Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gender Equality - Yes or No?

This coming Friday, Catherine marries William in what is being described as the wedding of the century.

Who is planning their day and evening around following this event and watching it on television? Do you prefer the serious and traditional take on the wedding on offer at ABC 1 or is the offering of the Chaser’s commentary on ABC 2 more appealing?

I vividly recall watching the wedding of William’s parents at a party at my Sister and Brother in Laws house. All the guests at the party were required to wear the same clothes as they wore on their wedding day. It was a fun night of celebration for the future King and Queen of England (and Australia) and a couple who were destined to set the standards for the next 30 years.

Sadly, in many ways they probably have. Arguably, the interviews they gave to the press as their relationship deteriorated represented our first exposure to the reality TV revolution that seems to dominate so many peoples’ lives today.

The wedding of Charles and Dianna was to be the start of an optimistic future at a time when the world was rapidly changing and values were under attack. It was misplaced optimism.

Unfortunately, the Royal wedding of 2011 represents a massive lost opportunity.

In my opinion, this week’s Royal wedding should have provided the motivation for some significant and tangible leadership in gender equality.

The current succession line to the Throne is in order, Charles, William, Harry and Andrew.

As the Law stands, the eldest male child of the monarch is the next in line to the throne. As both of Charles children are males, there is no controversy about who is next in line.

The lost opportunity however is that there may be no better time than now, and before William and Catherine marry and have Children, to finally acknowledge that males and females are equals.

There should be a Law introduced into the British Parliament with effect from the date of the wedding of William for the future line of succession to the Throne to be the eldest Child of the King or Queen irrespective of gender.

As I wrote in April 2009 (http://philosophyfunandfantasy.blogspot.com/2009/04/monarchy-gender-and-religion.html) there was a Bill introduced into the British Parliament to do just this but it was voted down by the major Parties.

Now is the time to introduce such a Bill again and to have it passed unanimously. To not do so, relegates Women to an unequal position in society, and a society that believes itself to be tolerant and fair. It is not. What possible better example could there be of leadership of gender equalisation of opportunity?

And while we are at it, let us also rid ourselves of the religious discrimination that applies to the British Monarchy.

I for one will not be watching or following the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Instead of watching the wedding on Friday night, does anyone want to join me for wine and dinner to celebrate the concept of hope for gender equality? I am sure the restaurants will be empty.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just Answer the Question

I have been looking forward to the return of the Insiders so I can get my weekly fix of political analysis, debate and cartoons.

This morning’s program illustrated two classic examples of why we not only remain cynical about our politicians, but why this cynicism grows.

The first example concerned Tony Abbott.

It was revealed last week that at the end of an e-mail distributed to party members and others putting forward arguments against the Flood Levy, there was a request for donations to the Liberal Party inclusive of a link to allow easy facilitation of such donations.

Apparently and not altogether surprisingly, this is a standard request included on all e-mails.

The Leader of the Opposition has been criticised for being insensitive in that he had his signature on an e-mail requesting donations at a time when funds are being requested from the public to assist with the rebuilding of peoples’ lives after the devastation of the Queensland Floods.

The Prime Minister and Treasurer have had a field day calling the request ‘disgusting’ and politicking aside, the request for money to the Party was an unfortunate inclusion in the e-mail.

In the interview on Insiders, Tony Abbott was asked if he thought the Liberal Party was more deserving than the Queensland Floods appeal for funds at this time. Instead of plainly and unambiguously answering “no the Queensland Floods appeal is more deserving,” Abbott answered to the effect that everyone has the right to make up their own minds as to where monies are directed.

When pushed further on the matter, he said words to the effect that he would never discourage anyone from donating to the Floods Appeal but again added that it is an individual choice and he would also never discourage anyone from thinking a donation to the Party was also worthwhile.
You are on a hiding to nothing Mr Abbott. Surely at a personal level you believe the floods are a more worthy cause in the immediate term. In addition, at a political level this would surely be the correct answer also.

The second case involved the Education Minister in the New South Wales Government, Verity Firth whose husband Matthew Chesher was arrested last week for allegedly purchasing Ecstasy.
I don’t care about the private life and habits of a Politician’s spouse however the reality is, such an event is a news story and many people are interested.

I also do not think the Minister should have to conduct a press conference to answer questions about her husband however the fact is this is exactly what she was required to do. I guess there is some relevance in that he was once a ministerial staffer however he does not hold such a position at the moment.

Inevitably Verity Firth was asked if she had ever taken Ecstasy. She answered by saying she had “done nothing wrong”. When pushed, she repeated the same answer and when pushed further expanded the answer with “I have nothing to apologise about. My conscience is absolutely clear.”

By answering the question as she did, my, and perhaps most viewers would not unreasonably form the opinion that she had in fact taken the drug.
If you haven’t, say definitively that you haven’t, and if you have, say so.
A ‘yes’ answer would actually achieve more for your self image and even the honesty and integrity of your Government than the wishy washy rubbish you came out with.

And if the answer was to be yes, say so and then immediately ask the journalist of they have taken or used any illegal drugs and push them for an answer. After all, aren’t political journalist also public figures who help form opinion? If it is good enough to know about a Politician’s family’s private lives on the basis this might influence decisions they make and policies they develop, surely it would be fair to know about a Journalist family private life because this could influence the way a story is reported.