More women in Parliament: but do they want to be there? 269



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Tony Abbott has called the Federal Parliament “too blokey” and says that the Liberal Party needs to increase the numbers of women in its ranks. And today we ask whether you think it is possible, and whether more women really want to be there?

The Prime Minister spoke at a Liberal Party function on Saturday night.

‘To be serious about winning elections, we must be more serious about engaging, pre-selecting and sending to parliament the representatives of 50 per cent of the electorate.

‘It would be entirely reasonable for our party to have, not a quota, but a target to increase the number of women in the parliament and in our government at every opportunity.

‘If we don’t get the percentage of women up, we will be letting ourselves down,’

‘We need to have a platitude-free conversation within our party about how we can make more of ourselves by making more of those women who are natural Liberals.’

Abbott even compared his team to the army. ‘If even the Australian Army can become less blokey, then so must we.’

It’s breath of fresh air for women who have trailed on the political agenda since time began to hear that the men in leadership feel they are important to the balance. And it is invigorating to women in all careers to hear our Prime Minister stand up for our rights. But one has to wonder whether it is something that can easily achieve follow through in the short term. It seems highly unlikely that the ratio of men to women could be easily changed given the percentage of men that would need to step out of positions to make it happen relatively quickly.

Parliamentary research shows that across Australia, women continue to be significantly under-represented in parliament and executive government, comprising less than one-third of all parliamentarians and one-fifth of all ministers. And Internationally, Australia’s ranking for women in national government continues to decline when compared with other countries.

Sadly, despite being a first world country, the representation of women in Australia’s parliaments hovers around the ‘critical mass’ of 30 per cent regarded by the United Nations as the minimum level necessary for women to influence decision-making in parliament.


On the other side of this discussion is whether many women would want to sit in Parliament today. We’ve watched in recent years as the media has become one massive political feast, with women in politics some of its most adored and derogated targets. Poor Julia Gillard couldn’t step a foot right in wardrobe or leadership in their eyes. Jacqui Lambie has been made into a media spectacle, Bronwyn Bishop has copped decades of flack, and Sussan Ley the other woman on the cabinet has maintained a very low profile. The only inspiration in our midst appears to be Julie Bishop, who fares relatively well in the public eye.

And so we ask you today: do you think they will be able to change the political basis to include much higher percentages of women fairly quickly; and do you think women want to be there?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Why would we want to be there, it is a slinging match these days, who can get a better story on someone. It sure as hell is not politics any more. Boys club always has always will. No body could handle more woman, women tell it as it is……

    2 REPLY
    • It can only stay as it is if women don’t involved. It’s time to change what has become a very ugly parliament. Our media has to take some responsibility too.

    • Ugly parliament, 2 year olds in the sand pits play better than the politicians. It is a disgrace to watch question time. It will end up like some of the Asian parliaments where they start throwing punches.

  2. Half of the adult voting population are women , and they should make up half of the Parliament, but they don’t. Are Liberal women not as intelligent as Labor and Greens counterparts? Or is the Liberal selection aimed at choosing men, I suspect the latter. Tony Abbott has every opportunity to promote women when he made up his cabinet !! He didn’t instead he appointed himself the Minister for women !!

    2 REPLY
    • Libbi – I thought I had heard wrong when I heard he appointed himself Minister for Women. He is such a disgraceful leader – he is a joke – and oh how I long for good leadership in this country – imo – we are being led by a bunch of dippy fools.

  3. Women with brains are more likely not to be liberal….. Just look at the women in the liberal party!!

    17 REPLY
    • So what do you consider women with brains, those who have squandered millions of Our dollars, and opened Our Country to the biggest scourge the world has ever seen ISIS. !!

    • Julia Gillard may have been an ok PM had it not been for the greens demanding the carbon tax… What we need is a one vote for one preferential votes going to no hopers… That way neither party has to sleep with the enemy

    • Oh dear,Maryvonne if only the problems in the Middle East were as easy as the war in Iraq,maybe read a bit of history and then throw in a good dose of Islam.

    • Yes Richard, I agree, the problems in the Middle East go back a long way….the west double standard in regard to Israel did not help, and removing Saddam Hussain created a void that allowed ISiS to thrive.

    • “If you vote Conservative at 25, you have no heart. If you vote Liberal at 35 you have no brain.” — Disraeli

    • Maryvonne, you are so right there…with my previous comment to Barry about MEN screwing up , one was definitely the American President because had he not killed Hussein ( although he was a dictator and not a nice person at all) ISIS would still be under control…I was under the impression years earlier Hussein had gassed a town of civilians, from what I have read, it was actually a town of ISIS men…so there Barry, another MAN ( American) screwing the country…in fact it was the American President that just a out crippled the world a few years back…More Women for sure ( Greens need not apply)

    • Jan……any person is better than the inept ultra right conservative we have now!!!!!! OH and Prime Minister RUDD saved Australia from the GFC!!!!!!!!!

    • You are right David, if Rudd had not spent the money we would have felt the GFC a lot harder , not really sure what Abbott s excuse is for getting us so much further into debt

  4. What intelligent woman would want to be Liberal Politician with their misogynist outlook ?

    5 REPLY
  5. Don’t think its about how many women are in there. It’s about the best person for the job.

    16 REPLY
    • It seems odd to me that the best people for the job are always men in the Liberal Party, are you suggesting that women who voted Liberal are not as intelligent as those who vote ALP? If so I agree with you

    • How about look at affordable child care in this country. How about men take equal responsibility for the housework so the heavy burden inside the home is not on the woman so she has enough energy for a full time job. Sweden has it right and we have a long long long way to go.

    • Have to disagree on the best person theory too. The whole reason we do not have equal representation of gender is because of the inability of many people to understand that right from the beginning women have been excluded in all areas of society right across the world. This created the gender bias, we are still in catch up mode Diane. We even had to fight for the right to vote! Surely you get the implications of such a thing.The propensity of men in high places is pretty much orchestrated . Women populate the World, while men decide who their enemies are, and mostly it’s us! Sadly again I repeat, there are too many co- opted women in the world to help men facilitate their own view of how things are to be. The definition of insanity is, keep doing the same thing but expect a different outcome each time.

    • David just look at the ladies in the labor party,would you say they are an assett,Gillard is a very good example.

    • Merran Heather Brown they get paid well enough to afford home help and most are double salaried any way,plus all the perks that we do not even know about.

    • If you are a poli’s wife then you’re in a lead position… Yu have input but you’re not in the firing line!

    • John Plummer … How sweet. The little woman needs to be protected from the big wide world of politics. We don’t want secondhand input … too many men have shown their inability to get it right. We need female leaders without the interference of warmongering males. Yes, yes history has proven their incompetence.

    • My husband and I stand fair and square beside eachother. I know my place. As equals.
      John your beliefs are of 1950. blaaaahhhhh!! that was when the Allies needed to go forth and multiply to repopulate afrer so many poooor buggers lost their lives so we could be free. Times are different now John…have you noticed?
      If a woman is a Politicians wife she has vicarious status only. That equals lack of personal power. There are so many things a woman can do other than…..
      ….hear the tune….’ Stand by your man…let him feel two arms that hold him ‘ …or the like. This song was sung by a woman whose husband was screwing his lil self around w other women all over the country wherever Tammy Wywnette was singing in a concert. Oh John. We live in a new world now. You need to know the comments you make sound like you are out of touch in the new millennium. That time has loooooooong gone. Let go my friend and settle back against the pillows.

    • OMG John Plummer, I didn’t know such people still existed. Know my place indeed…..yes, I do. I have my own opinions, usually contrary to my husband’s (but we agree to differ) and I sit on committees with all men who, like yourself, live in the dark ages. However, I stand my ground.

    • I should say only two men live in the dark ages on my committee; the others are forward, lateral thinkers thank goodness.

  6. I admire women who pursue these positions, but it’s a tough road to get there and they need a lot of public support in order to do so.

  7. One thing is for sure.Starts at Sixty has the (female) numbers. However, some of the comments that appear on facebook and the website tend to indicate that not all would make good politicians.

    4 REPLY
    • I see a lot of disgraceful and ignorant comments from men in here,, but people who come in here are not going into Politics, it is Australia’s young women who are saying.. no thanks

    • The same thing goes for the men who comment here, and as for the male politicians we have, women could hardly do a worse job!

    • Absolutely. In fact politicians the calibre of Julie Bishop are rare indeed. Unfortunately many people male and female are more content to sit back and criticise the elected government. History has shown that very few women enter politics; and this needs to change if we want more women representing us in parliament.

  8. The LNP is stuck in a time warp, they are still in the 1950’s while the rest of Australia is 2015, Abbott still thinks women are barefoot in he kitchen ironing and he want to keep it that way

  9. As I pointed out the other day …
    Only 23% of coalition MPs are women. Yet in shots of the PM in question time, 4 of the 6 members in view behind him are women. Coincidence?

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