Australian 2016 Federal Election: No party willing to step up to the mark for men & boys

The last Australian federal election was held on 2 July 2016, and was ultimately (narrowly) won by the Liberal Party/National Party Coalition.

This post concerns those gender-related policy positions adopted by the three main players during the campaign: the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Liberal Party/National Party Coalition (LNP), and The Greens.

In another blog post I provide details regarding the relevant positions adopted by some of the minor parties.

Gender issues did not feature amongst the key issues debated during the election campaign. The one specific gender-related issue which was aired was domestic violence. With that in mind, let’s look at what the major parties had to say on that topic:

The Domestic Violence statement provided in the ALP web site can be found here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0

The Domestic Violence statement within the Liberal Party web site is accessible here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 1. That sole mention refers to the contentious ‘Mensline’ counselling service – read more about Mensline here.

The Domestic Violence statement in the National Party web site is here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0

The Greens Domestic Violence Policy is here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0. By way of contrast, the word ‘women’ features 31 times.

None of the major parties have shown any interest in addressing issues that detrimentally affect men and boys. None of them have issued significant statements in support of male victims of domestic violence, nor have they made reference to female perpetration of violence.

The major parties are essentially all in lockstep with the feminist movement, the only area of divergence being the amount of money that each is willing to relegate to/waste on feminist causes.

Amongst the major parties, the Greens offer the most ardently pro-feminist perspective, with the ALP running a close second. It was the Greens, for example, who were the driving force behind the current federal Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality.

The federal budget released by the Government in May 2016 represented the first salvo in the election campaign:

“In this Budget the Government has allocated $100.0 million over three years for Domestic and Family Violence: New Initiatives To Break the Cycle of Violence. This builds on the $101.2 million provided for a Women’s Safety Package announced by the Government in September 2015 (detailed in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Year Outlook 2015–16). This measure will draw on the recommendations of the Third Action Plan (part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22), due for release in mid-2016. [Footnote]” (Source)

Further details of what were proposed and some related background information are provided at:

Domestic and family violence budget review 2016-17
The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0. Again, by way of contrast, the word ‘women’ features 28 times.

Budget Paper No. 2. Part 2 Expense measures. Social Services (See Domestic and Family Violence — new initiatives to break the cycle of violence)

With respect to media coverage, the first relevant item I noticed discussed one particular funding measure announced by the Government … see ‘Family violence legal aid boost of $30 million won’t solve crisis: Lawyers‘ (12 May 2016). As is essentially ‘par for the course’ , the article implies that all victims of domestic violence are female.

The next cab off the rank was the ALP in ‘Federal Election 2016 Campaign: Bill Shorten promises $65 million funding boost to family violence services‘ (14 May 2016)

“Labor will provide funding certainty to frontline family violence organisations if it wins government, Bill Shorten has promised. The Opposition Leader has committed $65 million over six years to ensure 1800 RESPECT, Our Watch and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) can continue their work in tackling family violence.”

Again, each of the major Australian political parties is unambiguously pro-feminist, regardless of how overtly they choose to express it. At this point none of these parties have chosen to raise awareness of, or to provide practical support for, male victims of domestic violence.

During an otherwise tedious and predictable campaign at least Mark Latham entertained via poking pins into feminist/white knight thought bubbles.

Further coverage of gender issues during the campaign:

Feminist group ‘Fair Agenda‘ compiled their own scorecard on how the parties stack up in relation to domestic violence. You can probably guess that their criteria differ from my own.

Here is the election wish-list of another feminist group, the ‘Australian Women Against Violence Alliance‘. They sent me a tweet stating “All victims should have access to support” yet there is no mention of male victims here.

Suicide prevention funding not reaching men says Labor senator (16 June 2016)

Bill Shorten speech launching Labor’s gender equality policy (11 June 2016) Bill uses the word ‘men’ five times versus 55 times in the case of ‘women’. Whilst Australian women get reassurance, support and encouragement, the men get this:

“men who have harmed them and their children”
“men rely on women for childcare”
“childcare remains a responsibility that Australian men too often unfairly leave to Australian women”
“25 per cent of women nominate a lack of childcare as their reason for leaving the workforce. In the case of men, it is 3 per cent.”
“It is primitive and wrong that women are paying the mortgage on houses occupied by men who have harmed them and their children”

The ALP sees providing a myriad of policies to support women whilst providing none to address men’s issues as “gender equality”. But wait, there’s more.

Bill goes on to state that “Australia cannot afford six Liberal years of ‘budgets for blokes’.” Seriously Bill? You mean all that money lavished on the Ministry of Men’s Affairs? Oh wait, there isn’t one is there? In fact all I can see is hundreds of millions poured into organisations like these.

**I challenge Bill or any other ALP politician to add a comment to this post providing examples of current federal budgetary allocations which they feel only benefit “blokes”**

Bill has also promised a hand-out for women’s health. Real men don’t get sick right, mate? {insert gratuitous joke about ‘man-flu’ here}

What might political parties include in their electoral platforms if, you know, they gave a damn about men and boys? In this paper a fellow put forward some ideas in relation to the  2015 UK election.

Female journalists expose barrage of federal election sexist abuse (1 July 2016) With just one example of alleged abuse provided in this and the linked article, and no details provided regarding online abuse of male reporters, it’s hardly convincing case of a campaign of gendered trolling.

Despite the rhetoric, this election fails the feminist test (28 June 2016) The word ‘women’ appears 17 times in this piece by rusted-on feminist Eva Cox (‘men’ = 0 btw). But it’s ok, as we are reassured that “feminist issues are about a better society for all, not just advancing women in a male defined world”. And while feminists want more, they are being offered a veritable buffet compared to the situation for men/boys.

“While both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party have issued women’s policy documents, these are strong on equality rhetoric but short on the continuing gender inequities, instead offering some funding to fix service problems.” What a shame that the dog chewed the corresponding men’s policy documents.

Election 2016: Labor commits $88 million to provide safe houses for domestic violence victims (11 June 2016)

The f-word enters the campaign and trips up both major parties (8 June 2016)

Malcolm Turnbull declares himself a feminist and chokes up over his family history, Turnbull finds it easy to declare himself a feminist, and Grandfather PM talks up the power of girls (6 June 2016)

Australian Brotherhood of Fathers election campaign round-up (2 June 2016)

Gender differences in voting intentions in the current campaign as of 16 May 2016

Gender differences in voting patterns in previous Australian elections

Powerful coalition of women call for both parties to stop their war on women‘ (17 May 2016) The election campaign demands of one feminist organisation (WEL)

Why neither party should ignore gender in this election (13 May 2016)

Domestic violence: Rosie Batty launches Australian election campaign push (5 May 2016)

Finally, a quick glimpse of what’s happening in the U.S Presidential campaign: here and here. This UK article is entitled ‘Why are men’s issues consistently ignored in electoral manifestos?‘  (29 May 2017)

Here is Bill Shorten’s take on domestic violence – notice how much attention he offers re: male victims. (July 2017)

It looks like the 2019 federal campaign may see gender issues given a higher profile, though I suspect purely employing the feminist perspective. Here was the first shot fired … (more details here)

Shorten promises $400 million to boost women’s superannuation (19 September 2018)

Elsewhere in this blog you might also be interested in the following posts:

Partners in alms: A primer on the ‘Domestic Violence Industry’

Australian taxpayer-funded organisations that do little/nothing for men (other than demonising them)

Dealing with mens issues – The current situation in Australia

Sadly, Australian politicians only find the courage to criticise the feminist lobby after they retire

Re-instatement of the Women’s Budget Statement in Australia? Bring it on, but consider men too

In an earlier blog post I briefly examined a number of pro-feminist organisations in Australia, noting (in part) the extent of public funding received by each. My post on the Domestic Violence Industry also identified another substantial sump for both government funding and private donations.

Despite the fact that I only scratched the surface in relation to identifying such organisations, the extent of state and federal funding involved already amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone could tally up all the public funds that are directed towards the welfare of women/girls? And then go through a similar exercise in relation to funding for men/boys. To what extent do you think the two amounts would be comparable?

Well, until 2013 the Australian federal government did something a little similar. It was called the Women’s Budget Statement. I’m not sure why it was terminated, but perhaps it was found that the data it provided was unreliable and/or otherwise unhelpful in comparision to the annual cost of compiling the Statement. Another possibility was that it identified so much expenditure directed towards women that it’s value as a sop to the feminist lobby was eclipsed by the potential it posed for an angry voter backlash.

In Wales (U.K) someone did the maths and found that women’s groups/causes were handed 77 times as much funding as were men’s groups/causes.

By way of background here are some links to historical information concerning the Women’s Budget Statement:

http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/grb_sharpbroomhill_australia_updf_final_copy_copy.pdf

http://www.gender-budgets.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=112

http://apo.org.au/research/budget-2014-15-gender-lens

https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2013/dfh035_13_budget_tagged.pdf (Women’s Budget Highlights as mentioned in this article)

What prompted me to write this post today was the publication of ‘Gender neutral policies are a myth: why we need a women’s budget‘, by academic Miranda Stewart. I would recommend taking a moment now to read that article and the readers comments that follow it (or at least those that were not removed by the moderator).

Miranda thinks that the community would benefit from the re-instatement of the Women’s Budget Statement. The author justifies this gynocentric bias, at least in part, on the existence of the much-discredited gender pay gap. I believe it would be far more equitable and effective (as a policy development tool) if there was one combined document that considered the impact of federal expenditure on both men and women.

Another point of difference between what Miranda has in mind, and what I envisage, relates to the nature of the information provided. Miranda wants to see an assessment of the economic impact, on women, of a wide range of government policies. I am not convinced how accurately such impacts could be assessed, nor to the extent it could be kept free of the gender bias and ideological tweaking that is now rampant across the Australia public service.

I would be satisfied with something simpler, merely a listing of specific programs or allocations that were directed towards (or could be determined to benefit) alternately either boys/men or girls/women. This in itself would be a difficult task, as many such allocations are hidden, for example, deep within departmental budgets.

In other cases, allocations which would appear to be gender-neutral could be determined on closer analysis to strongly favor one gender in relation to the other. An example of this would be funding for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

This suggestion is noted in another article (refer point 5), although I think Claire Moore, Shadow Minister for Women, probably has different priorities in mind.

So where would one make a start on creating such a spreadsheet? Well I’ve already mentioned the various organisations listed in my blog post about misandric agencies. We could expand that initial list by considering each of the members of the Equality Rights Alliance, Australia’s largest network of organisations with an interest in advancing women’s equality. From then on it would be a matter of relentless burrowing through budget papers seeking relevant allocations.

The intention would be to combine the total funding received by each organisation and compare that figure with total annual funding for boys/men’s groups and issues. Although larger in magnitude I imagine that the women’s budget would be somewhat easier to compile given that there are specific ministries and sections with agencies that deal with women’s issues.

I would wager that there is absolutely no chance that the expenditure ratio would match the ratio of males/females in the Australian population, with an overwhelming bias towards the welfare of girls/women.

As an aside bear in mind that men, both individually and through the corporate entities they own, contribute far more than 50% of the government’s income. Click across to this blog post and scroll down to ‘taxation’ to see some relevant sources. Would it not be more equitable if the default setting was that half of government expenditure was subsequently utilised to support the interests/welfare of men and boys?

I believe that such a process of financial analysis would not only identify a massive and inequitable gendered imbalance in government funding, but it would also identify enormous waste and duplication. I wonder just how many indulgences like this are out there waiting to be uncovered?

If I am correct and there is a substantial favouring of females over males, how can this be justified? Barring the absence of incontrovertible evidence of overwhelmingly greater need, across the board, this would be indicative of neither gender equality nor prudent governance.

Certainly priority should be given to the area/s of greatest genuine need. And of course there will be areas where women’s needs are greater than mens (and vice versa). Thus note that I am not suggesting for a moment that one would seek to religiously apply a 50% split to every government program in Australia.

But humour me and suppose that a detailed and objective analysis did find that vastly more support was accorded to women/girls across all of government? And that meanwhile funding was urgently required to meet the demonstrated needs of men/boys?

Let’s find out. Otherwise, sorry, not good enough. Not by a long shot.

See also:

How the Australian Budget process is failing women (2 April 2019). Apparently we need “Gender responsive budgeting” and “women’s economic needs demand more frequent and intense intervention”. Yes, and for men/boys … oh, let’s not go there right?

Women’s Economic Security Statement (19 November 2018)

“A priority for the Australian Government is to create the right economic settings for women to help them participate in work, increase their economic security and give them meaningful choices about their lives.”

The Queensland government produced a Women’s Budget Statement (6 July 2017)

Women’s group call for gender aware budget (22 May 2017) Australia. They are not calling for a “gender aware budget”, they are calling for a female-aware budget … no mention whatsoever is made of looking at the impact of the budget on men. More of the same here and here.

Gender Lens on the Budget 2017/18 (undated) Australia. We need something like this to look at the impact of the budget on men (shame this one didn’t address both genders)

Interview with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop (24 January 2017) The financial analysis I spoke of earlier would need to encompass foreign aid, which is increasingly gender-focused towards women/girls.

Only men pay taxes (8 October 2016) Video. On the issue of the gendered impact of the current taxation regime see also this blog post

Research finds that as a group, only men pay tax (8 September 2016) Wouldn’t it be interesting to run a rigorous financial analysis here in Australia to see if the same pattern was evident?

Despite the rhetoric, this election fails the feminist test (28 June 2016), by Eva Cox

Women left behind by a budget that does little to redress inequality, by Eva Cox (5 May 2016) Well if women were left behind in the Budget Eva, what say you about men and their issues?

The Distribution of Income and Fiscal Incidence by Age and Gender: Some Evidence from New Zealand (2013)