Affirmative inaction

Not only will we soon have more union-sponsored candidates for safe seats than at any time since Federation, we will also see the battle of the sexes.


What is happening to the gender balance in Parliament? Is it too much to think that this hallowed body should begin to reflect the composition of the community?


At a time when more women are entering tertiary education and the shortage of labor is bringing more and more women back into the workforce, it is time to ask why our country’s leadership is so firmly committed to a desperate reversion to male representation in the halls of government.


We are going backwards, despite the policies of affirmative action. When the factions line up their battalions for the coming electoral battles, women in parliament are finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.


What do Amanda Vanstone, Ann Corcoran, Carmen Lawrence, Jackie Kelly, Linda Kirk, Kelly Hoare, Natasha Stott Despoja and Trish Draper have in common? They share a place in history that will not be repeated in the coming Parliament of Australia.


More significantly, they have all been replaced in their positions by men.


At the same time we witness the party political pressure upon Bronwyn Bishop, Judi Moylan, and Fran Bailey and other women with the temerity to demonstrate a level of independent thinking and private opinion that challenges the older order of male dominance.


Backroom deals between faction leaders and party machine-men deny the electorate the chance to retain their representatives. We are not only seeing a battle of the sexes, we will soon have more union sponsored candidates for safe seats than at any time since Federation.


When will we get inside stories on the abuse of power by the leader’s representatives that have been applied to members who have dared to exercise their responsibilities to their constituents and to their conscience?


Isn’t it time that the press gallery gained a measure of independence from their media owners to be able to report the bullying and harassment of members that goes back to the first woman speaker in the House and the reason that the media continues to go after Cheryl Kernot, Carmen Lawrence and Bronwyn Bishop and that have the temerity to aspire to party leadership. These women didn’t make it, but where is the equivalent attack on males?


Labor has pledged to have 40% of women in safe seats by 2012. So one might think they would phase in such a pledge. Not so.


When will we see a full account of the changed composition of the next Federal Parliament and a full appraisal of the manner in which ministerial positions are determined outside of the view of the electorate?


The interests of the nation require attention to the values of the future and less acceptance of the tensions that exist between the old regime and the next generation of responsible leadership.



To read more Colin Benjamin blogs, click here.



Fair suck of the sav, says thinking1: I assume (the Lib/business-suck), Amanda Gome wrote your intro? Having read your article it seems totally irrelevant to state that ,”…not only will we soon have more union sponsored candidates…”, in a (reasoned) article on the glass ceiling.

What are the figures upon which this claim is based and what are the corresponding figures for business sponsored candidates in the Lib party?


SmartCompany replies: Hi Thinking1: SmartCompany is an independent publisher and we take a completely apolitical line. Our readers know we hold all policies and parties up to scrutiny without fear or favor.

Unfortunately business journalism is often confused with taking a pro-liberal stance – especially by some unionists.

Publisher, Amanda Gome



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