Ross Fitzgerald: Book of the year for 2018.
ROSS FITZGERALD, emeritus professor and author.
Fiona Patten’s ‘Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll’ (Allen & Unwin) is the most provocative memoir yet written by a sitting member of an Australian parliament.
The book opens with Patten’s maiden speech in the Victorian Legislative Council in February 2015, where she declared: “I may be the first former sex worker to be elected to a parliament anywhere in this country.” And then, after a short pause: “However, I am sure the clients of sex workers have been elected in far greater numbers before me!”
Patten was the first political leader in Australia to call for a royal commission into child sex abuse in the church. Her expose of how the church initially covered up that abuse by using the sex industry as a scapegoat is an eye-opener.
Her 2015 private member’s bill led to the enactment of exclusion zones around Victorian abortion clinics.
Patten has also been the driving force behind legalising voluntary assisted dying, introducing medically supervised injecting centres, introducing online petitions to state parliament and initiating the largest parliamentary inquiry into drug law reform that Australia has seen.
Her memoir should be compulsory reading for current and aspiring parliamentarians.
At the last federal election Professor Ross Fitzgerald was the lead Senate candidate in NSW for Patten’s Australian Sex Party, since renamed the Reason Party.
The Weekend Australian, December 22-23, 2018, review, p 15.