ASP News & Updates

Religious parties may hold sway in Victoria upper house elections


The Australian newspaper has today published a story by Emeritus Professor Ross Fitzgerald who is calling balance of power in the Victorian upper house between the Sex Party and Family First. Read all about it!

VICTORIANS go to the polls next Saturday to elect a new government and the bookies have Labor as odds on favourites to win. However an even shorter-priced bet is that neither the Coalition nor Labor will have control of the Victorian upper house. This may well reside with a small party and possibly a religious one. 

Saturday could be one of the most crucial upper house state elections that Australia has seen for many years. This is because it comes at a time when a clutch of progressive social issues are beginning to break through into mainstream society. They include legalisation of recreational and medicinal marijuana, voluntary euthanasia, marriage equality, stem cell research and issues based loosely around the regulation of religion. Neither of the major parties in Victoria’s lower house will do much to promote these issues. Instead they are likely to allow the debate to be driven by private member’s bills and/or the media. Indeed over the next few years, the carriage of most of these issues will depend on which of the minor parties does best in Victoria’s upper house — the Legislative Council.

Importantly, an upper house win for religious parties in Victoria might mean that abortion could be back on the political agenda. Victoria is the home of our only abortion “assassination” — with the death of a clinic security guard in 2001. But Victoria also has the most liberal abortion laws in the country. Every month, pro and anti-abortion supporters face off outside East Melbourne’s fertility clinic, singing prayers and protest songs across the road at each other. It’s a simmering issue just waiting to burst out through a re-aligned Victorian upper house.

There are four religious parties contesting the Victorian election and all of them are passionately anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia. They are Family First, Australian Christians, the DLP, and Rise Up Australia — the latter being notorious for making a causal link between Victoria’s deadly bushfires in 2009 and the state’s abortion laws! Despite the fact that in the upper house Clive Palmer has done a deal with the Greens, it is fascinating to see that PUP preferences in the Victorian election are also supporting right-wing “pro-life” Christian parties. Indeed one might wonder if the latter could even herald an alliance between Palmer and Family First’s Bob Day in the Senate, as the mining magnate struggles to hold his disintegrating party together.

PUP has directed its second preferences to Family First in the Victorian upper house electoral regions of Northern and Southern Metro and to the Australian Christians Party in South Eastern Metro, virtually assuring Family First of a seat if they get a good primary vote. This would leave Family First in the box seat to drive conservative social change in Victoria. In all electoral regions Palmer has put the Voluntary Euthanasia Party about as far back as he could and often even behind religious fanatics like Rise Up Australia. Not many people see the PUP as a “religious” party but then not many people have heard Clive Palmer talk about his own fervent religious beliefs and how they affect his political agenda.

In the upper house, Labor has done a preference deal with their old arch-enemy, the DLP, to try and lock the Greens out of the Western Victoria region. This deal could easily hand the DLP the third religious party seat in the upper house and thus give the balance of power to a religious party bloc. The Greens, who are becoming well known for their extremely aggressive and highly personal social media campaigns, will retaliate strongly against Labor. However the real contest over whether Victorians want to have a NSW-style upper house (where the Rev Fred Nile and his Christian Democrats hold the balance of power) will be played out in Victoria’s Northern Metropolitan region.

Here a titanic struggle between the progressive and the conservative forces in Australia will crystallise in a head to head tussle between Family First’s Brendan Fenn and the Sex Party’s Fiona Patten. One of these two is most likely to win the fifth seat in this region. Curiously, a vote for PUP here would be as good as a vote for Family First, while on the other hand a vote for pop singer Gotye’s new party, The Basics Rock’n’Roll Party, would be a vote for the Sex Party. It’s a tantalizing contest. Due to the way the Senate-style voting system works, a vote for Labor, Liberal or the Greens will have virtually no bearing on who will win this last upper house seat. The fact is that preferences from the smaller parties — either toward the Sex Party or to Family First — will determine the outcome of Northern Metro and quite possibly the balance of power in Victoria’s upper house.

The Sex Party and Family First represent the two ends of the electable voting spectrum in present-day Australia — a secular, libertarian approach to life compared with a religious, authoritarian one. This debate is of considerable interest to average Australians — most of whom stand somewhere between the positions of these two parties. It is fascinating to realise that Seven Network’s nationally televised ‘Sunrise’ morality debate in 2010, between Ms Patten and Family First’s Queensland director, Wendy Francis, still attracts many viewers online and, in some courses in media studies, is seen as a benchmark debate about Australian morality.

Section 116 of our Constitution outlines the freedoms for and from religion, that apply in Australia. Despite this, we have no formal separation of church and state, and the Australian states are exempt from Section 116. Theoretically the states could set up their own state religions! Although this is remarkably unlikely, the recent election of religious parties to state upper houses where they can influence and shape government policy, is of considerable concern to secular people.

Although 61 per cent of the population said they “had” a religion at the last Census in 2011, only 7 per cent said they were actively involved in religion. By definition, religious parties are composed of people who are actively involved in religion. Having them in control of state upper houses and legislative agendas is not good for the other 93 per cent of Australians.

Emeritus Professor of History and Politics at Griffith University, Ross Fitzgerald is the author of 36 books, including his memoir, ‘My Name Is Ross: An Alcoholic’s Journey.’

The Weekend Australian, November 22-23, 2014

The Sex, Votes and Rock ‘n Roll Election Campaign


The Australian Sex Party and The Basics Rock 'n Roll Party have announced a formal preference swap in the upper house region of Northern Metro for the upcoming Victorian State election and will celebrate their union with a joint campaign through the streets of Melbourne this Sunday.

Rock n Roll and Sex will campaign together off the back of a decked-out, six metre flat bed truck this Sunday, 23rd November, with The Basics playing live for the crowds. It's a cheeky hat tip to AC/DC’s famous “It’s A Long Way to the Top”, 1975 ,truck gig along Swanston st.

Read more: The Sex, Votes and Rock ‘n Roll Election Campaign

The Recent Face the Music Summit

The recent Face the Music summit held an industry forum to debate the politics of music in Victoria. I was on a panel with Liberal, Labor and Greens representatives as well as Kris Schroeder from the Basics – Rock ‘n Roll Party. Kris has had a bit of negative feedback on his contribution but I think we need a bit of perspective here in the way people perform in different forums.

Read more: The Recent Face the Music Summit

Statement on the East-West Link project

The East-West Link is a project that is ironically dividing Victorians when its stated goal was to link them. Criticisms of the project and the way it has been handled by the Napthine government are many, and many of them are well founded.

The Australian Sex Party supports transparent and open government and the Napthine government has clearly failed the test when it comes to openness and transparency regarding the East-West Link project. The Australian Sex Party cannot support the project without a public release of the full business case and an independent review by Infrastructure Australia that detailed vastly improved economic benefits. 
Claims that stage one of the East-West Link project would clear congestion in the inner city are vastly overstated. The current design lacks city access and we are concerned about the loss of green space in Royal Park. It should not proceed in its current design. Under investment in major public transport infrastructure in Melbourne must be addressed.

Read more: Statement on the East-West Link project

Sex Party Announces Richmond Candidate

The Australian Sex Party has announced that its candidate for the District of Richmond in the coming State Election is Nevena Spirovska.

The Sex Party’s run for Richmond in the 2010 State Election drew a lot of attention. It campaigned strongly against the Green’s candidate, Kathleen Maltzahn, due to her support for what is coined the Nordic model which effectively outlaws sex work by making the clients criminals. This effectively makes sex work illegal as it was in the bad old days of the Bolte government. It would work against everything we know about the positive health outcomes of a legal industry. It is a patronising position that further stigmatises sex workers and of course their clients.

Read more: Sex Party Announces Richmond Candidate

Sex Party Attends 'Prevention, Treatment and Reducing the Harms: Alcohol and Other Drug Priorities up to 2018'

On Friday the 17th of October, the peak body representing Alcohol and Other Drug (AoD) services, the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) held a pre-election event. Representatives from The Sex Party, Labor Party, Liberal Party and The Greens joined ABC 774 breakfast host Jon Faine in discussing the future direction for alcohol and drug policy in Victoria.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition put forward five recommendations to improving the state of alcohol regulation and health outcomes in Victoria for candidates to consider. Only one candidate confirmed their parties support for recommendations including 10pm closing times for bottle shops, 3am close times for bars and restrictions on alcohol advertising.

Read more: Sex Party Attends 'Prevention, Treatment and Reducing the Harms: Alcohol and Other Drug...

Drugs Debate Harmed by Journalistic Inaccuracies

The term ‘hard drugs’ makes no sense in a scientific or objective application. It’s a rhetorical device used to define what one person thinks are more problematic drugs than others - yet the science more often than not, doesn’t back this up.  For example, opiates are almost always reported to be ‘hard drugs’ and yet they are useful in many medical applications.  Amphetamines can also fall into the ‘hard drug’ category, though many of these have potential uses in psychiatry.  They also move into the recreational and personally satisfying category. LSD is frequently referred to as a ‘hard drug’ which is absurd.  

Read more: Drugs Debate Harmed by Journalistic Inaccuracies

Is it Rational to Vote ‘Sex’?

Written by The Rationalist Society of Australia

In asking this question I am prompted to ask a supplementary question - is it rational to call a civil libertarian political party, the Sex Party?

Many rational people will probably say ‘no’ and consider the word ‘sex’ to be confronting by nature. That could put some voters, who are basically supportive of the party’s platform, off the party itself. However a rational person could also accept that more people know about the party and its platform simply because of its name and have subsequently voted for it amidst the clamour of smaller parties starting to contest elections.

Read more: Is it Rational to Vote ‘Sex’?

Sex Stores Urged to Drop ‘She-Male’ Tag | Written by James Findlay

Any remaining sex stores selling transsexual adult films under the banner of 'she-male' have been urged to 'wake up' and use correct terminology after the Courier Mail saga last week in which they used the term 'she-male' to describe murder victim Mayang Prasetyo.

President of the Australian Sex Party and Upper House candidate for the upcoming Victorian State election, Fiona Patten, told MCV the vast majority of adult stores use the term transsexual, but "of course like any industry, we have dinosaurs."

"Our industry caters to a diverse range of sexuality and we are also a diverse industry. Any stores or adult businesses that are still using the term have lost touch with their community and need to wake up and stop using such hurtful terms," Patten said.

Read more

The need for comprehensive, compulsory and universal sex and relationships education has never been clearer

According to VicHealth’s National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, one in six Australians believe when a women says ‘no’ she means ‘yes.’ One in five believe that a woman who has been drinking is partly responsible should she be raped. More than two in five believe men rape women because they can’t control their sexual urges. Overall, the survey shows that victim-blaming and violence-supportive attitudes are rife in Australian society. These findings are disturbing but, sadly, not surprising. In 2013, these attitudes were strongest among people aged 16-25 – and haven’t changed in nearly twenty years - suggesting that our current sex and relationships curriculum is failing our nation. 

Read more: The need for comprehensive, compulsory and universal sex and relationships education has never...