I’d love to say there has never been a better time to be a woman in Australian politics but that simply isn’t true. The recently dissolved House of Representatives had 76 women out of of 226 seats. Not a resounding display of equality in the first place, but higher than the recent average.
That number is set to diminish though. Labor is fielding around 47 women, and the Greens have 43 women standing. The Coalition, however, will put up a piss-weak total of 32 women. It’s impossible to provide a reliable forecast of how many of those women will succeed at the moment but with several Liberal women in safe seats retiring at this election (Sharman Stone, Bronwyn Bishop, Teresa Gambaro) and being replaced by men, it’s more than likely we will see less women in parliament than before.
Who says we don’t need affirmative action? Old white men, that’s who.
There are some women running that will be worth watching though:
Larissa was the first Green to be elected into any government in Queensland. She is the Greens’ deputy leader and spokesperson on women, and last week announced the Greens’ policy on making abortion easier for women to access (did you know only 1 per cent of women in Queensland who have an abortion do so through the public health system – far out). Can she back up and win her Senate seat for a second term?
Prediction: She sure can. Larissa has been a strong and consistent performer in the Senate. The double dissolution means twice the amount of senators will be voted in, lowering the threshold and making her a put-all-your-money-on-her-odds-on cert.
Image source: Wikipedia
Sigh. Fucking hell, why are we still having this conversation? Antony Green, ABC’s election analyst says everybody’s favourite anti-immigration/Muslim/general-common-decency campaigner is in with a ‘realistic’ shot at a Queensland senate seat in this election. Her last eight electoral campaigns have failed, but like the Terminator, she refuses to lay down and melt into a viscous puddle of liquid metal.
Prediction: Nine failed attempts and finally the penny will drop for Pauline, prompting her to retire from politics forever.
Image source: Kym Smith, The Australian
Cathy McGowan and Sophie Mirabella
Along with many others, I’ll be watching the seat of Indi with a massive box of popcorn in my hand. Local independent Cathy McGowan toppled Liberal Sophie Mirabella (who held the seat from 2001 to 2013) at the last election with a grass roots campaign, and Mirabella has done precious little to endear herself to the electorate since then. Her recent comment that the electorate did Wangaratta Hospital out of $10 million of government funding by not voting her in has seen her popularity (such as it was) diminish even further. Some would say it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.
Prediction: The Nationals’ Matt Corboy might take a few votes from Mirabella (partly because traditional Liberal voters alienated by Mirabella’s manner might shift to him, and partly because some might think they’re voting for Matt Corby because Brother is an awesome song). But it will be Cathy McGowan in a landslide of local support. Mirabella will lose much bigger than she did last time, and then a house will fall on her, leaving only her ruby slippers showing.
Bill Shorten’s deputy, and surely a leading favourite to be our next female PM, is in danger of losing the seat of Sydney to the Greens at this election. Native Title lawyer and Indigenous rights advocate Sylvie Ellsmore has been pre-selected by the Greens to run in one of a handful of seats that they are throwing a whole lot of resources at in this election.
Prediction: The result could very well come down to what the Liberal Party decide to do with their preferences. If they send them to the Greens, Plibersek could be in real trouble. It will be close but I’m calling Tanya to keep her seat in a tight finish.
Image source: Tanya Plibersek
Kirsten has a real shot at becoming the first Greens member ever to win a seat in the House of Representatives for Queensland. Liberal Teresa Gambaro is retiring from the seat of Brisbane she wrested from Labor stalwart Arch Bevis, who held it for 20 years. And inner Brisbane has enough hipsters and disgruntled swinging voters to give her a red hot go.
Prediction: It would take a pretty massive swing to get Kirsten in, and she’s doing a great job of her campaign so far, so she’ll definitely take it to them. If she doesn’t quite get there, Kirsten will still wield considerable power, with her preferences likely deciding the seat. That will give Labor’s Pat O’Neill the edge, you would think. But we’ll be seeing more of Kirsten in the future either way.
Image source: The Greens Queensland
Say what you like about Jacqui (I get the sense she’s heard it all before) but she’s a woman who knows what she believes and stands up for it unapologetically every time. The former Palmer United Party candidate and a handful of other cross-benchers could have stopped the double dissolution by voting to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, thus saving her cushy senate job for another three years. Instead, she followed her principles and now she stands to lose her seat.
Prediction: Jacqui did tell Annabel Crabb recently that she has so many cousins in Tasmania, their votes are the only reason she got elected in the first place. And with a tiny population, but the standard state allocation of 12 senate seats to fill, Jacqui looks safe. Whether this is a good or bad thing – I’ll let you make up your own mind.
Image source: Jacqui Lambie
Katy resigned from her position as Chief Minister of the ACT in late 2014 and was elected to replace Labor’s Kate Lundy in the senate in March 2015. Her previous high-powered position won her a fast track to Shadow Cabinet as soon as she was elected, becoming Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Does being a big fish in a small pond prep you for the big time in federal? We’re yet to find out, but Katy is one to watch. You may also know Katy Gallagher for her awesome work taking Mitch Fifield to task for mansplaining in the senate.
Prediction: Gallagher will easily hold her seat. It’s what Katy Does Next (sorry bout that) that will be fascinating to watch. A star on the rise, I reckon.
Image source: Katy Gallagher