Senate Guide 2019

6CB7622C-5F19-4B67-B4DF-0C8294D6CEB5I’m sitting in the Labour in Vain hotel sipping a pint of dark ale. The resident tom cat is under my table and Joni Mitchell is singing about paradise long paved. Outside, the election rattles past.

The whole thing’s looking pretty tired: ragged journalists scurry behind it, lobbyists and strategists drag it along. Candidates keep falling out and crunching under the wheels. On top of the election is Antony Green with a pocket calculator and Kerry Anne Kennerly with garland of skulls.

Two power hungry men with nothing to say stage a fist fight for the shrivelling crowd. Coloured flags fray in the wind: yellow, blue, red, green and brown. Captain GetUp! gives me the finger, mimes something about far-left bias. Almost no-one watches on.

An unprecedented number of far-right extremists are running for the Senate. Since some of them are  camouflaged behind reasonable sounding names, I’ve chucked together a quick guide to voting in the Senate.

Although you don’t have to, I think it’s most strategic to number every box above the line, like you would in the lower house.

The parties are in the order of the Victorian Senate ballot, with the number of my preference underneath. They’re colour coded as:

green: good

yellow: okay

orange: bad

red: really bad

marone: really really really bad.

I’m sure there haven’t been enough people telling you how you should vote. Bon apetit.

A – Liberal and The Nationals

  1. Terrible. Kick them out.

B – Republican Party of Australia

  1. Single issue party that’s exactly what it sounds like. Sure, whatever.

C – Socialist Equality Party

8. Empower workers. Stop climate change. Abolish capitalism. Sounds good.

(Update: I’ve bumped them down because they’re a bit weird about #meetoo. Why can’t we have nice things?)

D – The Small Business Party

  1. Some of my best friends are small businesses, but these guys are petty bourgeois scumbags. Cutting “red tape”, which of course is a euphemism for “the minimum wage.”

E – Christian Democratic Party

  1. If God truly loved Fred Nile, surely He would have taken him off our hands by now. Pharisees and bigots.

F – United Australia Party

  1. Everyone’s favourite exploitative nickel baron has decided to buy the balance of power…again. Testament to the venality and corruption of the Australian politics. Perhaps the most depressing thing is that they’re also less venal and corrupt than the Coalition, on whom they were a moderating influence in 2013-2016.

G – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

  1. Believe we should teach hunting in schools, which sounds like a fantastic idea.

H – Climate Action! Immigration Action! Accountable Politicians!

  1. Ambiguous. A grab-bag of populist slogans signifying nothing. What does “immigration action” mean? Dunno but I don’t like the sound of it.

I – Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

  1. A bloviating anti-rehabilitation shock jock who is still less bad than half the Senate.

J – Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party

6. Yeah why not. Their harm-minimisation policies would probably save lives, and stop as many kids of colour getting criminalised for minor offences.

K – Citizens Electoral Council

  1. Cooked cryptoantisemetic conspiracy theorists based on the ideas of the late Lyndon LaRouche.

L – Australian Democrats

  1. From the centre of the political spectrum…in the late 70s, which Labor has arguably sailed to the right of.

M – Independents for Climate Action Now (ICAN)

  1. A motley crew of nicesish climate-oriented independents including That Cool Priest in Sydney, refugee advocated Rod Bower.

N – Liberal Democrats

  1. It’s 2019, and the libertarian-fash pipeline grows shorter by the day. Alt-right twits want to remove parking from driving license tests for some reason.

O – Secular Party of Australia

  1. Antitheists. Progressive social policies, but possibly a bit weird about Islam, so caution is advised..

P – Labour DLP

  1. Catholic conservative who split from Labor in the 50s and are somehow still a thing.

Q – One Nation

  1. Oh they sound great.

R – Pirate Party

5. Yargh. Good on digital rights, environment, social justice etc.

S – Flux

7. Internet-based direct democracy.

T – Australian Workers Party

4. Decent left wing workers party that opposes Adani. Want to bring manufacturing back to Australia, which, I mean, good luck.

U – Animal Justice Party

2. Decent environmental party with a broader platform than many suspect.

V – The Greens (VIC)

1. Still to the left of Labor on every substantial issue, including industrial relations. Leading the charge for an independent commission into corruption, public housing and raising Newstart. The best chance of achieving meaningful climate action and social and economic justice through parliament.

W – Rise Up Australia

  1. Far-right bible thumping extremists who think Waleed Aly is the antichrist

X – Australian Labor Party

  1. Make sure to preference them above the coalition. I am genuinely looking forward to my blinding hatred of the Liberal Government to be replaced by bitter disappointment in a Labor one. They support Adani, gas mining and illegally locking up refugees. Oppose free university and increasing Newstart to a living wage.

Y – #Sustainable Australia

  1. Anti-immigration Dick Smithheads.

Z – Group Z – VIC

  1. Centre-leftish independents. Good on them for having a crack.

AA – Fraser Anning’s Conservative Nationals

  1. Full Nazis.

AB – Australian Conservatives

  1. Deminazis.

AC – Great Australian

  1. Antivaxxers lead by former One Nation candidate Rod Culleton.

AD – Health Australia Party

21. Antivaxers led by a faith in the healing power of crystals.

AE – Yellow Vest Australia

29. Unrelated to the people’s movement in France. Just some ordinary mums and dads who want a white ethnostate.

Happy voting! See you on the flipside, so to speak.

Prisons and Power


‘The prison has become a black hole into which the detritus of contemporary capitalism is deposited’ – Angela Davis

In the long-awaited return of Bensplaining podcast, I interview activist and academic Marlee Raible about the prison-industrial complex. We chat about:

  • the racist history and present of the Australian and US prison systems
  • why being ‘tough’ on crime perpetuates it
  • the links between profit, poverty and prisons
  • alternatives to incarceration, like restorative justice
  • Marlee’s experience with the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico.

Reading List

  • Marlee’s phenomenal podcast Carceral Complex dives deep into these issues.
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. A powerful case for prison abolition that changed my mind on the issue.
  • The 13th, available on Netflix. An exceptional documentary on the history, horror, and corruption of the American prison-industrial complex.
  • The Tall Man, by Chloe Hooper. A devastating exploration of the cover up of a white police officer’s killing of an Aboriginal man on Palm Island in 2004.
  • Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault. A seminal analysis of crime, justice and state power.
  • The moving story of Hector Black, told through Radiolab.

If you enjoy the podcast, let someone know or chuck us a share on social media. And remember to subscribe on iTunes!


The best a brand can get

The Gillette ad moved me. When the father runs from his barbecue to stop the boy getting bullied, I thought of my dad, who always greets me with a hug and says he loves me at the end of every call. The ad effectively illustrates the link between everyday sexism and systemic abuse. It shows ways cisgender men like me can make the world a little better for people who don’t have the unjust advantages I do. Above all, it’s a welcome sign that particular modes of toxic masculinity are becoming less socially acceptable.

But as progressive as the ad may be, it also poses questions. For instance, will the company that made this commercial do anything to address the pay gap between its boy child wage slaves and girl child wage slaves?

Continue reading “The best a brand can get”

The Disrupted

This essay about automation was written and published for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2017.


“Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”

– Genesis 17:26, KJV

The weavers are coming to break the machines. They charge through streets that smell of kerosene and dung as the planets – still undimmed by smog – circle above the English midlands. The weavers carry lit torches and sledgehammers and cry the name of their leader, King Ludd. Ludd is a legend and an in-joke, a hero who doesn’t exist. A couple of the bearded weavers wears dresses and call themselves “Ludd’s Wives”. When the Luddites reach the mill they storm the door and swarm the floor to break the things that took their jobs. The guards have fled and the looms do not fight back.

The mechanised loom is an exciting advance for England’s economy and for humanity as a whole, but for the artisans it usurps it is a violent innovation. The Luddites fight for oldest reason: so their kids can eat. Tendons pull, elbows pivot, human cogs and levers break their iron competition. Cheers and splinters fill the mill. A dog howls in the distance.

Thick thread tumbles from a broken frame. It unspools through history, weaves through the red coats of the soldiers marching up from London and coalesces into ropes that loop around the throats of the weavers, then tighten as they fall. Ludd’s wives dangle in the breeze.

Continue reading “The Disrupted”

I, Latham

‘What does the martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Empire between the reign of the Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Emperor Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus have to do with a defamation action commenced in Australia in 2017?’

Justice Michael Wigney on Mark Latham’s ‘extraordinary’ 76-page defence of his claim that journalist Osman Faruqi’s joke tweets were ‘anti-white racism’ that would incite terrorism.


I, Marcus Williamus Externus Lathamus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles), who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my infinite enemies as ‘A Racist’, or ‘Bonecrusher’ or ‘What the Hell Mark, Are You Okay?’ or at best as ‘The Increasingly Erratic Former Leader of the Labor Party’ am now about to write this strange history of my post-political life; starting from when I was treacherously deposed by colleagues to this fateful point some thirteen years later, when, at the age of fifty-seven, I find myself persecuted by the Islamo-Femo-Eco-Homo-ABC-Communist New World Order.

Continue reading “I, Latham”

Their Melbourne

From Southbank to Carlton, the city of Melbourne is littered with sky-blue posters. They carry the slogan Our Melbourne and the beaming face of Lord Mayoral candidate Sally Capp. Capp is the frontrunner for the by-election that follows by the resignation of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle after an independent investigation found that he sexually harassed two women.

For interstate readers not familiar with outgoing mayor, imagine if Mr Toad of Toad Hall was a sexual predator. Some of the highlights of Doyle’s decade in the robes include using riot police to brutalise peaceful protesters and plotting to purge the city of homeless people, which advocates say would have probably killed some of them.

So Capp, if she wins, will surely be a breath of fresh air. The major parties certainly seem to think so. Both the Liberal Party – which Capp forgot she used to be a member of until a journalist helpfully reminded her – and “key local Labor figures” support the Lord Mayor for our Melbourne. But who does the “our” refer to?

Continue reading “Their Melbourne”

The Cake Baker’s Tale

The same-sex marriage postal survey is almost upon us. For some, the consequences of this vote will be life-changing. It’s obviously despicable that our government has outsourced responsibility for its people’s of civil liberties to an opinion poll. But since they have, decent Australians must do everything we can to fight for the human rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens: evangelical Christians who work in the wedding industry.

Continue reading “The Cake Baker’s Tale”

The Minister for Home Affairs

Content note: This piece includes graphic discussion of suicide and reference to abuse

Just as I said I wouldn’t, I forgot them, and their stories got tangled up with all the other distant horrors. In May, last year, two young refugees under Australian care set themselves on fire. Omid Masoumali, an 23 year old held in indefinite detention on Nauru, doused his body in petrol and burnt himself alive. Three days later Hodan Yasin, a 21 year old Somali woman, also set herself alight. Unlike Masoumali, she survived; with burns covering seventy per cent of her body. She lost several fingers in the blaze.

Continue reading “The Minister for Home Affairs”