And now we come to the political party that makes everyone giggle when they hear about it – the Australian Sex Party. I’ll say this for them – they are a party with a sense of humour, which is always refreshing, and their ads are quite clever and very funny.
I’ll admit up-front that I’m a little off the Sex Party just now, because when I previewed them yesterday, I wound up reading their statement on why they put the Greens behind One Nation on their ticket, and it really managed to irritate me. It wasn’t the preferencing itself – I do get that small parties, including the ones I do like, might find it strategically useful to preference people I don’t like, but they went beyond pointing out that this was a tad hypocritical of the Greens, who have also made dodgy preference deals in the past (which is an absolutely fair counter-argument) to starting to blame the Greens for the WikiLeaks debacle:
Not only did these hypocritical Greens supporters hit the Sex Party. They drove several Wikileaks candidates and party officials to resign over their preference deals. One person was also on suicide watch and yet the Greens army kept firing away on social media like a large group of priests pointing the finger at a sex worker saying, ‘You’re the cause of all this paedophilia!’. It’s a common tactic amongst pious people. When you’re having difficulty in your own house with an issue, isolate a group of people who are smaller than you are and have fewer resources and accuse them of doing the same thing. The Church are masters at it.
Nasty. And, in my view, uncalled for. Attacking the hypocrisy of the Greens is fair enough – it sounds like they’ve laid themselves open to it, which is a shame – but seriously, the WikiLeaks people did that to themselves. I don’t think it was the Greens who drove them to suicide watch.
Having got that off my chest, let’s check out how their group voting ticket actually looks, and yeah, it is a little weird.
First preference is given to Drug Law Reform Australia, followed by the Country Alliance, which is certainly an interesting choice. They then move on to WikiLeaks and the Democrats, Stop CSG and the Secular Party, all of which make perfect sense. One Nation pop up at 52-53, followed by the ALP at 60 and the Greens directly thereafter. The Coalition are at 77-80, and they’ve saved the bottom of their ticket for the DLP, Australian Christian Party, Family First, and finally, Rise Up Australia. And this is where I have to cackle my evil cackle, because there is someone missing from that little matched set of Christian Parties. The Australian Independents are in fact listed up around 30-31 on the Sex Party ticket. I could be wrong, but I can’t help suspecting that someone failed to read up properly on some of these smaller parties.
Looking at their website, the Sex Party introduces themselves as follows:
The Australian Sex Party is a libertarian, political response to the needs of Australians in the 21st Century.
We respect the rights of all individuals to live their lives in the ways they choose without infringing the rights of or causing harm to others.
In exercising their rights and freedom individuals should accept responsibility for their choices while being tolerant of the choices made by others.
The Sex Party believes that independent, peer-reviewed scientific research is essential to inform the broad spectrum of knowledge and debate in our 21st century world.
The vast majority of Australians hold relaxed and tolerant 21st Century views of the choices made by individuals. The Sex Party’s policies reflect these views.
Apart from my general twitchiness around libertarians, this sounds like a good set of platforms to start from.
First up on the Sex Party’s policy platforms is the legalisation and regulation (and taxing) of marijuana, and the decriminalisation of other drugs for personal use. Supplying drugs to a minor would still be illegal, and there would be licensing laws for the sale of marijuana. Tax monies would be directed towards education and harm reduction campaigns. Tax on alcohol and cigarettes would be reduced.
Under Health, the Sex Party is largely concerned with abortion, which they would legalise, make uniform across Australia, and fund through medicare. They would also allow minors to obtain abortion without consent of a guardian, which is of course important for situations where there is abuse going on within a family – though I would hope that in such cases, there would be provision for counselling and other support as well, because legal abortion does not solve every problem.
The Sex Party wants to put Viagra and related drugs on the PBS, and make tampons and pads exempt from the GST, as they bloody well should be. I mean, seriously, who thinks that having one’s period is a luxury?
They are also in favour of legalising voluntary euthanasia, with some good provisions for making sure that patients have access to and information about palliative care, and requiring a cooling-off period and a second medical opinion.
Like the Secular Party, the Sex Party would end tax exempt status on churches and religious institutions except for charitable work,
and they would ban the burqa. I’ve addressed my concerns with this in my Secular Party post, so will not go into it here. And they support stem cell research, which they view as a scientific and not a religious issue.
Edited to add: apparently I mis-read this policy, in my sleep-deprived state while writing this post, for which I apologise! The policy reads “Opposes a blanket ban on women wearing the burqa conditional upon it being the woman’s choice.” While I have some reservations regarding how they will determine exactly who is making the choice to wear the burqa, the intention is entirely laudable.
The Sex Party would enact sweeping anti-discrimination legislation, with particular regard to discrimination against people working in the sex industry. They don’t actually say they would legalise sex work, but it looks to me as though they are taking that as a given, since they talk about ‘discrimination in areas of advertising, health, work regulations, restrictions on movement, relations with police, seeking other employment, housing and accommodation, and goods and services’, and also talk about the ‘right to work, free choice of employment and non-discrimination’.
In other areas of equality, they want to get more women into parliament, and create ‘total equal rights in all areas of the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people’. Good on them. This would include granting asylum on humanitarian grounds to people being persecuted for their sexuality, and creating nationally consistent age of consent laws.
The Sex Party believes that equality really is about sex, and want to ensure the sexual rights and freedoms of people with a disability and the elderly, as well as overturning ‘racist laws that ban adults living in and visiting aboriginal communities in the NT from possessing erotic and sexual media’.
You know, I agree with both those things, but in both cases, I feel there are slightly more pressing egalitarian concerns that need to be addressed.
On Education, the Sex Party wants a national sex education curriculum that is ‘comprehensive, accurate and developmentally appropriate’, and to create a national internet education scheme for parents. They also want to incorporate political literacy and Civics into high school, and extend the voting franchise to 16-18-year-olds, though it would not be compulsory under the age of 18.
Like the Secular Party, the Sex Party wants counsellors instead of chaplains in government schools, and want comparative religion and ethics taught instead of Christian religious education. This sounds entirely reasonable to me.
To nobody’s astonishment, they have a federal censorship policy that includes legalising X-rated films including fetish, and creating a uniform classification scheme that includes a rating for non-violent erotica. And they are against mandatory ISP filtering of the internet.
On workplace relations, the Sex Party wants fair and equitable paid parental leave, but is principally concerned with human trafficking and sex slavery. They feel that the best way to achieve this is by deciminalising sex work, and giving sex workers access to fair visas so that they can work legally in Australia. This would effectively stop the situation where people who are trafficked into sex work wind up getting arrested for the sex work and deported, while the people doing the trafficking get off (so to speak) scot-free.
Finally, The Sex Party has an Arts policy. It doesn’t mention sex even once. This is very confusing for me. In particular, they want a dedicated funding program for artists with a disability, a national peak body for the performing arts, and protection of live music venues. Is the fact that in my head these live music venues are all seedy and the performing arts are pretty much stripping and pole-dancing projection, do you think, or have I just been corrupted by the rest of this website?
And that’s about it. I am slightly proud of the fact that I managed to avoid making dirty puns for the majority of this write-up. I am also slightly disappointed in myself, because this seems to be against the spirit of the Australian Sex Party.
To be honest, these policies have left me fairly cold. While I really do like their policies on LGBTI people and on sex trafficking, I get the impression that they have changed their focus since the last election. Last time around, the Sex Party was certainly interested in promoting the rights of sex workers, but they also seemed to have a broader focus on the rest of Australia as well. This time around, they feel much more like a single issue party – a lobby group for the sex industry, in fact. This is surprising to me, because most small parties take the opposite trajectory – they start with a single issue, and then broaden. For all the inclusiveness of their ads, when it comes to policy, the Sex Party has distinctly narrowed its focus. I believe, absolutely, that sex workers need a party that represents them them. I don’t know much about the industry, but I do know that the issues they face are many and complicated. I’m glad a party exists that wants to speak for them. But in the end, despite their vision on a number of issues, this is not a party that speaks to me – or for me.