November 2nd 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Bali: after the dust settles ...

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Vultures circle Crean after Cunningham debacle

NEW ZEALAND: US links free trade to repeal of NZ nuclear ships ban

NEW ZEALAND: Kiwibank on target for 100,000 customers

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Global systems / The splitting of the West / After the earthquake

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 'Unlawful' electoral changes: McGinty tries again

AGRICULTURE: Farmers' overwhelming support for alternate sugar package

LETTERS: Bush doctrine (letter)

LETTERS: Accepting responsibility (letter)

LETTERS: Drinking age (letter)

ECONOMICS: Getting to work on the world economy

COMMENT: Holding on to the centre

COMMENT: Monash shootings and the irresponsibility culture

COMMENT: Affirmative action illuminated

EUROPE: New members, new problems for European Union

ASIA: Behind Pakistan's Islamist revival

BOOKS: Marriage: Just a piece of paper?

Books promotion page

Affirmative action illuminated

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, November 2, 2002
In Melbourne's Herald Sun (October 7, 2002) word wizard Andrew Bolt struck with a bolt of lightning at the ALP's affirmative action policies (a 40 per cent female preselection quota for women in winnable seats) by somewhat facetiously suggesting that the higher percentage of women who are susceptible to the blandishments of witchcraft meant that women as a group are less capable of being politicians.

In her response, Nicola Roxon, Labor spokeswoman for Children and Youth, and national convenor of the Labor Women's Network ("A hex on you, Bolt", Herald Sun, October 8) failed to illuminate why Labor women need preferential treatment via quotas when the ALP prides itself on being an enlightened party which does not discriminate against women and minorities.

Male support

Apparently the ALP considers discriminating against men is acceptable because there is a similar 40 per cent quota for men even though far more men than women are involved in Labor politics and the unions.

Preselection and promotion should be race and gender neutral and should be solely on merit.

Perhaps in the world of business women may need special consideration, as some claim to be subject to pre-menstrual tension and emotional vapours (i.e., when they are not simultaneously claiming there are no differences between the sexes and only discrimination holds women back), but why in the tender bleeding-hearts milieu of the ALP do women need preferential treatment?

It is interesting that Labor Premiers who support special political protection for women do not offer to give up their own seats to women - it is some other hapless, disadvantaged guy down the political ladder who will be discriminated against, ironically in favour of elite, highly-educated women.

Roxon mentions that only 68 per cent of boys complete Year 12 compared to 79 per cent of girls, so why not special programs to improve the educational outcome for boys?

Indeed the very reverse is happening - the ALP and teacher unions are lobbying to increase the number of female principals in schools. As the teaching profession is already dominated by women, there will be even fewer successful role models for boys, to the detriment of their educational performance.

The ALP quota for female politicians will not bring joy to the majority of women because the feminists who are pre-selected will not be attuned to the needs of homemakers and children. They will be lobbying for the interests of career women such as themselves - government-funded childcare (but none for mothers who care for their own children), more affirmative action (maybe a 60 per cent quota next time around), and more anti-marriage, anti-family policies.

Reverse discrimination

Affirmative action policies which discriminate against men have consequences beyond the injustices to the individual men involved - there are serious societal implications.

Any man who misses out on a job or promotion which on merit he deserves, may also miss out on the opportunity to propose marriage, to buy a house, to start a family.

This is one reason why many women remain unmarried and/or childless and why the formation of stable families is hampered. The men these women could have married have remained at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. The women have their jobs, but that may be cold comfort in a lonely old age.

Time was when a feminist became cross if a man opened a door or gave up his seat on a bus for her; but accepting a seat in Parliament is obviously too good to resist.

  • Babette Francis is National & Overseas Co-ordinator, Endeavour Forum Inc

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