Politics: Federal Election – Let’s Talk about (the Australian) Sex (Party), Baby!

Don’t tell me this isn’t the party you’ve been waiting for. I can already *feel* the bad puns forming. In fact, I’m feeling so overwhelmed by the sheer, uncensored number of potential bad sex jokes I could get into this post (as it were), that I don’t even know where to start.

The Australian Sex Party is not, as you might think, a joke party, though it is definitely a party with a sense of humour. Nor is their site completely un-worksafe, though it definitely contains more nudity than your average political website. Their slogans range from the reasonably sane ‘Protecting your personal freedoms and sexual rights’ to the slightly sillier tag-line ‘Australian Sex Party – where you come first’. And the mouse over text is ‘we’re serious about sex’, just in case you hadn’t figured that part out.

Oh, I can’t help myself. Just insert an appropriately inappropriate joke about members of parliament here. Bonus points if you use the word ‘turgid’, which, is a word that goes with both masculine members and political debates nearly as well as whipped cream goes with… never mind. I’m done now. Maybe.

Anyway, such a bosom-heaving, tumescently throbbing party is clearly part of the Cabal of the Godless (I made that term up, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until Steven Fielding or Fred Nile come up with it on their own) (am I the only person now giggling like a twelve-year old every time the word ‘come’ is used in this post? Or ‘post’, for that matter? … OK this time I really will behave myself.), so it’s no surprise that their first preference goes to the Secular Party. They then preference to the Democrats, the Liberal Democrats (an odd choice, though I gather that lot are small government so perhaps anti-censorship), Carer’s Alliance, Senator On-Line, and the Greens and Labor. The Citizen’s Electoral Council, One Nation, Christian Democratic Party, and Family First do not feel the love (if you know what I mean, and I think you do) and are at the very bottom (!) of the ticket.

Right, this time I really *am* going to stop being childish, and get on with their policies. Except that I just said get on, and has anyone noticed that the entire English language in the right mood is basically one huge penis joke? Anyway, policies!

I think I’ll start with a quote from their front page which is one of several articulations of their mission(ary) statement.

The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.

Sex is a wonderful thing. It’s the reason we were born and (mostly) it’s NOT the reason we die. Sex, as gender, defines who we are and often what roles we undertake in society. It’s responsible for a heck of a lot of pleasure and fulfillment in life. Also, the basis of much art, fashion and music. It entertains us, enthralls us and mystifies us. Because its such a fundamental need of human beings, it conditions much of our behaviour. And then politicians go and legislate that behaviour.

A political party based on sex is certainly a single-issue party but to choose a bad metaphor, its a very broad church. Economic, social welfare, environmental and even defence policies have got lots to do with sex and sexuality. All those big guns and huge surpluses… If you’re sick of religious and anti-sex politicians like Steve Fielding, Brian Harradine and Fred Nile threatening to block legislation in the Senate and State Upper Houses unless they get their way on sex and gender issues, vote for someone who understands this rort.

I wouldn’t say they are single issue party, but it is certainly true to say that the Australian Sex Party’s policies pretty much all originate from the same root cause. As it were.

Their first set of policies are around censorship, which, not surprisingly, they are against. They are against the mandatory internet filter and mandatory retention of Australians’ browsing histories for at-will inspection by law enforcement agents. They also want to distinguish between sex and violence in our ratings system, which I frankly think is an excellent idea.

Having disposed of internet censorship, they want to educate parents about the internet, so that they can better supervise their children’s viewing. This is laudable, but I’d like to see more information on how and when this education would occur. And speaking of education, they are of course in favour of comprehensive sex education in schools (though they don’t want to go handing out free condoms like the Democrats. Or at least, they don’t admit to it. I’m still boggling at the idea of the Democrats being more avant-garde than the Sex Party).

The ASP wants to legalise same sex marriage and enact ‘national anti discrimination laws which make it illegal to unfairly discriminate against people or companies on the basis of job, occupation, profession or calling.’. This is an interesting one – my suspicion is that this is related closely to their policies on sex work they want to end sex slavery by making sex work legal and unstigmatised and introducing non-morality-based immigration policies – which, if you could do it, would probably work, but I’m not sure how well that would work. I’m also uneasy about legalising sex work – I’ve seen a lot of arguments both for and against this from a feminist perspective, and can see merit on both sides. A bit more thinking about how legalisation would affect *all* of society is probably a good plan at some point soon; I’m not sure simply sticking a ‘legal’ label on it is going to solve the various problems associated with sex work.

The ASP also want women to be equally represented in Parliament (though I am not sure whether the Federal Discrimination Act is the right tool for this job), and, good lord, I didn’t even know this law existed: “Overturn racist laws that ban adults living in and visiting aboriginal communities in the NT from possessing erotic and sexual media.” Paternalistic, much? I’m kind of iffy about pornography generally, both personally and from a feminist perspective, but I think it is all kinds of wrong to effectively bar people of a particular race from accessing particular sorts of information or entertainment. You can’t even claim that it damages communities the way alcohol does (well, yes, you can claim it, and I am aware that many Christian groups claim the pornography leads to child abuse, but the evidence is against this theory). That law has to go.

Unsurprisingly – very few of these policies are surprising, actually – they want abortion to be legal, and make the analogy to no-fault divorce. Let’s treat women like adults and assume that if they say they need an abortion, they need an abortion, rather than trying to apply guilt or delaying tactics in the hope that they will either change their mind or be prevented by practical means from going through with it. They also want to put viagra and cialis on the PBS, which I’m not quite so sure about. (I’d rather they started subsidising contraceptives first, actually). And they want to overturn the Global Gag Rule, as well they should. And the ASP wants paid parental leave – but it has to be equitable for small businesses.

Back in the world of Godless Heathens, they want to end the tax exempt status for religions, and they want to convene a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions. I honestly don’t know why this makes me uneasy, but it does. Perhaps it’s because while the various churches clearly *do* need to clean their houses in this area, and many of them are not going to do so without a big push, it strikes me that it risks focusing all the attention on child sex abuse in one direction, and potentially ignoring others, such as schools or kindergartens. But perhaps these institutions are already sufficiently scrutinised and it is simply a matter of adding religious institutions to the list. I don’t know enough about this to comment.

Finally, they want to develop global approaches to tackling child pornography which focus on detection and apprehension of the producers of the material.

All in all, then, the ASP seems to be very much about increasing the good sex and decreasing the bad sex, which sounds like a good thing to me. I like their feminist leanings and their homosexual agenda. I do think some of their policies are a bit naive and all of their policies could use a lot more fleshing out – but that is the nature of small parties, especially new small parties. And realistically, this lot wouldn’t be forming a government or making laws on their own any time soon – at most they would be a voice that might have to be negotiated with occasionally. And if we are to have such a voice, better the Sex Party than Family First. Or the Shooters and Fishers, for that matter.

I quite like this lot, actually.

Edited to add: An acquaintance has recently posted on FaceBook copies of email responses to queries from various candidates. In the response from Fiona Patten of Australian Sex Party, she indicated that in the areas of climate change and asylum seekers they don’t have a fully formed policy because they don’t have the resources. A section from the response:

“Climate change is happening and we need to do something now. As a very small party with no electoral funding and do not have access to scientific research that would enable us to develop sound evidence based policy. If in the senate we would have those resources.
On asylum seekers Australia is signatory to a number of human rights conventions and we should honour them.
Also with the added resources that a senate seat can provide we will be better placed to make detailed decisions.”

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