With Victoria's Parliament resuming today, it remains to be seen what onanistic MP Geoff Shaw will do — though contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence says she's sure it won't be in women's interests.
WHAT VICTORIAN MP GEOFF SHAW has between his legs may hold more raw intel than what lies between his ears.
Geoff Shaw, you will recall, is the honourable Member for the much maligned seaside electorate of Frankston who was filmed simulating masturbation in Parliament last year — his air seed and the taxpayer's real money yet again misspent on barren ground and facile time-wasting antics.
It was a selfie, given that he performed in public knowing full well that the House cameras were turned on — even if his colleagues weren't.
In Australia, we have diminishing expectations of our male politicians in particular, many of whom display an overt preoccupation with their own and other penises and sometimes with the olfactory mystique of lady gardens.
Today, Victoria's Parliament reconvenes in what is, by any measure, a dismal caricature of a decrepit and arthritic democracy.
The standards bar is well hung below the contemplative navel. First, we need to revisit some of the highlights of our national lowlights.
Who can forget the pantics of Queensland's wine glass plonker Peter Dowling, the Liberal National party member who used his willie as a swizzle stick; or Western Australia's erstwhile Liberal Opposition Leader Troy Buswell, notorious for sniffing a chair seat vacated by a female colleague and indulging in such playful frolics as 'squirrel gripping' (also known as the 'Christmas handshake', thanks Roy and HG) and for dry-humping male colleagues.
All this on the pubic purse.
When he resigned as leader, his behaviour received international media coverage.
Under the headline 'Chair-sniffing politician quits', Africa's The Namibian quoth thus:
Buswell had been under pressure to resign since his tearful confession in April to sniffing the chair a female staffer had been sitting on at his Parliament House office.
The woman said Buswell had groaned and writhed in mock sexual pleasure during the 2005 incident in front of other staffers.
It has just been revealed that Mr Buswell enjoys a glass or two of Bubbly.
From Perth Now:
TROY Buswell and his chief-of-staff were living it large on a taxpayer-funded credit card, escaping to the French countryside during a “fact finding” light rail mission — at the same time that WA lost its prestigious AAA credit rating.
Credit card documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, show that the fallen Treasurer and Rachael Turnseck racked up almost $14,000 on hotels, meals, laundry and airport transfers during the two-week trip in August-September last year, which included time in Asia.
At one point, Mr Buswell and Ms Turnseck toured the French countryside, staying at the tiny hamlet of Vrigny in the famous Ardennes region — which is world acclaimed for its fine dining and champagne houses, including Moet-Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.
Nice work if you or I can get it.
And of course, we ought not to forget that at the time of this idyllic follies bizarre, WA lost its AAA rating, becoming WAAA (minus).
So former Liberal tease – now Independent swinger – Geoffrey Page Shaw, is simply participating in a political tradition of exhibitionism that appears more prevalent amongst the Liberal and National Party species.
Here's why all the above matters.
It puts the 'why' back in the political Y-Front.
Legislation and laws that pertain to women, including the enforcing, policing and punitive aspects, are both proscribed, inscribed and imposed upon us by a male majority, both within and without Parliament — a sort of political and bureaucratic shariah, sometimes referred to as 'democracy'.
Include in this, various religious and cultural dogma, et al.
In none of these can it be said that women genuinely hold equal executive power and/or participation and representation. None.
International warrants and debate over the control of women's sexuality and reproductive rights continues and in Australia, the rights of the individual in relation to abortion are also subject to the dicta of the male dominated legislature of the States and Territories.
Enter air masturbator Geoff Shaw.
That Mr Shaw should seek to defend the rights of the unborn is one thing; indeed it is his prerogative.
No voice should be silenced or locked out of the debate in this most contentious of issues.
But that he should use abortion as personal political leverage – to provoke the undead in the State's long-running farce, the zombies of Planet Napthine – is quite another.
Shaw, a third dan black belt in karate, has the lead role in a miscast of politicians known as 'Napthaline's Flakes' back for another command performance at the Spring St Theatre for Victoria's winter of discontent.
He is, by virtue of ego and imbalance of power, the titular Premier of Victoria.
The anti-abortionist seeks to unravel existing laws on abortion.
His ramblings in Parliament's last session compound why peoples the world over, despair at the calibre and performance of our governments.
After grandiose wailing about how he 'took up the cries of the taxis last week', he went on [IA emphasis]:
'I take up the cry for Frankston and I also, while I'm in this place, take up the cry for the unborn.'
On ABC Radio's PM program, Alison Caldwell put in this way:
Geoff Shaw is drafting a Private Member's Bill to amend Victoria's abortion laws, which were changed in 2008. As it is, if a pregnant woman seeking an abortion goes to a doctor who has a moral objection to abortion, the doctor is required to refer her to another doctor who will perform the operation.
Geoff Shaw wants to change that to allow the doctor to refuse to give the woman a referral. He's also keen to reduce the window of opportunity for women to seek an abortion. Mr Shaw has previously described Victoria's abortion laws as among the "worst in the world".
But any talk of revisiting abortion law is a headache for the Premier Denis Napthine, who wants to talk about job creation and growth in Victoria.
In her report, Caldwell pointed out that only last month:
"Liberal backbencher Bernie Finn told a suburban newspaper there was never a reason for a woman to have an abortion, not even rape."
On IA, we rightly dub Geoff the 'Frankstonstein Monster' — and in no way is that a reflection on the good people of Frankston for whom I have a great and abiding affinity.
As both a Pentecostal and politician, he may be well-versed with speaking in tongues but, notwithstanding, he is a political poseur who clearly suffers from political Attention Deficit Syndrome and one who wallows in the balance of power (BOP) influence he exerts, through an accident of mirth.
We have detailed his exploits in the past and I do not wish to continue to feed him red meat — but it must be said, the man is a sexist git and wants to take a rusty coat hanger to the State's contemporary abortion laws.
Here I must declare a perceived conflict of disinterest.
Mr Finn, who celebrated his birthday last Monday, is known to me – not in the biblical sense of the word, I hasten to add – lest I besmirch his impeccable reputation.
When I was on 3AW's (now owned by Fairfax) robust morning debating program Upfront with IA's urbane senior correspondent Barry Everingham and moderator Bill Tuckey, Bernie was our talented, good humoured and well-informed panel operator.
That was then.
His recent statement that rape was not a reason for abortion bears ominous testimony to his unyielding fundamentalism.
The wider community might be unaware that Finn has a Down syndrome child.
To his credit, on July 27, 2010, in a moving speech, he told the House:
I am the father of a child with a disability.
When our four-year-old twins were in utero we were told one of the twins would in all likelihood be a carrier of or a victim of Down syndrome.
We were offered the usual option.
Thank God we did not countenance that for a moment, because that little girl is now, I have to say, the light of my life.
If we had done what so many others do in that circumstance, we would have killed one of the most delightful little girls who has ever walked the earth.
Clearly, Bernie Finn's darling girl was conceived in love — but what of those children who are conceived in hate and by rape?
Finn's judgemental naïveté is excrutiatingly cruel — and dangerous.
What is morally acceptable for the Finn family might not be right for another family/woman.
He seems isolated from the brutal realities of industrial strength rape and sexual violence towards women. Consider how rape is one of war's more powerful weapons, given that, like landmines, its consequences linger long after the killers and rapists have fled.
In an interview with the Werribee Star's Xavier Smerdon, Finn was quoted saying:
“In this day and age, no, I don’t think there is any acceptable reason for having an abortion,” Mr Finn said.
“In years gone by when they needed to kill the baby to save the mother then it might have been acceptable, but in today’s world I think that’s a very 1950s argument.”
In cases where a woman has been raped, Mr Finn said an abortion was likely to cause more distress.
“I think many rapists and particularly paedophiles use abortion as a defence, they use it as a way to destroy the evidence,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to a number of women who have been raped and then had abortions and they told me that from their point of view having an abortion was like being raped a second time.
“I don’t think abortion is acceptable under any circumstances and I don’t see why we should be killing babies for the crime of the father.”
Finn has always been a political flamethrower. His remarks ignited a furore from all sides and sparked vigorous media debate.
Premier Denis 'Mr Sheen' Napthine, of course, went into immediate self-survival mode, politically quarantining himself:
''I totally disagree with Bernie Finn's comments,'' Dr Napthine said. ''I think that they are inappropriate, I disagree with them, and we've had a debate on abortion in the Victorian Parliament where people, according to their conscience, voted and that abortion issue was settled through that process.''
But note that Denis, clearly menaced by Finn, was not prepared to put an end to speculation that abortion laws are about to be aborted at this sitting.
Women's Affairs Minister Heidi Victoria declined to comment on Mr Finn's claims.
Not only are we lucky enough to have a Minister named for the State, we have a female women's affairs minister who refuses to comment on women's affairs.
Nice work Heidi.
Why on earth is the gutless Ms Victoria still the Minister for Women's Affairs? No doubt she was gagged by Napthine and is subordinate to his political and patriarchal whim.
Bernie Finn and Geoff Shaw need to wake up to themselves.
Colleen Hartland, Greens MP for the Western Suburbs and spokesperson on health, said we must invest in a purpose built Women's hospital where it is needed most - in Melbourne's West.
"There has been a 70% increase in births in the western suburbs in just over a decade, that’s an increase of 5,448 births per year," said Greens MP for the Western Suburbs, Colleen Hartland.
"All this pressure falls on just two hospitals; the Werribee Mercy and Sunshine Hospital as there are no private maternity hospitals in the West. Sunshine hospital recorded a 15% growth in births last year alone."
Of course, it was no surprise that Geoff Shaw backed up his bromate, Bernie, with a Captain Victoria speech:
"We live in a free country and Bernie is able to say what he wants," Mr Shaw said.
"He is not inciting hatred and at least he has the guts to speak up on an issue that the Libs don't want to and that Labor created."
Wrong, Mr Shaw.
Bernie is able to say what he wants, but the minister for women's affairs is not. Nor does she have the guts to speak up for women — or to women, let alone men.
There are no easy answers – or questions – on the abortion/pro-choice question.
Much has been written and said about the anti-abortionists called Helpers of God's Precious Infants who have been loitering with intent, vociferously protesting outside the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne, causing much obvious distress to the patients and staff.
Its website includes this link to its Australian members:
The rhetoric will be familiar to pro-choice advocates.
Rather than refer to medical 'clinics' the 'Helpers' refer to them as 'abortion mills' and describe themselves as follows:
'The Helpers of God's Precious Infants are a group of people committed to maintaining a loving and prayerful presence outside of the abortion mills, where God's children are put to death. We unite ourselves with these victims in solidarity with their pain, as they are put to death at this modern day Calvary.'
The Clinic is suingthe City of Melbourne, alleging it has failed to enforce existing laws to move on protesters from the 'Helpers'.
(It should be remembered that thirteen years ago, the same East Melbourne clinic was the scene of a callous murder. Anti-abortionist Peter James Knight took a rifle and gallons of kerosene to the clinic and shot dead the clinic's security guard, 44-year-old Stephen Gordon Rogers. Knight had intended to conduct a massacre but both staff and clients managed to stop him.)
The fact is, these powerful and well organised anti-abortion, anti pro-choice movements are not only gaining international traction but have already succeeded in repealing and/or diluting pro-choice laws — especially in the United States.
Next stop, Victoria.
In an article in The Huffington Post, David Schwartz wrote about an Arizona bill that approves 'surprise' inspection of abortion clinics — without the need to obtain a warrant.
Schwartz said the final passage of the bill signalled 'another legislative victory to abortion foes'.
The Republican-backed bill, which passed the state Senate on a 17-13 vote and now goes to the governor, would remove a provision in law state requiring a judge to sign off on any surprise inspections conducted at the nine clinics in Arizona licensed to perform abortions.
No other medical facilities require such a warrant.
...If the measure is enacted, Arizona would join 10 other states that allow for warrantless surprise inspections, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health organization.
Abortion-rights advocates have said they would challenge the measure in court if it becomes law, adding to a string of abortion controls on the books in Arizona that rank among the most restrictive in the nation.
A few weeks ago, Premier Napthine celebrated both his birthday and his first year as Premier.
Since the investitures of the Liberal/National Coalition under Premiers Ted Baillieu and now Denis Napthine, Victoria has slithered further into the rancid dung bequeathed by the previous Labor Government and added to by the incumbents.
Clearly, various polls indicate that if Victorians had a birthday wish, it would not be for Napthine to continue as their Premier.
With just over six months to November's state election, we are suffering from severe Nappy rash and disaffected by the lack of transparency and accountability.
Many despair at the way the Coalition continues to botch a myriad of issues, including the Hazelwood mine fire that, for 45 long days and nights, spewed toxic smoke and ash over the area, choking and endangering locals and compromising their health and environment, inquiry notwithstanding.
Bidders vying for the contract to build the East West Link have been told by the Napthine government’s road authority they are free to put in a bid that would result in more of Royal Park being dug up.
At least one of three consortiums bidding for the $6-8 billion freeway has asked the Linking Melbourne Authority the extent of "cut and cover" construction it can undertake in Parkville's Royal Park.
The East West Link is a proposed road tunnel joining the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to CityLink in Flemington. It would travel underground from Smith Street in Collingwood to just near the Melbourne Zoo.
Just before Easter, Clive Palmer gave his PUP an easter bunny and registered his party in Victoria.
Ever the coquette teaser, Shaw is not telling if he will run with the PUPs as well as the hounds.
Insiders say that Shaw is intent on getting the abortion laws changed in an effort to 'redeem' his reputation as an ineffectual politician.
The loser in all this, as always, is Victoria's ill-served electorate. And women.
The tragedy is that while legal abortion clinics exist in Victoria, so do backyard abortionists.
In many of our cultural pockets dominated by religious and other fundamentalists, pro-choice is not an option that can even be discussed or contemplated, and women and girls have no option but to be aborted by whatever crude means are available to them using underground networks.
And it is certainly not an option to carry a child that is the result of a rape — that some girls/women might be accused of provoking in the first case.
Today's State budget notwithstanding, Victorians are in for a torrid time this week, with the Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Bill 2014 mooted to go before State Parliament.
The Herald Sun reported that:
'DOMESTIC violence groups and community legal centres have appealed to female MPs in the Napthine Government and controversial independent Geoff Shaw to oppose government plans to make it a criminal offence for women facing family violence not to report child abuse.'
The likes of Shaw and Finn and other god botherers seem to rarely concern themselves with the underlying issues of rape and violence, sex education and contraception.
Little wonder then, that the coat hanger continues to be seen by some as an instrument of death — by others as an instrument of survival.
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