Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A NDIS: Public Policy Disaster

Yesterday my third Ramp Up piece got published. Can you tell that I’m pissed off throughout? I used to support the NDIS, and now after today I have decided I don’t. As you can see from my article I also let fly in the comments in response to Samantha Jenkinson, the token person with a disability on the committee. Here’s a portion:
The NDIS is a ˜magic beans policy’. It promises reform which none of you can deliver. In fact the committee have the campaign the wrong away around. You have a big picture policy that cannot be sensibly implemented by bureaucrats or politicians. Yet you are marketing it anyway. Get the policy right first.
If a NDIS is to be achieved as the committee hopes, it must be implemented by a stage based incremental approach. Spend time getting therapy right, then move on to equipment, then respite, and so on. The universal approach marketed to the community and to us is foolhardy, and frankly stupid. It gives carers and people disabilities hope for something that will never come to satisfactory fruition. This will do more harm than good.
John Della Bosca did himself no favours with his meek article full of economic rationalist nonsense published on the site two days ago. He parroted all the lines I heard in the forum and nothing else. Is that the best you guys can do? Seriously? Try telling people relatable stories, there are thousands: how about the fact that an NDIS (If done properly) will allow many people with disabilities to reach their full potential? Demonstrate how and why. That would be a good place to start.
This is one of the poorest political campaigns in living memory. It is our one chance. Get it right.
Because I am an employee of my National Broadcaster, I am going to use my personal space to articulate my thoughts (and not those of the ABC nor the Federal Government which funds RampUp) on this pathetic, deplorable, mismanaged campaign. Future generations of public policy students will look upon Every Australian Counts as an example of how not to introduce a policy.

Allow me to get a little wonkish for a minute.

According to the Australian Public Policy Handbook, by Bridgeman and Davis: the policy cycle is a tool used for the analyzing of the development of a policy item. It includes the following stages:
  1. Agenda setting (Problem identification)
  2. Policy Formulation
  3. Adoption
  4. Implementation
  5. Evaluation

Lets look at the four stages as they apply to the NDIS (We can’t analyse the 5th until the policy is underway).

It is clear the National Committee advocating for an NDIS have identified the problem. That is the easy part. But have they set the agenda? Does anyone who is not a crip, a carer, or a service provider know why a NDIS is needed? If the scheme is implemented, why should the average taxpayer fork out an extra $5 bucks (Let's say) for a scheme they don’t think they will use? Whilst its true that a disability can happen to anyone, nobody thinks it will apply to them. That is the point. So what is the argument besides pity, charity or '…it could happen to you’? Even more importantly from a policy perspective, what is the political reason for a NDIS? No, not the economics of it, the politics. Why should a NDIS be more important than all of the Government’s other objectives? Give them the electoral reasons for an NDIS and political cartwheels will follow.  

How is the policy going to be formulated? To quote my article:

While we wait for the Productivity Commission report it is time the NDIS committee did some revolutionising of its own. Instead of using people with disabilities as public relations tools, why don't they get more involved at the coalface? I know plenty of people who will want to get involved. Focus on implementing the policies rather than the outcomes. Do conceptual modelling of the application processes and develop concrete criteria of eligibility in conjunction with the economic forecasts already undertaken. In essence, add to the already extensive bureaucratic work done and get down to some real policy research.

None of this has been done. It is not good enough for Samantha to say ‘…we are not in government so it is not our job.’. Yes it is! The NDIS Committee has not even developed suggested criteria for anything: eligibility, funding cut offs, nor how perspective organisations should manage the funds. They are reliant on the Productivity Commission to do all of this. They know fuck all about the disability sector, they are all about cost benefit analysis and economic rationalist bullshit. Yet the Committee are giving the masters of this paradigm all the decision making power. Whilst economics is a factor in policy making, it should not be the most important thing driving social policy, particularly one as complex as disability funding.

Without the criteria, how do political parties, governments and oppositions adopt or implement an NDIS? Aside from generous economic forecasting and a little research based on the experiences of other nations, the committee has no tangible evidence supporting the scheme. What is the government of the day to do? Trust that it works? Absolutely pathetic!

The NDIS Committee has skipped the entire policy cycle, and in doing so they are being grossly negligent. They are pissing away the opportunity of a lifetime. The worse part of all is that Every Australian Counts are quite happy to publish articles on their Facebook page and their Twitter feed in support of their scheme, but dare not publish mine because it was critical of their scant theories.

Friends of mine expressed concern that I said that disability advocates on a state and national level ‘…are an incestuous group with blinkered vision.’ in my article. They said the language took things it was too far. That quote from the article becomes truer by the day.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


"He lifted himself from a wheelchair to lift the nation from its knees.” Biographer Jean Edward Smith on Franklin Roosevelt

As much as I try and steer away from it, I seem to be drawn into discussions about disability and the differing societal attitudes it represents. At the best of times I am a pragmatic thinker, but talking about any kind of disability elicits highly emotional responses. I have been involved in various debates recently on all sorts of issues regarding disability and it seems emotion clouds reason.

As I have mentioned time and time again I hate being disabled. I used to kid myself and say publicly that I wouldn’t change any aspect of my disability. Spend one day in my shoes and you’ll realise that it sucks. That’s not to say I have the worst circumstances in the world, but I’d trade mine any day. Say this to the majority of the disabled community and you are bound to get lynched.

My RampUp colleague Carl Thompson posed a question last night on his Twitter feed that asked what cripples would do if they didn’t have a disability? This question in turn sparked a debate about why he would indeed pose a question like that. It seems the people who respond this way take the power of positive thinking to the point of delusion.

I struggle with the fact that my deficits get unintentionally flaunted in my face every day. It makes me angry. I know that I cannot change my circumstances, but realising that I have that kind of anger is kind of freeing. Being a cripple is fucking shit. I don’t want pity, because it is useless, but it is time people knew that uncomfortable truth.

I have received advice that I need to find some inspiration to focus on my path towards redemption. As only as I can do I chose a politician: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Most people assume that I chose him because he was a cripple too (as result of polio) when he was arguably the most successful President of the United States in its history. This was merely a happy accident or a subconscious ploy I cannot decide which. I chose FDR because he faced two of the biggest crises in world history, The Great Depression and World War II. and not only survived politically but prospered.

The majority of crises only arise in retrospect. For every success that I have had in life, there has been a devastating low. Both of these have arisen as a direct result of my disability. The successes appear to fleeting and the lows seem to ravage my confidence. I have been able to move past them, but they are never forgotten.

I can name perhaps three other people who I believe have an accurate grasp on what it is like to live with a physical disability. The rest it seems appear to be living in a lifelong state of denial under the impression that their disability will make them stronger human beings, or that their disability gives them a greater purpose. I used to be one of those people.

Perhaps that’s why I have turned into something of an attack dog at RampUp. The fact that the site has a cross section of contributors is to its advantage. Highly intelligent people get to tell their stories. However, more and more articles try and relate the author’s experience of having a disability to the reader. The fact is that no one knows what its like to have my disability, nor do I know what it is like for another person to have a disability, even if its Cerebral Palsy. So apart from my introductory article, I have made it my mission to highlight the problems with society's attitudes towards disability.

It has shaped me as a human being more than anything else. It has allowed me to have some great triumphs, but it is dominated with daily struggles that I barely have the strength to overcome. Concessions are made to make life easier, but most of the time. I am held hostage by my circumstances. I will remain pragmatic for my entire life.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Television Criticism: An Intellectual Goldmine

Television is my sanctuary.

It used to be when I was a kid too. Television used to keep me occupied and take me away from my misery. Every time I had the desire to kick the football, television would rescue me and take me away to a safe place. Up until the past few weeks I used to think I treated television differently as an adult.

The one thing that is perhaps more enjoyable than watching television these days is reading about it. You might find this strange. It all started when I discovered The TV Club. These guys know their shit. They critically analyse TV shows and talk about their writing, their place within the pop cultural landscape, as well as criticise and applaud creative decisions in equal measure. In particular Todd Van Der Werff and Noel Murray do most of the heavy lifting on the site and remain two of the smartest TV writers on the planet.

It was through The TV Club that I discovered the doyen of TV critics, Alan Sepinwall. The man is a god and such a skilled writer, but importantly he is a fan of the television he watches. He almost single-handedly saved Chuck, regularly talks up shows that are under the critical radar and infuses his considerable knowledge of the television industry into his commentary. Sepinwall is so good at what he does that he has more or less started a trend of the intellectual and geeky TV critic, and it is a trend I love.

This week was a big one in this small community because the Sepinwallian style of criticism entered the mainstream. A very good essay in Slate chronicled the rise of Sepinwall quite accurately and used his example to ask the question of whether a professional TV critic can be too biased. Are critics allowed to be fans of the shows they cover? If they are, does this cloud their judgement? From an outsiders perspective these might seem like rather pointless arguments, but this is the kind of shit I love when thinking about the impact that pop culture has on my life.

Not unexpectedly the Slate article created a self-referential firestorm in the critical community. First Sepinwall responded to the claims made in the article not unreasonably. Then Sepinwellian disciple and pop cultural academic Myles McNutt offered his typically analytical and verbose perspective (which I always love). This was then followed by a series of podcasts discussing the implications of the Slate article. First from Ver Der Werff and his wife Libby Hill and then from Murray, McNutt, Maureen Ryan and Ryan McGee: each detailing different perspectives on television criticism and its future. Is all this an over reaction to one essay? Probably, but I was in my element. Even as an outsider to the critical posse, I feel like I’m one of them.

Maybe it is because I watch so much television in all my spare time. The first thing I do upon finishing an episode of one my favourite programs is to go read the reviews of the many people cited above. Throughout the day I also follow their respective Twitter accounts. Television viewing for me has been transformed from a passive exercise to an intellectual experience, and that makes television so much more than an escape.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Review? More like Needless Vomit

Political parties are strange beasts. Parties who profess to be democratic aren’t really and are run by a powerful oligarchy of highly trained political operatives. These operatives are part of this exclusive club because they have spent their entire lives trying to work out how to progress further up the political food chain. How do I know this? I am one of them.

I always find it tremendously ironic when such parties undertake a comprehensive review. It is a massive cognitive illusion designed to give party members the impression that they actually participate in a party’s decision making processes. Further proof of these truisms came today when the ALP released their report into the 2010 election campaign, which will go down in history as probably one of the more useless documents in Australian politics.

Don’t believe me? Well, there’s the fact that Labor's elder statesmen Hawke and Wran compiled an almost identical report in 2002, when Simon Crean’s leadership was sicker than eating ones own snot. Cosmetic changes were made to how the ALP’s Federal Conference was run, supposedly the Federal Party’s supreme decision making body. Truth be known, more than 95% of the party’s members don’t attend the conference, so what did the reforms mean to them? Fuck all. The rest of the report talked about greater engagement with the membership, encouraging more young people to become involved in the party and ensuring policy making became more transparent. Did it happen? Of course not.

The same year the Hawke Wran Report (HW) was released, Former Hawke Government Minister John Button commented on the malaise of Modern Labor in his essay Beyond Belief:

The ALP is seen as a pale alternative to the Coalition. It is incapable of embracing and speaking for the divergent progressive groups in the community. It has been unable to respond effectively to new aspirations. It no longer represents contemporary Australia. It may not even represent its members any more: its national body has become an offshore island adrift from the rest of the party, inaccessible to its rank and file, a barren and rocky outcrop untouched by new ideas

It’s worth remembering that the ALP has always done best in federal elections when it has set the political agenda, when it has involved its members as agents of change and enthused a wider section of the community with a sense of excitement and vision. A small target strategy does none of these things. It is contrary to ALP sentiment and tradition, demoralizing to the membership and boring for the electorate. And if it fails, it fails devastatingly.

Aside from the twelve month period of Kevin Rudd as Opposition Leader throughout 2007 in the fight against WorkChoices, ALP members have not been ‘agents of change’ in the intervening period.  Why the hell not?

Well the Bracks/Carr/Faulkner (BCF) review into the 2010 election sure doesn’t tell you the answer. Funnily enough it almost has the same aims as the HW report. In fact it is almost a blatant copy and paste job.

BCF Objectives
1. Growing our Party membership
2. Deepening our connection with the community
3. Opening up our Party to greater participation

HW Objectives

1. Review vision and purpose
2. Greater participation
3. Improved engagement

Note the difference? Well neither do I.

The BCF report gives members the opportunity to whinge about their local beefs. 'Party offices don’t pay attention to us, Ministers don’t give us enough respect, we perform tasks without sufficient thank yous and support'. These are all valid, but minor concerns. There’s a reason two thirds of the report is sealed. The problems are not issues of participation and democracy, the problems highlighted will never be fixed no matter how often they are addressed. The real problems begin and end at the top, with the strategists and high level members of the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

As Crikey reported today the bits of the report we don’t get to see will be far more interesting:

In an overview of the campaign’s aftermath, the review also attacks the PM’s inner circle, claiming the team, led at the time by former chief of staff Amanda Lampe, were incapable of running the office properly and were obsessed with spin over substance. It goes on to say that without significant personnel excavations the support cast would “be her downfall”. Lampe quit last month and will soon be replaced by the more policy-orientated Ben Hubbard from Victoria.

A further recommendation reportedly says Labor should dump the practice of shunting backbenchers “lines of the day”, concentrating instead on “themes of the day” which MPs can expand and extemporise upon Lindsay Tanner-style in a manner befitting a living and breathing public figure, rather than a robot or dalek.
The first two sections of the report covering the 2010 election and Kevin Rudd’s period in power from 2007 onwards are strictly for internal consumption and only the third section on party reform is expected to be released publicly.

These sections need to be released. I can fully understand the political reasons for not wanting to do so, but any political operative with half a brain can see what I did. The ALP fucked up a slam dunk election campaign.

I started my thesis a fully fledged disciple of the ALP, I now am disillusioned, as they have unintentionally bent over backwards to prove my academic arguments. Look at chief strategist Karl Bitar’s summation of his campaign performance at the National Press Club:

Our strategy in the campaign was to make the election a clear contest between Prime Minister Gillard’s positive plan to move Australia forward and Tony Abbott who would take Australia backwards.

It was to be a choice between Prime Minister Gillard who was smart, experienced and had a positive plan to strengthen our economy and invest in better health and education services. And Tony Abbott who was erratic, had no idea about economics and would take Australia backwards to the worst of WorkChoices and service cuts.

Despite any criticism of the narrative and message, we knew it was effective and that it would actually move voters our way during the campaign.

The strength of our narrative was demonstrated in our research track in the first few days of the campaign when our vote picked up significantly and voters were already starting to define the campaign on our terrain.

So it was a promising start….promising enough to conclude that had the campaign had the normal ‘leak free discipline of a Labor campaign’, our majority would have been protected.… the campaign however was not to provide this opportunity.

So we had a solid and strong frame about moving Australia forward. A good canvas that needed a solid 35 day paint job……… this of course became impossible because of leaks and Latham.

No sorry Karl, your decisions fucked up the campaign. The decision to call an early election before Julia had time to get her name on the Prime Ministerial Office door was yours. The decision to undermine our leader and announce that the ‘Real Julia’ had arrived halfway during the campaign, allowing voters to think the PM was just pretending beforehand was yours and hers. And crucially the decision not to articulate a big picture vision for a Labor Government and where they wanted the country to head in the next 3 years was yours too.

With strategists such as Bitar in denial and with such a poor leader in Gillard does the BCF review make a difference? Not one iota. Lets look at some recommendations:

Recommendation 8: That the Party grant an amnesty to former members who have left the Party over the past five years, but who are willing to rejoin. That the amnesty include the restoration of full membership rights; but that this amnesty not be extended to any former member who has brought discredit on the Party or its representatives
(Otherwise known as ‘We’re DESPERATE for members, PLEASE come join, we promise we’ll be nice.)

Recommendation 10: That branch correspondence to parliamentary representatives and state and territory branches should be responded to promptly to ensure branch members are aware their contribution has been considered. That Party units be permitted to have correspondence not responded to within three months brought to the attention of National Executive members by automatic inclusion in the agenda papers of National Executive.

(Well duh! This should be a basic right of a party membership.)

The above two recommendations underscore what a real waste of time this review really is. In eight years the BCF report will just be recycling fodder just like the HW report before it. The final word on the ALP’s current problems should go to its most maligned figure, Mark Latham in his recent column in The Monthly. He’s got the problems spot on.

The bigger truth is that Labor has lost its way. History only gives the party credit when it champions big political causes. Does anyone, for instance, remember the Curtin and Chifley governments for clever electoral strategies and media manipulation? Such a notion is absurd, denying the struggle for postwar reconstruction and bank nationalisation. The same can be said of the Whitlam and Hawke–Keating governments, the former with regard to social policy achievements and the latter with its liberalisation of the Australian economy.

Ultimately, parties to the left of centre only achieve political legitimacy through nation changing reform programs. This is their raison d_être, the only logical way by which the electorate can relate to them. This approach does not always garner majority support, of course – often it induces lengthy periods in opposition – but at least, through the championing of causes, it gives voters a chance to acknowledge that the party itself has a purpose. That it might be something more than an opportunistic grab for power.
Pity no one listens to him anymore.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sailing Away

Today is a pretty awful day. One look at the date will tell you why.

So in the spirit of trying to be positive I wanted to post something happy.

So readers get one of my favourite TV scenes of all time. From cult favourite Freaks And Geeks, the last scene of the pilot episode does what the whole show did so well. It takes you on a nostalgic journey through adolescence with equal parts snark and sentimentality. If this is your first viewing of the show I encourage you to get your hands on all 19 episodes, you will not be disappointed.

Here’s to getting through today and surviving.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Crips Need and Want Sex Too

One of the topics I have long wanted to talk about publicly concerns sex and physical disability. I figure in order to do such a conversation justice it would have to touch upon my own experience. How do I do this effectively without violating privacy? One of the issues I have trouble with when blogging in the past is that I have revealed too much of myself, and on each occasion it has come back to haunt me. On the other hand, people need to know that yes I’m a cripple and I like to fuck.

That seems obvious no? Well, not if you look at society’s general attitude to people with disabilities and sex. Just like those over retirement age, the thought of cripples having sex probably makes the average person queasy so we just assume they cannot have sex. Why? It is essentially because we are a society of prudes. Sexual liberation should not be linked to promiscuity as it so often is, but rather being comfortable with an individual sexual identity.

A person with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in particular must know how their body reacts to physical stimulation. Often they must deal with muscle stiffness (and that’s not just a man’s penis either) at the point of climax. In every day activity many men and women with CP have muscle spasms at excitable moments. Can you imagine how your body might react if you spasm at its most excitable moment? Well neither can some people with a disability because in order to discover this you must explore your own body on an individual level first. What if you are not to be able to do this? It would be hell on earth and yet there are many people with disabilities who want to fulfill sexual desires that simply cannot.

When you are disabled nothing is done on an individual basis. Let’s take a composite scenario of what the typical first time experience of a sexual encounter might entail for a person with a physical disability. It might take many years to find a partner that finds you sexually attractive, a battle within itself. Many people with physical disabilities also live with their parents or carers and require 24/7 care and support. There are no private moments. If you’re thinking about having sex, try asking your parents to buy you a packet of condoms, or to take you to a doctor to get a prescription for the contraceptive pill because you can’t go by yourself. Not exactly dinner table conversation. If you think that is awkward enough, many parents and/or carers I know have willingly been in the room with a disabled person while they have had sex. Imagine what it is like having your mum or dad place your body in a certain position just so you can have sex, or even having to ask for it to be done? It is the reality for many people with a physical disability.

All of the above of course assumes you can find a sexual partner. If you can’t and you are physically disabled you might have to visit a prostitute in order to satisfy the urge. Prostitution immediately conjures up images of sexual penetration, but many people I know have paid prostitutes just to touch and caress them in a loving manner. Opponents of prostitution might find this repulsive, but sensitive and loving touch is a basic human right that everyone is entitled to. Many people with physical disabilities might receive all their sexual activity by having to pay for it.

What if you are a homosexual cripple? You are in not one but two minority groups who are constantly marginalized by society. You don’t fit into the gay community, and you struggle to fit into the disabled community. The same applies if you have a sexual fetish. The fetish groups may be tolerant of all sexual identities, but not all physical ones. Imagine if you’re disabled and the standard sexual positions don’t do it for you. Imagine wanting to undertake a threesome with one, two or even three cripples as just one example. No, its not far fetched. Everyone has their own sexual desires, regardless if they are disabled or not.

Some of the above examples apply to me, most of them don’t. However, there is a reason I point out all of the above. I’m sick of being treated as if I’m asexual. Similarly, I’m also sick and tired of having to tell people that I need something that all humans need. Some people like to keep their sexual behaviour quiet. That is okay, but you are lucky if you get to make that choice. So very lucky. You are also lucky if you get to have a quickie, or a drunk one night stand. I don’t without having to orchestrate a major production, and truth be told I would like to have both one day.

The biggest disappointment of all though is to play the game of sexual desire and everyone assuming that you are disqualified from the start. If you’re lucky enough to play the game with a disabled person you might find a few surprises, if you are patient enough to deal with all bullshit first.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Politics and Sex: Why, and What Are We Hiding?

Should we care so much about personal flaws when our government -- and our financial system -- is so hobbled by . . . incompetence and greed? Author Peter Ekland on the Eliot Spitzer Scandal

People don’t like talking about sex. I can’t see why. Sex is perhaps the greatest thing in the world when a strong connection between two people is present. In recent discussions, I have been told I am the most honest and forthcoming about the way I feel about sex than just about anyone else. Why are people so concerned with the way others perceive their sexual activity? Why do people choose to keep their sexual lives so private and locked away? In my opinion these secrets account for the majority of relationship failures and breakdowns. We live in a sexually closeted society.

This is particularly the case when politics is concerned. Politicians are fearful of their own sexual identity for fear that the majority of the voting public do not condone their sexual activity. There is a reason that modern day politicians are involved in too many sex scandals to mention. The price of public office asks you to suppress your sexual desire.

The political sex scandal I’m most interested in involves former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer gained his political reputation by being an aggressive politician who went after corporate high flyers to reform corrupt practices in New York’s financial sector. In March 2008, it was revealed that he frequented an escort service called The Emperors Club after the FBI tapped the phone of its operators. Critics of Spitzer revelled in his downfall for dear old Eliot made the mistake of portraying himself as morally just and above the law. Ironically legislation he enacted to investigate prostitution rings in New York helped contribute to his downfall.

The film Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer tracks the trajectory of the scandal in a way that I think is supportive of its protagonist. The documentary interviews him and it is interesting to discover that while he displays remorse, he shows almost no capacity for reflection. The film also interviews one of the escorts he spent his time with (Not the infamous Ashley Dupree). The most interesting aspects of this particular interview are not the salacious details, but rather the paranoid attempts of Spitzer to avoid public identification, and paradoxically raising suspicions into his behaviour. Howard Fineman of Newsweek commented that this scandal was reflective of Spitzer’s demeanour:

Some of my best professional friends are his closest personal friends. These are people who are secure in their lives and in what they do, and, it seemed to me, they always spoke of "Eliot" in tones that were both awestruck and a little worried, if not put off. As I look back on it, they seemed to sense an explosive danger in a man loaded with so much rocket fuel. He could blow up on the launching pad. He just did.

There are many reasons why people visit prostitutes, almost all of them I believe to be valid. Prostitution is illegal in the United States, which I think is idiotic (Perhaps that is a topic for another blog?).  Obviously that is the main reason why Spitzer was criticized, aside from subjective moral opinion. It is this moral opinion that I’d like to question.

In general why do the public subject politicians to higher moral standards than the rest of the citizenry? Psychologically speaking there are many parallels with alternative sexual behaviour and the qualities that we expect our politicians to have. We like them to be strong decisive risk takers. We want them to recognise elements of danger in their decision making. The majority of the time the most successful politicians are arrogant egomaniacs. It is any wonder that these same politicians might adopt unconventional sexual practices?

The moral crime, which Spitzer should be punished for, is one of hypocrisy and deception. He was a politician who stood for family values, integrity and lied to both his wife and his family. Therefore he lied to the voting public about what he stood for and believed in. For this reason there is no doubt that Spitzer deserved the entire political backlash he received.

What if a politician was uncharacteristically upfront about their sexual practices? In Queensland where prostitution is legal I often wonder how voters would feel if a politician freely admitted that they regularly visiting a brothel? What if he and their partner liked to swing, or to participate in orgies? What would the public think if a politician admitted that he or she likes to have sex in public? Or that he liked BDSM? Or even further away from the mainstream what if your local politician freely admitted to cuckolding? My guess is that such a sexually liberated climate would not exist. There would be outrage!

As long as the above assertion is accurate politics is going to be filled with more Eliot Spitzer type scandals. The public will continue to remain judgemental and intolerant of unconventional sexual practices. The cycle then continues. Politicians will continue to be dishonest about their sexual activity and lie to their loved ones, ultimately satisfying no one, least of all themselves.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Not Partying For A While

I have a problem. I have made a promise to myself and to one other person in particular that I will no longer write about personal issues on these pages. I’m finding this an incredibly hard promise to keep. It goes against my nature. But this is as personal as it gets.

I have always been a fan of party politics. I knew that I wanted to join the ALP since politics grabbed a hold of me at a young age. Inspired by Curtin, Whitlam, Dunston and Keating, you could say I was a gleefully blind follower of the ALP ethos, mainly built around ‘The Pledge’ Unlike other political parties, the ALP has a rule of strict party discipline that dictates whilst you can have vigourous debate on policy and other matters internally when a policy is formulated, once it has been decided a member must adopt the party line. It’s the fundamental tenant of the ALP.

In conjunction with this party politics on a local level has really begun to piss me off. Endless friction was created over minor pieces of importance. When three women born before my parents start squabbling over who leads the local committee, you know its time to take a breather. I was also in an environment where my age, intellectual capabilities and disability were looked upon as impediments rather than assets. Where I thought my career lay in the rough and tumble of party politics just a few short months ago, I am now beginning to have second thoughts. Whilst I doubt I ever will give up my party membership, my enforced time off is making me selfish. That is a good thing.

Other circumstances have also led me to this conclusion. I hate my party’s leader. The first party leader I’ve openly despised. Obviously she is not as bad as Tony Abbott, but saying that you hate the leader at a branch meeting pretty much borders on heresy. Further the party’s response to disability policy is tepid and pathetic. My main objective in joining the ALP was to change this, and I feel like a failure for not achieving the goal.

Increasingly I feel like I am being more productive through my work with RampUp. My words have venom in them and they are stinging. Two articles for the ABC have achieved more than nine years in the ALP. This saddens me greatly, but it also tells me where my focus should be right now. I’ve just submitted my third article and it will piss more people off than the first two. At least something might happen though.