Federal Election 2019: Meet The Women’s Party

Summary

Website: https://thewomensparty.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/womensparty.org.au/
Slogans:
It’s time to unite
It’s time for change
It’s time for equality
Themes: More women in parliament, equal pay, an end to violence against women.  Slight tendency to assume that women are naturally just nicer people than men.
Electorate:
Upper House: NSW
Preferences: No How to Vote Cards available, presumably because they are a tool of the patriarchy.

Policies & Commentary

Once again, I’m breaking with alphabetical order, because this is likely to be the last post I have time to write between now and Easter, and I need a change of pace from right wing parties.  Australian Women’s Party, your name is promising to a feminist like me – please don’t disappoint me!

“The Women’s Party” is a political movement to primarily attain an equal representation of women in our federal and state parliaments, to empower women and to select and endorse candidates, so that we may have an equal input and say in decision-making processes and management of our Nation.

They have a rotating banner across the top of their website, which alternates between three slogans:

85% of Australians believe our politicians are corrupt: It’s time for change!

Australian women have to work an extra 56 days a year to earn the same pay as men for doing the same work: it’s time for equality!

Softness is not our weakness nor hardness our strength: it’s time to unite!

These slogans are illustrated by photos of women, and it’s notable that about half of these are women of colour, at least one of whom may be of indigenous descent.  So that’s a nice touch.

Political corruption is standard grist for the small party mill; pay equality is definitely worth talking about; I am ever so slightly dubious about the ‘softness is not our weakness’ slogan, because I can think of several ways to interpret that, one of which is pretty gender essentialist, and I don’t think it’s particularly sound feminism if we assign specific attributes to women and to men.  But we shall see.

TWP believes that equal representation in parliament is the only way to create respect between woman and men, and they are in favour of gender quotas.  Quotas are, admittedly, a vexed issue – nobody wants to be hired solely because of their gender – but it’s worth noting that the ALP has had a quota for some years now, and it has not resulted in inferior candidates.  (I mean, how many times have *you* heard people sighing and wishing that Penny Wong or maybe Tanya Plibersek could be our Prime Minister?)

We are about setting aside and changing attitudes to gender, race, colour, creed and sexual preferences. We about demanding the respect that we deserve in our daily contribution to our families our children our workplaces our society and our nation.

Our strength comes from our communication, Interconnectivity, collaborative and generational efforts to move toward the good.

The honesty and transparency that women can bring to our parliaments is not only desirable but absolutely necessary if we are to reduce systemic corruption and create an economic atmosphere the ensures a realistic and democratic continuation of our society as we would like it to be.

Hmm.  We do seem to be a tiny bit enamoured of the idea that women are inherently superior to men, which I’m not on board with.  It’s just not a good idea to claim inherent superiority for any group of people based on a characteristic that is not in their control.  (Also, I’m now sitting here going, oh, please don’t turn out to be awful about trans people.  Please.  Note that I have not seen evidence that they do!  But this idea that women have particular special qualities that men do not can go hand in hand with being TERFy, and that’s a problem.)

On their Facebook page, TWP tells us that their objectives are focused on three political issues : #EndPayGap #EndDomesticViolence #BetterChildcareOptions.

I am on board with all of these.  They also tell us that:

Our candidates must satisfy a number of requirements to succeed nominations; high moral character, excellent understanding of the political system, and a deep commitment to the three challenges. We seek candidates with profound wisdom and personal success in chosen fields.

Well, that would certainly be a pleasant change from the current mob.

Let’s have a look at their actual Policy Page.

First up, we have Equal Representation, which is what TWP is principally here for.

  • Working within our parliamentary political system, women are 6.6 times more likely to respond with transparency and honesty than men
  • Women in parliament create more space for authenticity over the self-aggrandisement of men.
  • The business of governing would be improved significantly if we had greater gender diversity in the parliaments.

That third point, I agree with 100%.  But the first two… oh dear.  Look, I am a great big feminist – in fact, I’m increasingly finding myself to be an Angry Feminist (TM) – but I don’t think that women are necessarily better than men (despite a lot of awful evidence to the contrary of late).  What I think is that women have a lot less power than men, and that power provides more opportunities for people to do terrible things to other people.  So yes.  We need to change systems and societal assumptions in a big way, but simply reversing the current set of biases is not the way to do it.

TWP does improve from here, however:

We are about setting aside and changing outmoded attitudes to gender, race, colour, creed and sexual preferences. And demanding the respect that we deserve in our daily contribution to our families our children our workplaces our society and our nation.

(Commas, however, do not deserve respect.  Also, while I’m nitpicking, if you are a TWP person reading this, you’ve spelled ‘Constitution’ wrong in the menu item of that name, so you might want to fix that.)

Anyway.  Apparently, women are good at communication and collaboration and will bring honesty and transparency to our parliaments.  Once again, I do agree that a more balanced parliament is likely to function less like a kindergarten, and will hopefully do better at drafting legislation that serves *all* Australians, but I wish they would pick a different line of reasoning.

(I mean, yes, women are certainly socialised to be more cooperative and communicative and so forth, so in the short term, more women in Parliament might well have the effect they think it would – and if it reduced the amount of verbal dick-waving going on in Question Time, that would certainly be an improvement – but I don’t think these qualities are intrinsic to women.)

TWP’s next policy is ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’, and I’m so very much on board for this!

Due to social structures, traditions, stereotypes and attitudes about women and their role in society, women do not always have the opportunity and ability to access and enforce their rights on the same basis as men.

TWP wants to address the issue of equal wages, they want affordable childcare, and they are absolutely pro-choice.  They want to address domestic abuse and the murder of women, and ‘will work and consult with women’s groups, individuals, organisations and with all other parties and politicians to create solutions to these issues and acknowledge that there are many women’s issues not addressed here.’

I like all of this, but I would really like to see a bit more detail, especially about their domestic violence policy.

Also, I think that anyone who has been paying attention to Parliament recently could endorse this comment:

Our outdated male dominated political system is more about the male ego that good economics.

TWP has a policy on corruption.  They are against it.  They feel that one of the drivers of corruption is ‘career politicians’ and ‘the laxity and lack of proper legislation criminalising and penalising the misuse, misappropriation and theft from the public purse by political parties, politicians and public servants’.

In reality the solution is Straightforward! We do not need a Royal commission! We need our House of representatives and senate to enact legislation to forbid our political parties, our elected politicians and public servants from receiving money, gratuities at all, to make it a criminal offence with appropriate prison sentences. Confiscation of assets and appropriate fines.

Well, that’s refreshing!  This could be the first small party I’ve seen that *doesn’t* want a Royal Commission!

TWP has a policy on rights and recognition for First Nations People, and I’d just like to point out that since they only have six policy platforms, this is giving the issue a pretty high priority, so good for them.

As a nation we need to honour the unique place of the First Nations People (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) and their heritage honestly, openly and without condescension.

The First Nations Peoples rights and recognition are inexorably entwined in the hopes & needs, wishes and the lack of real constitutional representation of all Australians.

They want proper consultation for First Nations People on policies that affect them, and better protection of their languages and cultures, and will work with First Nations women and men to address their welfare, health and culture.  Oddly, there is no mention of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which makes me wonder if they’ve actually got around to doing any of that consulting yet.  I suspect not?  But I’ll give them credit for having these issues high on their priority list.

Next up, we have Climate Change, and ICAN has kind of ruined me for all other policies on this score because they were so *thorough* and well-researched that nobody else can live up to them, but the Women’s Party are not bad as far as they go – they want to implement world best practices to combat climate change and reduce emissions, and they are against Adani and fracking.  They also want to pay attention to the needs of the community and users of the land to make sure that ‘environmental issues which affect Water, Air quality, Energy and land management are addressed transparently in the best interests of all’.  They name check the Climate and Health Alliance and the CSIRO, so again, while this policy is skeletal, they do have the right bones, at least.

Finally, we have a policy on the Australian Constitution, which is ‘an ongoing disgrace, we of course not just talking about the lack of rights within our (so called) constitution.’

(Their proof-reading is also an ongoing disgrace.  Come on, guys. This one is an *easy* fix.)

The reality of our Australian constitution is a document of agreement between the colonial states and overseen by a colonising British government to nationalise and keep in place all of the existing benefits of self-interest and self-service that we experience as a nation in our parliaments today.

Nowhere in our constitution actually spells out that our parliaments or public services run or administrate our country for and on behalf of the people of Australia.

They have some valid points here, but once again, they don’t go into much detail except to say that they are going to fix this.

And that’s it!

I have to confess, I’m a bit disappointed here.  I was so excited that this party existed and I was hoping to vote for it, but it’s left me feeling a bit deflated.  TWP has some good ideas, but they need a fair bit of expanding to make them meaningful.  If you see more women in Parliament as a worthy end in itself – which, in fact, I do – then this party will be of interest to you.  But I am wary of their tendency to put women and traditionally feminine qualities on a pedestal, and I would really, really like to see a statement somewhere on their site indicating that they understand that trans women are women too.

This party will be in the top third of my ballot paper, ahead of a lot of the major parties.  But unless they radically expand their policy offerings, I won’t be putting them first.

Update May 12:  I just spotted these two posts on their Facebook page:

And apparently they were founded by Divvi de Vendre, who is a trans woman, which is getting Lyle Shelton all hot and bothered.  Well, bothered.  So yeah.  Not TERFY, and if you like feminism and support trans women, you might want to put them high on your ballot.

Having said that, they do seem to be wildly disorganised, so maybe don’t put them too high…

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

At first glance, Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl) does not strike one as a feminist anthem.  Nor does it strike one as a feminist anthem at second glance, or even at third glance.

But it does have a pretty awesome drum solo for the lead female singer, and really, how could I go past the final chorus?

Baby, I can save your world, I’m your anti-crisis girl.

I mean, that’s pretty much TWP’s motto right there.  Just with more semi-naked centurions.

4 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet The Women’s Party

  1. Did we wind up getting a read on the terfyness or otherwise of the party? You didn’t mention any policies specifically addressing the Quiltbag, and they only have a few, so I assumeg that means there aren’t any?

    • I couldn’t find anything specific on LGBTQIA+ issues, just some generic statements about ‘changing attitudes to gender, race, colour, creed and sexual preferences’. I’m hoping that when I circle back after candidates are announced there will be more.

      I mean, they may be fine, and just kind of have some slightly idealistic/romanticised ideas about femininity, but it’s not actually possible to be sure either way from what they have written. It doesn’t help that they are a pretty new party, so there isn’t much to see from them on Facebook or elsewhere online.

  2. Hi Catherine, loving these writeups as always.

    Small comment here, and not sure if you’ve already found this information, but this party’s founder and lead candidate is a trans woman, so I suspect they’re pretty solid on that score! 🙂

    • Hi Geoffrey,

      Ha – I had just updated the site with that information when I spotted your comment. (I’m going through and doing final updates on each of the parties, mostly for preferences, but this was unfinished business so I went looking for that, too…)

      Catherine

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