Australia goes to the polls on 2 July 2016. This will be a test of party performance on equal gender representation. The Liberal Party of Australia rejects quotas for women candidates, the Labor Party is aiming for gender equity for candidates by 2025, the Greens support quotas to achieve gender equity and the National Party position is not clear.
Australia is likely to match the recent disappointing performance on gender equity in the Scottish election, where there was no net gain in female representation - despite high hopes of further progress. This article from News Corp shows that the number of women candidates put forward for the Liberal Party has fallen dramatically and many women candidates face uphill battles for unwinnable seats.
PM Malcolm Turnbull recently became a 'champion for change' saying:
We were all in agreement that if men control the levers of power, as they currently do in most parts of Australia’s political infrastructure, then men have to take responsibility to help change things.
Increasing the number of women in politics is not solely a ‘women’s issue’ – it is in the national interest for Australia to have access to 100 per cent of the nation’s talent pool, regardless of gender.
However, this meant nothing as he later said that pre-selection was a matter for local branches. And the result is women being turned over for male candidates. The approach of the Liberal Party, and the resulting exclusion of women as candidates, means that Australia is likely to fall further behind in global measures on gender equity in parliament.
Our call for equal gender representation with male and female representatives elected in every seat is the most democratic solution. It can be achieved by amending the Electoral Act. The parties need to be pushed to make such a change. Some, like the Liberal Party are only too ready to actively exclude women from power.