By Bumpy Favell
4 Sept 2013
I requested an interview with Lianna Sliwczynski, the Australian Sex Party, ASP candidate for Batman in late July 2013, along with all of the other Batman candidates.
If candidates didn’t reply within a few days, I kept contacting them. Three responded promptly: Phillip Sutton, Save the Planet Party, Alex Bhathal, Greens and David Feeney, Labor.
But there was no response from Lianna despite repeated attempts. Since the election was called on August 4, I hadn’t seen anything in my electorate from either the ASP or their candidate for this marginal seat – no posters, leaflets, or interviews in the local papers. In late August, with a week to go before polling day, I heard from Lianna. We arranged to meet in the park near the local TAFE, NMIT in Preston. Lianna said she would be in purple for Wear it Purple Day. I joked I couldn’t leave the house because I don’t own anything purple, so when we met Lianna handed me a purple wristband to wear in honour of GLBTIQ youth worldwide.
Lianna is in her early 30s and friendly. During my interview she came across as a great character – tough minded and intelligent and up for a laugh. She recorded me also, and took notes throughout. We started off chatting about the 6 local Wurundjeri/Kulin Nation weather seasons Lianna had mentioned on her Facebook page.
At one time she worked with Brimbank Council propagating mainly indigenous food plants. Lianna touchingly told me about the “flowers that taste like chocolate, tubers that taste like licorice and trees that grow in support of each other to increase the biodiversity in the land and stop erosion”.
Sliwczynski: I did a biotechnology course at uni and got honours in medical laboratory science. I worked in a cancer institute for about 3 years, then at a school as a lab tech, then went overseas and worked in some of the top laboratories in the UK. Now I’m doing swim teaching – and being a politician is my full time job, even though it’s volunteering at the moment.
I’m passionate about a lot of things including Indigenous culture and renewable energy and sustainable practices as well.
Favell: So did you ever think about joining the Greens?
Sliwczynski: Yeah [laughing], I voted for the Greens last time but then I looked at the Australian Sex Party policies. They’ve got a well-rounded approach. They focus on civil liberties, human rights and equality and they speak about topics that many other political parties and groups won’t speak about. Or are not brave enough to speak about just yet. But they are very very important issues that have to be addressed.
Favell: Like what? Tell me some of your favourites.
Sliwczynski: A major one is same sex marriage – the Sex Party had policies on that before the major parties. My partner and I have been going to Marriage Equality and civil rights rallies within the LGBTIQ community for years now, including Pride marches in Tokyo, London and Amsterdam and around Europe. We’ve been trying to create awareness of that because it’s important to us.
And sex education in schools: to have age appropriate sex education … starting from earlier ages than now, so children learn based on scientific research, get the support they need and know they are not dealing with someone homophobic or transphobic. In relation to that, we want to replace the chaplaincy programs in schools with trained professional counselors.
Favell: Do you think there’s a lot of diversity in the Sex Party candidates? One young candidate is described on the website as being of the “libertarian right”. How would you place yourself, if you had to say left or right wing attitude.
Sliwczynski: Definitely not either. I would say central, because we are looking at different aspects across the board. The Australian Sex Party wasn’t formed from activism or from extreme conservatism or religious bodies.
Favell: Wasn’t it from a lobby group, for the Eros Foundation?
Sliwczynski: Yes, that means it originated from small business – and the people who are candidates now, come from a wide range of political backgrounds, cultural backgrounds. We have gender diversity – people that recognize themselves as intersex, transgender, gay lesbian, bisexual. People from all walks of life and all sorts. So I think that’s what makes us really the best party.
Favell: Would you say the basis of the party is to represent the Eros Foundation?
Sliwczynski: No absolutely not.
Favell: You’re not really expecting to win in Batman are you?
Sliwczynski: Well anything’s possible and it depends on the preferences. I’ve already looked at it statistically. There’s a lot of shuffling around as you get to the final votes. There are few more independents this time so the preferences can change in regard to that.
Favell: I couldn’t see how you have preferenced for the House of Reps in Batman. What will your How-to-Vote cards look like?
Sliwczynski: You’ll have to see that on September the 7th.
Favell: It’s a surprise is it?
Sliwczynski: At the moment.
Favell: So are you putting the Greens last?
Sliwczynski: No, we are putting extremist religious parties last, and then Liberal, but we are preferencing parties that have like-minded policies.
Favell: Do you feel that the Greens are like-minded at all? There seems to be bit of a schism between the Greens and the Sex Party at the moment. It’s all over Twitter…
Sliwczynski: Sounds like gossip.
Fiona Patten the leader of the Sex Party is quite open about ASP preferences being pragmatic, causing fury from Greens accusing ASP of bolstering One Nation’s chances.
— Australian Sex Party (@aussexparty) August 29, 2013
This is how the ASP responded to my Twitter question a couple of weeks ago:
@BumpyF In the position we thought was best to maximise our vote
— Australian Sex Party (@aussexparty) August 27, 2013
And more examples of disagreements on Twitter between Patten and Greens supporters:
— Australian Sex Party (@aussexparty) September 3, 2013
— Australian Sex Party (@aussexparty) September 4, 2013
Favell: Well, … in the Senate why would ASP put the Shooters and Fishers and the Katter Party above the Greens – in Victoria?
Sliwczynski: That’s interesting, that’s different to what I read. You’ll have to speak to Fiona[Patten] about that directly – but she wouldn’t compromise existing values or policies to favour certain parties. I think if you look across the board with all different electorates you will see a great diversity in what is selected. Sometimes Labor is selected close to the top, sometimes Liberal, sometimes Greens.
Favell: Do you really think Liberals could be closer to your values than even Labor?
Sliwczynski: Again we’re actually an independent party so we’re not going to side with a certain party. We are looking at what the people in the community actually want.
Favell: How do you personally know what the people want? I haven’t seen you around anywhere.
Sliwczynski: You haven’t seen me chatting to anyone?
Favell: No… And I’ve looked online to see if there’s been any interviews with you.
Sliwczynski: I’ve been going to lots of different community meetings through libraries and different cultural centres. On Wednesday I was at a meeting with the City Councils of Hume, Darebin, Moreland – they bring forward the community voice in regards to what they want funded, what changes they want.
Favell: So you ask the councils?
Sliwczynski: It goes both ways, more than both ways, many ways. In regard to small business I pop into the local shops and the local markets and I’ll chat to people about the things they want to keep and the things they want to change. Most people want better public transport. In regard to the East West tollway the Sex Party is against that and we’re also trying to get conversations with people about trying to reduce their consumption of coal for electricity and moving towards renewables.
Favell: So out of Alex Bhathal and David Feeney, if you were an ordinary voter, who would you vote for?
Sliwczynski: I’d vote for the Sex Party.
Favell: [We both laugh] But you’ve got to have preferences, you can’t just put number 1 in.
Sliwczynski: Yeah but I can’t talk about preferences specifically.
Favell: Why is that?
Sliwczynski: Because people have to find out on the day.
Favell: Are you the only party that does that?
Sliwczynski: Well, there’s 50 parties now isn’t there?
Favell: But why just on the day?
Sliwczynski: Actually it should be published already, it was all confirmed last Sunday. I just wouldn’t like to talk about it at the moment because there’s a lot of discussions back and forth and judgement. I’ve seen some of the preferences that the Greens have picked and they have sided with a couple of parties that are pro mining and that goes against their nature.
Favell: Greens have actually put the Sex Party and Wikileaks above Labor in the Senate. I couldn’t find anything about the House of Reps and what you have chosen for preferences.
Sliwczynski: There’s a lot of things that are not published about the House of Representatives. With at least 40 other parties, no one’s asking them every single second, what did you preference, why did you preference this and that.
Favell: Because the people who are asking you are passionate about politics and are probably worried that the Sex Party, that they feel really fond of, might be going the way of a right wing business model… or something.
Sliwczynski: Again it’s all gossip, we are mainly focusing on the policies and what other parties support and which ones promote censorship or privacy with electronic information.
Favell: Is that a difference between the Sex Party and the Greens, censorship?
Sliwczynski: I thought the Greens just didn’t have enough policies on everyday logical things. Like, they are pro environment – I applaud them on that. There’s a lot of things they do want to put forward, that even the community have been trying to do, for example with solar panels. But we are very much independent. I don’t understand why people compare us to other parties. We are very much our own party and we’re going to continue to stand up for the rights of the people and the rights of the people who have supported us.
Favell: So what about Batman in particular? What are some of the things you would like to see changed?
Sliwczynski: There’s a lot of graffiti – like on this table here [a fully tagged picnic table].
Favell: You don’t like graffiti?
Sliwczynski: I don’t mind it – but it’s different when people are tagging over tags and graffiti-ing things like childcare facilities or hospitals. There’s a lot of community and council funded murals I’ve noticed around Batman and I’d like to see more of those, so that even the people who currently do the tagging and different forms of graffiti can actually help rehabilitate the area. Maybe they can include their own tag on the wall but at least its not going to be overlaid about 5 times and they can be proud of the work and proud of upholding the respect of the community. That way it’s an artistic expression instead of vandalism.
Favell: Have you ever done tagging?
Sliwczynski: Yeah, I went to a few competitions as a teenager – at fetes and community markets.
Favell: So you used to get the spray can out?
Sliwczynski: Well, I like painting. I’m also an artist, but I’m not producing art at the moment.
Favell: When you go into your local shop and say Hi, I’m Lianna from the Sex Party, what’s the reaction? Do people think it’s all about sex?
Sliwczynski: No, I’ve been quite surprised and impressed by people’s knowledge of the Australian Sex Party. There’s probably 2 people out of 10 that don’t want to talk to me – there was one person who just ran across the road when they saw my T-shirt. One guy came up to me and shook my hand and said, “Thank you because I’ve got a young daughter, … and we really need good sex education instead of things being ignored”. He said that he doesn’t want her to look up just anything on the internet and sometimes she’s on the computer for hours.
Favell: Do you think there should be more parental controls? Or some sort of censorship?
Sliwczynski: I think it should be up to individual households or individual people – I don’t think the government should regulate that.
Favell: So if people in Batman put you first – you get paid $2.34 per number 1 vote…
Favell: Oh, ok, so what happens with that money?
Sliwczynski: A lot of it goes back to cover the campaign costs. I’m hoping for between 7,000 and 10,000 votes.
Lianna tells me she has learned to weld recently and with a friend has constructed a golden tricycle. So on Saturday 7 September Lianna will be riding the amazing tricycle round the polling booths in Batman dressed up in Sex Party yellow and red, distributing How to Vote cards.
After our interview last Friday, I searched for many hours for a copy of her ASP Batman How-to-Vote card online. I looked everywhere, including the AEC, Sex Party, belowtheline, and electionleaflets.org.au websites. I ended up Facebook messaging the Sex Party and on Twitter and received this via Facebook:[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]
The Australian Sex Party
I understand you’re with No Fibs.
Thank you for your interest.
Batman HTV card.
More Batman seat reports here.