So in the aftermath of last week’s announcement of the make up of the Coalition Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abbott much has been said about the lack of women. Here are a collection of articles that I thought were brilliant.
Ben Eltham’s article in The Guardian, “Five Women Who Should Have Been In Abbott’s Cabinet – and yes, on Merit”
Scroll through the list of Coalition members of Parliament, and a sea of old(er) men confronts you. Female faces are few and far between. Just to take one example: in the recent election, the Queensland LNP ran six women in a total of 30 seats. In New South Wales, the Liberals ran 10 women in 43 seats. In Victoria, it was six in 37.
Fiona Smith’s article in BRW, “Jobs For the Boys: Libs Were Warned About Abbott Cabinet, But Didn’t Listen”
And this is where the Labor Party has led the way. It introduced a quota system for the preselection of women in 1994, which was fiercely opposed at the time by some party heavyweights.
The quota rule is that women will be pre-selected in one third of winnable seats.
The beneficiaries of the quota have been (first and foremost) the Labor Party and Julia Gillard, Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong, Nicola Roxon, and Jenny Macklin.
Julia Baird’s article in The Sydney Morning Herald, “For Women, Party of Merit is Tanking It”
When I interviewed Bishop for my book Media Tarts 10 years ago, she said men had a vested interest in keeping women out of cabinet: ”If women are able to compete equally, what you do for men is, you double your competition … If you look at our frontbench, most of the blokes have stay-at-home wives. Now, I’m not criticising that situation, but it doesn’t reflect what the rest of the country’s like. And it does have an impact on policy.’
Jane Caro’s article in Crikey, “Promotion on – ahem – Merit? It’s Hard To See How”.
Even in our very own federal cabinet, quotas are in existence. I heard a discussion about how difficult it was to select a new ministry given how the PM had to balance the required number of ministers from Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, etc, plus the required number of National Party people. Um, sorry, pardon my ignorance (perhaps its my vagina-owning lack of merit), but aren’t they quotas? Do the ministers from Queensland feel patronised that they might have got their cabinet positions based on their location, not their merit? (I’m not going to ask if the National Party members feel patronised; I am sure they do, all the time.)
Lenore Taylor’s article in The Guardian, “Tony Abbott’s Male Heavy Cabinet Is A Disappointment To Tony Abbott”
When Tony Abbott says he is “disappointed” there aren’t more women in his cabinet, what can he mean?
It can’t be that he’s disappointed with the selection process, because he did it.
It can’t be that he’s disappointed with the fact there are so many long-serving men there, because it was his decision not to move any of them on.
It can’t be because he hasn’t any sufficiently talented women MPs, because quite clearly he has.