The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘queensland’

A precedent set in Queensland abortion law, what next?

Posted by caitlinate on October 14, 2010

As many of you will be aware, earlier today Tegan Simone Leach and Sergie Brennan – charged with “procuring an abortion and supplying drugs to procure an abortion” – were acquitted at trial.

This is a fantastic result and one I’m sure the Cairns couple (as they seem to be universally known) were and are very relieved to hear. It’s also being hailed by feminists as a victory for reasons relating to the draconian laws currently in place in Queensland. Under the 110 year old law of that sunny state, abortion is illegal except to protect the mother’s life or her physical or mental wellbeing.

Which leads me to wonder if this is a victory not just because the couple have been acquitted but because of the legal precedent it sets. Apparently there is some feeling amongst those who have worked in women’s health in Queensland that an open challenge to the abortion laws currently in place would be a very precarious undertaking. That not only would any move to progressively alter the laws fail but that it might result in even more restrictive ones being put in place instead. There has been a lot of criticism heaped upon the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (a self proclaimed feminist) for her failure to express solidarity with the Cairns couple or to undertake any party lead reform (she even went so far as to put a dampener on a colleague’s attempt to legislatively push for reform). I’m not necessarily adverse to criticisms of Bligh and I certainly don’t have much faith in politicians to actually follow through on their professed ideologies (though conservative politicians are generally more reliable on this account). What I wonder is if having this case go to trial and result in an outcome that declares that women in Queensland can take control of their bodies and their fertility without successful state persecution is better politically than a) the case being dropped or b) unsuccessful or further damaging attempts to legislate (without precedent).

I’d even go so far as to posit that the public outrage, media attention and political involvement of organizations like GetUp only came about because the case actually went to trial and that if it hadn’t we’d be stuck – loud in our feminist corners but still invisible in the mainstream – hailing that, rather than today’s outcome, as the victory it might not have necessarily been.

Obviously none of this might matter to Brennan and Leach who have probably had an unimaginably horrible time dealing with the public attention cast on them. I’ve read reports that they received death threats – a despicable and terrifying thing for both of them to have had to experience. I can only imagine the strain this would have put on their lives and their relationship and there is no reasoning that excuses or makes acceptable what they’ve had to endure. While I can argue that the way things panned out – while risky and awful for those directly involved – was a more successful route to change for feminists and women in Queensland, it’s distressing that no matter what path we take it still has to involve pain and suffering for those doing something as simple as seeking an abortion.

This wouldn’t have had to be the way change came about if members of the Queensland parliament listened to the 90% of Australians who believe abortion should be legal and stood together to legislate accordingly. As it is, my totally-not-legally-trained self sees this as a potentially good precedent. That’s really not enough. Let’s see the laws change now, before any more women have to stand trial.


Posted in law, Politics, reproductive rights, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Anna Bligh Becomes Australia’s First Elected Female Premier

Posted by Clem Bastow on March 22, 2009

A brief and celebratory note this morning: Anna Bligh has won the Queensland state election to become this country’s first ever elected female Premier!

She said that although the prospect of becoming the first elected female premier had not motivated her in the campaign, she was aware of the historical significance of her win.

“I grew up in a time when people regarded (Queensland) as backward,” she said. “Who would have thought we would be the first state in Australia to elect a female premier.”

Ms Bligh is a very inspiring woman – the Australian Story episode of last year, No Man’s Land, is well worth checking out for the details of her rise through student politics to the “big time”, as well as her passionate commitment to women’s rights and feminism. To have broken the drought, so to speak, and have Bligh the woman to claim this historic victory just makes it that little bit sweeter.

Posted in Media Watch, Politics, Weekend Love-In, women we love | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Australia’s First Female Governor-General Sworn In Today

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 5, 2008

To borrow a phrase from our Feministing sisters, it’s a Friday feminist fuck yeah on this sunny day: Quentin Bryce will be sworn in as Australia’s first female governor-general today! Bryce is an imposing figure and an impressive human being (qualities that haven’t necessarily been prerequisites for previous GGs, one could assume):

Raised in the tiny central Queensland town of Ilfracombe, Ms Bryce became one of the first women admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1965.

She has been a lifelong supporter of women’s and human rights and served as federal sex discrimination commissioner and Queensland director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

She also lectured in law, founded the Queensland Women’s Information Service and served as chair of the National Breast Cancer Centre Advisory Council and Australian Women’s Cricket Board.

She has been Governor of Queensland for the past five years.

We’ll hopefully have more coverage later in the day after she addresses the chamber, but in the meantime, a historic morning for Australia and Australian women!

Posted in Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ladies: If You’re Ugly And Need A Man, Move To Mount Isa!

Posted by Sara Lewis on August 17, 2008

That’s what Mayor John Molony wants you to believe anyway. Mount Isa, a mining town in northwest Queensland where men outnumber women five to one, is hoping to raise the female quotient with some ‘beauty-disadvantaged’ types:

May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa,” Cr Molony said.

Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.

Often those who are beauty-disadvantaged are unhappy with their lot.
Some, in other places in Australia, need to proceed to Mount Isa where happiness awaits.

You’re a saintly spirit, aren’t ya John? Taking time out of your busy schedule to help poor ugly girls find a man to solve all their problems! You’re turning ugly girls’ frowns upside down for the good of the country! Because if you’re ugly you must be down at the mouth- you clearly couldn’t have anything else going for you! Oh, John. You haven’t got room for the ‘wrong sort of people‘ (read: Indigenous Australians from the Northern Territory) in The Isa, but you’re certainly prepared to accommodate unhappy ugly girls with intact hymens! Bless you, Mister Mayor!

Thankfully Molony is mostly alone in his views. State MP Betty Kiernan has blasted his remarks as being ‘sexist’ and not representative of Mt Isa at all – and we should certainly hope not.

It’s no wonder there aren’t any women in the area. Regardless of the fact that the number of females in labourer’s jobs is growing only at a snail’s pace, and despite the issue of unequal pay in the field, I’m not sure women would be flocking in droves to live in a city where the Mayor proposes to fix all their problems with a simple injection of cock.

Posted in body image, Politics, Relationships, Sex And Love | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »