In another post in this blog I mention the fact that there are scarcely any individual politicians in Australia, let alone political parties, that are prepared to move out of lockstep with the feminist lobby.
Also in another blog post I briefly discuss the position of the major parties on feminism and men’s rights, in the context of the 2016 Australian federal election.
In this current blog post I thought it might be interesting to put this question to some of the smaller parties. First up we hear from Senator Bob Day of the Family First Party:
“Subject: Your party’s position on feminism vs mens issues
Good morning. I would be interested to learn about the position of family first concerning the influence of feminist ideology in Australia, and
particularly in the political sphere and public service. I would also be interested to learn if FF has a position in relation to one or more of the men’s issues as nominated and discussed in my blog at www.fighting4fair.com.
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you in due course”
Response received on 10 June 2015:
“Thank you for your email to Senator Day regarding Family First’s position on feminism. Feminism has brought about social change, improved treatment & representation of women and improved productivity. These gains are now considered commonplace factors in everyday Australian life. Our focus as a modern political party is on the question of family and how that basic foundational institution in society can be encouraged, supported and protected from harm and government excesses of power.
Family First supports the role of the family as the foundation for Australian society, and acknowledges that male and female are complimentary, each able to make valuable contributions to the community. We encourage you to visit Senator Day’s website: www.senatorbobday.com.au or Family First’s website www.familyfirst.org.au for further information.
Your blog www.fighting4fair.com discusses many different issues with a common theme being the role of male and female within the family sphere (domestic violence, legal custody battles, or matters pertaining to parenting in general). Regarding this matter, Family First supports the traditional family and whatever can be done to ensure that families with children stay together. The sad reality today is that many relationships fail, and then there are public policy questions about dealing with the breakdown. Thankfully, throughout the Australian community there are in the majority of cases accepted norms about how child access and support is resolved after separation.
A great many families resolve their post-breakdown arrangements without resort to lawyers, violence or alienation of a parent from their child or children. Often they do so to put the children first, and the parents’ disputes second. Regrettably, in some cases the breakdown is so acrimonious that violence and/or alienation of a parent occurs. Moves in recent times to exclude lawyers and prefer mediation at the first opportunity have been welcome shifts away from adversarial resolution of post-breakdown child support and access questions, towards an approach that focusses on what is agreed between the parents.
Family First supports a child having the involvement of a father and mother in their life. Studies show this is vital to their healthy development. However, it must be stressed that there are exemptions to this position. Modern society now has a myriad of social problems, from drug, alcohol and other substance abuse; to domestic violence; to child physical and/or sexual abuse. Mental health of children and/or parents is also a major factor in family breakdown. Children must be protected from situations that might expose them to harm. The court system is so overwhelmed with allegations of this behaviour that it is rare that it gets to the bottom of those allegations.
The handling of family breakdown is further complicated by yet another example of state and federal jurisdictional ambiguity. States and territories are responsible for laws concerning child protection and domestic violence, whereas federal law regulates child support and family law concerning post-breakdown child access and distribution of property. At times the two areas do not connect properly with one another, at times – for instance – seeing at-risk children ordered by a federal court to go to a parent who may place those children at risk of harm.
Senator Day appreciates that you have written to him about a current issue that concerns you. The Senator has been elected as a Family First Senator for South Australia on a platform of “Every family, a job and a house”. This is a massive task which promotes independence and self-reliance, reducing the need for government intervention. This leads to smaller government, lower taxes and therefore more money in the pockets of families. Senator Day therefore has a limited capacity to advocate for (a) issues outside of his State or (b) policy priorities beyond that focus. Having said that, Senator Day has indicated above what he has to say about the issues that you have raised.”
Next I sought to profile the Liberal Democratic Party, but they did not reply to my emailed invitation to put forward their views on the issues discussed in this blog. I did however note this reddit discussion thread regarding their platform, and this article in which Bill Shorten attacks Senator David Leyonhjelm regarding his views in relation to broadasting women’s sport. It is encouraging that Senator Leyonhjelm has since written some articles in support of a gender-neutral approach to domestic violence, such as this one. In May 2017, Mark Latham announced that he intends to join the LDP.
I then approached Australian Liberty Alliance regarding their position, and they responded:
“We don’t have a policy on every issue, for this our first campaign we are concentrating on our 20 core policies. Please see Q4 from our FAQ.
I approached Nick Xenophon Team and await their response. Their policy position on family violence appears gender-neutral, which is a positive sign.
Another federal parliamentarian, Bob Katter (Katter’s Australian Party) has previously expressed concern regarding anti-male bias within the family court system.
I also approached the Glenn Lazarus Team for comment (also nil response). The Team appears to have just one gender-related policy, which relates to removing the GST on women’s sanitary products:
“The Glenn Lazarus Team believes women should not be penalised financially for the need to purchase essential items such as tampons and sanitary napkins, and all women should have access to these basic sanitary items during times of difficulty and hardship. Sanitary items are essential products for women and must be GST free.” (Source)
On that note, perhaps the most positive thing to emerge from the 2016 election campaign was the success of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. This article appeared during the campaign: ‘Pauline Hanson claims women make frivolous DV complaints‘, with the party’s actual policy available here.
Immediately following the election we were treated to two click-bait article attacking both Pauline and advocates for men’s issues generally. In both cases the majority of readers comments were at odds with the biased views of the writers.
The first was entitled ‘How ‘angry man’ vote resurrected Pauline Hanson‘ (news.com.au). Apparently from this journalist’s perspective, when the major parties focus exclusively on women’s issues, that’s gender equality. In contrast, when One Nation proposes to address men’s issues, that’s indicative of a “blokes’ show“. Psst, Malcolm Farr, your feminism is showing.
A subsequent article, ‘Even for Pauline Hanson, doing the bidding of mean men is risky’, was from feminist journalist Wendy Tuohy. This very negative and scare-mongering offering paints Pauline as a foolish ingénue toying with drooling sociopaths (otherwise known as people seeking to have men’s issues properly acknowledged and addressed).
I had to laugh when I read this article in The Conversation where the academic author states – presumably not tongue-in-cheek – that for Pauline Hanson and the “paranoid right“, “the normal rules of political engagement – coherence, consistency, fact, logic, proportion – do not apply“. That which is “normal” for feminists and the regressive left? I’m thinking D-e-l-u-s-i-o-n-a-l
(Postscript: February 2017) Pauline Hanson has proposed mandatory pre-nuptial agreements as a means to reducing backlogs in the Family Court system.
An interesting development across the water in New Zealand, where David Seymour of the ACT Party is ruffling a few feminist feathers with his proposal to introduce a Minister for Men, discussed in more detail here.
In this paper a fellow put forward some ideas for consideration by political parties in relation to the 2015 UK election … these are also useful thought-starters for Australian political parties.