Back in ye olde post about the Australian Sex Party’s policies, I noted that one of the policies was to overturn restrictions on aid to overseas family planning organisations that reference abortion and remarked that I understood that they had already been overturned. Given that it was odd that a policy would exist to overturn something that had already been overturned, I decided to write an e-mail to them to ask if my understanding was incorrect.
This is a big deal, by the way, because I generally worry about people who write to political parties. They’re even worse than the people who write to the newspapers. ‘You should write to the Prime Minister’ is never uttered by a reasonable and rational person.
What was even weirder was that instead of the ‘Thank you for your letter. Your letter is important to us. We have taken note of your letter. Here is a link to our website. Good day’ response I was expecting, I got some answers. It was even more awesome because I admitted in the e-mail that I couldn’t vote for them (no candidates in the ACT) and that I was probably the exact opposite of their target demographic.
I also asked if I could put the answers up, so here they are:
Me: ‘On the policy page, the Australian Sex Party says that it wants to ‘[o]verturn restrictions on aid to overseas family planning organisations that reference abortion.’ The website for the Minister for Foreign Affairs suggests that there aren’t any restrictions. Am I looking in the wrong place?’
ASP: We are currently in the process of reviewing (and fleshing out) all of our policies. This will be one of the first policies to get an overhaul.
There was a 13 year ban on any overseas development funding being used for activities that involved the termination of a pregnancy (introduced by the Howard govt in a deal with former Tas independent Senator Brian Harradine.)
This ban was lifted in march 2009. However in announcing the lifting of this ban the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith did say ‘Australian aid funding would still focus on avoiding abortions’
Australian and international NGOs continue to be able to choose what services they deliver in line with their philosophies and policies. So while a termination may be legal in a particular country the NGO providing health care in that region may refuse to provide that as an option.
Me: The policies seem particularly interested in protection of children from exploitation due to sexualisation. The Australian Sex Party puts the focus on education campaigns — which is reasonable and sensible. At the same time, it doesn’t recommend putting restrictions on the market place to restrict private companies from creating a demand for the sexualisation of children. At what point does tastelessness become unacceptable in society?
ASP: There are strong laws currently in place to protect children from exploitation and sexualisation. We believe that educating people about these laws and enforcing these laws are much more important than implementing regulations that determine what one should or should not find tasteless/ unacceptable.
For example some parents find ‘Bratz dolls’ unacceptable and charge them with sexualising young girls. Others dont. Who are we to determine who is correct? It is up to parents to make their own judgements.
Me: Do you have policies particularly to help prevent the exploitation of women in the sex industry? Is it unreasonable to believe that — if the regulatory frameworks regarding pornography and the sex industry were relaxed — an improvement of the protection frameworks for women in those industries would be required?
ASP: If the production of x-rated material and prostitution were legalised throughout Australia, I dont believe you would see a relaxation in regulation – quite the opposite. If sex work was legalised it could then be regulated and work places from which sex workers operated would be obliged to function under OH&S standards applicable to the industry.
Me: If a person happened to live in a territory without a candidate from the Australian Sex Party but thought that the ASP represented their best interests, what could that person do to help the party?
ASP: I would be happy to send you some flyers or stickers that you could pass on to other interested people. You could make a donation (big or small) which would really help. And just by blogging about us you are helping to spread the word about the Sex Party – we really appreciate that!
It’s interesting about the ‘Bratz dolls’ thing because my intuitive response is to think that they ought to be removed from the marketplace. The market doesn’t respond to social reaction; it counterfeits it. Similarly, marketing skimpy clothing to prepubescents creates a demand. At the same time, educating children about self respect and the legal frameworks which protect them from exploitation would probably do more to get those products off the shelf than banning them.
Anyway, I thought getting an answer to the questions I sent was fairly epic but it got better. The person responding to my e-mail also went and read at least part of my original post. Regarding my initial reaction to the name of the Australian Sex Party, the Party responded:
Firstly I notice on the piece you wrote about us you mention you thought that we weren’t named well. To be honest we get a lot of questions about why we decided on that name. We did think long and hard about the name ‘The Australian Sex Party’ and one of the reasons we chose it was because we didnt want to hide where we originated from. The Sex Party grew out of the Eros Association which is the national association and lobby group for the adult retail industry. We didn’t want to hide behind any euphemisms (you know… like Family First!).
We were also advised by the late Don Chipp (who was a mentor to our president, Fiona Patten) that the hardest thing a small political party had to overcome was being ignored. With our name we get a lot more media than if we were called the ‘Australian Civil Liberties Party’ or some such thing. In fact I believe that even factored into our recent debate on Sunrise with Family First – do you think we would have been invited if we weren’t called the Sex party?
Okay, now begins Operation: Convince Victorian Friends and Family…