Time and again, the Coalition parties have rejected to concept of gender quotas. In 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison didn’t believe gender quotas would remove the obstacles which prevent more women from advancing in the Liberal Party. This is despite the party’s Women’s Council chair saying it’s time for the Liberals to acknowledge what they’ve done so far to recruit more women hasn’t worked1.
In referring to quotas, Morrison said “It’s never something I have supported. … Because I believe in any political organisation it should be a matter of one’s own effort and exertion and credibility”2. In the Liberal Party, the number of female MPs and senators has remained static since 1996 when the Howard government was elected3.
In 1994, the Labor Party introduced quotas under an affirmative action policy that aimed to get 35% of winnable electorates having female candidates by 2002. The ALP has since increased its female representation in parliament to about 48%. By contrast, only about 25% of state and federal Liberal parliamentarians are female. The Liberal Party aligned Menzies Research Centre released a report in 2020 that acknowledged the poor progress but rejected the “undemocratic path of quotas employed by parties on the left”, arguing quotas were “unpalatable” to many in the party4.
However, earlier this year, Morrison, seemingly sniffing the breeze, flagged the need for quotas to be considered by the Liberal Party, saying he wanted more women preselected and did not hold the same “reservations” about quotas as some in his party do. He said: “We tried it the other way and it isn’t getting us the results we would like to see, so I would like to see us do better on that front”4.
Despite this, even some women in the Liberal Party are against quotas. Senator Anne Ruston, the woman famously interrupted by Morrison when attempting to answer a journalist’s question5, said “I believe strongly in equality of opportunity but not in enforcing equality of outcome. It is also important to remember that, as a democratic party, decisions about preselections are for the grassroots members who put aside their time to show up to branch meetings, not for parliamentarians to dictate.” Similarly, Senator Jane Hume, said she did not believe quotas were the “solution” for achieving cultural change4.
Liberal Party ‘merit’ has given rise to the election of blokes like Craig Kelly (now UAP leader), who denies climate change6,7, and is an antivaccination ‘Covidiot’8; and Kevin Andrews, who foams at the mouth when someone mentions that discrimination on the basis of gender or sexuality may be wrong9; Tony Abbott, who voted against same sex marriage to protect the sanctity of marriage while destroying his own; and Dave Sharma, Eric Abetz, Richard Colbeck, Zed Seselja, Paul Fletcher, Greg Hunt, Andrew Laming, Christian Porter, Michael Sukkar, Angus Taylor, Dan Tehan, Aland Tudge, and Tim Wilson.
The federal Liberal Party has been largely taken over by religious nutters, many of whom are of the same ilk as Scott Morrison; i.e. Pentecostals. They are a conservative Christian crowd, and one of the planks in their cult is male headship. This means that women should submit to men at home and in the church10. Becoming used to being around subservient women in their church and their home presumably leads some of the more narcissistic of its adherents to extend this attitude to any women outside the home and outside the church. This has been clearly demonstrated by the experience of former Liberal MP Julia Banks. She has said that her experience of Parliament House is that it’s a place with a toxic, masculine, anti-women workplace culture, which has flourished in the last two years under Scott Morrison’s leadership11.
Kary, one of my online contacts, has defined the Liberal concept of ‘merit’ as: Mates Elevated Regardless of Intellect or Talent12. That seems entirely accurate.