Sunday, October 6, 2013

Three Years of Conservative Rule

It Looks Like Australia Has Taken A Step Backwards

The federal election has been and gone and the conservative Australian Liberal Party (yeah I know, it doesn't make sense) is in power. Prime Minister Abbott has created his new cabinet containing one women. We have no Minister (Secretary) for Science and the make up of Ministers is more Catholic than at any time in Australian political history.

When you add all these things together, it has pushed marriage equality back 10 years. I also feel sorry for the science community. Abbott has abolished the government climate change board, they've since decided to remain active and are now surviving on public donations instead of tax payer funds. 

The upside with politics in Australia is that the whole exercise took place without any violence, the changing of the government is a peaceful process. The Honourable Quentin Bryce - Governor General of Australia swore in the new government

As Australia's 28th prime minister, Tony Abbott has promised not to pull out any crazy moves,
so it was fitting he wore his customary blue tie and his regulation suit.

What's Next?

Well, I think that's anyone's guess. Life appears to be much the same, I'd argue that it rarely changes when government change because in reality they're so hard to differentiate from a policy point of view.

Given the Prime Minister's sister is gay, we at least have a "friend" on the inside who has the ear of the Prime Minister. Will that help? Well I suppose it can't hurt.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Election Time in Australia

Where does the time go?

I haven't blogged since March! That's not entirely true, I blog at my personal work related blog and I also blog for work! The past few months have been eventful, my partner and I are looking to buy an apartment, we found a really nice one on the south side of Sydney about three stops from the airport. It's still under construction and we can't move in until the first quarter of 2015. While that feels like forever away, it's not really.

I changed jobs in June, I'm now working for an Oracle reseller - we sell and implement Eloqua a marketing automation platform. I'm loving it, I'm consulting with clients and building our own digital marketing campaigns. I geek out when ever I get to look at the campaign stats, it's fun.

Election Time

Australia heads to the polls this time next week. The battle is essentially between the conservative Liberal Party (Republicans) and the more left leaning Labour Party (Democrats). However compared to both US parties, the Australian parties are both left leaning.

The marriage equality debate has come up and there are groups doing their best to ensure it stays on the agenda, but I don't see it playing a big issue in this election. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has come out saying he's supportive of marriage equality, the first sitting Prime Minister to take that position.

How Will I Vote?

While I might say I'm really not sure, I think I've made my mind up. I should confess I've voted Liberal most of my life, however that's changed over the past few years. About five years ago I lived in Dayton, OH for six months. While living there I would catch up with the VP of sales of the company I was consulting to.

We had great conversations, always about the things you should never discuss - religion, politics and sport. The VP was Jewish, a great guy and very open minded, so the conversations were excellent.

The night of our last dinner/catch up he told me that while I may have presented myself as a Republican (in US terms), he felt that I was more so a fiscally conservative social democrat. I liked that, it made sense. I could wear that badge.

So in Australia, that would translate to me voting Labour. Although some may disagree with the dots I've joined to reach that conclusion. The main issue for me is that the Australian Liberal Party's social polices are so draconian and offensive, it leaves me no choice but to vote Labour.

Let's See What Happens

I'm reasonably certain the Liberal Party will win this election, current polling suggests as much. Will this throw Australian back 20 years from a social policy point of view? Perhaps. There is a glimpse of hope that in the marriage equality area the Liberal Party will allow a conscious vote, however to date they've said they will not.

Tony Abbott's (possibly new Prime Minister next week) sister is gay, Christine Forster. Forster was reported* as saying:

"Tony Abbott's sister has revealed that the Opposition Leader felt "conflicted" about voting in Parliament against marriage equality last year. 
Speaking on the ABC's , Christine Forster, who is gay, said her brother's view that marriage is only between a man and a woman is slowly "shifting". 
"There's been a significant shift in how he approaches this whole question," she said."

So, we'll see what happens.

*SOURCE: Yahoo7 News

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sport, Bullying and the Gay Community

Bendigo City Councillor Leach

This past week, Local Government Councillor Leach from Bendigo in Victoria caused a stir when she wrote a letter to the Editor of the Herald Sun (Melbourne) newspaper. 

In the letter, Cr Leach says “we don’t want issues such as homosexuality, or any sexuality, thrusted in our faces in the name of anti-bullying”.“We won’t be attending any more games. Gay pride! What rubbish!”, it says.*
It seemed to me that she probably doesn't have any gay friends, but the article goes onto quote her as saying “I am not homophobic. I know lots of gay people.” In my usual zeal, I thought I need to email this women and let her now how I feel. I decided to temper my remarks and perhaps share with her some ideas that perhaps she hadn't considered or perhaps wasn't aware of. 

My email to her is below.

Good Morning Councillor Leach, 
It seems your letter to the editor of the Herald Sun has stirred a bit of a "cufuffle" (never sure how to spell that). 
I appreciate and understand your point and I can't help but feel perhaps it's been taken out context as tends to happen, especially around the issue of anything "gay". I think your point is valid, politics doesn't belong in sport nor should it be used as a platform to forward any political view. 
At the same time, I appreciate and understand why some in the AFL feel the way they do. Football, by its nature, is a very 'blokey' domain and one that has had a homophobic undertone for many years. Ben Cohen, the great UK footballer has a a charity he started called "Stand Up Against Bullying". Click Here to visit his facebook page. 
Ben is a great advocate for the underdog, the persecuted and the down trodden. He, his wife and their gorgeous kids are very involved in getting a very positive message out there that bullying in any form is a bad thing. Is this a political message? I don't think so. Ben is also very involved with the gay community and goes to great lengths to support various gay community events and to raise awareness in the community as a whole. 
I think there is space for Australian football bodies to do the same thing. It seems difficult to detach politics from the "gay" issue, possibly because of the gay marriage debate which some would argue is not political, but a basic human right.  
I'm also sensitive to young people who may be questioning their own sexuality, especially when they see negative news items about the gay community. They're young and inexperienced about things of the world and it can contribute to them feeling that they're being attacked personally. I'm sure you're aware of the rates of teenage suicide and the increased levels of such in the gay community, a tragedy for sure. 
Councillor Leach, you were quoted as saying that you have "many gay friends". This puts you in a unique position where you hold a local government political post and are in touch with a group within the community who can feel marginalised because of who they are.  
All the best to you, I hope the press doesn't go to hard at misrepresenting your comments. 

So, you might think I went a bit soft on her, I think I did too. However, sending her an email with me ranting would probably have been deleted long before she got past my greeting. I'm hoping that perhaps something I said here will help her see that there is a role, a really positive role for sports people to play in the anti-bullying, anti-homophobic debate.

Have You Engaged Local Politicians on the Anti-Bullying topic?

*SOURCE: The Weekly City Review