On this day in 1989, I was running the “Expectations” store, opposite the Oxford Hotel, in Oxford Street. It was almost like the entire gay community, and its supporters, had been waiting for this day. There was a palpable feeling of excitement – almost Mardi Gras-like – mixed with a strong undercurrent of rebellion on the strip. Watching from the 2nd floor window of my store, you could see people starting to line the footpaths early. By the time Nile’s parade participants started their march down the other end of Oxford Street, the paths were packed, and you could follow the progress of the parade from the roar of the crowd! Only for this parade, the roar was not of encouragement, or light-hearted joy, but of hate and vitriol! The communities hatred of Nile, and his constant gay-bashing was being fully voiced. As it passed by our section of the street, I notices a car load of Islanders, roped in by Nile to add bodies to his parade numbers. I don’t know what he had told them, or what they expected,but the looked cowered and terrified! As much as I didn’t feel sorry for Nile, or his cross-on-wheels, I did feel sorry for them. It would have been a very frightening situation from their perspective. Nile got everything he deserved – and then some. As far as the gay community was concerned, the parade was a great success – but not for Nile, or his supporters. He would have gone home with his tail tucked very firmly between his legs.
1989. Politics: Evangelist attempts ‘Cleansing March’ on Sydney’s queer heartland
Posted onDecember 22, 2014byColin Clews\
Queer protestors prepare to give Fred Nile and his followers a rousing reception on Oxford Street. Photograph: Terrence Bell, courtesy of Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Australia’s ‘Reverend’ Fred Nile has built a career out of homophobic opportunism. He is the man to whom the media could turn whenever they needed a ‘controversial’ sound-byte on topics such as decriminalisation, HIV/AIDS and anti-discrimination.
For several years he topped up his profile with his annual stunt of a prayer meeting by the route of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. As tens of thousands gathered to celebrate Mardi Gras, Nile and his small band of followers portrayed themselves as brave martyrs standing against a sea of depravity. And on those rare occasions when it rained on the night of the Parade, Nile would claim it was all the result of his prayers – conveniently ignoring the fact that Mardi Gras was held in the middle of Sydney’s rainy season.
By 1989, however, even Nile must have begun to realise that his prayer meeting was being ignored – by God and, more importantly, the media. And so it came to pass that he announced that he would lead a “Cleansing March of Witness for Jesus” up Oxford Street – Sydney’s gay ‘golden mile’ – on October 2nd. The march would end with a “Pro-decency ‘Solemn Assembly of Repentance and Intercession’”.
Never one for under-statement, Nile claimed there would be 100,000 Christians on the march. It’s most unlikely that even he believed he would attract that level of support, but it always makes good Press to come up with such numbers. But whilst he was clearly pre-occupied with boosting the numbers of his likely supporters, he obviously failed to consider the size of the opposition.
This was the first demonstration that I had attended since my arrival in Sydney the previous year and is was quite an eye-opener. It was obvious from the outset that Sydney’s queer community was extremely well-organised and that, in itself, signalled that Nile had bitten off far more than he could chew.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Sydney Gay Solidarity Group and the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras were three of the key organisations involved in the counter-demonstration. As we assembled in Green Park, just off Oxford Street, we were all given a cardboard mask with a caricature of Nile’s face on it. The plan, we were told, was to greet Nile and his followers, with thousands of Niles staring right back at them!
But there was more to the masks than mere caricature. They came in a number of different colours and the reason for this soon became obvious. Protestors were despatched to different areas of Oxford Street based on the colour of their masks. This ensured that there was an even spread of people along the route of the Cleansing March.
A couple of protestors in Fred Nile masks. Photograph courtesy of Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. http://www.alga.org.au
It wasn’t long before we were all in position to greet Nile and his followers. Apparently they were all in high spirits for the first section of the march. Led by a young bearded man carrying a cross (with wheels, unlike the original) they seemed happy and confident – until they turned the corner into Oxford Street. The 1500 or so ‘Christians’ that Nile had managed to muster came face-to-face with 5,000+ vocal, angry queers. More accurately, they came-face-to-face with thousands of Fred Nile faces.
To most people, the fact that they were out-numbered four-to-one by members of the local community would be a clear sign that they weren’t welcome and that they should go back to their own neighbourhoods. But evangelical Christians like nothing more than playing the martyr and so they persisted on their inflammatory course, carrying placards with ‘Christian’ messages like“What’s so gay about AIDS?”
Counter-demonstrators responded with messages like“Repent, Relent, Re-decorate!”and chants of“Two, four, six eight. Are you sure your priest is straight?”The Christians processed dismally up Oxford Street, the queers turned their protest into a party.
At the site of the planned ‘Repentance and Intercession’, Fred Nile was drowned out by boos and chants from the protestors. Then Jamie Dunbar, a photographer from the local gay newspaper, leapt to the microphone and chanted“Go to Hell Fred. Gay love is best!”. He chanted repeatedly until he was removed by Christian heavies.
It was clear to everyone that Nile’s stunt had seriously backfired. Even the media opined that his march had been a deliberate and unnecessary provocation. Yet Nile continued to dig a hole for himself. When interviewed on one news programme he complained that counter-demonstrators had used portable toilets that had been installed for his supporters. In consequence his supporters had been unable to use them because of the risk of AIDS. His interviewer could barely believe her ears and left her audience in no doubt as to what an ignorant and bigoted remark this was. Nile never went near Oxford Street again.
What is happening in Myanmar (Burma) is truly terrible, but seems to be a microcosm of events currently occuring in many corners of the world! A toxic mix of religious intolerance (religion, as always, causing problems, no matter its breed or creed!); intolerance of ethnicity (when are we going to accept others for just being what they are -people!); environmental vandalism (FFS leave things alone!); brought about by multi-national corporate greed! These huge, unethical, money-grabbing corporations are going to destroy us long before climate change does!; politics – a hedonistic institution at its best, destructive and nihilistic at its worst! Add media misinformation, and bias, into the mix, often stirring up trouble that was never there in the first place, and you have a sure recipe for disaster. This beautiful country, once famous for its ancient culture and tea, is now a place of potential genocide. This is how we manage to change beautiful landscapes into ruination! The following article sheds interesting insights into the current state of affairs in Myanmar.
Religion is not the only reason Rohingyas are being forced out of Myanmar September 12, 2017 4.35am SAST
Updated September 19, 2017 3.43am SAST
Giuseppe Forino, Jason von Meding, and Thomas Johnson
Minorities in Myanmar, including the Rohingya, are resilient in the face of persecution. Giuseppe Forino, Author provided
Recent weeks have seen an escalation of violence against the Rohingya in Rakhine, the poorest state of Myanmar. A tide of displaced people are seeking refuge from atrocities – they are fleeing both on foot and by boat to Bangladesh. It is the latest surge of displaced people, and is exacerbated by the recent activity of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
Religious and ethnic differences have been widely considered the leading cause of the persecution. But it is becoming increasingly hard to believe that there are not other factors at play. Especially given that Myanmar is home to 135 official recognised ethnic groups (the Rohingya were removed from this list in 1982).
In analysing the recent violence, much of the western media has focused on the role of the military and the figure of the de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Her status as a Nobel Peace prize laureate has been widely questioned since the latest evidence of atrocities emerged.
She continues to avoid condemning the systematic violence against the Rohingya. At least the media gaze has finally shifted somewhat towards their plight.
But there remain issues that are not being explored. It is also critical to look beyond religious and ethnic differences towards other root causes of persecution, vulnerability and displacement.
We must consider vested political and economic interests as contributing factors to forced displacement in Myanmar, not just of the Rohingya people but of other minorities such as the Kachin, the Shan, the Karen, the Chin, and the Mon.
Major ethnic groups in Myanmar. Al Jazeera
Land grabbing and confiscation in Myanmar is widespread. It is not a new phenomenon.
Since the 1990s, military juntas have been taking away the land of smallholders across the country, without any compensation and regardless of ethnicity or religious status.
Land has often been acquired for “development” projects, including military base expansions, natural resource exploitation and extraction, large agriculture projects, infrastructure and tourism. For example, in Kachin state the military confiscated more than 500 acres of villagers’ land to support extensive gold mining.
Development has forcibly displaced thousands of people – both internally and across borders with Bangladesh, India, and Thailand – or compelled them to set out by sea to Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.
In 2011, Myanmar instituted economic and political reforms that led it to be dubbed “Asia’s final frontier” as it opened up to foreign investment. Shortly afterwards, in 2012, violent attacks escalated against the Rohingya in Rakhine state and, to a lesser extent, against the Karen. Meanwhile, the government of Myanmar established several laws relating to the management and distribution of farmland.
These moves were severely criticised for reinforcing the ability of large corporations to profit from land grabs. For instance, agribusiness multinationals such as POSCO Daewoo have eagerly entered the market, contracted by the government.
A regional prize
Myanmar is positioned between countries that have long eyed its resources, such as China and India. Since the 1990s, Chinese companies have exploited timber, rivers and minerals in Shan State in the North.
This led to violent armed conflicts between the military regime and armed groups, including the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and its ethnic allies in eastern Kachin State and northern Shan State.
In Rakhine State, Chinese and Indian interests are part of broader China-India relations. These interests revolve principally around the construction of infrastructure and pipelines in the region. Such projects claim to guarantee employment, transit fees and oil and gas revenues for the whole of Myanmar.
Among numerous development projects, a transnational pipeline built by China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) connecting Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, to Kunming, China, began operations in September 2013. The wider efforts to take Myanmar oil and gas from the Shwe gas field to Guangzhou, China, are well documented.
Pipeline from the Shwe gas field to China. The Shwe Gas Movement
A parallel pipeline is also expected to send Middle East oil from the Kyaukphyu port to China. However, the neutral Advisory Commission on Rakhine State has urged the Myanmar government to carry out a comprehensive impact assessment.
In fact, the Commission recognises that pipelines put local communities at risk. There is significant local tension related to land seizures, insufficient compensation for damages, environmental degradation, and an influx of foreign workers rather than increased local employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Sittwe deep-sea port was financed and constructed by India as part of the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project. The aim is to connect the northeast Mizoram state in India with the Bay of Bengal.
Coastal areas of Rakhine State are clearly of strategic importance to both India and China. The government of Myanmar therefore has vested interests in clearing land to prepare for further development and to boost its already rapid economic growth.
All of this takes place within the wider context of geopolitical maneuvering. The role of Bangladesh in fuelling ethnic tensions is also hotly contested. In such power struggles, the human cost is terribly high.
Compounding the vulnerability of minorities
In Myanmar, the groups that fall victim to land grabbing have often started in an extremely vulnerable state and are left even worse off. The treatment of the Rohingya in Rakhine State is the highest profile example of broader expulsion that is inflicted on minorities.
When a group is marginalised and oppressed it is difficult to reduce their vulnerability and protect their rights, including their property. In the case of the Rohingya, their ability to protect their homes was decimated through the revocation of their Burmese citizenship.
Rohingya settlement near Sittwe. Thomas Johnson
Since the late 1970s around a million Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape persecution. Tragically, they are often marginalised in their host countries.
With no country willing to take responsibility for them, they are either forced or encouraged to continuously cross borders. The techniques used to encourage this movement have trapped the Rohingya in a vulnerable state.
The tragedy of the Rohingya is part of a bigger picture which sees the oppression and displacement of minorities across Myanmar and into neighbouring countries.
The relevance and complexity of religious and ethnic issues in Myanmar are undeniable. But we cannot ignore the political and economic context and the root causes of displacement that often go undetected.
This article was amended after publication to correct the mislabelling of the Karen as Muslim.
There appears to be nothing on the internet about the G.O.D Girlgang, not even within the profiles and written accounts of its founders. This makes this article about the gang, solely from my own archived resources, an essential inclusion into the gay history of Sydney. That any groups can come and go, and be undocumented in any way concerns me, as gangs such as G.O.D were integral in the relationships between gay men and lesbians in the late 1980s, early 1990s period, as well as highlighting a movement within the lesbian community, a move away from PC dogmatic women, to a more open, diverse and inclusionist community. Despite its brief existence, it was a watershed moment in mixed relations between the two distinct sectors of the community.
a group of people who associate together or act as an organized body, esp for criminal or illegal purposes”
“Girls of Disgrace, Girls of Dishonour, Girls of Desire; G.O.D. Is limited only to your steamy imagination.
G.O.D. is on a mission to spread the concept of Girlgangs, and its subsequent feelings of power through identification/unification. G.O.D. is not meant to be taken too seriously.
IN SEVEN DAYS following the creation of a name, a patch design is produced depicting a sword with a snake wound about its length. Living on the cutting edge? (Now, don’t take us too seriously).
A group of army green jackets adorned with a variety of badges, bolts, skins, and other sundry odds and ends.
G.O.D. patches grab each shoulder in splashes of red and grey. Underneath, the optional shirt harbours similar coloured emblems.
COMPRISES OF Desert Rangers, the Kiss and Make-up contingent, SM girlies, Vanilla Sluts, hard-core uniform-ists and lingerie fetishists. (But don’t take us too seriously).
ATTITUDE while in walk thirteen G.O.D. members. Watch the heads turn. Will we stop at the number fit for a witches coven?
G.O.D. is not separatist,. Guys of Disgrace have recently gained admittance complete with blue patches and leather.
AND FUN with future G.O.D. sex/bondsge/SM/porn/initiation/dance/parties a possibility? Why not!”
Such was the blurb from “Wicked Women” magazine for the first outing of G.O.D. in the media. Girls/Guys of Disgrace was founded by Francine (Jasper) Laybutt, Lisa Salmon & Jade Moon Kemeny around 1989/90. Francine was a radical lesbian in every sense of the word. She walked the outer limits of the lesbian world, promoting the more butch forms of sexuality, the darker world of BD/SM. She was the founder of “Wicked Women” magazine, and used it as a platform to promote her more radical attitudes to lesbiansm. Often shunned by her own community, and with her partner, Lisa Salmon, often derided and humiliated for holding beliefs and practises contrary to what was considered the norm in that world.
That she founded G.O.D should not be surprising in the face of her views on confrontation, public outrageousness, yet inclusiveness. She advocated non-penetrative sex with gay men (slanted more towards the gay leather, BD/SM community), and after her sex reassignment surgery and becoming Jasper Laybutt, she referred to herself not just as a female-to-male transgender, but as a male lesbian…language that would have sent most mainstream lesbians into a tail spin!
In William Calder’s book “Gay Print Media’s Golden Era: Australian Magazines and Newspapers 1970-2000” he notes:
“Inspired by the American lesbian sex fetish magazine On Our Backs – its title a deliberate riposte to the feminist magazine Off Our Backs – Francine Laybutt and Lisa Salmon published Wicked Women in Sydney at the start of 1988 to fill, as they put it, the “gaping hole” in women’s erotica, and promised “a forum for erotic ideas and … hot, one-handed reading”.(138) They aimed to bring into the open lesbian sexual practices such as sadomasochism for those who silently fantasised about such activities and let their readers see there were other similarly minded women they might meet. From the start, the magazine triggered debate within the lesbian community, and Laybutt says they were “surprised and unprepared for the degree of hostility” directed against them.(139) Sadomasochism, bondage, and even dildos were seen at the time “by the lesbian feminist paradigm … as violent patriarchal constructs”.(140) The pair would get thrown out of dyke clubs for wearing fetish gear and Salmon “who didn’t usually wear much at all would have drinks thrown on her … cigarettes surreptitiously put out on her [and] spat on sometimes”.(141)
Born at the start of the 1960s,(142) Laybutt grew up in the city of Newcastle and watched drag shows at the town’s one gay pub, but soon moved to Sydney where the gay scene was bigger.(143) She worked as an art teacher but “didn’t like teaching unruly teenagers”, and switched to computer design work with a North Shore communications company. Laybutt found her “true vocation” as Dominatrix Natasha in the sex industry,(144) and shared a flat with fellow former Catholic school girl Lisa Salmon,(145) who in her early 20s worked as a performance artist and stripper.(146) The pair started a relationship and decided it would be as a “fetish couple”.(147)
The first issue of Wicked Women was a 28 page A4 black and white with a pictorial cover selling for $4. It included poetry, personal classifieds and features exploring lesbian sexual fetish in an attempt to broaden individual lesbians’ definition of their lifestyle. To produce Wicked Women they bought an old electric typewriter that ironically would not print the letter ‘w’, so they “had to manually push the letter against the page” and the pair wrote most of the articles “under a variety of pseudonyms to make it appear as though they had lots of contributors”.(148) Laybutt’s “very open-minded” boss let them use the work photocopier on the weekend to print 90 copies of the first issue. Subsequent issues grew in size and cover price, peaking at 60 pages for $8, with up to 1000 copies printed.(149) The aim was six issues a year, though usually fewer were published. The magazine that Laybutt and Salmon created “reflected” the sadomasochistic sexual activity they were doing,(150) and they hoped it would let them meet other women “sharing the same experience”.(151) Salmon says “the seventies feminist thing just ended up being girls telling each other what to do. It became really dogmatic and it took the fun out of sexuality and being a dyke”.(152) Commentator Julie Catt says Wicked Women triggered a “lesbian sexual revolution”,(153) and others say it added “many new words to the lesbian sexual vocabulary – sadomasochism, fetishism, gender fuck – to name but a few”.(154) Wicked Women ran stories about a woman who was “horny for weeks, and masturbated ferociously”,(155) one from a woman who described how she was “blindfolded and placed in standing bondage [while f]ingers pinch my skin, pull at my hairs, slap my behind, teasing”,(156) and the dominatrix who wrote how her submissive “moaned, groaned, pleaded, yelled, screamed [and] begged me to stop but the juice was flowing freely down her inner thighs. Her cunt was writhing in frustration [wanting] me to fuck her to the point of exhaustion”.(157)
The first cover had the words: “Erotica Poetry Graphics SM Classifieds Decadence” above a graphic of a naked woman with a dog collar around her neck. Photographs of usually one or two women models soon replaced graphics on the cover. The magazine though was not simply pornography for lesbians. It explored sexual themes and often used playful images. There was a blurred photo of a naked cropped hair woman wearing a dog collar and seated cross-legged on bed,(158) a photo of a sultry woman in full leather jacket and cap looking piercingly into the camera,(159) and a party girl staring at the camera while pulling open her jacket to expose her breasts.(160) Inside were photo-spreads of women in leather or at sexual fetish events, and in one issue a photo-essay of open vaginas being fist-fucked.(161)
Quite apart from the publisher’s open promotion of sadomasochism there were a series of publishing events that triggered condemnation. In an early edition Linda Dement’s photograph of a woman holding a skinned rabbit against her vagina caused an uproar,(162) and the magazine was subsequently banned from at least one Melbourne feminist bookstore. Laybutt defends the photograph as “art … a strong image, but not an anti-woman one. It was widely misunderstood”.(163) A year later the inclusion of a gay male pedophile group press release,(164) led to “a ‘girlcott’ … sold very badly and lost some readership”,(165) followed the next issue when “all hell broke loose”,(166) after publishing an article written by a self-confessed “misogynist” gay leather man.(167) The final major controversy to confront the publishers of Wicked Women was Laybutt undergoing medical procedures to become a transman. “I was a tomboy” growing up, he says,(168) and in 1991 adopted the name Jasper, instead of Francine.(169)
Supporters of Wicked Women wrote letters to say “it’s wonderful to know there are other dykes out there into ‘unsound’ sex and games”.(170) Another said it was “important that women have a space where they can be upfront and honest about who they are and what they like”,(171) and one declared “I now, most times when going out to nightclubs and such, dress in leather”.(172) Some feminists engaged directly with the sexual desire implicit in Wicked Women’s content. One supported “expressions of lesbian sexuality which are exciting, dangerous and diverse” yet maintained the utopian goals of lesbian feminism “to rethink the relationship already in play between the phallus/cock/gun and power” concluding: “we wait with quivering clits for the day a woman submits her fiction in a non-male constructed language”.(173) With time this occurred as Laybutt and Salmon invited contributions from readers who submitted articles other than ones with sadomasochistic themes but “often vanilla or romantic sex flavoured and relatively sexually ‘safe’” articles.(174)
Less obvious than its challenge to existing ideas around lesbian sexual practices, was the role Wicked Women played in building lesbian community. Its classified personals included the expected: “23 Year Old into leather, looking for experienced S/M dyke to worship”,(175) but were also used by a range of lesbians to seek partners, such as “slim 22 yr old, strawberry blonde, desperately searching for my dark earth mother”. The magazine ran contact details for local lesbian social groups, and advertisements for Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Wicked Women organised what became a popular annual event, the Ms Wicked competition “in which lesbians stripped and performed sexual acts for enthusiastic all-female audiences”.(176) More than 500 attended a Melbourne heat in 1991.(177) Wicked Women organised a Mardi Gras dance party Be Wicked that was raided in the early hours by police with the patrons “herded out”,(178) and Girl Beat at the gay male sex-on-site venue The Den.(179)
The magazine’s editor from 1994, Kimberly O’Sullivan said the “events proved to be enormously popular and [mainstream lesbians] saw we had a role in the lesbian community. It demystified us for them”.(180) The activities of Wicked Women’s publishers also helped draw together the lesbian and gay male communities that in the 1980s lived largely separately from each other. Laybutt had always found the gay male scene “infinitely more interesting” to explore.(181) She was a member of two gay male motorcycle clubs, and even attended male only fetish events, passing as a young guy. Early support for the magazine came largely from the gay male community and the emergence of Wicked Women provided a vehicle to “bridge the gap” at least between the gay male and lesbian fetish communities.(182) In 1993 Wicked Women organised a Mr Wicked competition.
The controversial nature of Wicked Women attracted attention but its generally uncompromising stance on content alienated both potential buyers and advertisers and caused significant problems for the venture as a business. While the primary aim was to present sex radical ideas, the bills still needed to be paid and its 1993 editor, Kimberly O’Sullivan said they started “to think more seriously about the risks [of accepting] an article which will alienate half of your readership”.(183) There were difficulties from their first Catholic owned commercial printer who dumped them after they ran a photograph of a women stroking her vagina with a statue of the Virgin Mary.(184) Lesbian hotels initially refused to stock the magazine,(185) and the women’s bookshops that did stock it “kept the magazine hidden under Lesbian Network so no- one ever saw it”.(186) At first only gay male leather, and sex shops stocked Wicked Women and it was distributed by subscription to mainly Sydney women, though also to other areas around the country and overseas, and some men.(187) The only advertising support the magazine attracted initially was from leather fetish and sex product shops run by gay men as “lesbian businesses … would not touch them”.(188) Each ‘girlcott’ and refusal to display the magazine reduced sales and increased reliance on organising fund-raising events.(189)
Apart from publishing Wicked Women, Laybutt in 1990 was involved in editing the mixed gay and lesbian alternative journal of arts, culture and sexuality, Hell Bent, and in 1991 Pink Ink: An anthology of Australian lesbian and gay writers. By 1994, both Laybutt and Salmon had stepped back from the front line of editing, handing responsibility to O’Sullivan, who later described her job as “administrator, book- keeper, accountant, publicity officer, advertising manager and delivery driver – in short, doing every single thing on the magazine from beginning to end”. Two years later she resigned due to the work pressure that came on top of the need to work a second full-time paid job, bemoaning that she “had almost no social life (and felt) burnt out”.(190) When Salmon stopped organising fund-raising events the magazine became financially unsustainable. O’Sullivan was not replaced as editor with Laybutt declaring “I feel that having become a man, I’ve moved on to different things” and Wicked Women ceased publication in 1996 after 28 issues.(191) Laybutt returned to live in Newcastle and became involved in publishing New Age ideas.(192)
The publishers of Wicked Women successfully appealed to the sexually libertarian section of the lesbian community, and in doing so challenged established feminist attitudes towards sexuality. They found a market niche and expanded, creating new social infrastructure and profoundly changed broader lesbian community attitudes towards sexuality. Ultimately though the publishing venture failed to become financially self-sustaining and closed when individual publisher energies waned.”
It is against this background, and in the midst of, that the G.O.D Gang was formed. Amongst my recollections are attending a patty in the vicinity of Zetland, held in a warehouse, and consisting primaily of G.O.D & Dolphin Motor Club members. I was one of the DJ’s (who had to deal with a DJ rig suspended from the ceiling on chains, and would often swing out from the mezzanine area it was set up in – and you had to make sure you didn’t follow it). During one of my sets, I watched as Francine (she had not undergone sex reassignment surgery at this stage) opened a door in the floor of the warehouse that obviously led down to a basement area. She went down the stairs, and was followed by half-a-dozen of the male members. I have no accounts of what went on down there, but considering Francine’s stand on gender-fuck issues, and the liberality of many males in the leather scene, I dare say it would have been quite eye-ooening. In the above excerpt from the book, there is a nod to me as the manager of “Numvers” Bookstore, being one of the gay managers and businesses that advertised in, sold, and supported Wicked Women, and their events. This also indicates the divisions not just within the gay community at that time – the separist nature of gay men & lesbians, but also the divisions within the lesbian community, the strict dogmatic approach they had to women who marched “outside the square”. The same cliques existed within the gay male community – leathermen, bears, twinks, vanilla, BD/SM, clones etc – but this did not prevent guys crossing over into several cliques, and when required, they all socialised together. This possibly explains Francine’s attraction to the gay male community, along with the support it offered her, and her ventures. In many respects, G.O.D became a catalyst for a change in relationships between gay men & lesbians – well, at least those that wrre liberal minded, and not pushing agenda’s.
The two following accounts are important for several reasons – there is – sermingly – no information on the G.O.D Gang on the internet; the “So Help Me G.O.D” piece has a run-down of resolutions reached in the first group event, giving an indication of how and why the gang was created, its structure, purposes and intentions. It also shows how the gang started to get its name out there through its involvement in some of the more “out there” events that were happening, and through integration with groups like the Dolphin Motor Club, The Griffins Motorcyle Club, and Dykes On Bikes.
From the Dolphin Motor Clubs newsletter “Quid Nunc”, Volume 1, Issue IV. 1990. Both articles are from the same issue.
“So Help Me G.O.D.”
“In the beginning there were Three. And behold, the Three looked down on us and said ‘We need a Girlgang.’ And so it was done, and a Girlfang was formed. And GOD gave unto its members a symbol of their unity: a red patch, thereon emblazoned a serpent encircling a sword. Then GOD looked down on us once again, and said ‘There is disunity in our community,’ and they took a thread from the red patch, colour changed it, and came forth with a blue patch. Thus were guys brought into the unity of GOD. And the Three looked down, and said ‘This is good,’ and behold, it was very good.”
G.O.D. (Guys/Girls of Disgrace/Dishonour/Degradation/Discipline/Denigration…interpret it as you will) is a group of girls and guys who fall into the classification of a gang. Despite the connotation of the word ‘gang’ meaning a group of louts, storm-trooping all over town , fighting, maiming, and causing general discord, the word ‘gang’ actually refers to a group of people, loosely based with no constitution or club rules to bind them. There is no official hierarchy, and no regular meetings as such. Members basically have a common interest (most GOD members are into leather sex in all or sundry of its variations) and basically get together just for a good time. A meeting could be said to be happening when two or more get together for a drink and a chat.
The Dolphin’s three Special Members: Francine, Jade & Lisa, are not only GOD girls, but founders of the group. Paul Costello, Geoff Arnold, and Tim Alderman are also members of GOD, and Les Heathfield is an Honorary Member. GOD girls are all invited to Dolphin events, and in return all Dolphin members are invited to all GOD, and Wicked Women events, apart from those deemed girls only. It is hoped that in the future, GOD and the Dolphins can get together to hold functions, or jointly sponsor functions. Membership currently stands at 22 girls, and 8 guys. The patches are red for the girls, and blue for the guys, and feature a snake entwined on an upward pointing sword. Thus with the initials of our name, the symbolism can be interpreted any way you want.
The recently GOD sponsored event for the Ms Wicked Competition was a tremendous night, with Tim Alderman from DMC one of the 5 judges for the event. The more recent Slave/Master/Mistress celebrity auction (see write-up this issue) just goes to show what girls and guys working together can really do. Our first official gang meeting was held in our Clubroom in Ultimo on Wednesday 30th May. About 25 members were present, plus about 5 visitors, including 2 women connected to the Mardi Gras committee, and a number of resolutions were passed by gang members.
*We are now closing ranks. Whereas before this night it was possible to become a gang member by the purchase of patches, membership is now only possible by a written submission, the applicant then having to come before a panel of selectors to have their suitability as a gang member judged.
* The panel of selectors was set ip, consisting of two founding members (one founding member must always be on the panel), one male nember, and two other girl members. Membership of the panel will be rotated over a three-month period. As the guys membership increases, we will be granted a second position on the panel.
* We recognise that there would, in all probability, be two distinct sectors within the membership: a social sector of people who support the group and wear the regalia, but who for reasons of jobs, profile etc. would not in all probability be involved in any “disgraceful” activities: and a “hard-core” sector who would bege involved in street thestre, demonstrations, marches, and other disgraceful activities . Neither group would be condemned by other members of the gang because of their stand.
* We wish to involve ourselves in the activities of other groups, such as Act-Up, to help them achieve changes as well as having our own group identified. We would also be planning parties, competitions, auctions etc for members, friends, and the community in general.
* Any monies accrued would be used for the benefit of the group in arranging parties, promotions, events, and special meetings.
* We would maintain our loose knit structure with no formalised committee or such, to maintain our independence as a gang. However, the founding members would have the final say as regards all decisions in the gang. The panel of selectors would mert on a regular basis.
* We would, at all time, support community causes, especially in areas such as AIDS, and AIDS treatment.
* We must become noticeable, and identifiable , the patch must become identifiable as a symbol,of people who are involved at nany levels of communal help, as well as a certain degree of outrageousness.
We all left the meeting knowing something monumental was happening. Barriers between poofs and dykes were down, and together we were going to make an impact of positiveness in this city, and hopefully further afield.
G.O.D. for sale, The Midnight Shift, 9 September 1990, Papers of Fabian LoSchiavo, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA)
Total darkness reigns. Through the darkness comes the opening spaceship sounds of Isao Tomita’s 2001 Theme: Thus Spake Zarathustra. The theme reaches a crashing crescendo, and fades with the same rumbling space ship sounds. Before the haunting opening bars of “Camina Burana” mixes into it, the sound of whips, much weeping, wailing and cries for mercy are heard approaching from out of the darkness. The Orff Chorus booms all around, and suddenly dazzling light fills the empty space, refracted through the incense smoke from an ancient thurible swung by a nun, as she attempts to placate and enlighten the chained throng of slaves that are being whipped into submission behind her. Struggles ensure, but the whip mistresses, Centurian guards, and the executioner keep everybody in line! Chains clank, cries get louder, and the incense smoke thickens as they encircle the herculean pillars, and the block from which they will shortly be despatched to heaven…or hell on earth. As the strains of “Carmina Burana” fade, the Centurians lead the slaves off the floor to the enmeshed holding pen. Their fatalistic cries die as the whip mistress finally subdues them into total submission.
No, not a scene from “Ben Hur” or “Quo Vardis”, but the entry procession for the G.O.D Slave/Master/Mistress Celebrity Auction, held at the Midnight Shift on Sunday 9th September (1990). We stated in the advertising that all manner of celebrities, and sleaze buckets, would be going under the hammer for charity…and we meant it!
Paul and Francine from G.O.D introduced the event, then handed the evening over to the very capable and outrageous whims of Monkey., from Tantrum Tits Lingerie, who was the evenings MC and auctioneer. Despite some early hassles with a faulty microphone, she handled the night as only Monkey can – totally over-the-top!
First to the block was Tim Vincent, Mr South Sydney Drummer who, despite a sign written on his back claiming “You can’t afford me” started the bidding off well and – sorty Tim…but someone could, and did, afford you: Matthew Cox, of the Dolphins, actually.
Monkey wasted no time in pushing the bids through, and that auctionees, and their potential owners were equally in agreement with the purchase. In rapid succession, Mr East Sydney Drummer, Bondage Boy, Toy Girl, and Slave Boy were put on the block…and dispensed with!
Many of those to be auctioned went to great lengths to add some theatre to the event, with costuming and dramatic performances. Toy Girl, and Cleopatra, were of special note, using dramatic music and great costumes. Cleopatra seduced the crowd beautifully, as only the Queen of the Nile could, though the gentleman who purchased her was quite obviously totally confused and befuddled by the whole event. The San Francisco motorcycle cop looked hot, and went for a good price. Bossy Boots was determined not to leave the block until she went for what she was worth. The two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were given lessons in humility from the pathetically low bids they attracted. Reverend Mother Abyss is destined for a long stay in Purgatory for her little white lies – 19years old, and still a virgin! Mea Culpa, Reverend Mother!
Jade bought her cartoon Cowgirl character to life, and despite the lack of a horse still fetched a reasonable price. Footy Girl, and School Boy, both dressed for the part, came and went. The Safe Sex Sluts decided to go as a group lot, and despire much wig pulling and stiletto throwing were eventually dispensed of. The unlikely named Captain Falafel and his sidekick Kid Sprout, looking like two flared and flowered hippies still recovering from a Sixties bad acid trip, brought some hilarity to the night, and were last seen being bullied and raped (playfully) under the DJs box.
Ms Wicked was the final official entrant to the block, and with much teasing, taunting and sexual persuasion eventually went for $800,000 ($200 in real money) after a group of girls pooled their resources.
Monkey, unbeknown to her at the time, was then grabbed by the Centurians, and led to the block. Having insulted just about everyone in the surrounds on the floor by this stage, bidding was bound to be high, and she was going for actual cash! Monkey took it all with good grace, got into the mood of the bidding by hurling out a few more insults to remind people of how much she was actually disliked, declared that she was sick of girls, and wanted a guy for a change, and eventually went for $70.
This brought the evening to a close. As the 2001 Theme again faded away, the dual DJs Gemma & Tim got the crowd onto the dance floor, and held them there until the midnight closing.
$810 was raised for the Maitraya Day Centre, and Victoria’s “Lesbian News”. The entire night was an unprecedented success.
This article has been in the “thought” phase for quite some time now. I originally intended it to be an indictment of the Trump Presidency – and for the insularists who think American politics only affect America, and have nothing to do with us…do some reading, study some history and grow up – but in the face of the current political climate globally, its scope expanded so much that I was losing track of its reach! On reviewing the current thinking vomited out by so called right-wing conservative extremists, the first thing that flashed through my mind when wanting to write about them was that they had a Flat Earth Mentality…a narrow, self-serving view of the world; a blinkered view in which the wants and needs of those who, thinking they were initiating change, put them in control. I had naively thought the stupidity I was witnessing would diverge into common sense – but that hasn’t been the case! It has only been since the recent French elections, and the rejection of the right wing extremism there that I am starting to hope that change is starting to happen as people begin to realise the dangers inherent in current conservative politics. This article is not about a solution, nor is it a definitive observation of all that is concerning at this time – one would need a novel to cover that! It is purely a personal observation of the dangers of Flat Earth thinking!
Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the “conspiracy” that the Earth is round. “People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers,” says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.
“Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”
Mr Davis, a 25-year-old computer scientist originally from Canada, first became interested in flat earth theory after “coming across some literature from the Flat Earth Society a few years ago”.
“I came to realise how much we take at face value,” he says. “We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses.”
Flat Earth Societies go back to the Victorian era, and though basically of Christian origin, the fact that there is a recent (tongue-in-cheek?) resurgence amongst those of an Atheist inclination shows that narrow-minded and non-investigative thinking survives the passage of time.
We have known for centuries that the earth is not flat, that by sailing in a straight line the horizon will never disappear, so you won’t suddenly sail over the edge into oblivion! But the really fascinating aspect of Flat Earth Societies isn’t that they exist, but that they can – against all reasoned thinking and knowledge – convince others that the earth is flat, and can even produce writings, drawings and arguments to back the theory up! In other words, they can prevail against common sense and observation, and make people believe that lies and deceit are real. However, the ignorant thinking that created the Flat Earth Societies in the first place is now a sad reality in our political lives. The notion of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has morphed into government “of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy” is our new reality!
In supposed enlightened countries such as Australia, America & the United Kingdom, the swing towards conservative, riggt-wing (rxtremist) politics, and the dross that this leaning brings with it is particularly concerning, and the foolhardiness of allowing this thinking to permeate our political systems is rapidly showing a divisive and reckless disregard for social fairness, truth, justice and common sense. The propagators of this system of thinking are rapidly back-peddling us towards oblivion with their flat earth mentality!
In Australia, we are all yoo familiar with Flat Earth politics -we have now had decades of it, and it’s wearing us out! From the Howard years, with its total disregard for the dignity and worthiness of our immigrant populations – including so-named “boat people”; it’s total ignoring of the needs of elderly & disabled populations (I clearly remember budget after budget with not even a mention of pension increases, despite the cost of living rises leaving us far behind); the usual right wing panderings to the wealthy – both individual & corporate; and their eventual demise thanks to flogging their dead horse…WorkChoices, which in reality gave no worker a choice at all – to the disillusionment of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years!
Instead of giving the hard-pressed, ignored people of this country a hoped for government that would be fair and equitable, we ended up with a rabble! Despite great promise in some areas – such as a huge (badly needed) pension rise, and steering us strongly through the Global Financial Crisis by encouraging spending, and putting money into public works to keep employment rates high and money circulating – they soon decended into a politicking, rudderless (no pun intended!) mess, with a PM who was bever home to do his job, who micro-managed his cabinet, over-loaded himself with portfolios, and was too busy trying to be popularist to get things right! With the country being governed by the deputy PM, and with some good policies that were (unfortunately) badly thought out, and rushed – it was inevitable that in-fighting would rock the boat. But even with Julia Gillard – who was never given a fair-go – at the helm, what should have been easy legislation to enact – marriage equality for LGBTQ people…ESPECIALLY in a Labor government…became their Flat Earth stumbling block! Our first ever female PM; not married to her partner; an Atheist; a disappointment! Follow this with a second travesty of a spill, returning a now ineffective Rudd to power – no wonder the ultra conservative LNP was returned to power…despite having an inept clown – Tony Abbott – as its leader!
Abbott was the ultimate Flat Earther! Disbanding revenue-raising taxes legislated by Labor; a climate change denier; a misogynist; a practising Catholic who dragged religious ideology into his political life, thus his decision making processes; a nentality that belonged in the 50s – his resurrection of the antiquated British peerage system was a low point of a patheticly short stint as PM; again, the inability…on supposed moral grounds…of marriage equality legislation though he tried to set in motion a plebiscite on the issue; disgusing treatment of immagrints fleeing wars & persecution, and setting ip what were basically inhumane detention centres to hold them; allowing the corrupt, immoral rantings of the Murdoch press to comment on his every word; his inability to accept blame for a rapidly rising deficit, producing one of the worst – and most controversial – budgets in Australia’s history…while all the time blaming Labor for their inability to rein it in; and finally bowing out as the worst polling PM in our history, leading the worst polling government in our history! Enter Malcolm Turnbull! Despite a reputation for being a left-leaning Liberal, he was – and is – a bitter disappointment to both sides of parliament! Having already ruined the National Broadvand Network…a technology that would have made us world leaders in this area…he then proceeded to disallusion everyone by towing the party line on issues such as immigration; the handling of detention centres; same-sex marriage; privatisation; total neglect and disregard for those on welfare – including unemployment; the attempted dismantling of section 18C of the anti-discrimination act…which they still fail to see the immorality in, despite the attempt failing; continued pandering to wealthy & elitist individuals and companies…not ONCE has any of the LNP even suggested clawing back taxation not paid by many of the same businesses and corporations that the government loves to protect!! At the last election, they were returned by one seat – ONE! Next election, they’ll be out!
Unfortunately for our poor, battered (politically) country, our Flat Earthers are not limited to Howard, Abbott & Turnbull – we seem to be inundated with them at this point in time; Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne, Nick Xenophon, George Chritiansen, Ian McFarlane, Warren Truss – to name a few – really point to a very low point in the Australian political landscape. These bastions of non-ethical, immoral, injust & prejudiced bias to a set of values entrenched in a distant past can now pride themselves of making us one of the few first world countriens to NOT have marriage equality! Good on you, guys!
Note that I am not even wasting breath on our latest promoter of “Christian” values, and biblical ethics – Margaret Court! She could form a Flat Earth Society all on her own! From record holding national tennis icon to moronic foot-in-mouther…in one single step! If nothing else, she has proved the Flat Earthedness of religion at it’s most backward and inane.
This, in turn, leads to America! If Abbott was our ultimate Flat Earther…Trump is theirs! America, by their own admission, has had some dud Presidents – Nixon & the Bush’s for starters! But this is the first time they have had one who is truly dangerous! An Oligarch, an elitist, a brutish, rascist, misogynistic, self-serving businessman! And unfortunately for America, it’s outdated, and downright idiotic voting system is the only reason he is there! American (and indeed nany Australians) think that putting Trump into power really has no affect on us over here! Wrong! We are tied to America through treaties, military involvement, and trade to a greater degree!
I have never seen a President parodied, and memed as much as Trump! To the point of embarrassment, as he does little to help the possible softening of social media blows!One is just staggered at the stupidity of an electoral system that can place a corrupt, mentally ill, uneducated, egotistical man in as POTUS! He has the attention span of a gnat, no plan for anything he’s doing, abusing his executive powers, evidently removing financial regulations (wonder who could profit from that!), has put his family into his administration (nepotism!), has put people in to head things like the EPO who are only in favour of making money and don’t give a fuck about the environment; has refused to separate his business dealings from his Presidency (causing conflict of interest); has…to date…refused to disclose his taxation records; creates policy on the run – then when the courts say it’s not legal…throws a tanty because he didn’t get his way…and the CIA are refusing to implement the policy as well; has made an enemy of the media – a big mistake, as nothing he does will go unreported; thinks a country can be run like a business! It can’t! Very few – if any – of his electoral promises will be fulfilled, including Making America Great Again! The only people benefiting from the Donald J Trump Presidency…are the Trumps! His isolationist approach will, if it continues, see America cut off from most of the world powers! That will not stregthen America…only weaken it! He is already denounced by most of the European powers, his recent visit there nothing but a total fiasco for America, as he tried to bully and threaten his way through meetings and conferences! The only thing he managed was the alienation of world leaders of countries such as Germany & France! On the world stage, he is a total failure! His ignorance of the workings of international politics; his inability to be a public speaker; his constant obsession for inane tweets on Twitter; his inability to check himself; using the treasury like his own bank account…who pays for all those golfing weekends to Florida, and all the security surrounding Trump Tower vecause his family don’t want to reside in the White House; his firing of staff because they don’t fall into line with his demands…the list goes on…and on…and on…make him a true Flat Earther! The back-slapping that went on with the ultra right wing consrrvative British PM – Theresa May – was vomitous! Another Flat Earth politician, whose reign may be about to come to an end! The resurgence of white supremacist groups, the trend towards irrational thinking, the clutching to empty promises, and the belief in resurrecting what can’t be resurrected in America is worrying – particularly for the welfare of America.
Theresa May, like Malcolm Turnbull, is a victim of thinking that the public – in general – are also Flat Earth thinkers! Very wrong! Like Turnbull, she assumed that by calling an early election, the ounlic would hand her a mandate to govern – at will – on a silver platter! Well, as here, that didn’t go as planned, did it! The voters, finally fed up with empty promises, warped thinking, and over-inflated ego’s almost lost her everything…as also happened here! A hung parliament is just one small step away from a total drubbing at the next election! And typical of the desperation to cling to power at any cost…she now tries to do deals with the devil! To attempt a coalition government with the DUP (created by the Rev Ian Paisley…the Flat Earthers Flat Earther) will pretty well spell the demise of the Tories, as a party to be even considered serious government. What a disterous mess for Britain! Welcome to the world of Clayton’s government! The government you have, when you don’t have a government!
However, it is not all doom & gloom! Emmanuel Macron winning the recent French election against the ultra conservative right brightened up an otherwise overcast international…and local…political climate! Other rays of hope and enlightenment – come from Justin Trudeau in Canada, and the potential new world leader – whose strength and forthrightness is to be commended – Angela Merkel in Germany. None of these world leaders suffer idiots well. Meanwhile, here in Australia, we continue to suck arse to Trump…all the while looking more and more foolish!
I do predict an end to extremist ultra conservative right wing politics! World wide, those suppressed and disadvantaged…the disenfranchised…are fighting back via the ballot box! Weary of supporting those who take advantage of us; weary of money dictating policy; weary of watching the “haves” get away with it yet again, and feeding none of their ill-gained wealth back into society; weary of shouldering the whole tax burden, while watching welfare stripped away, health care & education underfunded or disbanded; weary of religion creating factions, terrorism, social inequality, and dividing peoples & nations; weary of the environment being raped, ecosystems destroyed, whole species decimated or extinct; weary of no one caring about what is now very obvious climate change; weary of media who no longer see the validity of honest, open, accurate reportage from journalists that care about their job to report things as-is, but belittle it with trivia disguised as news (see Pipoa Middletons wedding, or Scharpelle Corby’s return to Australia); weary of media saturation of terrorist activities, and natural disasters, so desensitising us that we no longer care…do, in fact, change channels; and weary of social media stripping us of our individuality…making us double check ourselves everytime we post, repost, or comment!
We can only spend so much time and energy being weary! It is only a matter of time before the scales tilt the other way…to us wanting to be awake, aware and happy again!
That day is coming! The reign of the Flat Earthers is coming to an end!
After its troucing in the WA election – where the projected 13% of the vote in pre-election polling dropped to 4.7% on the actual day – One Nation is once AGAIN in damage control! Despite this being a constant with them, one has to wonder just how one-eyed the people who vote for them really are! Of course, the question is – did Pauline’s rather startling preference deal with the Libs; her thoughtless comments on vaccination programs; Sandy Baraiolo being disendorsed for refusing to hand over access to her Facebook account after criticism of One Nation’s preference deal with the Liberals; Margaret Dodd quitting on the eve of the election, labelling the party a dictatorship; Dane Sorensen being dumped as another critic of the preference deal; Stephen Piper being disendorsed over a disciplinary issue; or Ray Gould quitting, complaining the party had been dishonest about its intention to do a deal with the Liberals – have anything to do with the slaughter…or are the voters starting to realise that far right conservatism is just that, and considering the current blatherings forthcoming from Canberra, they are never going to be given a fair deal unless they are wealthy, a big business or a corporation. I digress!
Considering the current state of gut-reaction politics that seems to be overtaking the world – Trump in The USA (a disaster of unparalleled proportions), and the Trumpesque Theresa May in Britain – one has to scratch ones head as to why One Nation are seen as a legitimate alternative in Australia! Their extensive litany of disasters, foot-in-mouth comments, corruption, and loose canon candidates shows a party in constant disarray, with no strong leadership, no clear policies, conflicting directions, and ongoing sell-outs by supporting the LNP on matters that one would have thought were contrary to their mission!
Listing “the stupid” of this party shows a staggering array of disasters that, in any other reality than that which we are currently faced with, would see them not just disendorsed…but so on the nose that not even the most unread voter would support them! But like the proverbial Lazarus, they keep rising from the dead!
The chronicle: March 11 1995 – Fish and chip shop owner Pauline Hanson begins her political career as an independent Ipswich City Councillor. She decided to run when Labor mayor David Underwood was thrown out of office by Labor councillors, with Ms Hanson saying: “How can a handful of people throw out a man elected by the people?” She was voted out the following year and subsequently joined the Liberal Party. January 6 1996 – Ms Hanson writes the following letter, published in the Queensland Times, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: “How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.”How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.” January 27, 1996 – Then prime minister Paul Keating calls the election and Ms Hanson starts campaigning to become the Liberal MP for Oxley. She has a tough margin to overcome — the sitting Labor member Les Scott was sitting on a margin of 12.58 per cent after his third term in the Lower House. – February 14 1996 – Just over two weeks from election, Ms Hanson’s letter leads to her disendorsement by the Liberal Party, led by soon-to-be prime minister John Howard. The Queensland branch president tells her she could keep her election posters if references to the party were covered up. She leaves the meeting in tears. Ballot papers had already been printed and voters would see her listed as the Liberal candidate when they went to the polls. March 2, 1996 – Ms Hanson is elected to Federal Parliament and John Howard leads the Coalition to victory. September 6 1996 – Ms Hanson makes her maiden speech in parliament and famously says, “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians”. October 13, 1996 – 60 Minutes journalist Tracey Curro asks Ms Hanson if she is xenophobic, she famously responds “please explain”. – February 23 1997 – Almost one year into her term, Ms Hanson forms the One Nation party with the help of co-founders David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Mr Oldfield was still working as a political advisor for backbench MP Tony Abbott when he started helping Ms Hanson in 1996. He left the Liberal Party in 1997 to become Ms Hanson’s senior political advisor before the party officially launched on April 11. June 13 1998 – One Nation wins 22.68 per cent of the primary vote at the Queensland state election — more than the Liberal Party — to pick up 11 seats at the election. It was the biggest win One Nation had in its entire history. July 2, 1998 – Mr Abbott declares he will fight to have One Nation deregistered as a political party. He argues it is not a political party but a business. One Nation’s opponents argue it did not have the 500 members needed to claim party status and therefore has to pay back $500,000 to the electoral commission. October 3, 1998 – Ms Hanson runs in the Queensland seat of Blair, instead of Oxley, but loses. She manages to pick up the largest swag of primary votes (35.97 per cent) but loses through preferences to her Liberal opponent. The Labor, Liberal and National parties preference each other ahead of One Nation. Her party only picks up one seat, with Len Harris being elected to the Senate. February 4 1999 – Fractures at the state level see three of the 11 Queensland MPs elected 8 months earlier quit the party. They think party administration has too much control. Three more would quit later in the year and form the City Country Alliance. One Nation loses its party status at the state level and the Queensland Electoral Commission chased them for the $500,000 given after the 1998 election. 27 March, 1999 – Mr Abbott’s former adviser and One Nation co-founder Mr Oldfield is elected in the NSW Upper House. Ms Hanson expels him from the party one-and-a-half years later after a disagreement. He publicly accuses Ms Hanson of being irrational. “Bear in mind that since, you know, Pauline said a few things in Ipswich in the middle of 1996, everything including her maiden speech and every word of any consequence that she’s said since, has actually been written for her,” he said. He split the NSW branch from the rest of One Nation. 17 February, 2001 – A week after picking up three seats in the West Australian state election, One Nation is reduced to three seats in the Queensland state election. 31 July 2001 – Ms Hanson appears before the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with electoral fraud. She pleads not guilty, saying: “I do believe that this is a political witch-hunt.” Mr Abbott takes the opportunity to knock back any suggestion of a preference deal with One Nation, saying: “My view is that we shouldn’t play footsies with One Nation.” March 22, 2003 – Ms Hanson tries to gain a seat in the NSW Upper House as an independent. She fails, getting 1.9 per cent of the votes. July 15 2003 – Ms Hanson stands trial for electoral fraud in Brisbane with One Nation co-founder Mr Ettridge.She pleads not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation and obtaining more than $500,000 from the AEC. There were 30 witnesses over 23 days, the jury takes a day to find them both guilty. Crown lawyers accuse them of falsely claiming more than 500 people were party members, when they were just supporters of Ms Hanson. They argue members have to have voting rights and that $5 is too little for membership fees. Ms Hanson is sentenced to three years’ jail and yells: “Rubbish, I’m not guilty… it’s a joke.” August 20 2003 – Ms Hanson cries as she hugs her co-accused and two sons. Three days later, federal Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop says the case is something you would expect to see under Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe regime. “It’s gone beyond just political argy-bargy of political opponents … I’ve been very critical of her and her party, but this is something that is above and beyond that political argument — this is someone who has been sent to jail because she spoke her views and that is not acceptable in this country,” she said. “Very simply, for the first time in Australia, we now have a political prisoner and I find that totally unacceptable … in a country where freedom of speech and freedom to act as a political individual is sacrosanct.” 26 August 2003 – Mr Abbott admits to setting up a $100,000 fund to help build a case against Ms Hanson. The Australians for Honest Politics fund was set up in 1998 and its purpose was to help fund civil cases against One Nation. Mr Abbott met with multiple One Nation dissidents when it was set up to try to bring down the anti-immigration party. One of the cases was from Terry Sharples — he fought to have the party deregistered through a civil case and it made him bankrupt. Mr Abbott says he acted alone and offered Mr Sharples $10,000. The former One Nation member has a different story: he says the then prime minister John Howard knew of the fund and that he was offered around $20,000. November 6 2003 – Ms Hanson successfully appeals the conviction and she is released from prison. A week-and-a-half later, she threatens to run against Mr Abbott in his Sydney electorate. “I hope Tony Abbott never becomes prime minister. I detest the man,” she said. May 24 2007 – Ms Hanson launches Pauline’s United Australia Party and fails in her run for the Senate in the 2007 federal election. 7 March, 2013 – Ms Hanson announces she will run for a Senate seat for NSW at the upcoming federal election. She rejoins the One Nation party after flagging interest in rejoining the Liberal Party. She fails in her bid, getting 1.14 per cent of primary votes. August 8 2013 – One Nation candidate for the Brisbane seat of Rankin has a disastrous interview on Channel 7. Stephanie Banister mistakenly calls the Koran “Haram” and confuses the three Abrehemic religions saying, “Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ”. July 2 2016 – After another failed bid to gain a seat in the Queensland Parliament during the 2015 election, One Nation runs 27 candidates in the 2016 federal election. During the campaign, she calls for a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, a royal commission into Islam and a ban on new mosques. While votes are sill being counted, Ms Hanson looks assured to win a spot in the Senate after securing more than 9 per cent of the vote in Queensland. 18 December 2016 – Rod Culleton (WA) left the party after months of legal troubles and party infighting to sit as an independent bringing the number of party senators to 3. Party leader Pauline Hanson responded that Culleton was a “pain in the backside” and that she was “glad to see the back of him” 3 February 2017 – The High Court of Australia ruled that Culleton’s election was invalid due to a conviction for which he was subject to being sentenced at the time of the election, notwithstanding that the conviction was subsequently annulled. The resulting vacancy was filled by a recount of the votes at the election, which resulted in Peter Georgiou taking the seat and returning the One Nation representation in the Senate to four. 13 February 2017 – Several WA One Nation candidates say they will refuse to preference the Liberal Party, contrary to a statewide deal announced on the weekend. The WA Liberals will preference One Nation above the Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas, with One Nation preferencing the Liberals in all Lower House seats in return. High-profile One Nation candidate Margaret Dodd, who is contesting the Liberal-held seat of Scarborough for One Nation and is the mother of murdered teenager Hayley Dodd, today condemned the decision and accused the party of bullying its candidates.Speaking outside a Perth court where her daughter’s alleged murderer, Francis Wark, appeared today, Ms Dodd said she had “not been informed of any [preference] deal whatsoever, and I’m sure all the candidates haven’t”. “I will make my own choices on who I will give my preferences to, and it certainly will not be the Liberal party,” she said. 26 February 2017 – One Nation has removed two of its West Australian election candidates just weeks out from state polling day. Pauline Hanson’s party scrapped North West Central candidate Dane Sorensen and Thornlie candidate Sandy Baraiolo for critiquing the party’s preference swap deal with the Liberal Party, AAP reports. One Nation’s WA leader Colin Tincknell said the pair had not met party standards. March 8 2017 – Ms Hanson makes crazy comments about childhood vaccination “Parents are saying vaccinations have an effect on some children. Go and have your tests first. You can have a test on your child first,” Senator Hanson told Insiders. The comments were condemned by the medical community and Senator Hanson today conceded she was “wrong” about a test for vaccinations. She was forced to apologise for the comments. March 13 2017 – Despite not getting anywhere near the 13% of the votes predicted for ON in the WA election, Pauline Hanson defended One Nation’s performance this morning, saying the party had a “fantastic” result despite winning less seats than foreca Senator Hanson blamed a Labor “scare campaign” over the One Nation preference deal with the WA Liberals for the party not claiming more votes. The One Nation leader also rejected suggestions Malcolm Turnbull had nothing to do with the Liberal’s landslide election loss in WA in an interview with Channel Seven’s Sunrise program this morning. She placed the blame squarely on Premier Colin Barnett.
And so on…and so on. Add to this a string of racist remarks from candidates, and Pauline’s constant denials that she is a racist – despite actually being one! There is no denying that she appeals to the right-wing conservatives in the community, along with those who think racism, prejudice & discrimination are “okay”, those who listen to her rhetoric, and think we are being “swamped” by Asians and people from Muslim backgrounds, and those who think immigration should be severely cut back, or curtailed altogether. It is perhaps unfortunate that these same people also think that all blunders and bad overall performance is nothing to worry about, that the party will eventually prevail and the country will end up hunky-dory! Most worrying about this attitude is the absence of research, intelligent discussion and downright common sense!
Nobody is happy at the moment. Right-wing conservative politics are proving to be a dismal failure! As always, this path leads to policies aimed squarely at both well-to-do individuals, and corporations. Every time the question is asked by government “where is the money going to come from to pay our deficit?” The answer is never to tax the wealthy, or to chase up businesses and corporations who shirk paying a fair share of taxation – if any at all! In an increasingly secular society, taxing churches and religious organisations is still ignored. However, money is constantly geing pulled from health, education, family benefits and services, and the needy on welfare.
In a time past, we could rely on the Labor party to support and devote policies to these very areas that the LNP robs to pay for their extravagances! But Labor is letting its supporters down by bad preference deals, disunity, the stink of corruption – especially in the Union sector – and a general lack of strength and leadership. With these scenario’s constantly being thrown at us by the media, is it any wonder people are looking for alternatives!
However, the answer doesn’t lie in the other extreme. One Nation, at its very heart, IS extreme right-wing conservative politics! Given its history of voting with the LNP on conservative agendas, one would think that would be a call to its supporters to rethink just where their vote is going! It is not the wealthy, nor big business, nor corporations that are voting for them…it’s the lower class workers, the battlers, the disenfranchised who are voting for One Nation – and they are – just as in Trump’s America – the ones who will get nothing!
Cubbie Station in Queensland, the overallocation of precious water from our river systems, and the government neglect…both State & Federal…of this issue, would appear to have been flying under the radar for the last couple of years!
This post appeared in my Facebook feed recently:
I have a huge amount of family history in Broken Hill, and the Bourke region on the Darling River. For many years now, Cubbie Station has been controversially taking advantage of a massive water allocation, which has severe effects on the waterways, and creating water shortages in river systems as far down as the Murray River!
What is really annoying is that under the original owners, Cubbie Station Group, the property used to be a cattle station, then in 1983 and then under the Japanese ownership, it was turned over to cotton…one of the most water use intensive crops there is…and really not suitable as a crop in this country!
So, what is Cubbie Station…and well you may ask! According to Wikioedia, it’s located on the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion, near Dirranbandi in Queensland. Itbus the LARGEST irrigation property in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE! The property covers 96,000 hectares (240,000acres) and is managed by the Lempriere Group, on behalf of CS Agriculture, a joint venture betweenn Lempriere & Shandong RuYi Group, a textile manufacturer owned by investors from China & Japan.
The station has significant water rights to flows along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin. The topography of the area is defined by channels & floodplains of the upper reaches of the Darling & Barwon Rivers. Cotton was originally grown in the area from the late 1970s. In 1983, Cubbie Station was converted from grazing practices to cotton growing. The property consists of both agricultural & non-agricultural uses, with approx 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) presently developed, with a further 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) under development.
The station was created by amalgamating twelve floodplain properties to give Cubbie a total of fifty-one licences. The station’s water storage dams stretch for more than 28 kilometres (17 mi) along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin. In an average year the station uses 200,000 megalitres (7,100×106 cu ft) of water, in a good year as much as 500,000 megalitres (18,000×106 cu ft).
The water is used to supply 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi) of irrigated cotton and other crops including wheat, which generates a net profit in the range of A$50 million to A$80 million a year. The station is licensed to take 460,000 megalitres (16,000×106 cu ft), the equivalent of all irrigation entitlements downstream in north-western NSW. The property has the capacity to grow 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) of cotton. In 2006, the dams on the property were filled to 1% capacity allowing for only 200 hectares (490 acres) of cotton planting. The station is often derided for its large water usage requirements in a time of extreme drought in Australia and damage to the Murray Darling river system.
During his term as Minister for the Environment, Malcolm Turnbull did not rule out its possible acquisition by the Australian government, however he is now Prime Minister, and the acquisition of Cubbie Station has never occured.
On 29 October 2009, Cubbie Group Limited, the former owner of Cubbie Station, announced it would voluntarily enter administration on the following day. The company had incurred debts of over A$300 million, as a result of poor rainfall in the region in the preceding five years. Corporate recovery specialists, McGrathNicol, were appointed as Administrators of the Cubbie Group on 30 October 2009. On 31 August 2012 the Australian Government, on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, approved the sale of Cubbie Group, to a consortium comprising Shandong RuYi Scientific & Technological Group Co Ltd, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, and Lempriere Group, an Australian family-owned company involved in wool trading and agricultural property management. The approval provided RuYi with an 80% initial ownership interest on condition that this interest be reduced to 51% within three years. The interest is to be sold to an independent third party. The consortium are bound by existing water licence conditions and the property is operated and managed by the Australian company using the existing workforce. At the time, the Liberal Party were in opposition, and supported the purchase. However, there was dissension amongst some members of the Nationals, who had concerns with foreign-ownership of agricultural land and water rights, claiming that the sale is not in Australia’s national interest. The purchase of Cubbie Group by the joint venture CS Agriculture was completed on 25 January 2013, for an estimated purchase price of A$240 million.
So, we now have an Austealian agricultural enterprise, with huge water allocation rights, owned by foreign companies…and let’s be realistic – are they really concerned about destroying viable and much needed river biosystems…compared to making profits!
In his “Crikey” article “How Cubbie (and Labor) Consumed the Murray Darling (August 21, 2008), Bernard Keane rather pointedly noted that the story of Cubbie Station is “an incestuous saga of arrogance & influence”! He further notes “The extent of the Queensland Government’s parochial and profligate attitude to water management continues to attract criticism. Put simply, the Queenslanders couldn’t care less about the health of rivers either on their side of the border or beyond. Penny Wong can only wring her hands and sympathise with farmers downstream.
The Queenslanders continue to trot out the line that they take only 5% of water from the Murray-Darling. It’s literally correct — that’s what they take out. It’s what they prevent from entering from run-off that is the key — and that is much more. The CSIRO’s recent report on Water Availability in the Condamine-Balonne reveals a vast and unsustainably over-allocated system that sees over 50% of water extracted from the Balonne-Culgoa before it reaches NSW.” One doesn’t need to go into the Darling or down into the Murray to see the environmental havoc wreaked by this water “mismanagement”! Thousands of hectares of dead trees on the Culgoa floodplain and a system approaching tipping point! For years, Cubbie Group — the vast cancer on the Balonne-Culgoa which exemplifies all that is wrong with the states’ management of water — has maintained that it only extracts 0.2% of Murray-Darling water. Fair Water Use Australia has pointed out that this ignores the bulk of Cubbie’s water — from overland flows prevented from entering the Balonne and Culgoa Rivers — and that the 0.2% is based on average flows anyway, rather than conditions following heavy rains.
On August 19 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article – in the Federal Politics section – titled “Cubbie Station sums up Murray-Darling tragedy”. It calls Cubbie Station a case study in (water) overallocation. The station has long been cast as the villain in the slow death of the Murray-Darling river system. At this time, the 93,000 hectare property was up for sale, and there was debate about the Commonwealth purchasing its water reserves, and is a reminder that the Murray-Darling story is an environmental and economic tragedy involving many villains. As the Federal Government is cautioning, buying these water entitlements is not a simple matter. This, in turn, reflects the failure of governments, irrigators and water authorities to establish nationally consistent rules for the Murray-Darling system.
The first sticking point is that Queensland law on water entitlements is different from that of other states because the water cannot be sold separately from the land entitlements. Queensland is moving to enable separate sales, but faces a legal challenge from irrigators along the Condamine-Balonne river system, from which Cubbie draws its water. Clearly, though, uniform rules are essential if the Murray-Darling is to be managed properly. Despite Queensland’s government being responsible for the overallocation, Anna Bligh (the Premier at that time) was right in saying that the Cubbie sale offered an opportunity for the Queensland, NSW and federal governments to reconsider water allocations.
As things stand, the main beneficiaries of a water release from Cubbie station would be farms across the border in NSW, whose licences permit them to pump more out of the river as levels rise. The Commonwealth might have to buy back Cubbie station’s entitlements and matching amounts from NSW irrigators to achieve an extra, and expensive, environmental flow.
The lesson of Cubbie station is that there isn’t nearly as much water available as once expected, particularly if climate change has taken hold. Federal and state governments need to go back and review all licences and rewrite the rules of the current highly compromised national water plan to arrive at a system capable of sustaining the environment and agricultural ventures for years to come.
In “The Land” (15 March 2013), Matthew Cranston wrote an article “Cubbie’s new owners look at water sale”. He noted “THE new Chinese and Japanese owners of Cubbie Station are looking at selling water back to the federal government less then two months after paying $232 million for the debt-laden cotton farm.The 96,000 hectare property in south-western Queensland has been the centre of controversy because of its huge water entitlements within the Murray Darling Basin system. It officially changed hands on January 15 after being bought by CS Agriculture, a company backed by Chinese group Shandong Ruyi, Japanese trading giant Itochu, and fifth generation Australian wool trader Lempriere Group…”We have committed to consider the option of selling any excess entitlements into water buyback schemes,” Mr McKenna said at the Rural Press Club in Brisbane.”.
To date, nothing appears to have happened, and if water buy-backs are being considered, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any rush to complete them…much to the detriment of the river system!
My Great Grand Uncle, Captain George Rickinson Swan Pickhills, captained steamers up and down the Darling River from the second half of the 1800s up until the early 1900s. He was an unintentional environmentalist, and protector of the waterways, long gefore it was fashionable to be so! He was an outspoken man, and wroye many letters, and written observations, to both state government river authorities and newspapers regarding many issues of water management, and infrastructure building, particularly aling the Darling. The seasonal ebbs and flows if the river are well noted in his ibservations, including oeriods where, for NATURAL reasons, the river was not navigable due to the drop in water levels. He would be horrified to learn if the actual ssle of this precious commodity, in huge golumes, to properties that not only witheld the excess water from the tiver system, but were openly growing croos that consumed enormoys quantities of same water! It is perhaps due to his agitation and outspokeness that it vould be of enormous benefit to have him around today! Do not rake on rough, tough Yorkshire men!
That aside, this issue of overallication of water rights, and the inability to vontain them has been going on for a long, long time now. In a country where droughts are as prevalent as floods, one has to wonder just what the hell is going on! It raises a lot of issues, and one has to question just how much influence does money have!
Considering the well documented historical records of the ebbs and flows of the Murray-Darling river system, one has to question the validity of EVER selling water rights from them in the first place!
Considering that the property was bought in recent years by FOREIGN investors, who had to be granted permission by the government of the day for the purchase, why was not a huge cut-back on the size of the water allocation part of the deal!
Of great concern has to be the question of, with the investors living in other countries, whether the environmental concerns regarding these important river systems is of any concern to them whatsoever!
Considering that Cubbie Station KNOWS that it takes far, far more water than it needs in allocations, in times of duress (as far as water flow goes on the rivers), could they not voluntarily instigate negotiations with the government to either (a) sell back excess water or…and far less likely (b) voluntarily just return water to the system purely for the sake of the environment, and saving the river system! If nothing else, considering that Cubbie Station is seen, in the public eye, as a giant, grasping, greedy, self indulgent property, that has a total disregard for the environment…it would be a great PR exercise!
The government really does need to step in, and not only massively cut back their water allocation, but look at the detrimental effects on the environment & waterways caused by Cubbie Station! But the problem is also about more than water allocations! It is about unsustainable farming practises in general, growing crops along the river ststems that require massive amounts of water to irrigate them. The government needs to promote and reeducate our farmers about adopting sustainable crops and farming methods…and not just there, but along all of our water systems as well! The effects if vlimate change arebecoming more noticable as time goes on, and the next period of severe drought – if not happening already – is probably not far away! In a country of climatic extremes, we need more foresight, and a more insightful look at how we manages our very precious resources. Greed and ignorance are not yhe answers to these very complex questions!
Seriously America – what the fuck is going on over there! First of all, you hand a maniacal, egotistical, hedonistic man – with very obvious mental health issues – the total control of your country! Even give this same person the title of Commander-In-Chief! Somebody who lives in a world of denial, falsehoods, and indecisions! Somebody who has rushed into power, and is making decisions involving the health and wellbeing of your country on the run! Somebody who is abusing the executive powers handed to him as part of his position, using these powers to enforce his own agenda, and by-pass the machinations of government to enforce same! Someone who does not want to be accountable, or criticised, or called to task! Someone who is, despite your Constitution – which seems to be invoked at the drop of a hat, as a general rule – is trying to control the media to highlight only what his administration want highlighted…be it right, or wrong! The fiasco involving the attendance at his inauguration – which WAS less than for Obama’s – and his accusations of electoral fraud regarding him not achieving the popular vote, are two examples of areas whereby they are trying to control what the media reports.
Unfortunately, we live in an era of weak, unresearched and downright lazy journalism! Too many news mediums no longer report things in an unbiased way, but choose to take sides, which distorts their reportage! Social media – too often a source of news these days, much of which us inaccurate, distorted or just made up to satisfy the blood lust of gullible consumers – has too big an influence, and is – sadly – often used as a “reliable” source by lazy journalists who no longer see their job as reporting the truth! What a sad state of affairs! Thankfully, honest reporting does still exist – not everyone can be cowered by threats – and the glimmer of light is there for those who really care about what goes on around them! Any country who allows its news media to be manipulated, downgraded, and churning out outright lies to its readers/listeners should be ashamed of itself! The right to know what is going on around us, the highlighting of injustice, government and corporate distortions , cover-ups and lies, the peddling of misinformation, and elevating what was in the gutter onto a pedestal is not a privilege – it is a right!
When highly respected – and, until now, retired – journalists like Dan Rather throw their hat back into the ring…you know things are deadly serious. Sick of the lies, distortions and cover-ups of the new…and not very old…President and his administration (if that is what it can be called), Dan Rather has set up his own Facebook page called “News and Guts” to counter the misinformation currently being vomited out by biased news services. Not just journalists, but news consumers themselves need to stand up and demand a “hands off” position in regards to the honest reporting, and holding to account, of the words and actions of those elected to public office! All too often these days we allow those in government, and in the media, to side-step the fact that WE elect these officials!They are answerable and accountable TO US! They ARE NOT there to enact their own agenda’s, to lie, to cover up, to manipulate the systems – or the media – to their own ends. We have allowed this disempowerment of our rights, of our own power as voters, as people who must live under these administrations to do what they please, when the please, for way too long now. Our expectations should always be for honesty, integrity, morality, ethics, transparency and fairness from elected officials, irrespective of their position. Likewise, our media dhould be held to the same standards.
I wish Dan Rather well. I will br watching with intense interest! The return to honesty and integrity in reporting! And bugger the gutless wonders!
Originally published as a Facebook status update. Edired here.
Watching a doco called “President Trump”…quite an eye-opener. The “man” has ALWAYS been a prick! Majorly bad business decisions… caused by a “buying spree” of buying casino’s and hotels, most of which failed. Originally purchased to hig note himself!; a Hugh Hefner mentality towards women & sex; has a lawyer who is nothing more than a bullying thug; seen as a promoter by the banking industry, but not a CEO; pathological personality, who will never admit he’s wrong; no scruples or morality regarding his financial affairs; rejected by NY elite as rough and rude, and not accepted. This has always been been an issue for him, due to his pathological need to be accepted; the perception that he’s a businessman is an illusion created by his television persona; hates being criticised or sent-up, or told he’s wrong; a need for public acceptance…feels inadequate without it
In a few words, he’s a hedonistic, conniving, dishonest, egotistical, sexist, bullying pig! And is, in a couple of days, POTUS. Fasten your seat belts…
One can only hope that common sense prevails somewhere along the line. That this situation has been allowed to actually get to this stage makes a joke of the Presidency. He, and his little band of corrupt ‘administrators” (read as…jobs for the bots) are treating this as a board game, with decisions made on the roll of a dice.
One can only hope impeachment is eminent! Such a corrupt man, and an equally corrupt administration should never, ever, be given the reins of power. Wait and see? I don’t think the world can afford to!
As much as our ineffective government is whinging, and despite that horrid & embarrassing Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce, bleating on about the interruption to the “workings” of parliament, the protesters disrupting proceedings today, and drawing attention to the atrocious treatnent of those in our detention centres, and demanding the closing of same, it is – in fact – democracy in action! I, and nany others, applaud them!
the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.
“the administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”
synonyms: vote, referendum, ballot, poll
“a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”
a law enacted by the plebeians’ assembly.
Australia is moving backwards at the speed of light! I have always been proud to be a member of society in a country that used to be progressive, fair-minded, and – to a large extent – liberal (not in the political party sense of the word) in its attitudes! But the current path we are heading down has me throwing my hands in the air.
GLBT members of this society have had to sit on their hands over the last few years as country after country – some leaning towards the conservative sude of things – has passed marriage equality legislation. Even our “other state” over the ditch (New Zealand for our overseas readers), who can be more British than the Brits, have marriage equality.
There was a time when we would have been at the forefront with this move towards equality for all…but apparently no more. The move to have a plebiscite to change the definition of marriage – how marriage ever became a government defined societal act in the first place is something I’m not going into – was mooted originally by our ultra-conservative, Catholic now-ex-PM Tony Abbott, as a way of avouding the issue from a parliamentary perspective, and seeming to allow the “Australian people” to have a say in things – despite polls over the years showing a steadily increasing percentage of the population being in favour of marriage equality. Go figure!
A vote for marriage equality could be done thus week by a vote in parliament. Yes, they do have that power! Instead, PM Malcolm aTurnbull – who is personally in favour of msrriage equality – has decided to not stick by his guns, nor show the guts needed to tell his party to show some gumption by voting on the issue, but going forward with this plebuscite that is going to cost the aAustralian taxpayers around $160+ million. And this from a government facing the largest budget deficit ever seen in this countries history! To make it even worse, they are oroviding funding to both the Yes and No sides of the argument!
So, what will the plebiscite give us that a vote in parliament won’t? In a word – nothing! It will happen, the conservatives will be left wringing their hands while the najority of us celebrate. It is the process of a plebiscite that is the problem! The government throwing some funding their way must have groups like the Australian Christian Lobby rubbing their hands with glee as they plot and plan their campaign of lies,misinformation, diversions and fear! Society will implode, the hand of god will strike us all down, and life as we know it will never be the same again! What a crock of shit! The proponents of hate-speech – invluding some of our conservative politicians and independents – are going to have a field day! Yeah, sure, the government has said that anti-discrimination legislation will still apply as a condition of the funding…but that does not stop what will be preached from pulpits (under the guide of biblical sermons), or is said in private, or behind the closed doors of meetings (redacted minutes?)! Nor will it stop the crackpots who just don’t care who they hurt pr traumatise! It is a prescription for hate!
I’m an old hand when it comes to bullying and nane-calling as a nember of the LGBT community. It is like water off a ducks back! But not all are as tough! There are those poised on the sidelines, waiting for that magic moment amongst all their sexual confusion when the light comes on, they have that instant courage, and come out. They will be watching this shit-fight going on around them! They will see the hate, the lies, the true characters of those who think that they have rights that others shouldn’t have! And they will stop, and wonder…is this what I want to find if I come out! I fear – and bleed – for them!
What is it with this country that we always choose – or rather our politicians choose – the wrong way to approach things that can gring about great change in our society! We had it with the Republican referendum in 1999, when nany of us wanted a Republic, but were forced to vote against it due to the question containing the condition that the President would be voted in by parliament, rather than by the people! Needless to say, it failed. Now we have a similar issue with the plebiscite. It has become such a contentious issue that the opposition will more than likely vote against it, and as much as I hate to say this about anything that can bring about change – I hope the plebiscite doesn’t go ahead. It is time for our government to take some responsibility, and be arbiters of change, rather than “throwing blame” back onto the voting punlic, and allowing the advocates of hate, prejudice, intolerance and stigma to have their moment in the spotlight. Their insistence – against all reason – to tow the party line is not only putting them out of touch, but displays a crack within their own party that reeks of intolerance and hate!
I do not want marriage equality for myself. I am more than happy to live in sin. But I do want it for those who want it. Like everything else in society, they have a right to choice, a right to love their partner as they see fit. And no one has the right to deprive them of that. Society will not implode, the planet will not stop turning, lightening will not flow from heaven haling in the apocalypse! NOTHING will change! In 2004, PM John Howard used parliamentary vote to add the common law definition of marriage (that it is between a man and a woman) to the marriage act. If a vote of this nature can be used to change the definition of the act once, it can be used to change it again!
The plebiscite, I think, will fail! The wait goes on! Change WILL come! Hate will never win out against tolerance and love! EVER!