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Tag Archives: Penny Wong

Ten Questions for Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong

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.

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?

Originally posted on Polyfeministix – take a poll about how you will vote here

To my local member

Karen McNamara and Lucy Wicks (Image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

Karen McNamara and Lucy Wicks (Image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

Dear Ms Lucy Wicks,

Thank you for your recent unsolicited advertising pamphlet.  Unfortunately it contains a great many errors which I am sure you would prefer to know about rather than spreading incorrect information to your constituents, particularly since we are paying for your advertising.

You state that “Labor’s last Budget” projected a deficit of $50 billion in the 2013-14 financial year with no surplus over the forward estimates.  This is entirely untrue unless Mr Hockey is a member of the Labor Party.

The last budget delivered by Labor in May 2013 projected a deficit of $18.0 billion.

In August Penny Wong and Chris Bowen released an updated Economic Outlook with a projected deficit of $30.1 billion moving to a surplus of $4 billion in 2016-17.

PEFO produced by Treasury and Finance in August agreed with the figures in the Economic Statement with a slightly larger projected surplus.

Three months into your term, Joe Hockey produced the MYEFO which estimated a deficit of $47 billion.  To quote:

“The deterioration in the underlying cash balance since the 2013 PEFO is $16.8 billion in the 2013‑14 financial year and $68.1 billion over the forward estimates.

The deterioration in the budget position since the 2013 PEFO reflects two key factors:

– the softer economic outlook; and

– essential steps to address unresolved issues inherited from the former government.”

Your projections about a “softer economic outlook” have proven unfounded, as many thought they would, with growth continuing at a better than expected rate.

The “essential steps” you talk about were spending decisions made by the Coalition:

  • an unsolicited $8.8 billion gift to the RBA (with the $300 million a year in interest that loan will cost)

  • another $1.2 billion for offshore processing to go into the hands of security firms that maim and kill refugees.

  • restoring the $1.2 billion offered by Labor to the States who wouldn’t sign up for Gonski but hung out to sign up with you so they didn’t have to commit to increased State funding or performance evaluation.

  • some money into the Contingency Reserve for future superannuation liability for universities (sitting money in a slush fund for a rainy day while we pay interest on it).

  • giving up $2.9 billion in revenue including $1.8 billion in tax revenue from people who fraudulently claim business usage on their cars and $900 million in taxation from people drawing over $100,000pa from superannuation

We then move on to Mr Hockey’s budget brought down in May where we see that, since coming to office, you have borrowed an extra $50 billion – the gross debt has grown from $270 billion in September to over $319 billion.  Your claim to be “reducing Australia’s debt” is rubbish as are the figures you use.

Now I have no problem with increasing the debt per se.  What I DO have a problem with is you continuing to rail about debt and deficit as you continue to borrow money for the things you choose to spend money on.

And that is by far the greatest problem – not the spending but the priorities.  You are inflicting dreadful harm on the most vulnerable in our society while choosing to spend a great deal of money on things we don’t need like school chaplaincy programs and marriage counselling vouchers and fighter jets and very expensive paid parental leave and Royal Commissions.  These might be desirable in your opinion but they are hardly more important than education and health and welfare and jobs and affordable housing and childcare.  You have cut funding to these most essential services and abolished advisory bodies.

You show your priorities by creating a highly paid job for Tim Wilson to be the Human Rights Commissioner in charge of repealing the racial discrimination laws while sacking the Human Rights Commissioner for the disabled.

You take money away from the Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse to fund your pink batts political witch hunt.

You cut wage increases for aged care workers to provide bigger subsidies to the providers.

You cut wage increases for child care workers and cut the childcare rebate that parents will receive.

You make changes to the aged pension which, in the future, will increase inequity.

You give drought relief packages to farmers while disbanding water management groups and defunding research into irrigation and delaying the Murray-Darling buyback scheme, with no credible action to address the climate change that will send these very farmers to the wall.  The photos of your party laughing and high fiving at the repeal of carbon pricing are looked on in disgust around the world.

You want to pay employers $10,000 to take on workers who are over 50 while telling our young unemployed that they must find a job or face 6 months a year with no income at all and cutting all the programs designed to help them find a job or suitable course.

You defund research causing many amazing programs with huge potential to be cut and scientists to leave our country.

You conscript a Green Army but then defund Landcare, the perfect people to oversee this group, and choose instead to give “service providers” tens of thousands of dollars per team and a free workforce who has no workplace entitlements.

You have slashed funding to Indigenous programs.

You have slashed foreign aid.

Yet you seem to have unlimited resources when it comes to searching for a lost Malaysian plane or fishing boats carrying a few refugees.  And the defence budget just keeps on growing so fast they don’t know how to spend it all.

You promise me that my electricity bills will go down but I just got a letter saying prices will go up from July 1.

You say you are helping small business by reducing regulations.  Tell that to small businesses involved in the health industry who will now have to administer your co-payment as well as GST.  Will they have to fill in cards for concession customers and children to keep count of how many times they have paid a co-payment?  Will you be developing and  distributing the software to support this?

You claim to be saving $1 billion through cutting red tape for small business…could you tell me what you have done and how you came up with that figure?  You cost us all money with the phasing out of the $6,500 instant asset write-off but I am yet to see anything that will help.  Reducing company tax doesn’t help sole traders.

You say you are helping apprentices by allowing them to go into debt but you took away their tool allowance.

You say a new Commonwealth agency will open in Gosford bringing 600 new jobs to the coast.  For starters, these aren’t “new” jobs as many people from the ATO have been sacked or will be offered relocation.  Secondly, I notice you have steadfastly refused to answer any questions about this including why you are apparently building new premises when there are so many vacant already, and when this is likely to happen.

You will also need to adjust your boast about no successful people smuggling ventures.  For my views on that I will refer you to Father Rod who was none too happy with the email you sent him from Scott Morrison on the eve of World Refugee Day.

“Firstly, I would like to say to Lucy Wicks that passing on this kind of misleading propaganda does your credibility no good.

Secondly, Mr Morrison has asked that I share this email. I do so gladly so that people may see this dishonest propaganda for what it really is. The use of language is interesting. The basis of this falsehood of that our borders are threatened. How can a few thousand weakened, terrified, dehydrated people threaten our borders? These Asylum Seekers are precisely that Asylum Seekers. They are not invading, or sneaking in or coming through the back door. The very nature of their journey means that the wish to declare their presence.

The entire foundation of the government’s policy is based on the lie that our borders are not secure. And this kind of propaganda is needed to sell the deception.

Not in our name Mr Morrison. You do not lie in our name.”

I have seen you asking Dorothy Dixxers in Question Time.  Is that what we elected you to do?  To read out lines you have been fed by others?  You refuse to answer any questions and gag anyone who posts facts on your facebook page.  Is your engagement to be limited to social functions, photo opportunities, and forwarding of party propaganda emails full of lies and distortions?

Your constituents deserve better than unthinking regurgitation.  Our children deserve better from the future than what your party is offering.  Do you feel no shame about leaving your children a society far worse than the one in which you grew up?

And before you start on the “Labor’s debt” line, I suggest someone in your party starts learning about Modern Monetary Theory and listening about the value of Job Guarantees and raising people out of poverty.  Let demand drive supply and provide jobs.  Your theory of trickle down economics is a proven front for those who facilitate corporate greed.

You disappoint me.

Kaye

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