Former prime minister John Howard has weighed in on the women in politics debate while speaking at an exclusive mens only club on Friday night.
His comments follow those made by Julie Bishop, who spoke passionately about the lack of female politicians during a Women’s Weekly magazine’s Women of the Future awards.
The former deputy leader of the Liberal Party slammed the falling number of women in parliament in the country, claiming it’s “not acceptable” that less than a quarter of Liberal MPs are currently women.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Howard attended Brisbane’s Tattersall’s Club – a strictly no females club – to launch his new book. However, while there he made time to mention how he didn’t believe in quotas for female representation in parliament, the news outlet reported.
“Having said that, I would like to see more women in the House of Representatives on our side of politics,” he said. “But in the end, you’ve always got to make a judgement based on merit.”
The second-longest serving Australian prime minister continued by saying how he would like to see a more even level of men and women in parliament as there was back in 1996.
The comments made by both Howard and Bishop were spurred on by an outbreak of claims from female politicians who said there is a significant amount of bullying in politics.
While speaking at the Women’s Weekly event, Bishop also addressed this issue and the unequal treatment of females.
“Our party, in fact all parties, recognise they have a problem in attracting and maintaining women, diversity in general… When a feisty, amazing woman like Julia Banks says this environment is not for me, don’t say ‘toughen up princess’, say ‘enough is enough’,” she said at the event.
The 62-year-old went on to reflect on her past career in law and slammed the recent antics in Canberra, adding: “I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in Parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted.
“Yet in Parliament it’s the norm.”