Well here I am with my first blog written in response to an opinion piece by Jessica Irvine which featured in Courier Mail 6th June 2013
It was the headline “Give Abbott the keys to the Lodge now” which first spiked my ire.
While there is plenty in the article itself that ranges from speculation to misinformation, it is the assumption that an election would be a waste of time & money and that the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott should be installed as Prime Minister in a LNP led Government as quickly as possible. Lets completely ignore the fact that we currently have a democratically elected government which is not in care taker mode. Business of the government is continuing, bills are still being passed and supply is not compromised as in 1975. (Although that too was politics at its worst)
What I object to most by Irvine’s assertion is the blatant disrespect for democratic processes. Firstly of a democratically elected government and secondly of my right and the right of all Australian citizens to vote. If the Australian people decide for a change in government when an election is called then that is what happens, it is not up to journalists to decide for them.
As a feminist and human rights activist, I take my political franchise seriously. Australian women first gained the right to vote in 1895 in South Australia with other states eventually following. The right to vote for women followed long political campaigns by suffragettes. During their struggles, many women were imprisoned, beaten and in some cases died for the cause. Women’s suffrage is explicitly stated as a right under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the United Nations in 1979. However in many countries this right is still denied to them. Women in Saudi Arabia will vote for the first time in 2015. Imagine the struggle Saudi women have had and the small step to equality and justice their vote will give them. I stand proud and tall on the shoulders of women who have gone before me and I never take the privilege of citizenship for granted.
Universal suffrage in Australia was not reached until 1967 when Indigenous Australians, men and women, were given political citizenship. It is a shameful part of our history that they were denied this right for so long. Many women and men have been murdered in their campaign for suffrage in numerous countries including the USA during the civil rights campaigns.
In some countries, people defy military, insurgents, threats, bomb scare & violence to get to polling booths. Such images are often brought to us via television and internet. I still remember the long queues of people waiting to vote in South Africa in 1994 at the end of apartheid when the right to vote was extended to all adult citizens. In some villages people walked for miles and queued for days singing with euphoria. It annoys me when people say they don’t bother voting. Citizenship carries responsibilities which impel us to exercise our civic duty in an informed and diligent manner.
I will leave it to others to comment on some of the more exaggerated claims within the article but as for giving Tony Abbott the keys to Lodge now. NO Jessica Irvine you can not usurp my democratic rights in your own pursuit to grab some opportunistic headlines.