Fiona Heather Patten (born 6 May 1964) is an Australian politician. She is the leader of the Reason Party and has a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council, representing the Northern Metropolitan Region.
Fiona Patten in 2013
|Leader of the Reason Party|
|Assumed office |
(as Reason Party)
29 January 2018
|Preceded by||Herself (as Leader of the Australian Sex Party)|
(as Australian Sex Party)
5 December 2009 – 24 November 2017
|Preceded by||Party established|
|Succeeded by||Herself (as Leader of the Australian Reason Party)|
|Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan|
|Assumed office |
29 November 2014
|Preceded by||Matthew Guy|
|President of the Eros Association|
21 November 1992 – 23 November 2014
|Preceded by||Organization established|
|Succeeded by||David Watt|
|Director of the National Museum of Erotica|
|Assumed office |
1 March 2001
|Preceded by||Institution established|
Fiona Heather Patten
6 May 1964
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
|Political party||Reason Party (since 2009)|
|Hare-Clark Independent (1991–1992)|
|Domestic partner||Robbie Swan|
|Residence||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Alma mater||University of Canberra|
|Occupation||Chief executive officer|
Patten established the Australian Sex Party in 2009 to focus on personal freedoms after deep frustration with stagnation on censorship, freedom, marriage equality and drug law reform. On 22 August 2017, it was announced that the Australian Sex Party would be changing its name to the Reason Party.
Before entering politics, Patten was the CEO of Australia’s national adult industry association, Eros Association. She championed sexual rights and health movements for more than 20 years, particularly on HIV/AIDS, after initially starting out as a small businesses owner with her own fashion label.
Early life and career
Patten was born in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, the daughter of Colin Richard Lloyd "Rick" Patten, an Australian naval officer, and his wife Anne, a Scottish-born public servant who worked for a government-owned telecommunications company.
Rick and Anne Patten had met in Scotland, where the former had been posted, and after her birth Patten spent parts of her childhood in the United Kingdom and the United States, in concert with her father's postings. Patten has two younger sisters.
Patten received her primary education overseas. She excelled in sport and took particular interest in swimming. Upon returning to Australia with her family in 1978, Patten attended Hawker College in Canberra where she studied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Industrial Arts, Technical Drawing, Landscape Design and Environmental Studies. She went on to study Landscape Architecture and Industrial Design at the University of Canberra. She later graduated with qualifications in fashion design and started her own fashion label, Body Politics. The first boutique was opened in Yarralumla in the late 1980s, where she sold her own fashion creations as well as the designs of colleagues in Sydney. During the early 1990s recession in Australia, interest in Patten's expensive collection was received largely from workers in the sex industry.
Business career, 1988–2014
Patten started her career with her company Body Politics. With her large clientele of sex workers, Patten became interested in sex workers' rights, eventually joining Workers In Sex Employment (WISE), a lobbying group, to inform at-risk members of the population about the emerging threat of HIV/AIDS. Patten was employed as an outreach speaker, and would once a week visit brothels to teach the women about safe sex.
"I remember it all very clearly and thinking afterwards: how easy was that? It was just so easy. There was this nice man in his early 30s, we had a spa and sex and that was that" – Fiona Patten, article by Sally Patten for the Australian Financial Review, December 2014
Patten eventually lost interest in her work, which had also interfered with her social and professional life. After working as a female escort in Cairns, Queensland, Patten quit sex work in 1992 and continued in sex education.
In 1992, Patten and her partner, Robbie Swan, established the Eros Association, a peak body for the adult industry.
The company extended its interests into publications, public relations, business, and political advocacy. Eros was heavily involved in the editing and publication of a political humour and satire magazine entitled Matilda, an adult magazine entitled Ecstacy, and launched their own "sex and politics" themed magazine Eros.
In 2001, the company established the first National Museum of Erotica, dedicated to the history of erotica and the preservation of erotic art, literature, film and photography. The museum was unveiled by Chief Minister Kate Carnell. While the physical presence of the Museum was closed in 2002, the collection remained preserved and continued to grow, with over 400 individual pieces cataloged by 2005, and instead maintained a virtual presence on the internet.
Patten scaled down her interests in the company in 2000 to pursue other interests in advocacy. She returned in 2006, and left again in 2014 when she was elected to the Victorian Parliament.
National Museum of Erotica
The National Museum of Erotica was opened in Canberra in 2001, dedicated to the history of erotica and the preservation of erotic art, literature, film and photography. The museum was unveiled by Chief Minister Kate Carnell, and was the first establishment of its kind in Australia.
The National Museum of Erotica collected works from the likes of Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman, Salvatore Zofrea, Lesbia Thorpe, Richard Larter, Mario Azzopardi, and more historically Mihály Zichy. Patten expressed that the collection and archiving of erotic, pornographic and sexual art and artefacts is fundamentally different from the collection of non sexual material because the former was perceived as a rapidly diminishing resource in the world.
The museum housed erotic artistic works, including paintings, pictures, pin-up, illustrated books, comic strips and films, from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hungary, Russia and Australia.
Political career, 1992–present
Patten first sought election in the 1992 ACT general election. Patten contested the second election for representation in the multi-member single constituency Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly on a ticket called the Hare-Clark Independent Group, in association with the larger group of independent politicians who entered an alliance with the Liberal and Residents Rally government. Patten ran alongside the sitting member Craig Duby, however both Duby and Patten were unsuccessful in being elected.
Australian Sex Party (2009–2017)
In 2009, Patten founded the Australian Sex Party, which began by focusing on law reform for the sex industry, but soon "broadened [its] platform to include supporting voluntary euthanasia, same-sex marriage, decriminalising cannabis for personal use, greater transparency in government through freedom of information laws, and increasing people’s right to privacy."
Patten contested the seat of Higgins in Victoria at the 2009 by-election. She received over 3 percent of the vote, placing her 4th out of 10 candidates. Her campaign was based on opposing Greens Victoria candidate Clive Hamilton's proposal for an ISP-level Internet filter which would block access to websites containing RC-rated content—that is, legal material which is banned from sale, trade or public exhibition due to its extreme nature.
Patten publicly criticized the proposal. She appeared in the Four Corners episode "Access Denied" arguing that it would include blocking access to adult films such as Pirates—refused classification because of a technicality—that do not depict sexual violence, are extremely popular overseas and are available for download on dozens of websites.
The party contested all states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, in the Senate and six of 150 House of Representatives seats at the 2010 federal election. The party won 2.04 percent of the national Senate vote, over 250,000 first preferences. After the major parties and the Greens, the Sex Party during the vote count were "neck and neck" with the Family First Party for the fourth place in the national Senate vote. The party "outpolled several more prominent minor parties and came within about 10,000 votes of Family First for the Senate in Victoria". After the party's first federal election contest, Patten claimed that the Sex Party was "now the major minor party in Australian politics":
We've polled better than the Greens did in their first federal election and believe that our vision of Australia as the most socially progressive country in the world is equal to the Greens environmental messages of 20 years ago.
Patten contested the 2012 Melbourne state by-election, coming third out of 16 candidates, receiving 6.6 percent of the vote, in the absence of a Liberal Party candidate. She says the party preferenced Labor ahead of the Greens due to the "anti-sex feminist movement" within the Greens, but that future preferences may change again.
Patten successfully contested the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council during the 2014 Victorian state election becoming the first candidate for the Australian Sex Party to be elected to parliament.
Reason Party (2017–present)
On 22 August 2017, there were reports that the Australian Sex Party would be changing its name and becoming the Reason Party. This was later confirmed, and the Reason Party registered for federal elections in Australia in May 2018, and was confirmed as "Reason Australia" on 30 August 2018.
- Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll: My unlikely journey from sex worker to Member of Parliament (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2018)
- "Australian Sex Party to become the Reason Party". Smh.com.au. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Sex Party to change name to Reason Party, founder Fiona Patten announces". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 22 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Sex Party changes its name, MP takes aim at 'extremists' in Australian politics". SBS News. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- Mark Dapin, "Now that Sex Party MP Fiona Patten has your attention ...", The Age, 13 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- "List of candidates". 1992 Election. ACT Electoral Commission. 1992. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Sex Party's Fiona Patten on her journey from parlour to Parliament". The Australian Financial Review. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Quentin McDermott (7 May 2010). "Access Denied". Four Corners. ABC.
- First Preferences for the Senate – 2010 federal election: AEC Archived 1 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Australian Sex Party does well: AustralianNews.net 24 August 2010 Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- "Australian Sex Party picks up votes". Herald Sun. 24 August 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- Sex Party Now The Major Minor Party in Australian Politics: Sex Party website 23 August 2010 Archived 2 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "Greens win seats in every state". Smh.com.au. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Sex Party hoping to get lucky in Victoria". News.smh.com.au. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Greens snub could cost preferences in Melbourne by-election". Heraldsun.com.au. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- The Melbourne byelection special: 3AW 19 July 2012 Archived 24 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Official by-election outcome still days away: Yahoo News 23 July 2012
- "Minor parties to make up almost one third of Victoria's newly-elected Upper House". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 16 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- formerly the Australian Sex Party
- formerly the Australian Sex Party
- Fiona Patten MLC - Homepage
- Reason Party official party website
- Reason Party - Victoria secondary official party website with more focus on Victoria
- Sex Party vs Family First debate: Sunrise 2 August 2010
- Fiona Patten on IMDb
- Fiona Patten on Twitter
- Parliamentary voting record of Fiona Patten at Victorian Parliament Tracker