Election message from Women's Electoral Lobby


Democracy depends on informed voters who can make good choices.

This election campaign has avoided so many issues that it looks and sounds like the confection of spin doctors it is. Many groups of voters have little information on the issues they are interested in. Campaigns that underestimate voters’ interests and the diversity of viewpoints turn people off, and the polls suggest that just this effect is occurring.

For over 30 years, WEL has been challenging parties and candidates to respond to the needs of women. The WEL Voter’s Guide is our contribution to filling in some of the missing perspectives this time around.

While women spread their votes widely, there are many areas that particularly interest us as the majority of carers and low income earners. In 2004, women’s votes will be crucial, as many women have indicated their interest in how they will be affected by policies on health, education, and family-friendly work practices as well as national security and economic management.

The word ‘woman’ is not on the political agenda, despite both major parties’ interest in our votes.

Both are subsuming women’s needs within policies for ‘families’, but this word is also being used also by conservative parties to promote traditional gender roles. Some parties’ preferences deals also raise anxieties about their ‘family values’ agendas.

WEL has analysed the records and policies of the parties in several key areas of interest to women:

¢ work and family and industrial relations,
¢ health,
¢ education,
¢ violence against women,
¢ childcare,
¢ tax and family payments and
¢ women’s roles in decision making.

We have included separate Senate information to encourage voters to vote below the line and make sure their votes go where they choose, counteracting the often-grubby preference deals. In the Senate, the Greens and Democrats have a better record than the major parties in protecting the rights of minorities, so WEL encourages voters to think about maintaining their roles in the upper house.

The results of our comparisons, and some ideas for using votes strategically, are compiled in WEL’s Thinking Voter’s Guide to the 2004 Federal Election. This brief guide will help voters through the thicket of spin, while detailed further analysis of each of the policy areas is provided in WEL’s Policy Guides.

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