Senior Liberals 'open' to gender quotas

Health Minister Greg Hunt says he wants to see gender parity in the Liberal party room Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Health Minister Greg Hunt says he wants to see gender parity in the Liberal party room Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Another senior Morrison government minister says he is open to using quotas to boost the number of female Liberals in parliament, as the party faces mounting pressure to help clean up the culture in Parliament House.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he would like to see women make up at least 50 per cent of the Liberal party room and is "very open to the means" of achieving gender parity.

Mr Hunt stopped short of endorsing quotas as the solution, suggesting the type of "active management" used to help women into leadership positions in other fields might be the better option.

The comments came as Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said her federal counterparts should consider any measure to help address the clear "gender inequality" in Parliament House.

The furore surrounding the treatment of women in politics has sparked renewed debate over whether the Liberals should use quotas to increase their female representation.

The Liberals have long been strongly opposed to the concept, believing candidates should be picked on merit.

But the needle appears to have shifted, at least for some senior figures, as the fallout continues to the Brittany Higgins rape allegations.

READ MORE:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said he had been open to the idea "for some time", after Industry Minister Karen Andrews had earlier suggested the party look at quotas.

"We tried it the other way and it isn't getting us the results so I would like to see us do better on that front," Mr Morrison said.

Liberal backbencher Katie Allen said she had previously been opposed to gender quotas, but was now "open to the discussion".

"We had a record amount of women coming into parliament and we got a record number of women in cabinet," she told ABC News Breakfast.

"But clearly it's not enough. We need more women in the decision-making tent."

Queensland LNP member Andrew Wallace argued against gender targets, telling Sky News that the "best candidate should get the job".

Of the 74 Liberal MPs and senators in Federal Parliament, fewer than 30 per cent are women. The proportion is slightly lower - about 25 per cent - when Nationals parliamentarians are included.

Labor has 45 per cent female representation in federal parliament.

Labor introduced affirmative action policies in 1994, and its constitution calls for 50 per cent women in public office and party positions.

More than half of the Canberra Liberals who won seats at last year's ACT election were women. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

More than half of the Canberra Liberals who won seats at last year's ACT election were women. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

While men far outnumber women in the federal Liberal parliamentary party, the tables are turned at the local level.

Five of the nine Canberra Liberals elected last October to the ACT Legislative Assembly were women. In the previous term the Liberals had six women and five men in the party room.

The party has not relied on quotas to achieve gender parity.

But Ms Lee, who was elected leader last year, said her federal counterparts should be open to the idea.

"Obviously, while not being able to comment directly in relation to the situation on the Hill, I do think that it's worth looking at any and every measure that will go some way to addressing what we clearly see as gender inequality in our federal parliament," she said.

"In the ACT we have had a majority female party room for a second term in a row and that was done without quotas. So I think that when we discuss quotas, which I'm very, very open to talking about and considering, we need to look at it more globally.

"We also have to start by acknowledging there is no silver bullet."

Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

This story Senior Liberals 'open' to gender quotas for party first appeared on The Canberra Times.

Comments

Discuss "Senior Liberals 'open' to gender quotas for party"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.