Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yesterday in politics...

... we saw the best and worst of Julia Gillard and her government. Her 15 minute speech condemning the misogyny of Tony Abbott was amazing (transcript here). She was strong and clear and there is no doubt we needed it all to be said. And we will need it to be said again and again and again if the general response we've seen is any indication. I've seen Gillard called a hypocrite for calling Abbott "that man", on the basis that people are criticised for referring to Gillard as "that woman". Honestly, if "that woman" was the worst Gillard and the rest of us had to deal with, I'd throw my own post-feminism party and invite everyone. Gillard listed many hateful, misogynist things that Abbott has said or supported, and she didn't mention being called "that woman". It really doesn't rate.

On the other hand, on the same day, the senate passed Labor's (and therefore Gillard's) changes to the single parent payment, meaning that once their youngest child turns 8, a single parent is no longer eligible for the single parent payment. Apparently children 8 and up don't need parenting - or perhaps parenting them is not regarded as valuable work, or is something that can be squeezed in between working for a corporation. This is a disgusting move, it lets down kids and it lets down people (and let's face it, by numbers, we're still talking mostly women) doing their best to raise their kids. Apparently verbal misogyny is not on, and won't be tolerated (as it certainly shouldn't be) but institutionalised misogyny is just fine - especially if it's popular with right leaning voters.

Labor and Gillard continue to lurch to the right. While I welcome and acknowledge what Gillard has achieved with the carbon price and some semblance of a mining tax, there are so many other decisions that have been all about pandering to exactly the kind of fear and ignorance peddled by talk back radio hosts and Mr Abbott. It's deeply disappointing. I'd really like to see a great deal more of the passionate, progressive woman we saw in Question Time yesterday, and a great deal less of the popular vote chasing woman that's cutting support to some of society's most vulnerable. Yesterday was the whole Gillard government encapsulated. Moments of brilliance, interspersed with horrid politicking.


  1. Wow, I had no idea about these changes. I wouldn't think it would be a "popular vote chaser" so I wonder why anyone thinks it's a good idea?

  2. It's a very popular vote chaser. Listen to talk back radio or talk to punters in the 'burbs and you'll hear about how single mothers are all just lazy, welfare cheats who only have kids to get the pension. It's a popular image that's perpetuated by the media and politicians alike. The problem is that there are some people who fit that description, and quite a few people have met someone who does. Unfortunately, human beings, as a rule, really suck at statistics, and therefore lots of people completely fail to notice that these people are a tiny minority of single parents, and policy should not be based on them. But I imagine Alan Jones thinks it's just hunky dory (not that he'd say so - that might be construed as supporting Gillard!)

    There is, of course, much more complexity to the issue - even those who do fit the description don't deserved to be judged, for example - at least not without taking into account ALL the factors that contribute to their circumstances.