Federal election minus 1 day: last minute Coalition announcements special!

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Mostly via tweeps, info on certain last minute Coalition announcements.

First, people saw the original version of The Coalition’s Policy to Enhance Online Safety for Children (original version), which read:

We will work with mobile phone companies (such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and their resellers) to develop online safety standards for smartphones and other devices with mobile network connectivity such as tablets, applicable to their use by children in two age groups: children up to the age of 12 years and teenagers.

As has recently been achieved in the UK, we expect these standards will involve mobilephone operators installing adult content filters on phones which will be switched on as the default unless the customer proves he or she is at least 18 years of age.

The Coalition will work with internet service providers (which provide fixed line broadband services to the home) to develop online safety standards for those services, recognising that they are very often accessed by children.

As has recently been achieved in the UK, we expect these standards will involve the major internet service providers providing home network filters for all new home broadband services, which will be switched on as the default unless the customer specifies otherwise.

This is a very different approach to the discredited compulsory filter proposal championedby the Rudd-Gillard Government, which was abandoned as unworkable.

The Coalition’s approach aims to empower parents — by giving them the choice of whetheror not to operate a filter at home, but by establishing the default setting as one which provides maximum protection.

The Coalition’s Policy to Enhance Online Safety for Children original/repudiated version, page 7

The Coalition very quickly backed away from this proposal:

Mr Turnbull quickly released a statement to clarify the Coalition’s position.

“The Coalition has never supported mandatory internet filtering. Indeed, we have a long record of opposing it,” the statement said.

Malcolm Turnbull’s statement is available in full on the Liberals’ site. The revised and/or correct version of the policy (depending on if you believe that they did accidentally make an early version public), reads:

Wewill work with mobile phone companies (such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and their resellers) and internet service providers (which provide fixed line broadband services to the home) to make available software which parents can choose to install on their own devices to protect their children from inappropriate material.

This is a very different approach to the discredited compulsory filter proposal championed by the Rudd-Gillard Government, which was abandoned as unworkable.

The Coalition’s Policy to Enhance Online Safety for Children current version (as linked from the Liberals’ policy listing), page 7

Moving on to last minute announcements they haven’t backed away from:

A Coalition Government, if elected, will crack down on Labor’s addiction to waste by auditing increasingly ridiculous research grants and reprioritising funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC) to deliver funds to where they’re really needed.

Some of the grants issued by the ARC in recent years have been, frankly, completely over the top.

There will be no reduction in research funding. In fact, the Coalition has announced new research into dementia and diabetes.

The Coalition would look to targeting those ridiculous research grants that leave taxpayers scratching their heads wondering just what the Government was thinking.

Taxpayer dollars have been wasted on projects that do little, if anything, to advance Australians research needs. For example:

  • The quest for the ‘I’ – a$595,000 grant aimed at “reaching a better understanding of the self”;
  • $160,000 on an examination of “sexuality in Islamic interpretations of reproductive health technologies in Egypt”;
  • a $443,000 study into “The God of Hegel’s Post-Kantian idealism”; and
  • $164,000 for a study into “how urban media art can best respond to global climate change” .

Ending More of Labor’s Waste, Liberal press release, September 5 2013

(My Honours supervisor is out there jumping for joy at the punctation used for that list, at least.)

Several research and research-affiliated groups have denounced the policy:

  • Jeannie Rea, National Office, The National Tertiary Education Union: This is a direct attack on the academic freedom of researchers working in Australian universities. If Tony Abbott wins, independent research loses.
  • Catriona Jackson, CEO, Science and Technology Australia:

    Specific research projects – all in the arts and social sciences – have been labeled increasingly ridiculous. But scientists know that the flow of new knowledge is critical to the kinds of real word results that all Australians are proud of, and that the Coalition is calling for.

    It was CSIRO scientist John O’Sullivan’s search for exploding black holes that led to his discovery of wireless technology that has swept the world, and earned Australia $500 million in royalties with probably as much again to come.

You can also review STA’s overview of science policy for the Federal Election, if interested. The Conversation has a couple of pieces about the policy, one noting that we already have a body of expert scrutineers who reject any number of bad and merely only very good grant proposals, and we call it the Australian Research Council, and the other analysing the craftiness of the press release itself.

What else have you seen sneaking in under the radar now that the advertising blackout is in place?

Front page image credit: Election Day CC BY-SA David Morgan-Mar, from the 2007 Federal election.

Federal Election minus 3 days: state surveillance and anti-terror policies

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Continuing on my theme of finally becoming the voter who actually reviews policies, today we go a bit more niche: state surveillance, anti-terror provisions and similar, specifically whether anti-terror is used as an excuse to infringe on civil liberties and political organising. I’m going into this expecting it to be fairly short — it’s a bigger issue in the United States and the UK than here (or perhaps I know more activists there than here), where “border protection” serves some of the same rhetorical and political roles — although there are minor parties more interested in these issues.

As with other posts in this series, if there’s a lack of commentary in the post, make up for it in the comments. For media coverage, spin and personality issues — or general news! — head to the latest Media Circus thread instead.)

ALP, Coalition, Greens

The Liberal’s Real Solutions has no mention of ‘surveillance’ or ‘privacy’. Their terrorism statement is that they will increase measures, focussing on security of ports: We will deliver improved counter-terrorism and domestic security measures in Australia and secure our ports and airports. .They mention increased CCTV rollouts in their crime section (pg 42), none of which suggests that privacy and surveillance issues are a big issue for them. They also seem inclined to use the threat of terrorist immigration as an anti-refugee tactic, see eg this June press release.

In June 2013, Malcolm Turnbull issued a statement expressing some concern about the NSA’s PRISM program, particularly its implications for commercial interests, presumably Australian businesses hosting data on US servers. (I note incidentally that Real Solutions is hosted on Amazon Web Services. It’s just a curio since Real Solutions is public information, but I wonder if political parties host their donor databases and such on Australian servers?) If you search for the text of that statement on technical news sites, incidentally, the advertisements may encourage you to apply for a job with ASIO.

It’s difficult to find ALP information. They assert a right to privacy (National Platform, items 41 and 42, pages 186–187), largely centered around privacy of data held by the government, especially health information and credit information. They assert that [Labor will] ensure that personal information of Australians transferred overseas is protected which I find difficult to interpret (if nothing else, the phrasing is rather ambiguous between personal information being sent overseas and Australians themselves being sent!). Elsewhere in the National Platform, they write:

Labor refuses to manipulate fear or racism for political gain in response to terror. Australia needs tough laws to deal with terrorism but, just as importantly, we need well-balanced laws that target the terrorists, not innocent citizens. We need strong safeguards to protect the civil and human rights that are fundamental to our freedoms. Labor is committed to finalising the review of the Anti-Terrorism Legislation.

item 132, page 209

I don’t see that translated into policy for the present campaign anywhere.

The Greens have a specific surveillance policy generally affirming a right to privacy. They seek to bring telecommunications surveillance back under the control of normal judicial warrants, and subject to Freedom of Information requests; they want intelligence sharing with the “5 Eyes” countries (the other four are the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand) overhauled; and they oppose proposals for data retention concerning Australian’s Internet use.

See also Electronic Frontiers Australia Election 2013 scorecard.

Smaller parties

From a slightly haphazard collection on Monday, I focus today on minor parties that I know to have some interest in civil liberties and/or digital rights.

Pirate Party

Privacy is listed as one of the four major civil liberties they value. They oppose both the proposed 2 year retention of Australian’s Internet use data, and denounse PRISM and PRISM-like programs.

Wikileaks Party

As one would expect, this is a prominent issue in their campaign platform:

… the WikiLeaks Party will be fearless in its opposition to the creeping surveillance state, driven by globalised data collection and spying agencies, both state and corporate controlled. We will demand that all information on data seizure and storage of citizens’ data by government agencies and allied corporations be made public.

In addition, there’s a specific Surveillance and your privacy policy requiring that agencies seek a warrant to spy on your Internet usage; a twice-yearly tabling of aggregate figures related to such surveillance; and ASIO and anyone else cooperating with overseas agencies to report such cooperation publicly.

Front page image credit: Election Day CC BY-SA David Morgan-Mar, from the 2007 Federal election.

Federal Election minus 5 days: party policies on anti-discrimination

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In theory I am committed to the idea that if I want election coverage to talk about policy more in the lead-up to elections, it can’t hurt to be someone who is aware of and considers policy in the lead-up to elections. Even if some elections make it VERY VERY HARD FOR ME NOT MENTIONING ANY NAMES FEDERAL ELECTION 2013.

Thus, before the 2010 Federal election, I got one policy into a plan to review various party policies before getting sick from some childcare-acquired illness. I cannot promise to do better this time, but I can try. There’s five days before the Federal election; what do various parties have to say about anti-discrimination?

I haven’t included a lot of commentary on the policy positions I summarise here, but that’s what the comments are intended for! (Note that if you’re interested more in media coverage, spin and personality issues — or general news! — you probably want to comment at the latest Media Circus thread instead.)

ALP, Coalition, Greens

For this analysis, I am largely relying on National Foundation for Australian Women (NAFW), Anti-discrimination and women’s human rights: policies of the major parties, July 2013. If I don’t cite policy specifically, I am using that analysis.

The NAFW summary notes the ALP’s consultations on consolidating federal anti-discrimination acts, and the drafting of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill (2012), which has not however been implemented and is under review. Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 passed in June, providing additional protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. The ALP in their own materials also notes their recent commissionin gof an inquiry into workplace discrimination against pregnant people or parents returning to work. (Labor is for Fairness) The Greens supported the passed bill and support the draft bill, and have advocated for the addition of domestic violence (presumably, victims of) as a category of illegal discrimination. They would also like the default religious exemptions replaced by case-by-case assessments, and for “family responsibilities” language to be expanded to caring responsibilities. The Coalition oppose the draft bill outright, to the point of not seeking amendments to it.

On marriage equality, the ALP’s National Platform presently reads Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life. (National Platform, item 126, page 168) and they have a specific “It’s Time for Marriage Equality” campaign. I cannot find a mention of marriage equality in the Liberal’s Real Solutions. The Greens go short-n-simple on their policy: The Greens want to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia and recognise same-sex marriages from overseas. (Marriage Equality)

The Liberal policy states that We will support freedom of speech, particularly in relation to anti-discrimination legislation. Prohibitions on inciting racial hatred or intimidation of particular groups should be focused on offences of incitement and causing fear but not a prohibition on causing offence. (Real Solutions, pg 44)

On disability, NAFW observes in their disability paper in most policy areas, across the three parties, disability is seldom specifically mentioned. Women with disabilities are not mentioned at all. They observe that while the ALP is committed to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they have not established the required targeted measures for women with disabilities specifically. Commitment to DisabilityCare (which the Coalition would call NDIS again) funding appears to have major party support until 2019. The ALP’s national platform is focussed on people with disabilities who can work, although it briefly acknowledges the existance of those who can’t, albeit only as a source of budget “pressure” (Labor has undertaken significant reform of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) to reward effort and initiative for those who can work, and to ease the pressure on the system which supports those who can’t, National Platform, item 52, page 98).

Discrimination on the grounds of disability, as with grounds other than gender (ALP) or any grounds at all (Liberal), does not seem to be a focus of either ALP or Liberal policy except insofar as the Liberals distance themselves from racial vilification prohibitions. The Greens mention discrimination on the grounds of disability prominently in their policy.

Central policy sites:

Smaller parties

This is limited to a small selection on the NSW ballot paper that I found interesting. Feel free to list and discuss other minor party policies in comments!

Pirate Party

Policy overview can be found at the platform wiki page authored by their National Council.

Many uses of “discrimination” in their platform refer to the net neutrality issue, which concerns whether Internet providers can provide unequal access to different sources of information. When it comes to discrimination against protected groups, the party opposes legislative against racial vilification in favour of free speech rights:

While laws which criminalise “offensive” or “insulting” speech may be well-intentioned, mechanisms such as section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act impose dangerous subjectivity into our legal system. The perpetual risk in criminalising offensiveness is that almost any form of difference or disagreement can be viewed as offensive to someone, and nations such as the UK and Canada have experienced significant abuse of such laws. Even where protections technically exist, the mere threat of legal sanction may be sufficient to chill dialogue and speech, and recent events demonstrate that restrictions on one type of speech spread all too easily to include wider categories.

They support marriage equality in the sense of making it a private (not state-controlled) act. Their platform calls for the abolition of the Marriage Act in favour of a Civil Unions Act open to all consenting adult couples. (See also their detailed marriage policy.)

Australian Sex Party

Policy overview can be found at Australian Sex Party – Federal Equality Policy.

They support large extensions to the existing anti-discrimination framework, including making discrimination based on occupation illegal, focussing on the effect of discrimination against sex workers; making political parties (and presumably their selection of candidates) subject to anti-discrimination law on the principle that this will improve gender equality in Parliament; ensuring equal access to assisted reproduction to LGBTIQ people; supplying appropriate documentation to sex and gender diverse people with names and pronouns; improving accessibility of sexual resources (such as adult shops) to disabled people; facilitating sexual services for disabled people; and providing specific sexual education for disabled people. In a separate policy they support sex worker access to work visas.

Secular Party

Policy overview can be found at Human rights and anti-discrimination.

Their policies are focussed around areas where they feel law is influenced by faith considerations and support the end of religious exemption clauses in anti-discrimination legislation. They support marriage equality. They support the enacting of a Bill of Rights and they ask that Australia legislate for the rights in UN International Convention on the Rights of the Child. They support bans on “identity hiding-garments or other items, including burqas and motorcycle helmets, in public places where there are legitimate security and/or safety concerns, or where personal identification is required” [my emphasis]

Front page image credit: Election Day CC BY-SA David Morgan-Mar, from the 2007 Federal election.

The 62nd Down Under Feminists Carnival

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In blue on a white background, the DUFC logo: in a square with rounded corners, there is the female/feminine symbol; with the Southern Cross inside, above which it says 'Down Under' and below 'Feminists Carnival'.

Welcome! This post is the 62nd monthly Down Under Feminists Carnival. This edition of the carnival gathers together June 2013 feminist posts from writers living in Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to all the writers and submitters for making this carnival outstanding, amazing, sad, outraging and uplifting.

Highlighted new(er) Down Under voices

I’ve highlightede posts that come from people who began been blogging at their current home in June 2012 or later, such posts are marked with (new blog) after the link. I know this is a very imperfect guide to new writers, since some may have simply started new blogs or switched URLs, or be well-known as writers in other media, but hopefully this may be a quick guide to feeds you may not be following yet.

Also, this carnival observes the rule that each writer may feature at most twice. Apologies to the fine submissions that were dropped under this system.

Feminist theory

Cristy is kicking off a feminist book club, from historical feminism and first wave onwards.

Joanna Horton reviews Joan Smith’s Misogynies, twenty four years on.

Party politics and government

In late June, Julia Gillard was deposed as Australian Prime Minister. Feminist commentary on Gillard’s media portrayals, treatment in Parliament, and defeat in a leadership ballot included:

Orlando got in before the spill with the questions the governing Labor party ought to be asking itself (not about the leadership).

Julie found that potential women candidates for office can’t commit due to time constraints.

Orlando salutes Emily Wilding Davison and other radical activists for women’s right to vote.

Ethnicity, racism, colonisation

Utopiana discusses lateral violence in the wake of her critique of Indigenous beauty pageants. (new blog)

Kim Mcbreen recaps a talk she gave about understandings of gender and sexuality in Māori traditions.

LudditeJourno chronicles news stories about pressure on indigenous people to assimilate.

Barbara Shaw recounts more than five years on income management in the Northern Territory.

The Koori Woman blogs on hope after the apology and anger after the Intervention for Reconciliation Week 2013.

Celeste Liddle reflects on international gatherings for indigenous people.

Misogyny, sexism, harassment, assault

Hayleigh wants to go outside her house without being objectified (new blog).

AJ Fitzwater promises to ally herself with people who speak out or who can’t speak out about bad behaviour in the speculative fiction community or the SFWA.

Amy Gray argues that the treatment of Adrian Earnest Bayley, who murdered Jill Meagher, shows that the Australian legal system does not deal with rapists well.

tigtog explains that it is the very indifference of creeps to desire that makes them creepy.

newswithnipples takes the mainstream media to task for widespread fail of the highest order.

bluebec does not want to excuse the abuses perpetrated by the Catholic Church on the grounds that they also do good works.

LudditeJourno reviews the many lessons about rape that the Steubenville rapes show aren’t being learned.

Scuba Nurse points out that a rape, abuse or victimisation narrative resulting in the eventual victory of the survivor isn’t miraculously unproblematic.


Hayleigh is tired of being chased around Facebook by weight-loss ads (new blog).

Eliza Cussen lists five mistakes she’s constantly correcting about abortion, including the myth that it’s legal throughout Australia (new blog).

Genevieve writes about healing after post-abortion trauma (pro-choice perspective).

Fat Heffalump debunks fat-shaming as a pro-public health act.

Workplace, employment and education

Anjum Rahman writes about the right to work, in the context of people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities (new blog).

blue milk writes about the Australian Coalition’s parental leave scheme and adds a followup in response to critique.

Rachael Ward asks why so many of the testing materials in the General Achievement Test in Victoria related to men’s achievements.

Arts, music, crafts and media

Holly Kench writes that stories with diversity don’t need to be about being different; they may be about belonging with difference (new blog).

The results of the Triple J Hottest 100, 20 Year Edition music poll aired in early June, and as with the all-time edition in 2009, women musicians were very badly represented. Commentary:

Chally is reviewing LGBT young adult books, check out her reviews of Is He Or Isn’t He?, Beauty Queen and more.

Transcendancing recaps Karen Pickering’s talk on the secret feminism of the Country Women’s Association (CWA).

Jo Qualmann analyses the disappearing women of Doctor Who in light of the season finale.

AlisonM observes how very different Facebook ads are, depending on your selected gender.

canbebitter analsyes Cee Lo Green’s Fuck You, concluding that Fuck You is misogynist. Later in the month canbebitter presents an alternative queer reading of Fuck You.

Scarlett Harris reviews Paper Giants 2: Magazine Wars in light of current developments in magazine wars.

bluebec criticises recent coverage of polyamory in the press.

QoT is unimpressed by “feminist” clickbait.

New blogs

Blogs started in or after June 2012 featured in this carnival were:

Next carnival

The 63rd carnival will follow at can be bitter in early August. Keep an eye on Down Under Feminists Carnival HQ for submission instructions.

Volunteers are needed to host carnivals from October onwards. Volunteer via the contact form.