance

Repressive tolerance argues freedom of speech as underpinned by the constructs of (small l) liberalism exists to share ideas and have those ideas respected unless those ideas cause harm.  Marcuse believed that even in the 1960’s that the tolerance of ideas that were harmful to society encouraged a repressive society rather than enable a progressive one.

Discriminate tolerance is framing and setting aside the ideas that should not be tolerated in a debate towards progress. We already do this as a society.  We do not have complete indiscriminate tolerance, as those ideas will harm society.  Our national security legislation is one example.  Another example is Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act which makes hate speech unlawful.

Those who sit on the right wing and the extreme right, the Conservative-Liberals and the Libertarians argue for complete indiscriminate tolerance. They argue that unless they can be completely indiscriminate, this impedes their freedom of speech, even if that speech is harmful.

Marcuse does not argue for complete indiscriminate tolerance, but discriminate tolerance where we tolerate ideas unless they are harmful. The harmful ideas should be framed and set aside. His argument is that unless this is done, we are tolerating for the sake of being tolerant and impeding progress of the Left.

Marcuse argues that indiscriminate tolerance is indeed beneficial in many forms of debate, however “But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude.”

So what of Truth?

In a democratic society, democracy is not pure. Debate exists within an unequal framework. The institutions of Government and the media as two examples, have privilege and power to define what is ‘normal’ for the majority and what is not.  These entities have the power to stigmatise groups of people and spoil normal identity (see Erving Goffman). They have the power to place minority groups in the place of ‘weird and unacceptable.’

This imbalance of power in our democratic society frames truth in a frame that there is only one rational and objective truth. However, there is strong argument supported by the theory of relativism, constructivism and phenomenology as examples, that there are multiple truths and multiple realities.

The inclusion of the opposing view in the framework of this debate shrinks the space around the voices of the people who are the centre of this debate.  As the voices of anti-marriage equality are given more space in the media and enabled by the laws of Government the opposing voices are enabled to take up more space, allowing less consideration for the lived experience of LGBTI people and their arguments for the right to marry.

Indiscriminate Tolerance and Harm

When we tolerate the words and actions of the anti-marriage equality voices, we also enable harm.  A clear and recent example of this was on Qanda on Monday 29 February, where Lyle Shelton (Australian Christian Lobby) was putting forth his opinion that the children of same-sex couples are a stolen generation.  Dr. Karen Phelps (Former President of the Australian Medical Association and prominent LGBTI commentator) retorted to Lyle Shelton “You know I am sitting right here?”  His words were clearly offensive and hurtful.

The observable phenomena of LGBTI couples that they consistently reinforce to society the longevity of their relationships during debate; appears to me from the outside looking in, that they feel the need to justify or qualify their relationships in a way that heterosexual couples do not.  This is an indication to me that this group is treated as a ‘lesser’ group in society in terms of relationship rights.

The toleration of the actions of anti-marriage equality protesters, the narrative, the physical symbols of anti-LGBTI propaganda, their fight for exclusion, even marriage equality marches are reminders that there is no equality and that LGBTI people are seen as ‘others’ in a world of ‘normals’ by a significant and influential group which the institutions, Government and media give space to in the debate. The inequality these institutions create for minorities is that they are powerful influencers of distributors of information, swayers of opinion and the makers of laws of the framework we must work within.

Should we discriminate?

The question of “Should we use discriminate tolerance” can by understood by identifying the multiple truths in the debate.  The decision of discriminate tolerance would negate the need for a plebiscite. 

The major identified truth that I have personally observed for the Pro-Marriage Equality side is that they suffer from legal discrimination and this needs to be redressed. The exclusion of the right to marry has harmful consequences to individuals, and as a group within society.  If objective reality is applied to this truth, the practicalities for this is that this can be determined through logical, rational and empirical evidence. This is indeed an objective and rational truth and these individuals do suffer from legal discrimination and do suffer harm.

The wider consideration of harm to society is this: The denial of the right to marry enables critical information to be excluded from considered arguments for societies progression. For example, there is limited data (qualitative and quantitative) on single parents who have exited a same-sex relationship. The rational objective truth is that when Government is developing a policy to ensure that laws exist to ensure a fair and just life for single parents, if LGBTI single parents are excluded from the data considered, then decisions are made with the active exclusion of one group of single parents. This is harmful as it does not enable an inclusive, progressive society.

The major reality or truth that I have identified for the anti-marriage equality side is mainly identified as insular, as in how marriage equality will change the meaning of their marriage.” If the objective reality is applied to this truth, the practicalities for this is that marriage equality does not change anyone else’s marriage.

When the words of those tolerated are transferred to deed (what Marcuse argues is where harm occurs) we have inequality for a significant proportion of people in our society. We remain servants to discriminating legislation which causes harm to those affected and also to those who witness this harm as parents, friends and allies.  We enable discrimination.

The much uglier reality or truth that I have identified for the anti-marriage equality side, is that LGBTI people are perverse or deviant, that marriage equality will harm children and other abhorrent arguments linking marriage equality to paedophilia and bestiality.  If the objective reality is applied to this truth, the practicalities for this is that LGBTI people are not perverse or deviant and are indeed born as LGBTI people and this is as natural as being born a heterosexual. There are significant studies and empirical evidence that marriage equality has no links to paedophilia or bestiality.

When the words of those tolerated are transferred to deed through protests, visual signs, symbols, movements, vocal commentary on prominent TV Shows on the National Broadcaster and also as from the lawmakers themselves – the members of Government, these words and accusations create the stigmatisation of one group of people. This stigmatisation can have the most harmful of consequences including suicide. Through this tolerance, we enable harm.

What of progressive Government? It is time to get serious.

The overarching question is should the Government use discriminate tolerance to redress the discrimination caused by the current Marriage Act? A tolerant, intelligent, critical thinking and progressive Government would do so.  They would not tolerate a public plebiscite, they would analyse the legal framework and vote on redressing discrimination, regardless of conscience. They would bind their party to this vote.

In the framework of an unequal democracy, the imbalance of privilege and power and indiscriminate tolerance, minorities are expected to fight harder, to be louder, to be more aggressive to overpower the dominance of the oppressive voices. This is seen consistently where workers have had to fight for the rights of workers, women have had to fight for the rights of women and where people of colour have had to fight for the rights of people of colour.  These fights continue to this day within this same framework of inequality of voice, privilege and power.

A Government already has the power to work with the aggrieved group to measure the harm of the existing law or societal norm and use their power to redress that discrimination and to enable equal rights.

A Government which thinks deeply and critically and considers their privilege and power, the privilege and power of the media, the privilege and power of the free market economic system and how this shapes the opinion of dissenters; can place this debate in a framework to use discriminate tolerance and apply the rational outcome of redress.

A Government which thinks deeply and critically about the individuals within this framework and extends care to all people in that framework who are harmed can use their power to provide leadership to change laws which will underpin and enable the necessary societal change and mitigate or eradicate stigma.

If discriminate tolerance was enforced to frame and set aside repressive ideas and people who have stigmatised LGBTI people as others from the beginning of time, then LGBTI people would have been developed in society’s view as non-stigmatised ‘normals.’

The Marriage Act would have been developed as inclusive of heterosexual and same-sex relationships from the beginning of time. Any attempt to change this, such as in 2004 by the Liberal Party would not have been tolerated by society and this change to exclude LGBTI people from the right to marry would have been viewed as an abnormal and perverse view.

Am I a bigot? No. I am a leftist thinker who uses discriminate tolerance where thoughts words and actions cause harm.  I encourage our next Prime Minister Bill Shorten to do the same and support Tanya Plibersek and lead a binding vote for Marriage Equality.

Ten things more reckless than funding Gonski

Gonski turnbullPaul Keating was so right about Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t he? “A bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing, nothing”

After all the glasses-twirling hype and the selfie-induced-train-hopping; nothing is exactly what we are getting from an undemocratically elected, Liberal Party appointed Prime Minister who is quickly learning that he can’t please the people and his party. However, he has clearly chosen who he aims to please. Malcolm Turnbull has clearly chosen to please the conservative right wing of his party and not the people of Australia and certainly not our children!

In his interview on 3AW with Neil Mitchell, Turnbull described Labor’s commitment to fund Gonski as, “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that the fair and equitable education of ALL little Australians is “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that investing in our children, the very people who will shape this country for our future, is ‘Reckless.”

Malcolm Turnbull believes that your child does not deserve a fair go!

Any leader who undermines the very essence of our shared Australian value of – “The Fair Go” is reckless. It is reckless toward us as individuals and it is reckless toward us as a collective. Turnbull’s rejection of Gonski funding is not just reckless, it is irresponsible and regressive.

To play on a phrase Julia Gillard famously used….If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what Reckless looks like, he just needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.

The Abbott-Turnbull Govt has been the most reckless Government of my lifetime. That is why we need to talk about the:

Ten Things More Reckless than Funding Gonski:

1. Not Giving a Gonski

Education changes people’s lives.  The Gonski Reforms are an opportunity for fairness and equality in education.  It is an opportunity to provide equal access to pathways of future success for all of our children. The Gonski reforms will pull some sectors of our society out of generational disadvantage. The Gonski reforms enable our country to be competitive and improving our economy. Giving a Gonski is giving our children, your children, a chance to be competitive in the jobs of the future. Committing to Gonski could mean enabling the pathway for a future Prime Minister. Refusing to commit to Gonski is keeping the door shut to a Prime Minister that could have been.

The Prime Minister of Australia willingly choosing to uphold disadvantage over fairness and equality for all is beyond reckless, it is downright destructive.

2. The Job Seekers can Starve for Six Months Policy.

This little gem drummed up by the ‘let’s stigmatise poor people’ rabble of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, decided that in the era of high unemployment created by decisions by their own party, that young people who could not find a job are not entitled to social security payments. Deciding that young unemployed people should have no money for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products or medicine is very reckless indeed. (Labor, Greens and some cross-benchers opposed this and a new policy is in progress for jobseekers to starve for one month instead.

3. Trashing Labor’s FTTP NBN 

I’m just going to leave this here because I’d rather watch Jason Clare explain how reckless Turnbull has been with the NBN, rather than write about it.

4. The Trade Union Royal Commission

Wasting millions and millions and millions of dollars on a political witch hunt, presided over by a judge with a history that spans decades of  very close ties to the Liberal Party of Australia, is one of the most reckless acts against the working class this country has ever seen. The reckless attack on workers to bring back a reckless star chamber style ABCC is abhorrent. No Mother or Father ever wants the young man in this video to be his or her child! Shame. Shame. Shame.

5. Attacking the Most Sick and Vulnerable in Our Society

The cuts to health and the continuous push towards a user pays system are reckless to the extreme.  The situation the Abbott-Turnbull Government is pushing for, is where your wealth decides whether you are in pain, undiagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or possibly even die.  This type of class division of access to health will lead to a broken country.  No human life is less valuable than another life based on the amount of money someone has in the bank.    

6. Being a Fake Friend

Both John Howard in 2005 and Tony Abbott in 2014 said that the Liberal Government was the best friend the workers have ever had. Pretending to be a friend to the worker, is not just reckless, it is deceitful. A Government who makes it easier to employ foreign workers instead of Australian workers is not a best friend to the worker. A Government who does that is made up of a pack of self-righteous, out of touch lazy gits and by taking a generous wage, are the real leaners on society. MP’s are not elected by the people to do backroom deals to push Australians out of work.  How reckless is it to make changes to employment rules that result in Australians being replaced with foreign workers and then laugh about it.  Really? How reckless is that to everything the people in this country value?

7. Attacks on low paid workers and their families

The push from the Abbott- Turnbull Government to make life more difficult for families by cutting family payments and attacking penalty rates is indeed reckless. Some parents rely on weekend shift work to help the family get through the week. Sometimes this is the only work mum or dad can get to work in with their primary duty of caring for children. To attack the penalty rates of some of the poorest people in the country in conjunction with cuts to family payments and abolishing the School Kids Bonus is yet another step closer to the Abbott-Turnbull led class divide trotted out by the Liberals and Nationals time and time again. Class divide is indeed one of the most reckless things a Government can do.

8. The Government’s policy of Secrets and Lies

The approach and treatment of Asylum Seekers under the Abbott-Turnbull regime is abhorrent, shameful, disgusting and damaging.  The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s commitment to the secrecy provisions of their policy is beyond reckless. I do not believe a word exists for how damaging this extreme practice is. The treatment of Asylum Seekers is in the name of all Australians, not just in the Government’s name. Concerned citizens and advocacy groups have the right to investigate the treatment of people seeking asylum in our name. Asylum seekers have the absolute right to advocacy, medical treatment and legal representation. The cloak and dagger approach has only lasted so long. As reported yesterday, Border Force admitted that at least 23 boats have been turned back and this is a regular occurrence. To say the boats have stopped is a bald-faced lie. With the Government casting its invisibility cloak over people seeking asylum, the public have no idea if people are still drowning or the number of deaths at sea. As Harry Potter Fans will appreciate, the Government has the invisibility cloak and with Dutton’s face as the stone and Turnbull’s twirling glasses as the wand, the Government really could be the Masters of Death.

9. Income Management – Basic and Healthy Welfare Cards

The Cashless Welfare card is the symbolic mechanism that brings the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s agenda of stigmatisation of the poor to life. This draconian, punitive measure ensures that those who are unemployed are branded as such at the checkout. The Government harps on about how they understand innovation, but then deny the unemployed the ability to purchase cheap goods off buy and sell sites on Facebook and at the local market. The cashless welfare card denies an unemployed mother the ability to give their school child that $3.00 in an envelope for the school excursion they just remembered about that morning. Income management only serves to degrade the unemployed as incompetent and not able to manage their own meagre budgets. It is a punitive and degrading measure, which takes away the liberty and freedom of those who are on welfare. Income management increases barriers to employment for jobseekers and that is indeed reckless to the individual and to our society as a whole.

10. Not allowing a free vote in Parliament on Marriage Equality

One of the roles of the Prime Minister and Government is to provide leadership of tough issues. This often means doing what is right for minority groups, regardless of popular opinion.  I was deeply perturbed at the very vocal Abbott-esque backflip by Turnbull in question time on Thursday.  The new Malcolm appears not only to be reckless, but now completely unhinged.

Terri Butler: Given it is clear that members of the Prime Minister’s own party will not respect the $160 million plebiscite on marriage equality; will the Prime Minister immediately allow the free vote that he used to argue for on the private member’s bill that is currently before the parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull: I am not sure what it is about the honourable member’s approach to democracy that she so despises the views of the people that sent her here.

Parliament did not conduct a plebiscite to determine if we should or should not have sexual harassment laws introduced. They did not conduct a plebiscite to pass the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, contrary to what the popular belief at the time would have been. The Government of the day saw legal entrenched discrimination and had the guts to redress it.

By standing by a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull is valuing the opinion of bigots and homophobes who have recently photoshopped rainbow nooses around a woman’s neck in an anti-marriage equality advertisement. That is not valuing democracy. That is upholding bigotry and allowing bigots to have a voice against those they seek to oppress.  As leaders, the Government has a moral obligation to view this debate from a legal standpoint of discrimination based on the choice of sexual preference and redress this discrimination immediately.

It is reckless for a Government to deny people who love each other the right to marry, based on their sexual preference.

Conclusion

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what reckless really is, here are just ten of the many reckless things the Abbott-Turnbull Government has done in the short space of two years and four months.  Investing in Gonski is not reckless, it is responsible and visionary, two things the current Government lacks.  To fight this Government’s recklessness, remember always to put the Liberal/National or LNP last on your ballot paper and Give a Gonski today.

 

Ten Questions for Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong

cory penny

Yesterday, along with many others I watched the much anticipated marriage equality debate between Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong.  I found some of the questions from the press gallery quite predictable. I felt the questions did not really challenge what marriage equality may mean for us as we progress as a nation. I have put together ten questions I would have liked to have asked Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong.   

Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong Same-Sex Marriage Debate ABC TV 29 July 2015

 

Question 1 – Twelve Year Olds
Many young people dream of their wedding.  Even at twelve years old I dreamt of my wedding and would often gaze at a good looking boy in my class and wonder if it would be him.  If marriage equality becomes the norm, how will the world change for all twelve year olds?

Question 2 – Is it time to really scrutinise marriage?
Marriage as currently defined, has no specific parameters of what that actually means, besides the union of a man and a woman.  If a man and a woman are married, they can live a life as a sham. They do not need to sleep in the same bed or even live in the same home or even town.  They do not have to share parenting, or be good parents or even be parents and there is always a contentious argument of if and when the housework is actually shared equally.  Heterosexual married couples do not even have to treat each other with respect or endearment. They do not even have to be in love.

My question is, if we do not question the validity of what marriage means, outside of the bringing together of gender opposites, then why is the anti-marriage equality side constantly debating the morals, scruples and behaviour of the LGBTQI community who would like to be married? If this is such a strong area of concern, how do we redress the imbalance here if the anti-marriage equality advocates do succeed? Should we have more scrutiny of heterosexual married couples?

Question 3 – Gender Transformation
If an individual who is married decides to undertake the journey of gender transformation; what do the current laws mean for the married couple if they want to stay together, if both individuals identify and are legally recognised as the same gender?  How will marriage equality have an impact on individuals who undertake the journey of gender transformation,and their spouse?

Question 4 – Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a very prominent issue in Australia at present.  Domestic violence is often discussed in terms of between a man and a woman, rather than between two people. There is now a shift in reports and language surrounding intimate partner violence, which includes same sex relationships.  How will marriage equality assist Governments to legislate for protections for all people in domestic violence situations and enable Governments to fund programs inclusive for all victims of domestic violence?

Question 5 – Atonement
Because it is 2015 and Australia still does not have marriage equality, there may be some LGBTQI people in our community who have felt they could not just ‘be who they are’ and may have chosen to live a life married in a heterosexual relationship for whatever reasons they decided this was best for them.  If marriage equality is achieved, is it fair to say that there may be some resentment from those who feel they have been forced to make decisions they would not have had to? Is it fair to say that by not recognising marriage equality earlier, we have not allowed people to live a full life with freedom of individual expression and decision making and how do we as a nation atone for this?

Question 6 – A parent’s perspective
As a mother to a newly engaged daughter, my excitement is over-whelming awaiting the wedding. Weddings are something which do bring family and friends together for such a celebration of love and happiness. Weddings are seen as a key milestone for so many.  I see myself as someone who is privileged to enjoy this excitement and my heart pains for mothers and fathers who do not have this privilege. From the perspective as a parent, how does a Government see their role in interfering in such a personal, individual celebration of love which is only afforded to mothers and fathers given this privilege? This question is particularly for Senator Bernardi, considering his Government favours small Government and is supposed to favour distancing themselves from interference in the private sphere.

Question 7 – Our social fabric
One of the biggest arguments for marriage equality is that it will end discrimination and enable equality for all.  As per my last question, marriage is currently for those privileged to do so under our laws.  If we do not allow same-sex couples to ‘be’ as heterosexual couples are allowed to just ‘be’ then our social fabric will always be woven from those in a position of privilege.  How can our social fabric ever be complete when we are unconscious of a discourse that is currently silent about love, understanding and togetherness for all? How will marriage equality assist to weave our social fabric or in Senator Bernardi’s case destroy our social fabric?

Question 8 – Regional and Rural communities
I live in a regional community and I am aware that as I have aged over the years, many friends from my younger days have moved on to live in capital cities where communities are generally more supportive of LGBTQI Individuals, as regional and rural communities have not been very supportive in their experience. Some studies also cite very harsh treatment towards LGBTQI people who reside in regional and rural communities with some contemplating suicide or sadly, taking their own lives. What impact will marriage equality have on LGBTQI individuals living in rural and regional communities and what impact will marriage equality have in shaping these communities as a whole?

Question 9 – A Government’s responsibility to understand all groups in society
Although liberal feminism has achieved some great progress for women; liberal feminism was criticised by women of colour for excluding their lived experiences of discrimination and their need to redress areas of discrimination. This is because liberal feminists made assumptions from the perspective of middle class white women. Feminism has evolved to now women of colour having a much stronger voice and leading the issues in many areas of feminism. Including more experiences from a broader range of individuals can only result in better informed legislation.  There are many areas of social policy and statistics collections where research assumptions are made on research and data collected from a heteronormative viewpoint.  For example, there is little data to understand issues for single mothers who were previously in a same-sex relationship.

As it is the Government’s responsibility to develop social policies and legislate for same; isn’t it also the Government’s responsibility to ensure they have an understanding of all groups in society? How will marriage equality impact on the development of social policy and legislation of same? If Cory Bernardi believes these groups should be excluded by default by not having marriage equality legislation to redress this imbalance, does he support ill-informed legislation and policies?

Question 10 – Tolerance and conscience vote versus binding vote.
Anthony Albanese (Albo) on ABC Qanda on 1 June indicated in his response to a question about marriage equality and a conscience vote, is that we need to tolerate and respect the views of others to bring them along with us.  We have many different pieces of legislation which already make discrimination unlawful. Therefore, the battle against discrimination and inequality has been won on many fronts with political parties or Governments coming together to legislate for change to enable equality.

My question is about a conscience vote versus a binding vote. I question whether a conscience vote is a necessary patience, or a subconscious accommodation for the class of people who understand discrimination well enough in other contexts; but not when it involves stamping out discrimination for something they fear.  The same class of people who use religion, ignorance and/or prejudice as a shield to ward off progress.   As a progressive, I do not feel I need to respect groups or individuals who actively fight against progress and who uphold discrimination.

So my question is: How do Governments or even political parties make the decision about what is characterised to be morally and ethically sufficient or insufficient to determine whether a binding vote or conscience vote will be used?  Also, to truly progress, how tolerant should we be of all views?

How will you vote?

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women

I am concerned that as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women, your narrative suggests a very poor understanding of women’s issues in Australia……..This is a letter I have sent to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women today.  I have published this as an open letter as I would appreciate feedback and discussion on these points. Many things have occurred in Government since this statement was made, but I haven’t forgotten the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women’s comments on 3AW in September and I am posting this to bring this back into the minds of people who care for and fight for equality for women. I will update you with a response, if I receive one.

Update: International Women’s Day 8th March 2014.  I sent this via land mail to PM & Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, cc copies to Senator Moore and Senator Cash on 12 December 2013.  I received an in-depth response from Senator Moore within two weeks. To date as of 08/03/2014 almost three months later, I still have not received a response from the Tony Abbott, Minister for Women or Senator Cash, Minister assisting the Minister for Women.  

4th June, 2014: After assistance from Senator Larissa Waters of the Greens, I have now received a letter from Mikaela Cash on behalf of the Prime Minister for Women. My question of would he publicly apologise for stating on 3AW that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination in Australia” was not addressed.

Dear Prime Minister

I am concerned that as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women, your narrative suggests a very poor understanding of women’s issues in Australia.

On Friday, 27 September, 2013 Neil Mitchell (Radio 3AW) asked you, “Do you believe women do suffer discrimination in Australia?” 

Your response as Prime Minister of Australia and the Minister for Women was

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.”

Yet women in Australia do experience both legal discrimination and discrimination by default.  Your comment above appears to be very short-sighted in terms that you view discrimination against women as ‘accidental’. Comments such as above will continue to enable our society to view discrimination against women as non-harmful and ‘nothing to really worry about’ and not as an ingrained, enabled and supported societal construct that urgently needs to be addressed.

It is also my concern that you appear to take the view, from your comments above, that a paid parental leave scheme is a panacea to eradicating existing discrimination against women. Many areas of discrimination will not be addressed by a paid parental leave scheme, regardless of the avenue of funding. In fact, some of the personal concerns from women detailed across various social media forums indicate otherwise. These women have expressed that they may be further discriminated against if an employer paid parental leave scheme was introduced.  I have taken the time to list many of my areas of key concern; however, this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Discrimination against Pregnant Women in the Workplace

    • The increasing casualisation of women in the workforce excludes many women from rights surrounding pregnancy in the workplace.
    • Dismissals of casual women workers upon revealing they are pregnant
    • There are significant issues for Indigenous women and pregnancy in the workplace. These include, requirement of additional time off for cultural reasons to travel home to give birth; higher rate of diabetes requiring more time off. This can be increasingly difficult for women in remote or isolated locations.
    • Some women in rural and remote areas have no choice but to stop work, due to the inability to travel.
    • Teenage pregnant women who experience discrimination do not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process.
    • Some teenage pregnant women are not kept on after their traineeship, due to pregnancy.
    • Women from non-traditional families and same-sex families experience pregnancy discrimination due to social attitudes in the workplace.
    • Women with disabilities experience pregnancy discrimination as employers do not accommodate their changing needs
    • Women experience pregnancy discrimination during the selection process for employment. Many women are asked at interview their plans for intending to have a family or increasing their family. (Source: Australian Human Rights Commission)

The Sex Discrimination Act (Cth) (SDA) makes it unlawful to treat a person unfairly because they are pregnant, potentially pregnant, breastfeeding or have family responsibilities. It includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

  • Discrimination against Women and Parents returning from parental leave

    • In 2011 to 2012, 21% of complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act received by the Commission related to pregnancy discrimination and family responsibilities. The Commission received 160 complaints related to pregnancy discrimination, 63 complaints related to family responsibilities discrimination and two complaints related to breastfeeding discrimination. The overwhelming majority of these complaints were submitted by women.
    • Similarly, 21% of the complaints investigated by the Fair Work Commission in 2011-2012 related to an allegation of pregnancy discrimination.
    • The ABS ‘Pregnancy and employment transitions 2012’ data reveals that approximately 67,300 women employees (19%) perceived experiencing some level of discrimination in the workplace while pregnant. The most common kinds of treatment women reported in the survey included: ‘Missed out on opportunity for promotion’ (34%); ‘Missed out on training or development opportunities’ (32%); and ‘Received inappropriate or negative comments from their manager/supervisor’ (28%) (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)

The Sex Discrimination Act (Cth) (SDA) makes it unlawful to treat a person unfairly because they are pregnant, potentially pregnant, breastfeeding or have family responsibilities. It includes both direct and indirect discrimination.

  • Discrimination against women in achieving leadership and management roles and

  • Discrimination by default, due to under-representation in management and board positions in Australia

    • In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
    • Women account for over half of academic staff, however only 27% of women are Senior Lecturer or above.
    • 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia.
    • Women chair only two per cent of ASX200 companies (four boards), hold only 8.3% of Board Directorships, hold only four CEO positions and make up only 10.7% of executive management positions
    • In 2008, women held 5.9% of line executive management positions in ASX 200 companies; a decrease from 7.5% in 2006. Line executive management experience is considered essential for progressing to top corporate positions.
    • Women make up a third of members on Australian Government Boards and Committees.
    • Despite comprising more than half of all Commonwealth public servants, women make up only 37% of the Senior Executive Service.  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)

It is reported that women are more likely to have postgraduate degrees than men and score higher academically. The statistics indicate that women are discriminated against in terms of accessing the appropriate training for progression or are discriminated against covertly during the recruitment and selection phases of appointments for leadership roles.

It is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against a person who is an employee or prospective employee because of the attributes of the person.

  • Discrimination against Breastfeeding Mothers

    • Breastfeeding mothers have experienced being denied goods and services
    • Breastfeeding mothers refused lactating breaks to feed their baby in the workplace.
    • Breastfeeding mothers are harassed, verbally abused and targeted to be subjects of humiliation in public, due to a lack of public understanding surrounding this issue.
    • Breastfeeding mothers experience discrimination due to some service providers and employers not providing sufficient accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. (Source ADCQ; Australian Breast Feeding Association).

Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding

  • Discrimination in the justice system against rape victims through under-reporting, lack of convictions and poor sentencing outcomes and

  • Discrimination through the virtual denial of the right to safety.

    • It is a fact that one in five women will experience sexual violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Women with a Disability are more likely to experience sexual and physical assault
    • It is estimated that less than 30% of sexual assaults are reported. The perception that the victim will be blamed instead of the perpetrator and the high rates of acquittals in the justice system are two a main reasons for non-reporting of sexual assault.
    • Sexual violence is less likely to be reported by Indigenous women.
    • Younger women and teenagers are more likely to be sexually assaulted than older women and young women and teenagers are more likely not to report the sexual assault to the police.
    • Where a matter does proceed to trial, evaluations of trial transcripts consistently show that many complainants are:
    • Accused of lying or making false reports.
    • Asked questions about behaving in a sexually provocative way.
    • Asked about alcohol intake on the day of the offence.
    • Asked about the way they were dressed at the time of the offence.
    • Similar questions are asked of children alleging inter familial sexual abuse.
    • A Victorian study that asked barristers, judges and magistrates for their opinions found that almost all of them believed that “rape complainants have a significantly different experience as witnesses than victims of other forms of personal violence”.
    • The average length of questioning endured by victim complainants in sexual offence trials is double that for victim complainants in trials involving other assaults.
    • The situation facing Indigenous victim complainants is significantly worse, with more questions, longer periods of cross-examination, and racist imputations being made in court. (Source South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault)

 “Rape laws which do not specifically exclude the application of sexist, discriminatory, and Ill-informed attitudes and beliefs in determining outcomes of sexual assault cases tacitly condone rape, condemn women to suffer in silence, and perpetuate and compound this harm consequent on a sexual assault. Law and education play a fundamental role in challenging assumptions and stereotypes surrounding sexual assault” (Source – The Australian Institute of Criminology) 

  • Discrimination against women arising from casualisation in the workforce and high numbers working in insecure employment and

  • Discrimination against women through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’, and the general availability of fewer opportunities of penalties and overtime. Please note that in 2011, the gender pay gap was 17.2% for full-time workers and

  • Discrimination against women in the workforce, or who are job seeking who either cannot access or cannot afford childcare

    • More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability
    • Some of the lowest paid industries in Australia such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services and Retail trade tend to employ the highest proportion of female employees without paid leave entitlements (61 per cent, 48 per cent and 34 per cent respectively
    • 30 per cent of female employees who are lone parents with dependent children, are casual employees without paid leave entitlements
    • In 2012, the total cash weekly earnings by gender were $1189.00 (Men) $852.00 (Women)  (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
  • Ingrained discrimination and ignorance against the stolen generation, mothers and children alike.

Although an apology has been given to the Stolen Generation by the previous Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd; there are a myriad of serious effects on those who were stolen and on birth mothers and fathers, and so much more work needs to be done. The extent of the abhorrent discrimination towards this group, by our Governments and services requires urgent attention.

As the Prime Minister of this country, your speech suggesting that there was too much reference to ‘Indigenous heritage’ in the History curriculum (Tony Abbott, National Press Club, September 2013); only serves to permeate in our society, a narrative that continues to discriminate against the Stolen Generation and their future generations. This narrative also seeks to exclude all people of Australia from the truth.

My other concern is if changes to our history curriculum are approved, future leaders will make policy and decisions based on truth built from ignorance; and the mothers, the women, men, girls and boys of the stolen generation, will never see an end to discrimination and disrespect on our Government’s behalf.  Adequate compensation in dollar terms and the continual development of support services for this group will be an issue that will forever remain silent. 

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women who, as primary parental care givers, end up with reduced superannuation earnings in retirement and

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women, will receive less superannuation over time, through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’

    • Only 60% of Indigenous women have superannuation coverage compared to 80% of women in the general population.
    • Many women work more than one casual job across different employers and do not receive super from any individual employer, due to earning less than $450 per month.
    • The mean super balance of men earning under $5400 per year is just almost double the amount for women in the same group. (Source ASFA)
    • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.
    • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men – $37,000 compared with $110, 000.
    • In Australia, women working full-time today earn 16 per cent less than men.
    • Women also receive less super across the board, due to the gender pay gap of 17.2%  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Discrimination against women in current abortion laws

    • Within Australia, women’s rights in terms of reproductive choice are not viewed as a humanitarian right. There is no federal approach to abortion as a basic humanitarian right and various states have different levels of access and legality.
    • In some states, women have no reproductive rights, except on the grounds of serious risk to life or health of the mother. In some states abortion is criminalised.
    • The limited access in place is inequitable for women based on their geographic location.  The entire systems of laws for abortion are discriminatory towards all women, as these laws do not allow a woman to be in control of her own individual reproductive rights.
  • The under-representation of women in parliament, amounting, in the absence of any system to redress the imbalance, to discrimination

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 43/142 countries for women in national parliaments.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women. However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government.  Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation.  The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of  female MPs.” 

  • Discrimination against women, through lack of legislation supporting marriage equality.

Although both men and women are discriminated against through lack of legislation supporting marriage equality; my focus for the purpose of this letter is to discuss points of discrimination, particular to women.  I will address two areas, discrimination through legislation and discrimination by default through exclusion in society.The Subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as ‘…the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’   The definition of the marriage act, merely states that this is a union voluntarily entered into for life.  There are no specific parameters which specify what a union means.  This is defined in Mary Case’s journal article, “What feminists have to lose in same-sex marriage litigation’  

A marriage certificate now allows heterosexual couples to have an open marriage, to live in different cities or in different apartments in the same city, to structure their finances as they please, without having their commitment or the legal benefits that follow from it challenged (p. 1203). 

As there are very little restrictions relating to the private behaviours of the marital union, this act is discriminatory purely on the grounds of sex. This is only for persons who identify with having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are distinctly characterised as male or distinctly characterised as female.  Therefore, Marriage as defined as a union between a man and a woman, itself is discriminatory based on sex alone.

Women are discriminated within this act as it focuses on ‘sex’ and not ‘gender.  This act excludes all persons who identify with a gender, that isn’t normative to their physically or biologically recognised ‘sex’. This act discriminates against all persons who identify as inter-sex. This Act excludes all persons on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Women are also discriminated against, through legislation informing a society, which excludes understanding and valuing the experiences of unions that are not specifically between a heterosexual man and woman.

Various academic journals discuss that marriage is ingrained in the patriarchal notion that women are subordinate in society. Although this notion is not as entrenched within our whole society today; a quick search of Google for ‘subordinate wife’ will return over six million hits, with a high volume supporting the subordination of women/wives, particularly in a religious context.  Through legislating marriage as it currently exists, many women are discriminated against and are exempt from marriage, simply because they choose not to have a union with a man and some because they view marriage as placing women in a subordinate role to men.

Mary Case also highlights in her article, that before becoming pope, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger advocated for a normative view on gender in relation to subordination of women.  This is an excerpt of his 2004 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World.

“This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality……… While the immediate roots of this second tendency are found in the context of reflection on women’s roles, its deeper motivation must be sought in the human attempt to be freed from one’s biological conditioning. According to this perspective, human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.”

My concern is, if we do not allow same-sex couples to just ‘be’ as others are allowed to just ‘be’, our social fabric will always be woven by those in a superior position and superior privilege.  Unless our social fabric allows for equal contributions from all, how will we ever have a full understanding of each other? How can our social fabric ever be complete, when we are unconscious to a discourse that is currently silent about family, love, understanding and togetherness as experienced by all? 

  • Discrimination against Women seeking asylum

In a journal article published in the journal of Refugee studies, “Marginal Women, Marginal Rights: Impediments to Gender-Based Persecution Claims by Asylum-seeking Women in Australia”, McPherson et. al (2011) have  identified two barriers to women’s claims of Gender Based Persecution: Emergence Barriers, and Assessment Barriers. Emergence Barriers speak to the factors impeding articulation of a claim.  Although the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship has responded to the authors of this journal article, the following were not addressed:

    • Women applicants should systematically be interviewed separately from their spouse and should be allocated a female case officer, interviewer and interpreter.
    • Case officers should receive training and advice, from appropriately qualified staff working in the women’s violence services or refugee trauma support services, to help them understand the psychological effects of trauma, and its links to non-disclosure.
    • Every negative decision should be independently reviewed by a second officer or panel.
    • Applicants should be systematically informed, from the outset, that asylum requests may be based on claims of GBP.

This article also highlights that

“The bases upon which clients of our interviewees made asylum claims included sex slavery, rape, sexual abuse and attack, fear of honour killings, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, one-child policies, discrimination due to sexual orientation or feminist political activism, children being under threat, general religious restrictions on women, sexual harassment, denial of education, forced marriages, slavery, trafficking, and imprisonment” (p. 331)

It is my concern that your hard-line stance on Asylum Seekers and ‘turning back the boats’ has become instrumental in ensuring that the reasons women seek asylum remain silent, through the absence of leadership highlighting the atrocities asylum seekers are fleeing from, particularly women.  It is also my concern that your hardline stance and popularity on the issue, has become instrumental to the increase in expressions of hatred and vilification of asylum seekers, particularly noticeable across social media forums. Once again, your leadership highlighting reasons women flee asylum is absent and you make no move to challenge this growing discourse. This only serves to further oppress and harm women, fleeing abhorrent levels of violence which ordinary citizens in Australia could never imagine.  It can be summed up by this quote:

“Before atrocities are recognized as such, they are authoritatively regarded as either too extraordinary to be believable or too ordinary to be atrocious. If the events are socially considered unusual, the fact that they happened is denied in specific instances; if they are regarded as usual, the fact that they are violating is denied: if it’s happening, it’s not so bad, and if it’s really bad, it isn’t happening (MacKinnon 2006: 3, cited in McPherson, et. al, 2011).

The Hon Judi Moylan MP states in her article “Desperation, Displacement and Detention: Australia’s Treatment of Asylum Seekers Past and Present” Prison Service Journal (2013) that:

It is axiomatic that tough deterrent policies have not stopped boat arrivals and it is unlikely that any civilised jurisdiction can invoke penalties so harsh, that they stop people escaping unimaginable brutalities. Managing the human dimensions of refugees fleeing war and civil unrest will require a return to regional processing, including ‘effective protections’ and a commitment to resettlement by participating host countries as indicated by UNHCR”

It is my concern that there is a plethora of research which highlights that this Government and the former Government’s stance on off shore processing, only seeks to place those seeking asylum, particularly women seeking asylum under more hardship and harm and as the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, your policies encourage this.

Thank you for reading my letter and taking the time to view my concerns. Would you now consider publicly retracting your original response to Radio 3AW and would you publicly advise the citizens and particularly women of Australia, how your office will address the above areas of discrimination outlined?  It would be appreciated if each point could be addressed individually.  I ask this, as each point affects women differently and each point deserves individual attention and not an ambiguous collective response, nor a response that disparages any former Governments. My interest is what are your commitments on these issues for the women of Australia?

Yours faithfully

Patricia Corry

Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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