Archive for the ‘Federal politics’ Category

Do Bill and Greg have kids?

December 14, 2011

vintage political poster: Women's job is the home! Give her power over her job! Give her the vote!
[Image source: Sociological Images.]

Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald featured a story about the Federal cabinet reshuffle. While I certainly applaud the promotion of these talented female politicians, it is disappointing to see the newspapers focus on their roles as mothers.

The article in question is headlined, Gillard: ‘Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian women face as they seek to build a career’

I quote:

Nicola Roxon, a mother of one, has become the nation’s first female Attorney-General. She has been replaced as Health Minster by Tanya Plibersek, a mother of three. The newest minister, Julie Collins, has three children. All the women are in their 40s.

It is only later in the article that the women’s achievements in previous portfolios are mentioned.

I like these letters from today’s paper in response to the article above.

Mira Crouch of Glebe writes:

It may be pleasing that our Labor Prime Minister will be so well advised on the bourgeois point of view of the woman building a career while having a family (“Gillard: Nicola, Tanya and Julie understand the challenges Australian woman face as they seek to build a career”, December 13).

However, Julia Gillard also needs to understand, and consider, that most Australian women (and men) work in jobs which do not provide opportunities for upward career paths. Nonetheless they, too, seek to build something – a decent life for themselves and their families (if any) in a community which respects and supports the run-of-the-mill person as much as an aspirational one. Lead the way, Prime Minister!

Another letter points out that these women can only manage to juggle the career-climb and motherhood because they earn a salary big enough to pay for childcare.

But my favourite letter is the following one, because it points out the double standards involved when we talk about female and male politicians…

Suzanne Marks of Dulwich Hill writes:

Thank you to the Herald for highlighting that the three women appointed to the cabinet are all mums and how many children they have. I’d also love to know if Bill Shorten and Greg Combet are dads and how many children they have. (I’m not interested in Mark Arbib). Or do we only learn this about men when they muck up their portfolios and leave politics to spend more time with their families?

Can you imagine a headline that read “Bill and Greg understand the challenges men face when building a career”? Firstly, if it was in the Australian press, they’d be referred to by their surnames Shorten and Combet, because they’re blokes. Secondly, no, we can’t imagine such a headline, because the struggle to combine paid work with being a parent is still thought of as something that only women face.

Feminists don’t let friends vote for Tony Abbott

August 6, 2010

With a Federal election campaign in full swing, one that is a contest between Australia’s first female PM and one of the most sexist and racist party leaders we’ve seen in a long time, it seems weird that I haven’t written much in this here blog.

Perhaps my lack of blog inspiration is due to my disappointment in Gillard, or perhaps it is because Abbott has the tendency to send me into such a despondent rage that anything I write about him or the election tends to be inappropriate for a public forum…

I think Wandering Person pretty much sums up the way I feel about the election campaign so far. She writes:

it’s been banal, completely lacking vision or inspiration. gillard and abbott are so busy trying to race one another to the centre they have both completely lost touch with reality. abbott’s grasp on the concept was tentative to begin with, but i guess i expected and hoped for more from gillard. not just because she is a woman, but that is a large part of it. i really do believe, and maybe i’m naive, that there’s something good and worthy underneath the partyroom warpaint, but it took her approximately one week to disappoint me with the lindsay-inspired bigotry of insisting that people who were worried about boatpeople weren’t racist or narrow minded and they had a legitimate point of view. i don’t care how expedient that is and how good it makes all the redneck cowards out there in the electorate feel, it’s just plain wrong. there are a few really crucial issues on which politicians should be leading the public not following their lowest common denominator bleating, and this is one of them. how about standing up and saying ‘we are a country built uneasily, but built nonetheless, on generations of migration, we have the space and the prosperity to accommodate people who are fleeing violence and persecution, it is our humanitarian duty to do so and i call on australians to take a good hard look at the utterly selfish motives underlying any desire to abrogate that duty.’

So while all this electioneering has been a little bit ho-hum, I am still continually angered by Tony Abbott, his comments and his policies. He’s trying to appeal to the “woman voter” but scratch the surface and it becomes clear how un-woman-friendly he is. To help assuage my anxiety and dread at the prospect of Abbott as PM, I’ve finally written something. The links below illustrate just a few reasons why the Mad Monk is not suitable PM material. Please leave further examples in the comments.

Some Further Reading (or Why you shouldn’t vote for Abbott):

Cox writes:

“It sounds good: six extra weeks and at replacement salary, not the minimum wage. But it’s not as good as it sounds. For a start, it entrenches sex discrimination as it doesn’t replace the carer’s pay unless they are the mother. This means it is not a real workplace payment and will do nothing to shift the current gender imbalance of parenting by encouraging more sharing of roles.”

Pondering the ‘boat people issue’

July 8, 2010

In reference to that boat people image with the tallship from a few years ago, I’d like to propose a new t-shirt:

If you can’t see the image above, it’s a photo of young Australian sailor Jessica Watson with the words “Boat Person” over the top in black lettering.

All this scare-mongering about “boat people” is making me sad. It’s like having Howard back in office. I am so disappointed that Gillard’s government is doing the ‘tough on refugees’ thing. Actually, disappointment is a massive understatement. But I am having trouble expressing just how angry I am about the way Australian governments continue to treat asylum seekers. I’m fed up with the way asylum seekers and refugees are demonised, while the racist, ignorant and fearful sections of our nation are pandered to by both major parties in the lead-up to the Federal election. It’s fucking disgusting.

For more information on this topic:

* Hoyden About Town has an Asylum Seeker Fact Sheet and Myth Buster.

* The Refugee Action Coalition has a number of campaigns and rallies.

* The Refugee Council of Australia has a facts + stats page.

* Archived online resources can be found at Refugees Australia.

Some commentary on this issue:

* Barrie Cassidy at The Drum writes, Gillard, asylum seekers and more appealing logic.

* And I love what John Birmingham had to say at his Blunt Instrument blog:

I know I am totally in the minority on this. That Gillard, and Abbott for that matter, are actually speaking to, and for, the majority on the boat peeps issue. But you know what? The majority can kiss my arse.

EDIT: I just found this piece in the National Times by Associate Professor Jane McAdam: Gillard’s asylum policy smacks of ‘burden shifting’.

She writes, and I agree wholeheartedly:

True leadership is not about pandering to insecurities based on ill-informed assumptions and fears, lurching from poll to poll. It is about transcending the chatter to educate, enlighten and take the nation forward through meaningful, informed conversation.

First female PM

June 24, 2010

There is a tonne of commentary around about this very significant day in Australian politics, and no doubt there will be much more to come. I don’t have time to write a lot about my thoughts right now, however I felt it important to mark the occasion.

I like this article, Gillard’s fruit bowl runneth over, by Josephine Tovey. She writes,

“Milestones like a first black president or first female prime minister are never simply fluke events, or just brought about by a hard-working or charismatic individual. They’re the culmination of years of hard work from all those that paved or pushed the way through.”

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Gillard, whether or not you think the leadership spill was a good idea, this is a pretty momentous day for Australia.


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