2 November 2007

Federal Election Email Interview - Emma Davidson, ACT Senate candidate for What Women Want (Australia)

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In the second in our series of Federal Election candidate Email Interviews we bring you Emma Davidson – the lead ACT Senate candidate for What Women Want Australia.

Emma Davidson’s responses, in full and unedited, can be found below:

ACT Senate candidate Emma Davidson

Question 1: Provide a short (no greater than 200 word) employment application style Resume (CV), including what work have you done apart from being a politician or political staffer or party/union/lobby employee and what experience or qualifications you have with regards to economic management?

I have never worked as a politician or political staffer. Since joining the workforce in 1993, I have spent seven years at Centrelink, two years in a private IT firm, and five years at Defence. I am currently chasing after three children, and working on a small home-based business dedicated to environmentally sustainable and fair trade parenting products.
I know how hard, and rewarding, it is to balance work and family, having worked full time with babies under six months old. And I know that working part time doesn’t necessarily make it easier!
My university qualification is a Bachelor of General Studies (another name for a BA). The subjects in my degree are a mix of law, IT, and communications/media.
The most important thing I can do in the Senate is request amendments to Bills that bring them into line with the policies of What Women Want: better resourcing for health, education, environment issues, and work/family balance. However, I am mindful of the cost. For example, I think it would be a better use of $88m to spend it on indigenous health services – not the administrative costs of quarantining welfare payments for people in indigenous communities.

Question 2: What would you like to see as the first piece of legislative change brought about by your Government? What are your personal goals for your first year representing the ACT?

Our Senate candidates can make a powerful impact on legislation raised by whoever is in government, in the form of amendments. We only need one Senate candidate to make a significant difference.
I would like to make a real difference to healthcare in the ACT. Our hospitals are desperately under-resourced, we don’t have enough GPs let alone enough bulk-billing GPs. We need more preventive care and early intervention, especially for mental health. Medicare should be extended for dental, midwifery, physiotherapy, and other proven complementary healthcare. This would help reduce the number of people needing acute hospital care, especially low income earners.
Education is another issue close to my heart. You might remember me as an active Save Melrose campaigner in 2006. We need better resourcing for early childhood education, as well as equity between public and private school funding. We also need to abolish HECS as part of providing fairer higher education – this is an investment in Australia’s economic future.
The environment crisis needs immediate action. We can ensure long-term water resources through cross-border cooperation. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the way to go with water – free rainwater tanks to every house could be more economical and more effective than building another dam. Our climate change policy includes strategies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2020; a 90% reduction by 2030; and to net zero by 2040. We need to start working towards these goals immediately if we are to achieve them.

Question 3: What private opinions do you hold which are different to those of your party?
On which issues do you disagree with your Party’s stated position?

I agree with all the policies of What Women Want. I am impressed with how responsive the policy team are to suggestions for improvement.

Question 4: Are you in favour of fixed election terms? Why or why not and if so what length of term are you in favour of and why?

After the farce of waiting for Howard to call the 2007 election, I can see good reasons for a fixed election date. I don’t hold a strong opinion on the length of term, but it should be long enough to achieve changes in policy without allowing the government to become stale in their ideas.

Question 5: Do you think that it is important for the Prime Minister and their family to live in Canberra? Why or why not?

Yes. It makes perfect sense for the PM to be close to the Departments that implement government policies. It’s an insult to Canberrans that our PM isn’t living in the national capital.

Question 6: Do you consider that making observations about the structure and makeup of the other major political party as beneficial to your own party’s role in the election?

It is worthwhile being aware of the corporate sponsorship that could be influencing the policies of the parties you are voting for.
It is also useful to consider the personal bias (often subconscious) that all human beings bring to their decision-making. This is why it is so important that our Senate, as a House of Review, reflects the diversity of Australian culture. We need more women, young people, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and people from other cultural backgrounds in our Senate.

Question 7: What are you thoughts on the permanent trading of water entitlements, as per The National Water Initiative (http://www.dpmc.gov.au/water_reform/nwi.cfm), and do you believe that giving water a tradable, economic value is really the best method to ensure that this scare Australian resource will be utilised sensibly in the future?

Reducing our water use is something we need to do immediately. Increasing the price we pay for water is one way to do this, but we need to ensure that low-income earners can still access clean water. We also need to make changes so that big business, who can pay higher water costs and pass it on to consumers in the cost of the end-product, have non-financial reasons to reduce water use, and support in achieving reductions. One of the problems with the government’s approach to the water crisis is that they aren’t able to work cooperatively with State governments. Without a cooperative approach, any change is doomed to failure.

Question 8: Canberra has a large student population and Govt funding per capita for public education facilities seems to be on the slide with there being an apparent shift towards encouraging more people to enter the private education sector. What are your thoughts on this?

We want to see equity in education funding. Public schools should be funded to provide a quality education for all Australians, not just those who can’t afford private schools.

What initiatives would you pursue in regard to HECS fees, full fee paying uni courses, increasing/decreasing Austudy payments, funding for education/ R&D/communications infrastructure and assistance or encouragement to private sector research and technology companies?

The HECS system burdens young people with debt. We support abolition of HECS fees as part of a fairer higher education system, where university entry is based on merit rather than money. Having to repay interest-free loans of tens of thousands of dollars is also a problem for mature-age workers who need new qualifications as part of a career change. A well-supported university system is an investment in Australia’s economic future, as it enables us to trade in knowledge and ideas.
We also support investment in renewable energy as part of our climate change policy. ANU has set a great example with its solar power research. Our universities should be celebrated as innovators, often producing long-term and expensive research that would not be commercially viable in the private sector.

What measures will you take to ensure the best possible education is available to all Australians?

We can start with improving early childhood education funding, progress through equity between public and private school funding at primary and secondary level, and complete the picture with a fairer higher education system for all Australians. I would be looking for ways to include these requirements in any relevant Bills once they reach the Senate.

Question 9:What’s the single most pressing issue in your electorate (local electorate issue – not a broader issue that has an impact on your electorate) and how do you plan on addressing it?

Public health. I know this is a problem across Australia, but Canberra is in a particularly bad position. We have some of Australia’s worst emergency department waiting times, the country’s highest out-of-pocket GP costs and some of Australia’s lowest GP bulk billing rates, and we provide care for ACT residents as well as our NSW neighbours. The Commonwealth blame ACT Government mismanagement; the ACT Government blames lack of federal funding. The two tiers need to work cooperatively to resolve the health crisis, for Canberrans as well as nearby NSW.
Apart from the obvious under-resourcing issue, we can improve our hospital report card by keeping people out of acute care. Let’s put more resources into preventive care and early intervention, especially for mental health. We can also extend Medicare to cover dental, midwifery, physiotherapy, and other complementary health services. Yes, it will be expensive – but it will reduce our hospital costs, and provide better long-term health care for everyone.

Question 10: Suppose that you and I are stuck in an elevator for 5 minutes. You know nothing about me other than I’m enrolled to vote in your electorate. What do you say to convince me to vote for you.

As a busy breastfeeding mother, I have a stash of energy snacks in my handbag. So I’m a good person to know if you’re stuck in a lift!
Enough of the arguments between Commonwealth and ACT governments. Let’s just get on with fixing our broken health and education systems, do something serious and long-term about water and climate change, and make Canberra a better place to live.
As a Senator, I will use my vote to support Bills that meet these goals. I’m not interested in adversarial politics. I am here because I want to create positive change in Australian society. And I want to know what would make life better for you. So… what do you think needs to change?

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The more I look at her, the less I want to give her what she wants.

Bring back Natasha!

I stand corrected – I decided that I should be open eyed and took the time to check out the constitution of the party – interesting that the founder was an advisor to Kerry Tucker.

Anycase – their constitution states

support affirmative action and practice participatory, democratic and
accountable internal decision making process;
4.8 What Women Want (Australia) are committed to the principle of women
and men having equal status within society and will practice gender equity
and equal opportunity principles;
4.9 At no time will any Member be discriminated against due to gender, age,
race, ethnicity, class, religion, disability, sexuality or marital status.

I understand that the ALP has an affirmative action goal to have a certain number of females in safe seats by a cerain date. WHAT IS WWW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TARGET FOR MALE MEMBERS OF THE PARTY AND CANIDATES? AT the moment WWW are 100% women.

WILL WWW pass laws that forbid businesses like ferwood to have discriminatory membership policies and sexist advertising?

Will they enact policies and laws within the family court that seek to redress the gender imbalance?

I will vote for WWW if they show their moral bona fides – because I as a male want gender equality for the benefit of both my sons, my daughter, my spouse, mother, sisters.

Somehow I think that WWW is just another party that cloaks itself in moral superiority, but is as committed to prejudice.

I didn’t address your point about a movie as I don’t think it relates to the topic of a Emma Davidson standing for the Senate on a woman based platform. Perhaps you could write to the film classification board.

“What is more important – for your sons to get access to Fernwood, or your daughter to get into parliament?”

Both are important because the principle is right – my son also has the right nost to see an advert proclaiming that a companies compettitve advantage is its ability to exclude on the basis of gender

You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound.

I note you did not address the actual issue but tried to trivialise it.

So is it more important that rape is not trivialised and made funny in a movie when it is a female raping a male – no rape is not funny period (no means no).

Water shortages, food shortages, housing shortages, petrol shortages, and you want to PAY people to have more kids?

Oh and by the way, the good old “they’ll pay taxes for your pension” argument doesn’t wash with people who are furiously pushing money into their superannuation. I’ll be paying tax on my super, too, as I’m in one of the ones where you pay tax once you start reaping it.

And most old people actually don’t need anyone wiping their backsides, ever.

Ant, without immigration, breeding bags 9not you obviously) would have to pop out 2.1 children just to retain the status quo. Obviously that is not happening.

so who is going to wipe your bottom when you become a nursing home dribbler?

I know which is the impossible.

What is more important – for your sons to get access to Fernwood, or your daughter to get into parliament?

May be they are not so loopy (he says with tongue firmly in cheek)

this from the ABC:

“The Australian Greens say their preferences in the Senate will be directed to Labor in a bid to change the balance of power.

Greens leader Bob Brown says the party will first direct preferences to like-minded smaller parties including the Democrats and What Women Want, and then they will be directed to Labor.”

I goota say I a an old labor voter that has been waiting for the day that I could return to the party. I really think that the unions domination of the party has not been their friend. I have almost been wooed back because I am starting to believe that Rudd can control them – but if the Greens have control of the senate. Their IR policies are very extreme.

This from the Greens website:

“The ALP won’t abolish all existing AWAs, nor will it guarantee the right of entry to unions in workplaces. These are enshrined under the Greens charter.

“We will certainly be putting pressure on Labor over these important rights in any new Rudd government after the election.

“Labor was conspicuously absent from today’s rally. Workers are asking how long they will have to wait for a Labor government to get rid of WorkChoices.”

They may have just lost me again…

Sepi that just it – no one is up in arms over a health club that advertises that it expressly excludes people on the basis of gender. No one is up in arms that a poplular comedy movie depicts a rape as being funny, no one is up in arms that a court has such a high gender bias (Yes even parliament has more than 9% women, but that the chance a male has of recieving residency of their children).

Are you seriously telling me that if there was a health club that excluded women and had the by line “no jans, no margarets and definiately no pussies” or the wedding crasher had a scene where a woman was tied up to the bed and raped (only to later fall in love with their attacker) or the Family court gave residency to the father in 91% of cases- that we would have the same level of deafing silence that we have now with the situation reversed?

I have no doubt that men everywhere would join the fight on those injustices, we would stand with our spouses, mother and daughters in the picket line. Why don’t women join the fight instead of joining fernwood?

When a vaccine that may prevent cervical cancer is delayed on the PBS men joined with women to lobby to ensure that the drug is available.

I have sons and a daughter – I what them to have access to all of lifes opportunties. But we must come together and fight gender discrimination in all its forms not merely pick and chose the ones that impact “our team” ie gender.

“Bob McM and Garry are not so representative of women either though.

Comment by sepi — 1 November, 2007 @ 10:32 pm “

I always wrote Bob McMullan off as a party hack, as he’s not “out there” making a lot of noise. I was wrong. Bob apparently does his work quietly, from the inside.

A very small number of Labor members have been speaking up against middle-class welfare going to “families” for some time now, and he’s one of them. Pointing out that it’s not necessary, and that everyone without children are being milked for it.

Looking after the poor and disadvantaged is what welfare is meant to be for. Tax deductions, subsidies and breeding bribes for people on 6-figure incomes is wrong.

That clown from Family First wants to shovel $10,000 at any female who has 3 (or more) kids! That is, the usual breeding bribe for the first 2, and then Jackpot $10k on the third. I imagine Harvey Normans and Bing Lee are very supportive of that idea. Yuck.

I always think it is wierd when small pockets of inequality affecting men get people up in arms, yet they dismiss the ongoing areas of inequality affecting women.

I’d like to see more women in parliament.

el ......VNBerlinaV810:36 pm 02 Nov 07

Pandy – my bet is 40 votes.

Ant – Breeding bags? That’s gold.

And as for

free rainwater tanks to every house could be more economical and more effective than building another dam. Our climate change policy includes strategies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2020; a 90% reduction by 2030; and to net zero by 2040.

“Crank” might be too kind, m1.

Sepi the problem is that by being separatist – one is not inclusive. The government funded decision making body that I referred is the Family court that finds in favour of the mother in approximately 91% of cases. If a court found in favour of men by 91% there would be revolution (and indeed has been).

Change in womens rights happened when men also saw the injustice and helped.

I watched the movie the wedding crashers which depicited a female raping a man as funny – again if reversed it would have been howled down (quite rightly).

We cannot get equality for one group but must fight for equality for all.

thetruth you’ve answered your own question – of course there should be equality, but there isn’t.So women see a need to stand up for themselves.

And if Emma standing as a candidate gets coverage for some of the issues she cares about, then that is a positive.

too bad her 3 kids are only young, she might have got 5 votes instead of just the votes of herself and husband.

I don’t see why these people bother, it’s plainly obvious that none of their stances have been properly thought through. Strategies for implementing these policies rather than “it’s what we want” .. shows with the party name doesn’t it?.. that may see them actually gain more votes than their immediate family and the people who accidently number the wrong box.

The whole gender based thing I don’t quite get there appears to be some internal inconsistancies. I was in Brisbane the day that the Tatts club there knocked back a vote to allow women members (I personally believe that one should not discriminate on the basis of their gender). I happened to go to luch there on that day women are alowed in just not to be members – an elderly lady poked her head in the doors and hurled abuse at the club and it members and then went on her way. After lunch we were driving out of the city and stopped at a traffic light to my right was a fernwood car with the by line no toms, no harry’s and definately no dicks – hmmmmm

At the airport I picked up a magazine which had an article about a government funded decision making entity that provided positive decisions to one gender 91% of the time.

I flipped the pages and their was an article about the Office of the status of women – I must say I though gender bias is evil in any case – why don’t we have the Office of Gender Equality?

If men and women – the most basic of differences – cannot find reconciliation. Then what hope all the other differences that are so much more complex?

Parties like this should be seen as prejudiced and consigned to the same corner as the KKK

Snahons_scv6_berlina12:36 pm 02 Nov 07

“Why no HECS fees for plumbers and builders then?”
well for starters, a plumber / builder learns most their trade skills hands on and not alot of time is spent in classes.

I suggested it because it levels the field somewhat between those students with wealthy parents and those without. The flow on effect is to level the playing field (a bit) for uni leavers (although those with wealthy parents are likely tro have better contacts to help their kids). If you had the money to pay fees before uni, you can save it during uni and pay later.

“I’d even be in favour in abolishing up front fee options, so everyone has to pay it back once they are working.”

Why this one VYB?

I paid upfront because I could afford it and it got me a discount. The govt still gets the money either way unless you defer payt then never work again.

Abolishing HECS is madness for two reasons. First, there isn’t enough money floating around the government to pay for it all, and second, if students don’t have a firm motivation to finish, you’ll see more and more people doing the whole ‘career student’ thing (changing degrees, majors, unis, etc) because there’s no real downside.

Paying your own HECS is a great idea. I’d even be in favour in abolishing up front fee options, so everyone has to pay it back once they are working.

Absent Diane8:48 am 02 Nov 07

The community already does TOO FCKING MUCH for parents – fck childcare – you had a kid.. your stupid fault you don’t get to work or have fun DONT WHINGE.. I don’t care which parent looks after the thing just take responsibility for your actions.

Parents should have no more rights than anyone else. In fact maybe they should have less rights.. a) because by having children you have proven to be mildly retarded or animalistic (animals only have very few rights) b)the planet doesn’t really have the resources for more people. I am going to stop there because I am feeling very ranty today and could go on forever.

Ant – lols @ breeding bag – classic!!

Bob McM and Garry are not so representative of women either though.

I would put them last on my ballot paper, with Family First. Becuase not all women are breeding bags, and I really resent their purporting to represent all of us, and then pushing a bunch of pro-breeding stuff. Some of their education, social and environmental ideas are OK, but it’s all a bit skewed and unrealistic.

With 3 kids, I guess she must know ‘What Women Want’.

sepi, have you seen the wage an apprentice is paid? They’re ‘paying’ for their education just as much as uni students.

On top of that there are actual fees paid for their training to TAFE/CIT. I think they are paid by the employer or group training organisation but not entirely sure on that one.

Why no HECS fees for plumbers and builders then?

Snahons_scv6_berlina1:46 pm 01 Nov 07

I really don’t know what the fuss is about with regards to HECS. Fair enough, the govt has a duty of care to provide a basic level of education to its constituents but further education ? The govt already subsidises the true cost of your uni education even with HECS. I think its only fair that you pay some back. After all once you leave uni and get a job, even with your (scaled) contribution, you still have more money than you did before and you don’t notice the HECS component because it is automatically deducted in your payroll tax.

Everyone wants everything for free and yet, still expects superior level of govt service. You can’t have it both way.

There are a lot more than 150 women out there with small babies who would support these policies.

I agree with all of it except the HECS part – and I do think HECS fees should be drastically reduced – and made free for high achievers.

Healthcare is my biggest concern in the ACT at the moment. And the Feg govt could assist with the stroke of a pen by declaring the ACT an area of high need, and thus ensuring GPs get a higher rebate when bulk billing. And with the lowest rate of bulk billing in the counry, and the second lowest number of GPs per capita, how can we not be an area of high need. Howard can only get away with not designating the ACT as high need for GPs due to the perceived wealth in Canberra, and the general Canberra bashing attitude of may Australians.

Good luck Emma.

Lets lay bets on how many primary votes she gets. My money is on 150.

Lord M, perhaps I need to explain my term of the use ‘crank.’ I have absolutely nothing against Emma Davidson and she sounds like a good person.

I just don’t have much time for grand ideals such as eliminating HECS, aggressive emission reduction & more GPs appearing from the ethereal without any consideration of how exactly this might be achieved.

There are enough professional protestors on a Senator’s wage as it is.

I think what I, as a woman, want is a female candidate that doesn’t define women solely as child bearers and the caring gender. Wanting increased to Health, Education and Child Care doesn’t seem to be a unique policy position and it isn’t clear where fiscal responsibility kicks in.

The rest of the policy platform appears to be a wish list with no apparent clue about how these wishes could be implemented.

Sorry – these responses haven’t changed my voting position.

Lord Mælinar8:55 am 01 Nov 07

Doesn’t sound so bad to me m1. I’m still laughing at the Defence IT BA though – now that’s something to have on your resume.

Emma – do you think it may be more appropriate – as a ‘busy breastfeeding mother’ – to concentrate on raising your children for a while, over your political aspirations ?

I’m not entirely convinced that you have the avaliable time to concentrate on important political objectives as well as offering important child/mother time.

In other words, whilst I respect your qualifications, I think that you would be a lame politician while you are concentrating on other tasks.

Correct me if I’m wrong – but it appears that WWW environmental policies (in regards to emissions) are more extreme than even the Greens?

An interesting read – but while my ‘worm’ started in the positive at the top of the page, it had slipped down to the negative by the end.

Oh goodie. Another minor party crank who gets to espouse unrealistic policy in the knowledge that they’ll never have to be responsible for its implementation.

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