ASP News & Updates

Sex Party to Address Cannabis Rally Today

Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten will address a medical cannabis rally in Treasury Gardens today to support the legalisation of cannabis for medical uses. The rally kicks off at 2:30pm near the old Treasury Building.

Ms Patten has welcomed Labor and Liberal commitments on medical cannabis recently but said she was sceptical because both of them had deeply entrenched attitudes to drugs that would not shift easily in a party room debate. “They can say they will set up trials and enquiries just to win votes but the truth of the matter is that both major parties are deeply conservative when it comes to drug law reform”, she said. “If they decide to go slow on the promise it could take a decade of debate and enquiry before anything concrete happens. The old groupers in Labor and the ghosts of John Howard and Brian Watters in the Liberals, will make law reform very difficult."

If elected to the Upper House, Ms Patten said she would provide a constant conscience to the parliament on cannabis and be a thorn in the government’s side to move forward on legalising and regulating cannabis for medical, industrial and recreational purposes.

“Nearly 5000 years ago a Chinese Emperor wrote about cannabis as a popular medicine. India and the Middle East were using the plant for medicinal purposes around 2500 years ago. Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire both have records of cannabis being used for medicinal purposes. This is not a new idea and there have been tales of its therapeutic potential for millennia,” she said.

She said she wanted to see cannabis legalised for medical purposes and research avenues to be opened up to better study the medicinal effects of cannabis. “The laws around cannabis have been outdated since they were first written in the 1920s. The Australian Sex Party supports regulation of cannabis for all the reasons it is currently criminalised. Not only should we be allowing patients access to a vital medicine, but we should allow the industrial hemp industry to flourish as well as the carefully regulated recreational market. Bringing cannabis out of the black market has major ramifications for the economy and the social fabric of Australia.”

If elected to parliament, the Australian Sex Party will use very opportunity to:

  • Legalise and regulate medical cannabis for all who need it, based on the new Canadian medicinal cannabis model.
  • Move quickly to establish cannabis as a medicine. No time-wasting committees or inquiries on an issue we already have significant evidence on.
  • Move to license growers quickly and efficiently.
  • Push for the legalisation and regulation of the recreational market.
  • Remove any significant barriers to entry on the industrial hemp industry, allowing for more competitive hemp products.

Sex Party Calls for Moratorium on Medical Cannabis Prosecutions

Australian Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, will address a medical cannabis rally in the Treasury Gardens today to support the legalisation of cannabis for medical uses. The rally kicks off at 2:30pm near the old Victorian Treasury Building.

She said people should not trust the major parties to hold to their growing pledges to legalise medical cannabis. “Although there are a few individual voices in the Coalition and Labor who want medical cannabis, the evidence is that they have had 20 years to move on this and they are still sending people to jail for supplying of forms of cannabis. If the major parties are genuine in their approach to legalise medical cannabis, they would introduce an immediate moratorium on its supply, free Mullaways medical cannabis supplier, Tony Bower, stop the harassment and charges against an ACT man for supplying medical cannabis and allow the Norfolk Island government to go ahead with its plans to issue medical cannabis licenses”.

She said that both parties have an entrenched and pejorative attitude toward marijuana that will delay and try to overturn any moves to legalise cannabis in any form. “The old groupers in Labor and the ghosts of John Howard and Brian Watters in the Liberals, will make law reform very difficult,” she said. “They will propose endless enquiries and committees and will tie any eventual laws into lining the pockets of big pharmaceutical companies.”

She criticized ACT Greens MLA, Shane Rattenbury’s approach to legalizing cannabis as piecemeal and without any clear business plan for continuous supply. “Politicians must learn that you cannot legalise one area of the cannabis plant and criminalise others. Medical, recreational and industrial cannabis needs to be considered as a whole. If it’s good enough to ameliorate epilepsy, help you sleep at night and stop you from being sick on anti-cancer drugs in one form, then we should at least stop sending people to jail for using it like beer or wine. After that, freeing up and funding industrial hemp should also be a no-brainer”.

Australian Sex Party Extend Sympathy to Nimbin

The Australian Sex Party extend their sympathies to the people of Nimbin, who have been subjected to an inappropriate and disproportionate operation by New South Wales police.

On September 11th the NSW police force sent in around 70 officers to Nimbin, making several arrests for small drug offences, raiding local businesses and seizing two kilograms of cannabis. Richmond Local Area Commander Superintendent Greg Martin told the media that the arrests were the culmination of six months work by the local Drug Unit.

“Six months of work and 70 police officers. For two kilos of cannabis. This is exactly what we have been talking about. The War on Drugs is a waste of time and a waste of money. It's a waste of our resources and all for what?” said Fiona Patten, Australian Sex Party President. “I must admit, I laughed in disbelief when I read that Commander Martin claimed it's all about the drugs and their effect on the community. For someone who has reigned down such heartache on a community already reeling from the fire last month to then say he's helping... it's absurd.”

The Australian Sex Party oppose the prohibition of cannabis and other low risk psychoactive substances, noting that global drug prohibition is failed policy.

Fiona Patten said, “The conversation around the globe is turning to evidence informed policy, yet we still have police departments engaging in counterproductive action. This is why we need to regulate the market and legalise.”

SLUTWALK - Saturday 6 September

The Sex Party is a proud supporter of the Slut Walk event in Melbourne. Come put on a yellow tshirt and join us in the fight against victim blaming. SlutWalk Toronto founded this international movement have have this to say about the reason why this event began:

“On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave shocking insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

With sexual assault already a significantly … under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.” For more information visit

facebook.com/slutwalkmelbourne  
facebook.com/events

SlutwalkPostCard 53

Melbourne preparing to put some kink in its spring

Oz Kink Fest® 2014 returns for its 7th year as Australia’s biggest kink festival

While much of Melbourne will be focused on the AFL finals, from September 19 - 28 the alternative lifestyle and fetish communities will be busy getting its kink on.

Oz Kink Fest® brings fetish enthusiasts, experts and retailers together for 10 days of workshops, parties, performances and trade across a number of inner-city venues.

The showcase event is the Melbourne Fetish Expo on Saturday 20 September.  Over 40 local businesses and vendors will bring the best of their products to the Fitzroy Town Hall, giving visitors a unique opportunity to explore leather and fetish wear, toys, equipment and services under one roof, with performances and demonstrations throughout the afternoon culminating in the Grand Fetish Fashion Show.

Oz Kink Fest® producer, MzMallice, says many in last year’s capacity crowd were new to ‘the scene’ after the Fifty Shades trilogy of erotic novels took fetish fantasy to a huge mainstream audience.“Melbourne Fetish Expo is a supportive, fun environment for those who’re thinking about adding a bit of kink to their sex lives”, she explains.“And for those who’ve been around for a while, it’s a great way to share skills and experiences and find new interests to pursue.”

Major parties, including Provocation: the Fetish Expo After Party and Hellfire Resurrection on Friday 26, will see guests debut their favourite outfits, show off their moves on the dance floor and bring their fantasies to life in the play areas. Throughout the week in between an extensive series of workshops covers topics from spanking and flogging through ropework and bondage to piercing and (human) puppy play, culminating in a full weekend workshop intensive on the 27/28.

MzMallice says “we’re thrilled to once again have the support of AdultMatchMaker.com in producing such a significant festival for our communities. It’s the only annual event of its kind on this scale in Australia and it brings people into Melbourne from around the country and beyond”.

Festival Event Pass and individual tickets are available online at ozkinkfest.com and at selected outlets including Eagle Leather, Lucrezia& De Sade, Hares & Hyenas, MJ's ToyBox, Piercing HQ, Marquis DeSade

Full details and updates for Oz Kink Fest® 2014 are online at ozkinkfest.com and OzKinkFest on Facebook.

All Oz Kink Fest® events are open to the general public; participants are expected to adhere to respectful behaviour and principles that ensure a safe environment for exploring adult sexuality.

OKF-logo-lick1 web

Fiona Patten on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams

Fiona appeared as a recent guest on Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live with Josie Delap, the British home affairs correspondent for The Economist. They discuss Delap's article on sex work and technology in the current issue of the magazine. Listen here.

Fiona Philip

(Left) Illustration by Brett Lethbridge (Right) Illustration by Gavin Ryan

Spend Chaplaincy Budget on Sex and Relationship Education

Following yesterday’s announcement by the federal government that it will ask the states to administer their own chaplaincy budgets, the Australian Sex Party has challenged both the Victorian Liberal and Labor parties to channel the funds into sex and relationship education for students instead.

In 2010 The Victorian Treasury costed the Sex Party's sex education policy and found that for as little as $6million, a sex education curriculum could be provided to all schools for four years.

Sex Party President and Upper House candidate for the upcoming state election, Fiona Patten, said that the High Court had made a decision on chaplains which happened to oppose the personal religious beliefs of the Prime Minister. “Like a man possessed, he is now seeking out any avenue to impose his religious beliefs on the nation’s school children”, she said. “By any reasonable account this is just religious indoctrination disguised as pastoral care”.

Ms Patten said that school children would be much better served in their adult lives by learning how to have a safe and informed sex life and a better background in creating a loving relationship, than they would by learning about religion. “The High Court found that what the federal government was proposing was unconstitutional and affirmed that Australia does have some constitutional separation of church and state”, she said.

She called for mandatory, comprehensive sex education, focusing in early years on issues of safety, body image and self esteem through initiatives in later years aimed at reducing STIs and teen pregnancy. The Sex Party is pushing for comprehensive educational reforms aimed at promoting ethics and political education, replacing chaplains with qualified counselling and psychology professionals, requiring private schools which receive public funding to abide strictly by anti-discrimination legislation, and giving more power to schools to respond to the specific needs of their communities.

“The federal government is trying to give hundreds of millions of dollars to inculcate Christian religious values in schools and we're leaving behind notions of civics, ethics, teaching democratic values -- even things as basic as how the government works”.

Domestic Violence/Abortion claims an insult to all women

The Australian Sex Party says that all Victorians should be outraged by comments made yesterday by the Victorian state director of the Australian Christians, Vickie Janson, suggesting a link between domestic violence and abortion.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten said “These comments are absurd and insulting to all women. They accuse women who choose to terminate a pregnancy of being responsible for the assaults of other women” she said. “Those who perpetrate domestic violence have more in common with those who seek to control a woman’s body through legislation limiting access to abortion, than those who support a woman’s right to choose whether or not she completes a pregnancy”.

She said that Ms Janson’s comments came only a fortnight after Federal Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, linked abortion with breast cancer despite studies claiming a link being thoroughly discredited as junk science. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a major coordinated campaign by the religious right parties in Australia to ban abortion. It will run through both major parties as well and If the DLP, Rise Up Australia and the Australian Christians are going to back James Merlino with their preferences in the Victorian election, my advice to him would be, ‘careful who you get into bed with James’.

“This coalition of conservative fundamental Christians picked up about 0.1 percent of the Senate vote in Victoria. It is frightening that people that represent such a tiny part of our community can blackmail other MPs into supporting changes to Victoria’s abortion laws.”

She said the Sex Party would also be running candidates in many lower house and all upper house seats and had attracted a far bigger vote in the last Victorian Senate election than the three religious parties combined. This was especially so in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Ms. Patten said she was not surprised to hear the claims, as Victorian anti-abortion campaigners were simply following the religious right in the USA in making extreme claims regarding abortion. She said that at the coming Victorian election the Australian Sex Party would campaign vigorously  to protect a woman’s right to choice and to protect access to pregnancy termination services.

It’s time politicians had a rethink on waging the ‘unwinnable war’ on recreational drugs

IN a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”.

“The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.”

This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the tip of the drug iceberg”.

Federal and state police chiefs confirmed that every type of illicit drug is readily available in Australia. Indeed, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton admitted: “We’re never going to police our way out of the drug problem. In fact … we’re in the supply suppression business in policing.”

Ashton didn’t put a figure on how much of the black market he thought police were suppressing, but most experts agree it could be as little as 10 per cent. So is it worth spending billions each year on attempted prohibition, to stop 10 per cent of the illicit drug market? To me, that makes no sense at all.

Around the same time as Abbott and Ashton went public about the failure of prohibition to win the “war on drugs”, the New Zealand government bowed to media pressure and, shortly before the national elections, announced it would be suspending its groundbreaking regulatory scheme — the Psychoactive Substances Act.

This New Zealand initiative — passed by a vote of 119 to 1 on July 11 last year — was a world first because it took a scientific approach to determining which new psychoactive (mood-altering) substances were really dangerous and which ones met an “acceptably low risk of harm”.

The logic behind this approach was that with public health concerns allayed, but with the demand for new psychoactive substances still being satisfied, the black market and organised crime would shrink, or maybe even cease to exist.

According to Associate Minister of Health Todd McClay, the main aim was “to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market”.

The results of New Zealand’s 10-month experiment, now publicly available, need to be digested by every MP and bureaucrat who supports Australia’s prohibitionary stance.

From July last year to May this year, the number of outlets selling new psychoactive substances in New Zealand declined from an estimated 4000 unlicensed sellers to 150 licensed ones.

The latter sold 3.5 million packets of NPS with no deaths. While the NZ Health Ministry estimated that between 150 and 200 people may have developed some dependency that necessitated professional help, during the same time 3764 New Zealanders died from tobacco use. Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

There was an average of 11,000 people consuming new psychoactive substances every day in New Zealand. Nobody knew this before because the market was unregulated. At the same time as illicit drug offences declined by 22.7 per cent, the NZ government collected $42 million in taxes from the sale of these products in just 10 months.

Imagine that going into solutions to all drug problems in Australia every year.

By any measure, this method of regulating drugs was successful. So why did the New Zealand government shut it down as an election approached?

The answer lies in the fact, across the life of the interim regulatory scheme, there were 2843 negative stories in the NZ media about the scheme and the products. In the same period there were only 12 positive stories. The scheme was brought down through negative, often ignorant, media reports and not by any rational health considerations based on empirical data.

Illicit drug regulation has never been based on what is best for the citizenry. It’s almost always based on what seems best for the political future of the government of the day. Witness the recent US National Drug Control Strategy boast that “41 states have adopted laws to ban chemical substances related to synthetic cannabinoids”.

That may be so, but 23 states in the US now have legalised medical cannabis and two states have legalised recreational cannabis, while a further two are voting on it in November.

On July 27, a lead editorial in The New York Times called for national legalisation of cannabis. The newspaper linked such an action to the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933.

“It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”

At Las Vegas’s organised crime museum there is this telling quotation: “Prohibition was meant to outlaw drinking. Instead it made drinkers into outlaws”. Notwithstanding the devastating effects that alcohol has on our society, prohibition, with all its attendant evils, made problems connected with booze so much worse than when the sale of alcohol was regulated.

As president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Alex Wodak explains: “The prohibition of illicit drugs has failed abjectly by every measure except one — bad policy has so far been very successful politically.”

For me, there is one key question: why should our politicians continue to wage what Abbott rightly considers to be an ­unwinnable war?

Ross Fitzgerald’s memoir, ‘My Name is Ross: An Alcoholic’s Journey’ is available as an e-book.

The Weekend Australian, August 16-17, 2014, Inquirer p 24.

Richard Larter Dies

One of Australia’s great artists died in Canberra last Friday. In a fabulous career spanning nearly 70 years, Richard Larter and his wife Pat, were early members of the Sydney Push movement in the 1950s and his philosophies on life that were formulating then were still in evidence in his art work of later years. He painted nude and sexually engaging portraits of a wide range of women (mostly his wife and peep show workers), while raging against the many ills in society through his work. He hated censorship of all sorts but was most outraged by the banning and restricting of sexual and political material - which he experienced on more than one occasion himself.

There are plenty of links to Richard’s artistic genius and to the amazing volume of work that he left behind, so I won’t try and play the art critic here. What I do want to say is that he was a life member of the Eros Association and appreciated the work that a sex industry association does and the effects that it has on the freedoms of mainstream artists.

In the mid 1990s when Eros was still in its initial stages I remember getting a call from Richard saying that he had made a series of black and white art films using kitchen themes and appliances and that he was trying to donate them to the National Film and Sound Archive for posterity. This was only a few years after Pat, his wife, muse and artistic collaborator, had passed away and I think he could see that technology was moving very quickly and the video cassettes that they had recorded on, may soon be obsolete.

Some of the films, with exotic names like ‘Trixie’s Walking Fingers’, were sexually explicit and the poor old National Film and Sound Archive rejected them telling Richard they were pornographic. He was outraged and asked if Eros could help him to have them properly archived as works of art. Of course, under the Classification Act they easily qualified for an exemption from the normal rules of polite society because of their artistic and even historic nature. The Classification Act is harder to understand than an obscure Swahili dialect and even academics and arts bureaucrats find it hard to see where the line is drawn for the various classifications. I wrote a short submission on Richard’s behalf and forwarded the relevant parts of the Act to the NFSA and within a few days they felt confident enough to accept them. Richard was grateful for the help and started supporting our anti-censorship campaigns and became a good friend. He later pulled all his works from the NFSA and lodged some of them with the National Gallery of Australia (NGA).

On 18.9.01 he wrote to me with a copy of a submission that he had penned to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC and now the Australian Classification Board). The letter was hilarious but full of venom and hate for official government censorship.

Dear Fiona,
Herewith copy of my short submission to OFLC with longer CV attached so the ignorant whatnots at least know who I am. These government functionaries deserve about as much respect as we have for Adolph Eichmann and his ilk. They really enjoy the little bit of power they have. You should persuade someone like Bob Brown to introduce a Bill cancelling their pensions because of their anti-humanistic activities. Yhe Bill of course would never get passed but at least they would know how much we all loathe them. I also enclose copies of letters I got from Dave Rugendyke (a conservative ACT politician) and Dr Kennedy(NGA head) regarding the proposed Adult Entertainment Bill – another fiasco. Still we must keep on trying.
Richard.

His submission would have been the elephant in the room when the Attorney General’s advisors sat down to go through them. As with most elephants in most rooms, his comments were overlooked – mostly in favour of the local priest or the local women’s auxiliary group. And yet this submission stands as one of the great statements on censorship by an Australian artist. He saw the nub of the problem and attacked it without worrying about the nuances in the debate. *(Submission attached).

Richard was never shy about coming forward on political matters and he hated politicians who could only see life through an economic framework. His writings about the neo conservatives of his day were driven by the same passion that inspired his incredible art. In a letter dated 9.10.08 he wanted me to know where all his films had finally been lodged and where people could read his criticisms of the government censorship on his work*.

The Larter Manifesto ran thus:

“The current recession is caused by the same ultra right wing Christian forces which brought Christian fascist economics forward with Milton Friedman - corporatist tactics using politicians of the types like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They made greed seem natural along with the diminution of honesty and probity that the new global corporatist capitalism sponsors. This has led to dishonest manipulation of the stock market so that ‘blue chip’ has become a meaningless term and blatant rorting and gambling has become the norm. Notwithstanding the lessons of history (South Sea Bubble and 1929 Depression) things have gone from bad to worse under the Bush family and the Blair administrations. Yet we stupidly listen to economists who believe in the Christian fable.

My films will never be seen because of the Christian infection of all political parties in Australia. I call for all religions to lose their fiscal immunity from having to pay taxes, rates and to receive grants for education – so that the taxpayer no longer subsidises religion.

Religions have behaved so badly with them sponsoring global corporatist capitalism but also by censorship and trying to force their ideas about abortion and condoms onto taxpayers. So we don’t ban them - just make them fund their own silly ideas. Back to where we were under Menzies. The Pit Bull terrier from Alaska has really given the game away!

As for the lame dog Rudd – I just ask how many lifetimes have I got to have before I can sell or even just show a film of mine? We must wake up!”

Richard supported the anti-censorship cause through statements to the media, personal appearances, letter-writing and donations of whatever he thought meaningful and appropriate.

In a letter to me on 12.6.2000 recording one such donation to our collection, he says “I do this to register my protest against the Liberal Party and their attitude to censorship as exemplified by the upstart liar, John Winston Howard and his useless Attorney General, the nonentity Williams, and his bunch of ignoramuses at the OFLC.“ Richard rarely minced his words.

He will be sadly missed but I would like to suggest to all Sex Party members that they take some time to look at his work and understand how much of it interacts with and comments on the world of erotica and censorship that Australia’s adult industry is based on.

Fiona Patten

Letter to Will Hodgman MP

Dear Premier,

There is a strong push for drug law reform around cannabis use in Australia and Tasmania in particular. You have probably seen several of the high profile stories that have aired recently outlining the need for reform around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The currently available cannabis medications are largely ineffective, expensive, difficult to obtain and not available for many conditions. Research into the medical use of cannabis is stifled by prohibitive legislation, despite many promising studies overseas and some apparently miraculous anecdotes, such as those relating to children who suffer from epileptic fits.

Polls asking Tasmanians if they support legalisation of medicinal cannabis are consistently showing a high number of supporters for law reform. During Hobart's Sexpo, our volunteers spoke to Tasmanians about cannabis law reform more broadly and asked people to sign a card calling for urgent drug law reform around cannabis. We have included a sample of these signed cards for your perusal.

Tasmania's laws around cannabis are in urgent need of reform so that patients can access medication they desperately need. It will also allow for more research to be done, making treatments more effective in the future.

If there is an option to ease a sick person's pain or treat their illness, don't you think that a legal option ought to be available rather than risking a punishable offence?

Although the medical issue is clearly important, it is also clear that criminalising the use of recreational cannabis is having a negative effect on the one in ten Tasmanians who consume cannabis. The harms associated with cannabis are not mitigated through prohibiting the plant and spending money on policing this law.

The Tasmanian health department estimates that there are about 50,000 current cannabis consumers in Tasmania. Criminals whose revenue goes untaxed and who have continued to operate for decades despite police efforts are meeting this substantial market demand. Those 50,000 Tasmanians could be purchasing a product that creates jobs in the state, is taxed in order to fund harm reduction, health and education programs.

Prohibition does not stop people from taking cannabis nor does it help those few who do have health problems due to cannabis. It does lead to the incarceration of countless Tasmanians, ruining their lives more than smoking a joint could ever do.

Would you reconsider the evidence around cannabis regulation, in particular for medicinal purposes but also for legal, recreational purposes?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Patten
President & Founder
AUSTRALIAN SEX PARTY