An Open Letter to Tony Abbott

Honourable Leader of the Opposition,

Just this weekend, you said to Australia that “Your opinion matters”. If this is true, then I would like to share my opinion (which happens to be held by the majority of the Australian Public) with you, on the topic of Marriage Equality.

All Australians in our great nation are of equal value. All Australians should have access to the same legal institutions, irrespective of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. The list of legal institutions where discrimination is still permissible is growing smaller, yet we are denied access to one of our culturally defining institutions – that of marriage. All, and only, because we love someone of the wrong gender. Or at least, wrong according to the parliament.

Australian politicians move further and further away from being relatable, from even being seen as of the same breed as Australians who do not take up the mantle of leadership. This attitude of irrelevance stems from situations where our representatives’ values, opinions, or votes, are out of step with what we as the represented believe. A case in point is my electorate. The Member for Brisbane, Teresa Gambaro (LIB), who voted against Marriage Equality after her own surveys showed 73% of her electorate were in favour of marriage equality – particularly disconcerting after a maiden speech in which she promises to listen to and represent her electorate’s views.

Do the right thing and work against discrimination. Help make your party relevant to Australians again. Aspire to and display the liberal ideal that what individuals do, provided they do not hurt others, should not be interfered with by government.

Set the Liberal Party platform to a “Yes” on Marriage Equality, or at least permit a conscience vote.
Yours Sincerely, 
Dylan Carmichael

Advertisements

Jimbo Wallace – warped again

Jim Wallace was on The Project (Seg 1: Headlines, 6:00) on the 16th of January to justify Prime Minister Gillard’s stance on Anti-Discrimination Legislation, specifically the blanket exemption for religious organisation.  Religious organisations will have the ability to fire unwed mothers, and gay people.

Wallace tells us that Gillard has assured the ACL that “Gillard has assured that religious institutes will still be able to discriminate based on sexuality, this means schools and hospitals will be entitled to fire/refuse to hire members of the LGBT community.” (OutInPerth, 17 Jan 2013)

Gillard’s spokespeople have neither confirmed nor denied this, simply stated that “we don’t comment on discussions with stakeholders.

It will come as no surprise to any of my readers that I consider Jim Wallace to be a vile man and a disgrace to Christians everywhere.  I also believe that he single-handedly does more damage to the reputation of Christianity than any other Australian figure (Though Cardinal Bishop Pell is close).

Aaaaaaanyway… during his interview he makes a few statements and I don’t think one of them is actually unassailable.

For those too busy to read the whole thing, there’s a “What can I do” section at the end.

Christian Values

Gorgi Coghlan: “Why should you have the right to fire a receptionist who uses IVF or a cleaner who lives with his girlfriend?”

Wallace: “When the church goes into the public square… it’s trying to demonstrate the values and ethics of Christ.”

The values and ethics of Christ.  The same Christ who spoke out so harshly against the pharisees?  The same Christ who purposely associated with the outcasts, the poor, and those who were discriminated against in Jewish society?  I have news for you Jimbo, you are in the public square, and it is you who is failing to show the values and ethics of Christ.

We don’t try to get employed by you…

Dr Andrew Rochford: “One of those wonderful values that I took away from Catholic Schooling was do unto others as you would do unto yourself … Surely you wouldn’t want to be discriminated against, so why is it OK for you guys to discriminate – against anyone?”

Wallace: “Well, I don’t think anyone is. All we’re trying to achieve is the same as every politician in Australia has, in that they’re not required, if they’re a Labor MP to actually hire someone who’s a card carrying member of the Liberal Party as their chief of staff.  And I certainly don’t try to get myself employed, and I’m not aware of any Christians trying to be employed in gay bars or gay institutions, and I would expect that the gay population should be extending that same privilege, same courtesy to Christians”

Can you just hear my head spinning?

There’s some dissection required here.  I’m going to leave the Politician statement for a moment, because they go further in depth in the next question. But there are a few flaws in that second statement.

The False Dichotomy:

Where you say things are one or the other, not both.  Wallace clearly believes that you are either gay, or Christian, but never both.  He is wrong.  In fact, The Project very recently did a story on Gay Christians, and I know quite a number of Gay Christians personally.

The Argument From Ignorance:

Also known by the saying that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” – an accusation that the church levels at atheists from time to time, so I would’ve thought Jim would have been familiar with it, but I digress – Just because Jim doesn’t personally know of any Christians trying to be employed by gay institutions, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Christians employed by gay institutions.

The biggest problem with this argument is that all it takes is one person with a single data point to refute it. For example, I know a straight Christian man who is occasionally a presenter on JOY.FM – a gay radio station.  I have a Christian friend who was on the board of Working It Out Inc, a GLBTI organisation aimed at helping people accept their sexual orientation or gender diversity.  And those are two examples I can think of in the space of five minutes without any serious brain-wracking.

The False Analogy:

This is a fallacy where you take two things that are not the same and treat them as if they are.  Wallace supplies a fantastic example by suggesting that Faith-based employers and gay institutions are the same.  They aren’t.

Christian employers are some of the largest organisations in the country – They operate nursing homes, schools, employment agencies, foster care and adoption services, emergency housing, and more, all with surprisingly little oversight on how monies given to them by the government are spent.  Gay institutions are typically small, very focussed, and subject to outcomes-based funding.

If you are considering going into aged care, for example you have almost no choice but to apply with faith-based organisations.  And the same with a lot of social services.  Show me a scenario where to work in a certain industry, you almost have to be employed by a “gay institution”.  I have a vague notion that a drag queen might find it difficult, but that’s about it…

And under the new legislation, gay institutions would not be eligible to discriminate against the Christian anyway – so is he advocating that we should be able to do so?

But we don’t know it’s not a choice…

Gorgi Coghlan: “Jim, when you talk about political affiliation… If I vote Greens, it’s because I choose to vote Greens, if I vote Liberals, it’s because I choose to vote Liberals but if I’m gay that’s not a choice, so is this really fair?”

Wallace: “Well that’s arguable because we haven’t really found a gay gene.  But without opening that up, I think the reality is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights actually protects as a fundamental freedom, freedom of religion.  And amongst that is for instance in the situation of schools the right to come together in community and educate your children in the faith.  And that involves creating the environment for that.”

We haven’t found a single “gay gene” – he is correct.  But there are links between genes for female fertility and increased incidence of homosexuality, as well as connections between finger-length and sexuality.  We also have the environment in the womb and a few other factors that have been identified as increasing the likelihood of homosexuality. The American Psychological Association says that “Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

As for his reference to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he is referring to Article 18.

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

Article 26 states “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Article 26 would surely be a clause under which 18.3 is invoked.  And I do not believe that Religious Schooling was what was in mind for Article 18 regardless.  “Manifesting your religion in teaching” would, I believe, refer to teachings of doctrine from the pulpit, not the teaching of a general curriculum with a Christian bent.  Wallace has combined sections 1 and 4 to come to his statement.  To ensure the freedom to come together in community is to ensure the freedom to gather as a church would gather and section 4 says that you have the right to impart to your child the values and beliefs that you want to.  I do not believe that if Jim took a case to the Human Rights Commission based on his stated interpretation, it would succeed.

The fundamental freedom to practice religion ends when you impinge on my fundamental right to not be discriminated against.

Lets not talk about the help…

Charlie Pickering: “You say lets not open up that debate about choosing sexuality, but in essence we have to, in essence you’re picking and choosing on what grounds you get to discriminate against someone when it really doesn’t matter.  I’m curious to know how a gay person working at a high school answers the phone any differently to a straight person”

Wallace: “You always reduce it to the lowest common denominator – the receptionist or the gardener, but we’re talking her more fundamentally about the teachers and what they teach the children, we’re talking about the example that they set for children in their moral lives and for a Christian school for instance, it’s a very important issue”

That could be because you’re fighting for the ability to fire receptionists, gardeners, nurses in aged care facilities as well as teachers… Tell me why your exemption isn’t just for schools, or teachers in schools if that is your concern – why keep the blanket for employment agencies, aged care facilities, and all the rest?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when you take public money to provide a service to the public, that is not an opportunity for you to proselytise and show your faith.  It’s an opportunity to exercise your gifts by doing a service for the community.  And because it’s government money, you need to provide that service for and with all sections of the public.

My overall opinion: Public money, public rules. If you want to discriminate, do it on an entirely religious dollar.

What can I do?

Finally, what you can do: The anti-discrimination legislation legislation isn’t passed yet, so there is still time to influence things like religious exemptions and protected attributes.
Don’t forget to:

Safety Nets and Fireworks

The world has hundreds of thousands of coming out stories.
I’ve often wondered why mine would be worth recording – but I had a conversation the other day that showed me why.
This is my story…

To set the scene:
Both my parents are qualified theologians, and both have been Baptist Pastors while I was still living at home. At one point not long after I moved out, Dad was President of the Baptist Union of Tasmania.
They’re amazingly intelligent people, triple-degreed and all. So are their children. We were book-learners.
From time to time, mum and dad would bring home a book on “Personal Development”, sex education, or the like, and there was always a talk along the lines of “This book is going to say that some things, like being gay or sex before marriage, are OK. They’re not. They’re a sin.” (This is blunter than they would have said it, but the meaning was there)
After this statement, the book would be added to the library for us to read when we felt we wanted to know something. (And it is a library, My father has somewhere approaching 40,000 volumes in his collection)

Many gay guys will tell you they knew they liked boys from the start. Not me. Not a clue.
It wasn’t until puberty hit and I started noticing stuff that I eventually put two and two together and realised.
I was 14. I had a surprising amount of respect in the very Pentecostal (read: Happy Clappy Hillsong-style) Church…
I had actually made the decision to continue attending Montello Baptist after my parents had left, organising rides to and from the church which was a town over.
At 14 I helped teach Kindy/Prep Sunday School. I think I had been doing so for a year at that point – sitting in the sermons rather than join in the Youth Group activities when I wasn’t teaching.

But I had this terrible secret. I was gay. I knew it was wrong, sinful, and an abomination, since that was what I’d been told my whole life.
Who could I tell – trust with this thing that could bring my world crashing down? No-one. It was between me and God.
So what did I do? What any good Christian boy would! I prayed, hard. I remember echoing Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane “Take this cup from me. It is a burden I cannot bear.” (I tended toward the poetic when praying)
But prayer without action means little – I made myself obsess over girls. There were three of them I tried to make myself “like”, and I can only be grateful that none of them ever liked me that way, because it would have ended in disaster.

I then felt guilty, as if my faith wasn’t strong enough to make this change though I knew that faith could move mountains. The fault clearly lay with me.
This went on for about 3 and a half years, this prayer and guilt cycle…

During this time, I became a Youth Leader, a Worship Leader, led the school Christian Group, as well as being a good student.
I was, on more than one occasion, pointed to while people asked their kids “Why can’t you be more like him?”
If only they knew… I thought.

Then, epiphany. As a good Christian, I had always included an “if it is your will” clause.
I realised that the reason my sexuality wasn’t changing wasn’t because I didn’t believe enough.
It was because God didn’t want to change me – I had come with a preconceived notion of His Will and when the results failed to match it, I presumed fault.

Why would God give me these feelings and refuse to take them away if they were so wrong?

I accepted myself.

And so now I had a dilemma. How do I hold to my integrity and not tell the people I have convinced that I’m straight that I am gay? I told three people…
I had befriended a staunchly catholic guy over the Internet. He knew none of my other friends, and it wasn’t a close friendship. I braced for the worst and told him. I guess I figured that it was a friendship I didn’t overly care about, and that if I could hold my own with him, I was well on the way for my future battles. We never spoke again.
Then I told my best friend Bryan, who basically shrugged and said “have you told your parents? It might not go down so well if you’ve told all these other people before them.” I had a plan, but I feared the announcement might turn into a fireworks display – spectacular from a distance, but dangerous and terrifying up close… Bryan put me in touch with one of his gay friends who was wonderful!
I told my Uncle in Canberra who I’d been chatting to via ICQ – to this day I still don’t know why I chose him as the person to tell, except that he and my aunt came across as the least likely to have a problem with it, and I trusted them not to tell my parents until I was ready. I think I picked well, and Uncle George and Aunty Rose have a very special place in my heart.

I came out to one group of real-life-friends over the net during the first free-to-air screening of The Matrix. I might kinda have a thing for Neo… All of my real-life friends stuck by me as I dealt with one person in the chat room who complained that “everyone feels the need to screw something” and basically said it should be straight or celibacy.
I came out to other friends as I drove them back to Penguin after our Leavers’ Dinner. It took them a couple of days to process what I’d said.

So I had established a number of people who I knew would have my back if things went really wrong. I was also about to move out of home anyway for uni… (well, within 3 months, anyway)

Then came the daunting part – I was about to disappoint the group of people who had given me confidence to start with – Montello/Coastlands Baptist Church
I wrote letters to those people in the church that I believed had a right to know and who I believed wouldn’t gossip about it.
Each person got a Christmas card with a letter inside. Explaining, in varying degrees of detail, my struggle and how I came to my conclusion.
I had some surprising reactions, with the oldest recipient just telling me to make sure I kept myself safe, and one of the youngest writing me a letter asking if I’d considered the mechanics of gay sex. She described it in surprisingly frank terms.
The most bizarre experience I had was having one of my church Leaders (who happened to be the father of the young letter-writer, but was not, I found out there because of her) arrive at my door asking if I’d like to go for a walk.
Here it comes, he’s here to have “the talk”

We walked up to the high school and back – about a 30 minute walk – where he proceeded to ask me questions like “Are you scared of women?”
I laughed. “If you’d been paying attention over the last few years, you’d notice that most of my church friends are women, Heiko.”
He came at me with all the standard verses. I am proud of myself. I was not yet eighteen, Heiko was a grandfather. Every argument he came at me with, I was ready for and had a response.
The literati in me still chuckles over him telling me that he didn’t think that “it’s unnatural, just that it’s not of nature.”
Yep, that one stopped me in my tracks. “Heiko, you do understand that the definition of unnatural is ‘not of nature’, right?”

I don’t feel my honesty with the people of Coastlands did them or me any favours at that point. It made them uncomfortable around me, it made me uncomfortable amongst them. All it gave me was some peace of mind that I’d been honest with them.
The safety net I had through my teenage life – the Church Family I was a part of, felt like it vanished from underneath me in the light of the truth.

And then I moved to Launceston – in with people I was already out to and didn’t care that I was gay. And so I started the church journey again at City Baptist, which at that point was under the leadership of Pastor Peter Pinder.

It was then I told my parents that I was gay. We had just returned from a family trip to Melbourne for my Aunt’s 60th, and I had written a letter before I left Tasmania to give them should I fail to bring it up before I went back to Launceston.
They started out with “We love you despite that.” They went away, re-examined what they believed, spoke with other pastors with progressive teachings on the topic (Thank you Adelene from Penguin Uniting!), and returned surprisingly quickly with “We love you.” No caveat, no clause, just love.
The fireworks I had expected and feared never came to be. I am proud of my parents for their shift. I’m also grateful that they got to learn with me before figuring out how to deal with my younger brother coming out while in Japan (But that’s another story).

I started attending a bible study with their Young Adults group. I moved in with my first boyfriend Rodney – and stopped going to church for a while, though I continued the bible study. I can’t remember when I told the group I was gay – whether it was when Rodney and I broke up, or after B and I moved in together to our little unit – the latter, I think. After it became known that B and I were an item two girls from the group, Alice and Miriam, set about trying to turn me straight – they played me videos by Sy Rodgers, and at least read through the studies I provided them on why it wasn’t wrong.
I didn’t sway – I’d tortured myself before with much more emotional connection than Alice was throwing at me. Alice was from Door of Hope – a church very much in the same vein as Coastlands. Miriam was basically the group leader (from City Baptist), but Alice was clearly the one on a mission to straighten me out.
Eventually, they invited me to come to coffee. I suspected something was up, and asked if B could come. “Sure!” they said.
I remember the spot, it was a little muffin shop which I think is now a branch of a larger cafe. I knew it was going to be bad when I saw the small Gideons New Testament on the table. Alice sat and quoted scripture, told me she was telling me all of this because she loved me, and that she had done her duty to tell me that I was hell-bound unless I repented. Did I repent? Oh, and by the way, I wouldn’t be welcome at the study group if I didn’t.
I was there with my *boyfriend*. How *dare* they? I told them “no, I don’t repent. I think I’d like to leave now. OK with you B?”
Alice said “I hope we can still be friends.” as we left. We’ve never spoken since.

Alice’s fireworks tore that safety net apart.

I got involved with Queer Students On Campus. Met some amazing people. Built a support network in Launceston that I knew wouldn’t evaporate once my sexuality came to light.
Just as well.

About a month after the Muffin Shop Incident, I got a call from the City Baptist pastor, who didn’t say what it was about, but asked if he could come for a visit. I was confident I knew what was coming.
I did the good church housewifey thing – I baked a Cinnamon Tea Cake for the Pastor’s visit. To me, Cinnamon is the smell of the kitchen, the smell of home. It’s a smell that evokes feelings of calm, safety, and strength.
I was, sadly, correct. I was asked not to take communion. That’s possibly the biggest “You can’t be good enough” short of “get out and never come back” in Christianity.
I said I wasn’t comfortable leading people into temptation like that.
“How do you mean?”
“Won’t people start wondering why I’m not taking it, and talk amongst themselves? I would hate to be the subject of gossip.”
“People aren’t looking around during communion. Why would they be looking at you?”
“Well for starters, the tray bearers are certainly looking around. And you know as well as I how little it takes to start church tongues a-wagging!”
My concern was dismissed. I told him that this visit made me feel unwelcome at CBC and I would not be returning.

Another “safety net” disappeared with a “Bang” and some theatrics…

And so I went looking for a place that could cope with me, honestly, from the start. I approached the Uniting Church I walked past so often in the Launceston CBD, Pilgrim Uniting Church.
I went in armed with honesty and a preparedness to be told to leave. They appreciated the former and I never ever heard the latter.
Turns out they were Christians of the sort that give the rest a good name. Kind, loving, gentle, passionate, accepting, and with a strong sense of justice.
I was asked to join the Leadership Team at Pilgrim. and did. I was 21. I and my then-partner Don had had our commitment ceremony there earlier that year – in the sanctuary, officiated by my father.

I hear that their pastor performed another commitment ceremony there late last year.  I’m proud of Pilgrim for championing the cause in regional areas. Well done!

Pilgrim also ran a group called TasUnity – a group for GLBTIQ people and their parents and friends to support each other, to hear about each other, and to grow with each other.
The friendships I made in TasUnity are an important part of my emotional safety net even today, years after I left the state.

These days, I don’t have fireworks come into my life. My safety nets are too well-established for a newcomer to disrupt, and I’m unlikely to need to “come out” again for anything else. 

My advice when coming out:
Consider your safety nets – Figure out which networks are strong enough to catch you even when you’re out. Come out to them first.
Identify your fireworks – These are the people who may cause an existing social network to crumble around you. Avoid networks with these people in until you have at least a couple of secure safety nets organised. (ie you’re out to some people who can help you if things go wrong)
Don’t expect instant approval – Think about how long it took you to get comfortable with the fact you were gay. Is it reasonable to expect someone else to go on that journey in an instant when you tell them? This is not to say you should take flak from people, but be aware they may need time to process it.
Consider an exit plan – Especially if you’re coming out to parents you depend on, and might be less than accepting – If there’s fall-out, where are you going to live, how will you pay bills etc. Sometimes it’s worth delaying it until you’re not living with them any more…

I hope this helps some of you somehow, and I’m sorry it’s so long…
With love,
Dylan Carmichael.

eThankfulness – 13 Jan 2013

Things I am thankful for this week:

I have a new job!  I think that’s pretty awesome!

Today is the last day before I start said new job!  I’m thankful that I haven’t had much downtime between NRG and the new place. (Plus the new job sounds exciting!)

Went for a drive out to my new location, not too bad, most of the distance is by motorway and I’ll be going the *RIGHT WAY* both start and finish to avoid most traffic congestion!

I went to the dentist for tooth pain yesterday. (Not thankful for tooth pain) The dentist was recommended to me by three different people and was WONDERFUL.  I managed to let a wisdom tooth (that I didn’t know was a wisdom tooth, just thought it was a regular one) decay.  Fortunately, because had fully erupted, it was just like a standard extraction, nothing like the pain I know other people have with their wisdom teeth.  So my gum is slightly sorry for itself, but overall I’m much better off.  And they were cheap!  I am thankful for the dentists at Bardon Smiles – who are even open on Saturdays!

I got to catch up with my friend BW! She moved to Gladstone a month before I did and we supported each other while we each found our feet socially!  She moved to Brisbane a couple years ago, and I haven’t seen her much since – it was so lovely to see her and we talked for hours.  🙂

I also got to catch up with A – another Gladstone friend who has made the move – had a great time with him, and introduced him to my housemates.

I tried Yum Cha for the first time in my life with amazing bloggers Chrys Stevenson and Jane Douglas, as well as Chrys’ awesome mother and one of Brisbane’s Who’s Who of the gays!  I’m thankful for having the opportunity to meet these amazing people I’ve only chatted to before!  And I’m thankful that I’ll continue to be able to meet up with them – possibly even regularly!

I am thankful for the place I landed.  They guys I’m sharing with are just lovely!  I’m so pleased I picked a good spot and good people!

For all of these things, and many more, I am thankful!

Truth in Advertising

If you’re after a GLBTI-themed post, this is not the article for you…

This year, Campbell Newman and the LNP are talking about serious electoral reform.  Announced on Jan 3, I can’t help but wonder, in my cynicism, if it was meant to fly under the radar because of the Holidays… it didn’t.

Here’s the link to the community consultation page and from there the discussion paper

There are two Parts – one (Part A) is a discussion about the various campaign funding models and campaign expenditure

The other section (Part B) discusses other alterations to the Electoral Act.

I don’t overly care about campaign funding at the moment, but there are some Sections of Part B that I want to devote a little bit of time to (1, 2,5, and 7):

Section 1:Truth in Political Advertising

I’m honestly surprised they had the gall to bring this up.  We have seen outright lies in this government’s campaign: “We will not be making any changes to the laws on those matters,” Mr Newman said when asked about potential changes to surrogacy laws the weekend before the election and then on the very eve of his historic retraction of LGBTIQ couples’ rights, Jarrod Beijie announced the intention to remove access to altruistic surrogacy for same-sex couples.

The paper outlines enforceability and some other reasons as reasons why legislation is not the correct approach:

it should be up to voters to judge the veracity of claims made in political advertising, just as they judge the veracity of claims made in commercial advertising;

In fact, under federal law (The Australian Consumer Law, Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, Part 2, S18) “A person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.”

We do not (or should not have to) judge the veracity of commercial claims at all.

regulation may lead to an increase in nuisance claims by voters or candidates seeking to prevent the publication of an opposition advertisement;

Political advertising campaigns might need to be more carefully worded, and provided sufficient documentation is kept about where facts underpinning a particular statement came from, (Something academics have been doing for years, these should be standard practice anyway)

the neutrality and impartiality of the ECQ could be compromised if it is required to rule on what will be a highly vexed and publicised political issue;

Much like the Crimes and Misconduct Commission could be.  Introduce some limits – require “factual statements” to have verifiable facts. In instances where the truth is not known and cannot be ascertained, that might be reasonable to give as a victory to the defendant

it would be difficult to provide a prompt response to complaints, particularly on polling day.

Well yes it would.  Perhaps a requirement that complaints be lodged no later than x days before polling day, and no new advertising be aired/distributed any later than y days before that.

This section also discusses whether “advertising” should be extended to mean public statements and the like.

QLDers are seeing now just how important it is to be able to trust what party leaders have said before the election.

Section 2: How to Vote Cards

I’m from Tasmania, so when I rocked up to the QLD booths, I was shocked at being harassed and harangued by political harpies of every colour and stripe. It was confronting, and it was so *wasteful*.

In Tasmania, we apparently consider people smart enough to make up their own minds on this topic and to follow basic instructions.  If you haven’t got your message across by polling day, then tough luck sunshine! This made voting relatively pleasant and painless compared to my experience in QLD elections…

I should *not* have to explain my voting patterns to people when I refuse their “how to vote” card.  I’m confident enough to say “I’m gay, and your suggested candidates want to repeal my rights, so I wouldn’t vote for them in a million years.” I’d swear those people are paid by the number of flyers they go through… (and yes, I know they’re volunteers)

And even with that battle, I came to the Polling place with heaps of paper in my hand – none of it asked for, wanted, or even useful to me. How many trees were destroyed to go straight into the bin?

I don’t like HtV Cards. I also think that there should be a requirement that HtV cards are not misleading and should be registered and approved by the ECQ before they are due to be disseminated.

Section 7: Compulsory Voting

This section talks about removing compulsory voting. Frankly, the amount spent in those countries where voting is optional just in getting people to the polls is obscene.

I actually agree with most of the arguments outlined,  both for and against compulsory voting.  But I do have some caveats to my agreement:

it is undemocratic to force people to vote – in democracies such as the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, voters have the choice;

This would be the one I disagree with the most, particularly in light of the “the voter isn’t compelled to vote for anyone as it is a secret ballot” – they are completely at liberty to cast an informal vote – they must simply make the conscious decision that they do not want to vote.

it may increase both the number of informal votes and “donkey votes”;

I agree – it does increase both.  I don’t understand why this is problematic.  Actually, for Donkey Votes, I do see the problem, but this problem is easily rectified with randomised packs of ballot papers (each packet is printed with its own order) thus ensuring that donkey voting doesn’t introduce systematic bias into the system.

it increases the number of safe, single-member electorates – political parties then concentrate on the more marginal electorates;

Yep

resources must be allocated to determine whether those who failed to vote have “valid and sufficient” reasons.

Isn’t that why we fine people – at least partly to cover the costs of administering these laws?

Please make your submissions to the community consultation outlining your views on these important topics. Links at the top of the article…

eThankfulness – January 7 2013

As usual, it’s time for my eThankfulness column (and as usual, it’s a touch late).

I’ve just moved from Gladstone to Brisbane, and things I am thankful for this week:

I’ve crash-landed into an AWESOME place – not really suitable for me long-term as it’s not right for the Furball, but Furball is staying with friends nearby while I sort myself out.  Nice room, lovely garden oasis, lovely housemates, awesome vibe, and handy to everything!

Friends – people make or break a place, and I’m already out there and getting to know people as well as catching up with some friends who have wound up in Brisbane from Gladstone or Tassie.

The drive down – little traffic, low-level road works, it was one of the nicest Gladstone-Brisbane drives I’ve ever done.

Weather: Has been just lovely – only one real scorcher and I spent *that* swimming in a pool on the Sunshine Coast

Location: just gorgeous to go on walks through, pretty, lots of restaurants, cafes etc

Work: I’ve got a couple of positives on the horizon on the job front.

Plus I have a couple of ideas for potential software products to get moving on while I’m not working – hurrah for skills that let me produce a product without prototyping costs etc! 😀