With Fiona Patten
The recent ACT election was a watershed moment for the Australian Sex Party in the national capital.
It was the first time that the party had run a large campaign for a territory election and the results didn’t disappoint. The team ran in three of the five electorates.
Steven Bailey, our lead candidate in the electorate of Brindabella, took out the highest percentage vote for any Sex Party candidate at any election. Together with running mate, Venus de Siren, they claimed an incredible 7.9% of the vote while the Greens could only manage 5.1%. In the electorate of Yerrabi, lead candidate Andrew Dewson took out 4% of the vote and in Murrumbidgee, Robbie Swan raked in a respectable 3.5% without even doing an interview or placing an ad.
The Sex Party promoted a wide range of alternative policies that were markedly different from the majors. Liberal, Labor and the Greens fought the election based around the local issue of light rail. You were either for light rail (Labor/Green) or you were against it (Liberal). It was cut and dried. So offering a completely different set of ideas seemed to attract voters who were sick of the one-sided debate that was taking place. Bringing back fireworks, renovating the iconic Telstra tower, legalising cannabis, taxation of religious institutions and building a speedway in Canberra’s south, all captured the voter’s imaginations and sparked much debate.
The long campaign time advantaged the party as well. Steven had been out and about as a candidate for nearly two years and this was a huge help. Voters clearly knew who he was and what he stood for and this was reflected in his vote. After preferences flowed, he was unfortunately pipped at the post by a few hundred votes. It was an incredible effort and sets the party up for a possible win in four years time.
There were many positives to come from the ACT’s campaign. The party scored enough of the vote in two of three electorates to gain a small amount of electoral funding in return – another first for the party. Congratulations should be given to Steven and his team of candidates and volunteers who worked tirelessly spreading the Australian Sex Party message across the territory.
At the beginning of the year I was asked to contribute to a new University of Queensland Press book on women and feminist attitudes to sex and especially great sex. As a member of parliament who had come from the adult industry they wanted me to write about what it was like to make that transition and more importantly to comment on how my background influenced my politics. I’m not sure that I’ve done that but anyway, the book is out there in the bookshops if anyone wants to have a look.
Around the same time I was also asked to contribute a chapter to a new book called Things My Mother Taught Me. My mum sadly passed away only a few years ago and so she never saw me take a seat in parliament but she knew where I was headed and I think that she still guides me in many ways. Writing a chapter in this book was quite exacting as it forced me to put down on paper the many things that my mother had done for me which had helped me in my career. You forget the influences that your parents have on you until you actually think about it and put it down on paper. Even the way you work with staff, front the media and do your tax is often using the skills (or lack of!) that a parent bequeathed you.
And of course there was the Herald Sun magazine cover story that billed me as the ‘rock star’ politician. A couple of days later they billed me as a ‘dope’ for having a very small number of shares (openly declared) in a medical marijuana company. They were trying to suggest that if I voted for medical marijuana in the parliament, there could be a conflict of interest. Apart from the fact that members of parliament should and are able to own shares in public companies, I’m proud of the fact that I’m choosing to back medical marijuana rather than invest in the ANZ Bank or a weapon’s manufacturer for my super. Its called ethical investing and I encourage everyone to do it!
Making Paedophile Religious Institutions Pay
The Federal Government is proposing a ‘free pass’ for religious institutions who have sexually abused children via a national compensation scheme for survivors funded by the taxpayer! Mr Turnbull and the religious right extremists in his party need to re-read the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Commission did not recommend an ‘opt-in’ scheme.
It is simply unbelievable that institutions like the Catholic Church, failed to act on the abuse in the first place. Now it looks like they are being let off the hook again when it comes to compensation for survivors. The Federal Government should stop protecting the institutions that let the abuse happen by actually implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Recommendation 35(a) of the Redress and Civil Litigation Report issued by the Royal Commission states: The institution in which the abuse is alleged or accepted to have occurred should fund the cost of redress.
Recommendation 36 states:
The Australian Government and state and territory governments should provide ‘funder of last resort’ funding for the redress scheme or schemes so that the governments will meet any shortfall in funding for the scheme or schemes.
Is it any wonder that the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council applauded the Government’s announcement? It places no obligation on the Church to contribute. The Royal Commission also called on State and Territory Governments to introduce legislation reversing the onus of proof, so institutions are held liable for abuse unless they show they took reasonable steps to prevent it.
The Australian Sex Party was the first party to call for a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions. It’s time for abuse to be stamped out. Reversing the onus of proof to make institutions show that they are actively taking steps to prevent these horrendous crimes is the first step towards much needed transparency on how institutions actually deal with abuse.
Meeting Group Captain Cate McGregor
All my friends in the adult industry know that I like a party and so when I got an invite to the opening of Lisa Wilkinson’s recent photographic exhibition, Women of Influence , I was there in a flash. After a few champers I started to really look at the portraits on the walls and before I could blink I came face to face with one of those women – the out trans woman, Cate McGregor.
I was always a fan from a distance but having had a decent discussion with her now, I realise what an incredible person she is and what a fabulous role model for all trans people she is.
In 2012, McGregor was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service to the armed forces. In November 2013 she became the highest-ranking transgendered person in the Australian Army.
There were lots of sparks but not much smoke when my motion to legalise personal use of cannabis was debated in Parliament. Even though quite a few in the chamber would have at least inhaled at some point, my fellow parliamentarians were heckling that cannabis is a “gateway drug”. All their heckling must have made them deaf though, because when I pointed out that the 2,600 cannabis related arrests per year are a massive waste of taxpayer’s money, there was no response. The final vote was lost 6 votes for with 32 against, but that is only the beginning of the long march toward change.
Fight against discrimination continues
Discrimination has been a constant theme over the last few sitting weeks, starting with the Government’s bill to bring back the “inherent requirements” test so religious institutions have to explain why they want to discriminate. I pointed out that religious bodies shouldn’t have any exemptions in the first place and called for them to be scrapped. Rather than just tweeting, I also took action on the “boots off campaign” seeking equality for the women’s AFL teams. In my open letter to the Premier I highlighted the gross inequality in conditions and pay, despite the women’s teams forming part of the existing AFL teams and training alongside their male counterparts.
I’ve also tabled a motion in Parliament for the Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills committee to inquire into the discrimination faced by the Adult Industry, calling for an investigation of legal changes necessary to ensure no-one is discriminated against because of their occupation or calling. I’ll provide an update when the motion is due for debate.