A New Year, a fresh start for politics? We can only hope so.
We checked in with a number of women who’re highly engaged in Australian politics, especially via the #auspol community, to learn their political hopes for 2018.
Emeritus Professor Jane Goodall, PhD candidate Vic Rollison, activist Louise Hislop, Social policy analyst Marie Coleman, and founder of Mediascope and Peggy’s List Denise Shrivell (pictured above), all share their hopes for the year ahead below.
For more from active women in the #Auspol community (one of the most frequently used hashtags in the world), check out our recent piece on why women should care about politics.
A couple of years ago I moved to Canberra, and since I now live ten minutes away from Parliament House, I’ve taken to scooting down there every so often to watch Question Time. Oh boy. Of course can watch it on television, but there’s something about seeing such displays of primary school behaviour live and in the flesh that wakes you up to a certain reality.
Granted, it has its moments, like the sudden outburst of genuine and bipartisan elation at the passing of the marriage equality legislation, but for the most part it veers between boring-as-batshit and batshit crazy. Certain images are burnt on my mind: Malcolm Turnbull, hands on hips like some bad actor in a court drama, turning this way and that as he lectures the opposition on ‘Economics 101.’ Scott Morrison bobbing up and down repeating the mantra ‘jobs and growth’ with ever increasing fury and fervor.
Are these really the people we have elected to run our country?
I hope next year brings an early election, and we get better people.
But we will never get better people if the voters don’t learn how to vote for them – or at least, how not to vote for the clowns and con artists who have been running the show since the oligarchs behind neoliberalism discovered that, if you pump enough dollars into the propaganda machine and monopolise the media, you can fool most of the people pretty much all of the time.
Let’s get this straight. Right wing neoliberal governments – the Coalition, in our case – do not make better economic managers. On almost every indicator, they are utter failures. They increase the national debt, erode the tax base, depress the retail sector, increase unemployment figures and homelessness, and decrease the rate of home ownership. Under a neoliberal economy, workers have poorly paid, insecure jobs and lose their rights. Small businesses become franchises and go to the wall. Suppliers to big corporate supermarkets are screwed into the ground. Farmers get their water supply syphoned off by rogue irrigators or their land ruined by fracking. It goes on.
‘It’s the economy, stupid,’ was Bill Clinton’s rallying cry. But now it’s the Stupid Economy. I want the public to wake up to that. I want these guys voted out of office, but more than that, I want them drummed out of town.
Marie Coleman AO PSM – @MarieCo92176893 – Marie is a social policy analyst and has been synonymous with the Australian women’s movement for the past 60 years. She was a founding member of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW).
The year in public policy staggers to its conclusion, the Government still with little margin in the House of Representatives, and in a minority in a Senate with rapidly changing personnel.
The Mid Year Economic and Financial Outlook (MYEFO) was positive, in so far as it suggested that the rate of growth of public debt is projected to slow, and revenue will increase, mainly because of improvements in the price of iron ore, while more jobs have been created almost exclusively due to public investment in construction and in publicly funded sectors such as health (NDIS). Wages remain stagnant while company profits improve to some degree – but retailers are apprehensive. Indigenous Australia is profoundly offended. Australians continue to worry about our treatment of claimants for refuge whom we have placed on Nauru and Manus Islands
My 2018 aspirations? Political stability, sensible Budget, serious Government, initiatives responding to the inter-related matters of the Royal Commission on Child Abuse and repairs to the National Strategy on Violence against Women and Children.
Perhaps also some attention to equal pay issues and superannuation for women. Some innovative thinking about a response to the changing nature of work, and real public consultation. Serious bi-partisan efforts to work with indigenous Australia (all of the multiple voices) to work out an honourable way forward.
But my 2018 expectations are different. I’m expecting continued partisan squabbling over S44 constitutional fallout — something about which the electorate really could care less,. Further instability, with potentially six Coalition and four Opposition members before the High Court, and on-going partisan bickering around energy policy. Continued bi-partisan punitive attitudes toward refugees. Continued Government failure to develop integrated suites of policies on women, work and equity; and more platitudes about violence.
Time then to draw a deep breath and to remember that it is still a beautiful world.
Louise Hislop – @Louise_Hislop – is a political activist in Warringah & was instrumental in James Mathison’s independent campaign in the last general election –
I’ve learnt, like most of Australia, to curb my hopes when it comes to politics.
At a time when many of us are crying out for leadership yet climate change barely gets a mention, and when we fail to treat desperate asylum seekers humanely, and the Prime Minister goes on national television and talks about the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ and you get the sense after watching him that HE has no heart, do I dare speak of hope?
When the water our lives depend upon is the subject of allegations of theft and government corruption, and the traditional lands of the Wangan and Jagalingou people in North Queensland are under threat from the world’s largest coal mine, which in turn threatens the health of the Great Barrier Reef and planet Earth, how can I have hope for 2018?
Did you know Peter Dutton, a person with little regard for human rights, and a very wobbly relationship with the concept of truth, is set to become the head of a super ministry? It will include the agencies of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, Border Force and more. Is any Australian comfortable with that?
Meanwhile, the major parties are busy trying to maintain their positions in the wake of dual citizenship court cases and by-elections, while simultaneously trying to downplay the role foreign donations play in their policies.
And yet, ever the optimist, I have hope.
You see, I live in Warringah and where there is a beach, there is hope: hope that, in the very likely scenario of a federal election in 2018, that our ever-popular local MP: the bushfire-fighting, surf life-saving, charity-cycling, raw-onion-eating, all-round average bloke; famous for missing key votes in parliament due to drunkenness and wanting to knight Prince Phillip, may not get the local support he is accustomed to next time.
The same sex marriage postal survey has invigorated the people of Warringah, and we are waking up to the fact that this man, who travels the world on our taxpayer dollar, espousing extremist Christian and climate-change-denying views, does not represent us. We can see that his wrecking, sniping and undermining of our duly elected PM (despite a promise that he definitely wouldn’t do that) has been instrumental in preventing Malcolm Turnbull from being the leader many of us hoped he would be.
I believe many people who voted for Abbott last time were responding to the last-minute texts, robocalls and personally addressed letters sent to us by Malcolm
Turnbull himself. Malcolm asked us to vote for stability.
I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that he won’t be making that mistake again.
There’s always hope!
There are many political gifts I hope for in 2018. Trump gone. Turnbull gone, replaced with a Shorten Labor government who can get on with the job of fixing the Australian economy so it works for everyone, not just Turnbull’s rich mates. A trade union movement which continues its bold charge towards renewal, brushing off decades of anti-union political abuse by neoliberal governments, emboldening workers to stand up for ourselves, to reverse attacks to working rights and wages.
Related to all of this is the hope that the Australian community can awaken to the understanding of the blatant choice between right wing and left wing governments. I am sick and tired of hearing people say Liberal and Labor ‘are just the same’. This is lazy, unhelpful thinking which misrepresents the gulf between the rules the Liberals advance to run the country, versus the rules a Labor government would reinstate or change, which bring about a completely different result for the community.
In a nutshell, Labor want to proactively tackle inequality in all its forms – wealth, income, health, education, environment, access to opportunity and so forth, whereas the Liberals resist any such proactivity, and undo it whenever they have a chance.
Part of the reason the public are mostly uninformed about this contrasting electoral choice is because the political media do not make this choice clear. Politics, instead of being reported as a choice between apples and oranges, is instead treated like a race between two very similar horses, with the way they run more keenly commentated than the consequences of their differences.
I know I’m not going to get everything I want; as Tony Judt says, ‘Incremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for’. So, if I can only have one thing, please let it be that I stop hearing people bemoan the lack of choice between the major parties, and instead see more discussion of how the ideological world views of the opposing camps impact the lives of all Australians in practical, life-altering ways. I don’t think that’s too much to wish for.
Denise Shrivell – @deniseshrivell – is the founder of MediaScope & Peggy’s List as well as a rising political activist.
2017 has not been easy for anyone with an active interest in politics. It’s truly been extraordinary, turbulent, intense, anxiety-ridden, compelling and at times feelings of hopelessness have struck anyone following #auspol here in Australia and of course politics overseas.
So my political hope for 2018 is actually for just that – hope. Let me explain…
In the past years we’ve seen a rise in a combative, extreme style of politics and political rhetoric where some have built their profiles by attacking political opponents and falsely putting blame on minorities in our community for their increasing economic & social hardships. All while largely ignoring the real reasons for these hardships being our Government’s regressive and conservative neo-Liberal policy agenda. This impacts people’s lives through issues such as growing underemployment, rising household debt, zero wages growth and Australia’s rising half a trillion $ debt. There is also resistance progressive issues such as Renewable energy, The Republic, Indigenous Recognition and Marriage Equality.
A dominant mainstream conservative media (and an under pressure ABC) has increasingly been unable (or won’t) hold Government to account. With media business models now largely based on volume, instead of careful and objective examination of policy, it now functions on opinion (often bias), sensation, division, gotcha and clickbait. The role of the 4th Estate in our functioning democracy is frankly broken.
In short, with a regressive conservative Government we need to actively fight for every step forward – and with a dominant conservative mainstream media we have to go elsewhere to find truth and perspective.
Just in 2017, we saw:
- The unnecessary, expensive marriage equality postal survey saw people engage in an issue – with 100,000 new people (mostly young) joining the electoral role. Keeping this cohort of progressive voters engaged and energised is key.
- In the recent QLD State election – despite massive mainstream media support – Pauline Hanson’s extreme-conservative One Nation Party won just 1 seat. Many commentators and pollsters were forecasting 7 seats and the balance of power.
- Annastacia Palaszczuk ’s ALP party won the QLD State election going against clear and often unrelenting mainstream media endorsement and bias shown for her competitor.
- In the US, Trump-endorsed extreme alt-right congressman, Roy Moore lost to a more progressive candidate right in the Trump heartland state of Alabama.