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Sexing up Australia’s elections

New party trumpets sex ed and drugs for dysfunction in lead-up to Australia's election.

SYDNEY, Australia — They see themselves variously as "filling a gap" in Australian politics and "sticking it up" those American-style neo-cons of Australian society.

And while sober discussion of immigration, workers’ rights and economic policy has thus far trumped talk of pornography and pole dancing, the misfits of the Australian Sex Party (ASP) are campaigning voraciously across the country in the lead-up to the Aug. 21 general elections.

With their mandate of "keeping the government out of our bedrooms," ASP’s policies generally revolve around, you guessed it, sex. 

Straddling the line where sex meets national politics, the policies of the party — formed in 2008 — include greater sex education in schools, opposing mandatory internet filters, more vigorous investigation into claims of child sex abuse in religious institutions and listing medication for treating sexual dysfunctions on the public subsidy program.

Fiona Patten, president of ASP, has worked in Australia’s adult entertainment industry for most of her adult life, including her ongoing role as CEO of Eros Association, the country’s leading adult peak industry group.

“Australians are not particularly conservative, but our politicians are, and I think the Sex Party is, filling a gap there. We are socially progressive,” Patten said.

“We’re pretty backward in terms of our laws [regarding sex]. Unfortunately we’re getting quite a lot of input from that neo-con, religious right seen in America.”

With a support network strongly pooled, though not exclusively, from young voters, Patten hopes ASP and its strong slant toward civil liberties will turn the tide on what she sees as Australia’s archaic and conservative political values.

The party, she says, is hoping for at least 5 percent of primary votes in each state it is campaigning in and is aiming to have at least one candidate attain a senate seat. Patten herself is running for the senate in the southern state of Victoria.

“None of us are career politicians. We really are a cross-section of the community, albeit some of the more colorful sections of the community. We’re not exactly the ‘gray suits.’”

Colorful is certainly the word. Among the ASP’s eclectic band of candidates are representatives of the adult entertainment industry as well as a female weightlifting champion and a famous Australian comedian.

Alexander Gutman, under his stage name Austen Tayshus (pronounced "ostentacious") has been a steadfast kingpin on the Australian comedy scene for decades. His 1983 spoken-word song "Australiana" remains the highest selling Australian-produced single ever.

Austen Tayshus is taking on leader of the country’s opposition Liberal party, Tony Abbott, in his home electorate in Sydney’s north. Employing trademark sardonic humor, the comedian and Sex Party politician has been “sticking it up” Abbott since the election’s announcement.

“Both personalities heading up the two major parties are just so boring,” he reasoned. “It’s the bland leading the bland. I think injecting a bit of satire into it is a good thing.”

A favorite of his campaign quips makes reference to an Abbott-proof fence (in reference to the iconic Australian film Rabbit Proof Fence). When asked whether he has had any interaction with his political rival, he jokingly explained: "I’ve been over there for a dope-smoking session and I’ve rooted [had sexual intercourse with] his two daughters,” he said, with a laugh. “No really, nothing to do with him.”

Jokes aside, ASP has turned more than a few heads since arriving on the scene.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/asia/100812/sex-education-australia-elections