Australian Government

What are the major parties saying? A guide to this Federal Election

Posted on Updated on

federal-election-2016-slider
Your choice matters. Image via Power FM.

The Federal Election can be a very confusing time—especially if you’re not really sure what to do, who to vote for, or what the major parties are even saying. It can be pretty overwhelming—particularly researching what it is you want to find. Here’s a guide on what the major parties are saying to help you decide:

The Greens:

sidebar_logo
Image via the Greens.

Animal welfare

  • Stronger animal welfare standards and legislation with tougher penalties.
  • Ending unnecessary use of animals for testing and education.
  • Clear definitions of “free range eggs”.
  • Abolish animals in circuses.
  • Ban the slaughter of whales, greyhound racing, recreational shooting, selective breeding, race jumping and shark culling.
  • Stop the importation and exportation of zoo animals unless it will assist the continuation of the species.
  • Establishment of a national animal welfare body.
  • More power given to RSPCA and animal cruelty investigations.

Environment, climate change and nuclear energy

  • Plans for habitat management, species loss, and protecting native plants and animals.
  • Ratify international environmental law.
  • End broad-scale clearing.
  • Increase educational resources.
  • Cleaner oceans and protect costal zones.
  • Ban dumping and creation of new coal mines.
  • Detailed emission targets each year until 2050.
  • Net zero or net negative emissions within a generation.
  • 100% stationary electricity to be sustainable as soon as possible.
  • Renewable energy implementation and research.
  • Aim for a nuclear-free world.
  • Cease uranium mining and exportation.
  • Eliminate nuclear weapons.

Finance and economics

  • Banks to make greater contribution to public purse through taxes and levies.
  • Minimise ATM fees.
  • Programs introduced to improve Australian financial literacy.
  • Tax and superannuation reforms to benefit low-income earners.
  • Reduce excessive executive salaries.
  • Housing affordability and availability.

Workplace:

  • Stronger protection of worker’s rights.
  • Protection for casual and fixed-term probationary workers.
  • Childcare incentives.
  • Paid parental leave scheme.
  • Minimum of 5 weeks leave for all employees.
  • Shorter standard working hours.
  • Expenditure increase of 3% to support science and technology research.
  • End criminalisation of consensual sex work.
  • Protection of journalism sources and regional independent media.

Peace and security:

  • Ratify international human rights legislation.
  • Global disbarment strategies and promotion of non-violence.
  • Close foreign defence bases within Australia.
  • Stronger support for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
  • Reform restrictive “counter-terrorism” legislation.
  • End global death penalty.

.Education:

  • More funding for schools based on equity.
  • More infrastructure and specialised teachers.
  • Free university education
  • 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

Health and mental health:

Gender and sexuality:

  • Allow same-sex marriage.
  • Equal access to adoption, fostering and assisted reproduction regardless of sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Transgender rights.
  • Remove religious exemption for anti-discrimination laws.
  • Create commissioner for sexuality, gender and intersex rights with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • More funding to domestic violence and women’s shelters.
  • End the gender wage gap.

Liberal:

logo
Image via the Liberal Party of Australia.

Workplace and tourism:

  • $20 million in funding to protect vulnerable workers.
  • Tax cuts for small businesses.
  • Tax incentives for innovative start-ups.
  • $23 million investment for small businesses.
  • Trans-pacific trade agreement and free trade with Indonesia, the European Union and Pacific Islands.
  • $20 million investment for infrastructure for tourist regions.

Environment:

  • Planting 20 million new trees by 2020.
  • $70 million investment for green spaces.
  • $30 million to support local parks.
  • Emissions reduction fund.
  • $15,000 to community groups for renewable resources.
  • $5 million to a threatened species recovery fund.
  • $3 billion to invest in the Great Barrier Reef and clean water over 10years.
  • $100 million aim per year for Smart Cities program.

Education:

  • Additional $60 million in funding for sport programs.
  • STEM funding of $73.6 billion over 4 years.
  • $4.6 million for alternate education pathways.

Technology and science:

  • A further $60 million to upgrade or create 499 new telephone bases to tackle an additional 3,000 mobile phone service black spots.
  • $50 million to the MyGov website.
  • $7 billion in funding for clinical trials.
  • $650 million in 4 years for medical funding, including $20 million for childhood cancers.
  • $1.1 billion for the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Security:

  • $2.5 billion boost to law enforcement and security.
  • $1 billion to strengthen borders.
  • $40 million Safer Communities Fund,

Labor:

logo.laborbanner[1]
Image via the Labor Party of Australia.
Education:

  • $37.3 billion investment for education.
  • Girls Into Code initiative with $4.5 million in grants.
  • Safer Schools program of $6 million over 3 years.
  • Increase in child care benefits for low-income earners.
  • $50 million to support family day care systems.
  • $31 million funding for tertiary education.
  • Additional funding for undergraduates.

Health:

  • Restore medicare benefits.
  • Legalise medical cannabis.
  • Give citizens the right to die.
  • $72 million funding for mental health.
  • $7 million for breast cancer, $10.6 million for prostate cancer.
  • $25 million for dementia research.

Climate Change and Environment:

  • $500 million to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 50% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Net zero pollution by 2050.
  • $17.4 million in funding for Climate Change Authority.

Animal Welfare:

  • Ban cosmetic testing.
  • More investigations and sanctions to breaches.
  • Establishment of animal welfare body.

Infrastructure:

  • NBN to premises.
  • $400 million Western Sydney rail package.
  • $1.2 million National Cycling Strategy.
  • High-speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

Workplace:

  • Protect weekend penalty rates.
  • $4.5 million for Fair Work Commission.
  • No baby bonus.
  • Paid parental scheme leave.
  • Tax reductions for small businesses.
  • Crack down on multinationals.
  • More jobs and courses available.
  • Creative Australia Policy.
  • Building 12 submarines in South Australia.

Gender and sexuality:

  • Marriage equality.
  • $70 billion to family violence services.
  • $8.4 million investment for indigenous girls.
  • Paid parental violence leave of 5 days.
  • More coverage for women’s sport with $21 million in funding to the ABC.
screen-shot-2013-09-07-at-3-37-06-pm
Image via Mamamia.

Despite all of these lovely promises, there’s no promises they will be put into place. I would encourage each and every one of you to think for yourselves–and to do your research: because your vote matters.

 

 

Senate launches gender inequality inquiry into superannuation

Posted on Updated on

The Australian Senate approved a motion to launch an inquiry into gender inequality of the superannuation system. The motion, approved on Monday, was backed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, Liberal Senator Sean Edwards and Greens Senator Larissa Waters, spurred by recent ANZ study, which revealed that women are, on average, retiring on half as much as men.

The 2015 ANZ Women’s Report indicated numerous alarming figures regarding gender inequality within the workforce. For instance, despite the fact that 42% of women aged 25-29 hold a university degree, compared to 31% of men, women are still paid, on average, 18.8% less. Women who work full-time, therefore, earn on average $295 per week less than their male counterparts—simply due to gender. In a year, this amounts to a $15,000 difference, and in a lifetime, $700,000.

ANZ CEO Joyce Phillips said globally, women earn up to 36% less than their male counterparts; this report merely confirms the financial disadvantage all women face.

“This research also confirms what’s really restricting the financial future of women is the inherent structural bias in the way the workplace, education, social and legal systems are established,” she said.

Industry Super deputy chief executive Robbie Campo welcomes the review.

“Industry super Australia’s modelling shows that even with super, pension payments and other savings combined, 63% of single women will still not be retiring comfortably by 2055 unless we act now to restructure our retirement income system,” she said.

The Greens Senator Larissa Walters attributes the growing homelessness of older women to this inequality.

“It’s timely for the Senate to examine the structural inequalities which are seeing women retire in poverty.”

“We hope the tri-partisan nature of this inquiry will lead to real outcomes to address the alarming gender retirement income gap.”

Let’s Talk About Vaginas

Posted on

No, but seriously; let’s. We really don’t talk about them enough—especially in a non-sexual context. The word feels strange to write, and even stranger to say out loud. Even my phone corrects “vagina” to “cagina”, as if an inanimate object could also feel awkward. Well, that taboo ends here! This is an important issue that could save your life—and a lot of young women really don’t have a clue about it. Now that is awkward.

Okay, brace yourselves, ladies (and any men who were unknowingly lured into reading this through the word “vagina”) here it comes: pap smears. What a terrible name. Smear. Smear. They really don’t make it sound appealing, do they? But in all honesty, It’s not that bad. The procedure takes probably less than thirty seconds in all, and it doesn’t hurt even slightly.

You can get a pap smear by booking in an appointment with your doctor, or at a women’s health clinic. Basically, they take you into a private room, just like any other doctor’s visit, and ask you to remove your underwear and lie on an examination bed. This bit is rather awkward, but remember: they are trained professionals and have probably seen thousands of vaginas in their time. They use a hard plastic tool called a speculum (not to be confused with a spatula) in order for them to see your cervix. From there, they take a quick sample of the cells and send them away for testing. And then you’re done!

Now, I would definitely recommend seeing a female doctor—at least for your first time. It’s much less awkward. My usual doctor is male, and I’m also friends with his daughter. The vagina jokes he made certainly didn’t make me feel more comfortable. The female doctor I sought out, however, was kind and made general conversation and even gave me some information for this article.

So, what the Pap smear actually does is test for any abnormalities in the cells around your cervix which can eventually lead to cervical cancer, as well as testing for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is present in 99.7% of cervical cancer cases. HPV, which is an infection of the skin around think, moist linings of the body (like the nose, mouth, throat and genital) results from close skin contact, isn’t something to be overly concerned about: 4 out of 5 people will have it in their lives, mostly with no symptoms. Your body will usually clear it naturally in 1-2 years, but in some cases, it can stay longer and lead to cervical cancer.

According to the Cancer Council, about 1 in 10 Pap smears reveal abnormalities, though less than 1% of these abnormalities lead to cervical cancer. Even so, all women, regardless of age, sexual orientation or number of partners, should be tested every two years from the ages of 18-70 (or younger,  depending on what age she became sexually active).

In 2017, based on recommendations from the Medical Services Advisory Committee, the Australian Government will make some changes to the Pap test. Women aged between 25 and 74 will undertake a HPV test every five years, which may also include various other tests. These changes are estimated to reduce the number of cancer cases by a further 15%. Hooray!

However, until then, Pap tests are absolutely necessary. Soldier through that awkwardness, and it could potentially save your life! Eighty per cent of women who develop cervical cancer had not had regular check-ups. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers with a simple test—these tests have halved the mortality rate. Can you really ignore that?

Listen to your vagina, and don’t be afraid to talk about any problems you may have, no matter how seemingly miniscule. Don’t become another statistic because you were too embarrassed to ask. After all, happy vagina, happy life. Preach it, ladies!

No Justice for Domestic Terrorism

Posted on Updated on

Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz graduated last Tuesday, but unlike other students, she walked onto the podium to receive her degree carrying a mattress—the mattress she was raped on.

The incident was alleged to have occurred in her sophomore year in 2012 by one Paul Nungesser. As part of her senior art thesis, Ms Sulkowicz carried that mattress around with her in protest until she graduated, or Nungesser was expelled. Sadly, it was the former which came first.

Ms Sulkowicz’s senior performance project entitled Carry That Weight is powerful, empowering and devastating—a visual metaphor for her pain.

“The past year of my life has really been marked by telling people what happened in that most intimate and private space,” she told Columbia Daily.

“I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then, that space has become fraught for me. I feel like I’ve carried the weight of what happened since then.”

Ms Sulkowicz filed a complaint against Nungesser in April 2013. Two other women also came forward with similar accusations (though they wished to remain anonymous). Despite this, Nungesser was found “not responsible” in Ms Sulkowicz’s case. Even when a further complaint was launched against the University, as well as with the New York Police Department, nothing changed.  In fact, Nungesser has called her performance as a very public, very painful act of bullying.

Many people have been vocal about their support for Ms Sulkowicz, but many more have inundated the internet with dissent, disgust and disbelief. Various articles attack Ms Sulkowicz, some claiming her ordeal is utterly fabricated. In one instance, even Ms Sulkowicz’s Facebook grammar became a source of ridicule. Meanwhile, Nungesser is often characterised as the victim with strong feminist beliefs—because a feminist couldn’t possibly commit a crime.

Proving a crime is important. But how that crime is reacted to is equally important.

The backlash that one woman standing against rape has received is disgusting. This is why most sexual assault crimes are not reported by both male and female victims.. People who have experienced sexual assault are less likely to come forward over fear of ridicule and backlash. Even if somehow miraculously their case manages to reach the courts, they will have to re-experience the trauma through meticulous cross-examinations and confront their attackers.

Rape and sexual abuse is a major issue in our society. Here are some Australian statistics from the Centre of Abuse and Sexual Assault to put it into perspective for you::

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually abused before the age of 16.
  • Only 1 in 6 reports of rape to the police are actually prosecuted.
  • 1 in 4 children will experience family violence

Furthermore, according to the Australian Government:

  • 57% of women will experience some form of sexual abuse within their lives.
  • 75% of male victims and 87.7% of female victims knew their attacker.

In another study by the Australian Government, young males represented the highest portion of male victims—particularly those aged 0-9, and that males aged between 10-14 have an 86 in 100,000 chance of being abused.

These are our men and our women. Our young girls and young boys. And they’re at risk of such an unspeakable thing. This needs to change. Victim blaming needs to change. Prosecution rates of offenders must increase. Education programs must be further instituted into schools from an early age—the cycle of violence and abuse must stop.

So, what can we do about it?

Solutions to curb sexual abuse and domestic violence can be viewed from the same lens, after all, their core is the same: abuse.

Australian of the Year Rosie Batty calls abuse “family terrorism”; and she’s completely right.

“Let’s put it in its context: this is terrorism in Australia,” Ms Batty said.

“If we look at the money that we spend on terrorism overseas, for the slight risk it poses to our society, it is disproportionate completely.”

“Let’s start talking about family terrorism. Maybe then, with the context and kind of language, we will start to get a real sense of urgency.”

Feminist philosopher Claudia Card’s theory of rape as a terrorist institution melds perfectly with Batty’s ideologies. In Card’s 1991 “Rape as a Terrorist Institution”, she explains that rape is used as a deterrence, just like deterrence from a crime is a punishment. Only in this case, the major task of rape is the subordinance and subservience of men to women—abuse can be viewed in the same way.

“Like other terrorisms, rape has two targets: ‘bad girls’ and ‘good girls’, those who are expendable…and those to whom a message is sent by the way of the treatment of the former,” the article reads.

“As reward, they [good girls] are granted ‘protection”. Though Card explains this “protector” may be even more dangerous than a stranger—statistics of victims knowing their abuser significantly support this idea.

Card’s ideologies are somewhat outdated, and also need to include the perspective of male victims, too—but her ideas are still completely valid. For women, abuse sends a message that she is not welcome; that she must tread carefully in life so as to not anger another and risk abuse. For men, due to the stereotypes that men must be strong, it sends the message that they must be quiet, conform or risk further abuse or ridicule.

Our very own legal system impedes productivity in terms of prosecuting abuse. Our adversarial system of innocent until proven guilty often lacks the ability to gain justice; abuse and rape is incredibly difficult to provide evidence for. For crimes to be prosecuted, they must also include two elements: the mens rea (the guilty mind) and the actus reus (the guilty act); if one party believes they are entitled to abuse another, or genuinely believes their actions genuinely aren’t abuse, it becomes very difficult to prove the crime.

A more proactive response is needed to the issue of family and interpersonal terrorism. Rosie Batty believes positive results can be achieved through the federal budget committing more money to long-term prevention and awareness procedures—particularly more Legal Aid. Crisis centres and hotlines must also be funded. What’s the point of having facilities if no one answers the phone? If there’s no room to house victims? If victims cannot afford a lawyer?

The fact of the matter is that things, as they are, clearly are not working. So what are you going to do to promote positive change?

Speak out Australia.