Continuing in the spirit of Cate Speaks

Category: Announcements (Page 1 of 2)

The 2023 NSW State Election

Hiya folks.

NSW is going to the polls on March 25, 2023, and if you’re a proud citizen of Australia’s most populous state1Or if you live there and you hate it, we’re not judging you, you should get out and vote.

We won’t be covering this election on the site, since as Victorians we know little of the local issues particular to New South Wales, but if you’re covering it, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll happily link to you.

And finally, here are some tools to make voting easier:

The Democracy Sausage at the End of Time

It’s almost over. Finally. One more evening blessedly free of election advertising, a day of voting accompanied by traditional election food1And here’s your link to a live map of polling booths where you can get your democracy sausage and maybe a tasty cake or two, and at least a glimmer of a result by the time we all go to bed tomorrow night. It’s only been two weeks, but wow, it seems so, so much longer. Part of it is that we’ve been living in a state of shadow campaign for months. Mostly, though, is that the sheer ugliness that’s been on display has contributed to a feeling that it was never going to end. That somehow time stopped and we were going to be caught forever in an endless cycle of photo ops, promises, attack ads, lies, and hate. But thankfully, we finally get to move on. It may not be the actual end of time, but hopefully it’ll at least be the end of some of the worst behaviour I’ve ever seen or experienced during an election campaign.

Investigating the policies of those who would govern us is usually fun for me. I love the research, I love digging through the rhetoric, talking to experts, and writing all of it up in the hope that it might provide some help to voters. This election campaign, though, has not been fun. It has been day after day after wading through relentless bigotry. I’ve read thousands of words vilifying already marginalised groups, recommending that it would be a great thing if those people were further abused. I’ve forced myself to examine even the most hateful of policies, the ones calling for me and my friends to be actively persecuted, and tried to provide perspective. There was no way to keep my feelings out of this, but I wasn’t going to make a pretence of objectivity about issues that were based on a tissue of easily provable lies.

I’ve lost count of how many times I read policies or heard people say that Premier Dan Andrews and his government should be jailed, attacked, and even killed. I watched a candidate pursue a young person handing out election flyers for another party even after they tried to walk away, and I watched her get right in his face and then complain that he’d “pushed” her. A Labor Party volunteer ended up in hospital requiring surgery after he was knocked down by someone who was upset about past lockdowns. Centrist candidates were subjected to some really disgusting comments by social media trolls. All the while, the loudest media voices acted even worse than they normally do. Not content with the usual spin and distortion, they conducted a smear campaign full of hit pieces that were utterly hysterical and riddled with lies and bias.

Right now, there are probably people reading this who are saying to themselves, “Well if Dan wasn’t such a dictator, we wouldn’t have to act this way”. Or maybe, “But we are just doing what God wants us to do”2And yes, I’ve heard these exact sentiments from many groups – anti-vaxers, paranoid sovereign citizens, certain media outlets, anti-LGBTQIA+ people who claim to be Christian, just to name a few.. To them I say this: no one forced you to assault people. No one forced you to lie. No one held a gun to your head and told you to harass, vilify, and abuse people. You have always had the option to disagree and criticise, but that doesn’t give you a licence to throw any form of respect or decent behaviour out the window. And it doesn’t give you the right to try and silence other voices with violence and hate.

I want to believe that the outcome of this election will make some of this vile behaviour die down, I really do. I fear that it won’t, no matter who wins. I fear that if Labor wins again, there could be reactionary violence from certain quarters. And I fear that if unhinged, hateful parties hold the balance of power, that Victoria could start to look very much like certain states of the USA.

I desperately, desperately, want to be wrong about that.

For the record, this is how I voted.

Legislative Assembly: The Reason Party received my first preference, followed by Labor and the Greens.

Legislative Council: I numbered 15 boxes below the line. Reason was first, followed by Labor, the Victorian Socialists, and the Greens.

I will not tell you who to vote for. I’ll simply ask that, when you step into that booth, you think about which parties and Independents are providing concrete policies aimed at the good of all Victorians, and which are promising divisiveness and inequality.

Good luck out there. And may your democracy sausage be tasty, and your onions be appropriately placed.

Failure to Communicate

Our aim here at Something for Cate is to provide voters with information about the preferences, candidates, and policies of those parties and individuals who make the decision to run in elections. We do this by examining websites, social media accounts, news, and video – and sometimes we have to dig for it. When we can’t find that information, especially on Independents who may not have funds or time to create and maintain a web presence, we reach out to them and invite them to comment on a series of questions that concern the major issues being canvassed in the campaign as a whole, and any areas of specific interest to their individual candidacies.

For this election, we contacted the following Independent candidates via Facebook:

  • Fred Ackerman (Western Metro, Group E)
  • Mehdi Sayed (South Eastern Metro)
  • Walter Villagonzalo (Western Metro, Group U)

Unfortunately, only Ackerman responded to our initial inquiry. We sent him our list of questions, but received no further response.

The other candidates did not respond to our first attempt at contact. A fourth Independent, Esther Demian (Western Metro), was unable to be contacted at all.

This is both deeply frustrating and sad. Often there are nuggets of gold hidden in the policies of these Independents. There may also be landmines. The problem is, we can’t inform you, our readers, if we don’t have anything to explore.

As things stand, we can’t provide either positive or negative recommendations. We don’t think anyone should infer anything about these candidates’ motivations or commitment, either. Our reason for this post is to let readers know that we have not overlooked or discounted these Independents, but were just unable to find any details to bring to you all.

It’s possible one or more of these candidates will see this post. To them we’d like to say, drop us a comment. We’d still love to correspond with you.

Giving a Damn

The reason this site exists, and the reason that Cate Speaks existed before it, ultimately comes down to the fact that we’re the kind of people who give a damn about politics. We want to know what the promises are, and what the quality of the promisers is.

And the bare minimum we expect is this: that candidates should at least make an effort to pretend they give a damn too.

I say this because I’ve just found three parties in a row who are courting the votes of Victorians in this election, but without going to the effort of doing anything more than running a few candidates. Now, it’s true that this is a common flaw of the campaigns of independents too, but I’m more forgiving of that – independents have fewer resources, and the one they lack most tends to be time. In addition, many of them are first-timers who have underestimated just how difficult and time-consuming the task of running for election actually is. They get a pass.

The United Australia Party, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party do not.

For that matter, neither do the New Democrats or Sack Dan Andrews, both of which are led by people who have previously been involved in election campaigns and can reasonably be expected to know better.

We believe that these five parties, irrespective of any other considerations such as policy or integrity, do not deserve your vote. Because if this is how much consideration and effort they’re going to put in at a time when they’re actually courting you – none – how much do you think they’re going to care about you when they no longer need your vote?

They work for you. Make them.

Missing, Inaction…

So, it wouldn’t be an election unless there were some candidates we were unable to locate.

Some of them are out there, just not really doing much. This includes the New Democrats (Kaushaliya Vaghela as their most visible member), the Restore Democracy Sack Dan Andrews Party (Tosh-Jake Finnigan, ditto) and independents Fred Ackerman, Storm Hellmuth and Mehdi Sayed. For these candidates, we’ve reached out to them on Facebook with the following message:

Hi there. My name is Loki, from Something for Cate, a website that analyses the policies people are taking into elections (I’ve included a link below). As you are a candidate in the Victorian election this year, we were wondering if we could send you a short list of questions about your positions, and post the answers on our site?

We’ve also included Walter Villagonzalo in this group, because although he does have a site, it’s more about what he’s done in the past than his plans for the future.

We’re giving them until next Sunday to get back to us – time is running out, after all.

There are others whom we have not succeeded in locating at all:

  • Colin John Mancell (Northern Metro)
  • Esther Demian (Western Metro)
  • John O’Brien (Eastern Vic) — NOW LOCATED! Thanks Simon!

So we probably won’t be writing much about them.

Getting ready

Okay, a day of tinkering and moving things around and adding things, and this site is a few steps closer to being ready for the Victorian election. In particular, we’ve populated the lists of parties running in the state upper house with the most up to date information we have on who is running (you can find those in the sidebar, under the heading Victoria — Region by Region), and we’ll be keeping those updated (and even putting them into the correct ballot order once actual ballots are certified).

Coming up next, we’ll have a post about how voting in the Victorian upper house differs from voting in the federal upper house, and then we’ll start getting into the actual reviews of parties and candidates.

Those of you who get email updates on this site may have received a flurry of emails this afternoon, because we have been working on the site, getting it ready for the next election, and we forgot to turn off those notifications – sorry about that folks, please don’t put us in your spam filters!

Voting for Victorians

Hiya folks. Hope you’ve all been keeping well since the Federal Election.

For those of you who live in Victoria, you’re probably aware that we have an election coming up on November 26.

So now’s the perfect time to check your enrolment, although if it hasn’t changed since May, you probably don’t need to worry, since the federal enrolment information is shared with the states and will be identical. But if you’re unsure, you can confirm your details here. Even if you haven’t moved, you may want to check just to confirm which electorates you are in, as the state electorates differ from the federal electorates, and there has also been some shifting of boundaries – so even if you haven’t moved in the last four years, your electorate may have.

If you have moved since then, or are going to be moving before the election, you should update your address, which you can do here.

And finally, if you’re new to all this, you can enrol to vote here. If you are updating or enrolling, the deadline is Tuesday, the 8th of November, so you have a little less than a month yet to take care of that.

Early voting begins on November 14, and the VEC will be releasing the information on where you can vote (before and on election day) on November 2 – they’ll be putting a link to those details here.

We’ll be back soon with an explainer on how the Victorian state electoral system differs from the Federal system in the next little while. Be seeing you.

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.

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..

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.

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