Something for Cate

Continuing in the spirit of Cate Speaks

Abortion in Australia

Hi folks. We’re not planning on making a habit of this, but some issues are too pressing, too important, to remain silent about. So here we are.

We have watched with great dismay and disgust the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1972. This is a terrible thing for reproductive rights, for women in America and for humanity everywhere. It does not directly affect us in Australia, although it may serve to embolden certain conservative voices over here.

To our American friends and allies, we offer our empathy and our support. We see you, and we are here for you.

Ironically, the recent American decision returns that country to a situation not unlike that in Australia: the laws are different in every state.

First off, this article has a good summary of the laws surrounding abortion in each state (you will need to scroll down past the story to find it). There are a lot of common features, but every state has its own peculiarities. In addition, this summary does not include information about the exclusion zones surrounding clinics (i.e. the areas in which anti-abortion protestors are not permitted to gather), so we have briefly summarised it below:

  • No Exclusion Zone: NT, SA & WA
  • 50m Exclusion Zone: ACT
  • 150m Exclusion Zone: NSW, QLD, TAS & VIC

If you are in need, or think you might be in need, of an abortion, there are places you can reach out to and people you can talk to about this:

Finally, if you find yourself filled with rage and horror at the Supreme Court’s decision and what it might mean for Australia, there are constructive things you can do with your anger. The fight to ensure reproductive rights is far from over in Australia: our existing rights need to be protected, maintained and extended. Here are some folk who will be glad of your help:

Please note that none of these lists are complete, and we welcome additional suggestions to add to them.

How my Democracy Sausage was made

Well now. That… that was really something.

When I volunteered to carry on in Cate’s name, I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. Cate made it look easy, but then, I saw only the democracy sausages, not their making.

Making them is much more difficult than I realised. Writing isn’t that hard, reading isn’t that hard (a few grammar challenged sites to the contrary), but thinking, analysing, comparing – and most of all, trying to do so from an assumption of good faith, if not actual objectivity1I don’t actually believe that objectivity exists, anywhere, so I don’t beat myself up about that – that, friends and neighbours, is hard work.

I’ve learned a lot from doing this. About how to do it, and how to do it better next time (and yes, there will be a next time). About myself, which was a surprise. And I’ve learned a better appreciation of my dear friend Catherine, too.

I mean, I’d read almost every post she ever made on Cate Speaks, but I read them as they were published. It’s when you sit down and read multiple posts about the same parties over the span of a decade, that you see not just how the parties change over time, but how the person writing them did. It should come as little surprise that Catherine improved as a writer over this time, or that she took this work more seriously the more she did it.

But I hadn’t noticed, until the contrast was right there in front of me, the growing sophistication and subtlety of Catherine’s perceptions over the years. One understands these things in a general way, that we change as the years pass, hopefully into a better version of ourselves. But in reading four posts about the same party written a few years apart each time, that understanding is no longer general, but specific, almost quantifiable.

Writing these posts, carrying on this important work, has been a privilege, a responsibility, and an honour. Thank you to each and every one of you who read these, who posted comments, or sent links to friends, or let us know how much you appreciated this work. We didn’t do it for the praise, but it’s still nice to receive it.

The other thing I didn’t foresee going into this was that it was running headlong into my grief at Catherine’s loss. I felt her presence and her absence constantly. For the first week or so, I wanted to ask her if I was doing it right approximately every half hour. Let me tell you, it’s not imposter syndrome when you actually are replacing someone.

That’s all I have for now. See you back here when the Victorian State Election draws closer, and thank you for your time. It means the world to me.

‘Twas the night before polling…

Well, folks, we made it! We survived six weeks of wall to wall ads, stupid gotcha questions, Scott Morrison’s refusal to appear on any media platform that wasn’t on his side, and a truly monumental amount of misinformation and scare-mongering regarding Independent candidates. We’ve seen policy on the run and policy that falls at the first hurdle (dear me, athletic metaphors, I don’t even know who I am anymore). There were stunts and photo-ops, gaffes and unnecessarily rough play (shout out to Luca – how’s your head feeling?), hi-vis and dirty tricks and some of the most bizarre candidate statements I’ve ever read.

And now all that’s left to do is vote, if you haven’t already (at last check, over 40% of Australians had voted early, which says … something), and claim the democracy sausage of your choice.

If you have been unlucky enough to test positive for Covid-19 and are isolating, you are able to vote by phone if you haven’t already received a postal vote.

Remember, in the House of Representatives: number every box in your preferred order.

In the Senate, you have two choices:

  • Number 6 boxes above the line in your preferred order
  • Number at least 12 boxes below the line in your preferred order. Beyond that, number as many as you like – if you have the stamina for the entire New South Wales or Victoria ballot, good on you!

This link will aid you in your quest for your Democracy Sausage. These people are true patriots who perform a great service for all Australia. And please, add to the map if you find somewhere new that’s providing this important part of Australian society.

In the interests of full transparency, here’s how we voted.

Maz:
In the Lower House, my electorate is Cooper. I voted Labor at number 1. I considered putting the Greens first, but when it comes right down to it, there are a few Greens policies that just don’t work for me. Some are impractical in the extreme, and some just… miss the mark. Of all the parties, Labor’s platform has the most of what I want to see in a new government. The Greens came in at number 2, followed by Fusion, the Victorian Socialists and the Animal Justice Party. Then it was a struggle to work out who would go last. Ultimately, two parties were worse than the Liberals – One Nation, and the United Australia Party respectively.

For the Senate, I voted below the line, as I have always done. Reason got the top spot for me. I was incredibly impressed by its policies, and by its record as part of the Victorian State Parliament. Socialist Alliance ended up at number 2; despite some of its frankly impossible promises, the fact that it had even bothered with an Arts policy counted for a lot (not to mention its welfare platform). Australian Progressives at 3, and Independents Neal Smith at 4 and Max Dicks at 5. These two impressed me as being compassionate, thoughtful, and having a firm grasp on what it means to be an Independent in a system still dominated by two major parties. The Australian Democrats came in at 6, and Fusion at 7, followed by the Greens and Labor. And that’s where I stopped. The rest either had policies I didn’t support, didn’t provide enough information, or were loopy anti-vaxers obsessed with the Constitution and secret tunnels under Canberra..

Loki:
Living in the Lower House electorate of Macnamara, where it’s basically a race between the Greens and the ALP (last election, the Liberal candidate got the most first preferences, about 40%. The ALP and Greens tend to get about 25-28% each, and whichever of them gets the higher tends to get the other’s preferences and wind up winning the seat.) Mindful of this, I have given my first preference to the Greens, followed by the ALP at 2, because while obviously the Greens will not get the numbers to form a government, giving them a little more weight if the ALP wins or a larger thorn in their side if the Coalition does appeals to me). These are followed by Animal Justice at 3, the Liberals at 4, the UAP at 5, the LibDems at 6, PHON at 7 and finally, independent John Myers at 8. Or in other words, the bottom half of my ballot are anti-vaxxer loons of one stripe or another – and the PHON candidate doesn’t even live here.

In the Senate, I am voting below the line, because it’s the right thing to do, but even so, I’ve put Reason first, followed by Max Dicks, Neal Smith and Susan Benedyka. After them are the Australian Progressives, then the Greens, then the Australian Democrats, Joe Toscano, Fusion, and finally the ALP. And there’s not much point in numbering below that. I suspect my vote will go to electing a Greens Senator in the end, but Reason probably have the best chance outside of the top four parties to get someone across the line, and I’d like to see it happen.


And so, finally, we come to an end of our pre-election coverage!

Going through all the parties and Independents to review their policies has been a labour of love, but wow, was there a lot to read! Thanks so much for coming on this journey with us, and for all your helpful, insightful comments. We had each other to help us keep going, but our dearest Cate did this all on her own – her dedication was nothing short of phenomenal! We’d like to think she’s sitting up in her brightly-coloured heaven right now, kicking back with a cat on her lap and a glass of chilled ginger beer in her hand, tapping her toe to Eurovision’s greatest hits, watching what we’ve done.

This is for you, Catherine.
We love you.

Neal Smith speaks!

A little bonus for you, faithful readers!

In my review of Independent Neal Smith’s policies, I noted that I didn’t have much to go on, and offered him the opportunity to expand on his policy platform. Well, he’s taken up the opportunity, and given us some real meat to chew on. Here’s the Q&A – enjoy!
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The Reason Party

Summary

Website: reason.org.au
Social Media: FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube
Previous Names: Australian Sex Party & Fiona Patten’s Reason Party
Slogans: Vote for the voice of Reason
Themes:
Electorates: Upper House: New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria
Lower House: Higgins
Preferences: It’s a semi-random run through the left wing parties: Animal Justice at 2, Fusion at 3, followed by Labor, the Greens and Legalise Cannabis. It’s a weird mix, really.
Previous Reviews: 20192018 (VIC) — 2014 (VIC) — 20132010 (VIC)

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National Party of Australia

Summary

Website: nationals.org.au
Social Media: FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube
Previous Names: Australian Country Party, National Country Party
Slogans: Getting it Done for Regional Australia
Themes: We’re the less popular friend of the liberals
Electorates: Upper House: New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria
Lower House: Barker, Calare, Capricornia, Cowper, Durack, Gippsland, Hinkler, Hunter, Indi, Lyne, Malle, Maranoa, New England, Nicholls, Page, Parkes, Richmond, Riverina & Wide Bay
Preferences: It’s a right-wing roll call in most places. The United Australia Party has replaced One Nation as the preferred number 2 vote in New South Wales and Victoria. Queensland is sticking with One Nation, while South Australia has the Liberals in that spot. In the Northern Territory, it’s the Liberal Democrats. Going further down the ticket, the Northern Territory surprisingly preferences Labor at number 3, but in all other Senate races minor, right-leaning parties get the nod.
Previous Reviews: 20192018 (VIC) — 2014 (VIC) — 20132010

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Australian Labor Party

Summary

Website: www.alp.org
Social Media: FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube
Previous Names: none
Slogans: A Better Future
Medicare, Childcare, Aged Care, Labor Cares
Themes: We do hold a hose
Electorates: Upper House: All
Lower House: All
Preferences: A mixed bag. Greens get the coveted number 2 spot in most states. Tasmania directs preferences to Jacquie Lambie Network, and ACT to David Pocock. The next preference changes depending on the state: Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party in Victoria; Shooters Fishers and Farmers in NSW; Animal Justice in Queensland, SA, and WA; Greens in Tasmania and ACT; and Liberal Democrats in NT.
Previous Reviews: 2019201820142013

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Animal Justice Party

Summary

Website: www.animaljusticeparty.org
Social Media: FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube
Previous Names: none
Slogans: A better world for Animals, People & Planet
Themes: A better world for Animals, People & Planet, with emphasis on the first of those three
Electorates: Upper House: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and West Australia
Lower House: Bass, Blair, Boothby, Brisbane, Braddon, Casey, Chisholm, Clark, Cooper, Corangamite, Corio, Cowan, Deakin, Dunkley, Fairfax, Fisher, Flinders, Franklin, Grayndler, Herbert, Higgins, Hindmarsh, Indi, Isaacs, Kooyong, La Trobe, Leichhardt, Longman, Lyons, Macnamara, Macquarie, Mayo, Melbourne, Moncrieff, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth, Petrie, Robertson, Ryan, Shortland, Sturt, Swan, Warringah & Wills
Preferences: Somewhat surprisingly, the AJP’s highest preference goes to the Labor Party. Following them are, in order, are Reason, the Greens, Socialist Alliance and Legalise Cannabis. Unsurprisingly left leaning, although most of the parties in this group put the ALP at #6, not #2.
Previous Reviews: 2019201820142013

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Victorian Socialists

Summary

Website: www.victoriansocialists.org.au
Social Media: Facebook
Previous Names: none
Slogans: People before Profits
Themes:
Electorates: Upper House: Victoria
Lower House: Calwell, Cooper, Fraser, Gellibrand, Gorton, Hawke, Lalor, Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Scullin & Wills
Preferences: In a show of Socialist communality, the number two spot in the VS preferences goes to Socialist Alliance, with the Greens, the Australian Progressives and the Animal Justice Party following in that order. Bringing up the rear is the ALP. No great mysteries here – 2-5 are all left-leaning parties who are broadly in agreement with VS, while the ALP is party able to form a government that they least dislike.
Previous Reviews: 20192018 (VIC)

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