7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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 Waters

Champagne Cartel - 7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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

Pauline Hanson

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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.

Image source: Cathy McGowan (left)   |  Sophie Mirabella, Border Mail (right)

Tanya Plibersek

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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 Lovejoy

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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

Jacqui Lambie


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 Gallagher

7 exciting women to watch in this federal election

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

Are you following this election campaign? Do you think we need affirmative action to see more women representing us?

* I don’t pretend to be an impartial political commentator, merely an interested onlooker. In the interests of full disclosure, I am an unabashed bleeding heart lefty.
Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • I like Jacqui Lambie, she’s got the guts to say what she thinks. Pauline Hansen is another matter, I find her to be really offensive, and I really hope the penny drops and she buggars off. I am a Labor voter, but can’t see Bill Shorten beating Malcolm Turnbull. He has no charisma. Bring back Paul Keating, imagine him and Jacqui Lambie together haha!

  • Interesting article. Definitely some women to watch here. It does rile me though, this ever present Pauline Hanson journalism bashing. Yes, she is not as articulate as either the media, the political elite or some sectors of the community would like of our politicians, or indeed our future politicians. I don’t agree with everything that she says, but I’m prepared to listen to her. That is the hall mark of a healthy democracy. Like Jacqui Lambie, who is not as articulate as many polished politicians in the chambers who have years of media and political training, Pauline is a community minded, dare I say it likable common person in our community. I’d rather have people in the parliament with little or no allegiances, and talking to the everyperson in the street, rather than some main stream political party member who is going to tow the party line. Let democracy rein and vote for the everyperson who is runnin in this election and stop denigrating opinions that we may oppose (even though I recognise that criticising public figures is not only an Australian national past time, but a must for a healthy democracy)

    • Thanks for your comment Dean, and I agree that the hallmark of a democracy is the ability to hold robust debate. I’m not part of some large-scale media Hanson bash, I’m just sharing my individual views. I don’t care about the way she speaks; I strongly disagree with her policies and her views on social issues. You may dare say she’s likeable, but she’s not to everyone’s taste. It will be interesting to see whether she gets through. Looks like she could be in with a shot.

  • “If you want to dish it out then don’t whinge when you have to take it.” – Paulie Hanson is, within the law, as able as the rest of us to speak her mind. She is also, as are the rest of us, open to criticism of her views by those who disagree with them. In Pauline’s case, she has voiced may particularly prejudiced and nasty views which no fair minded person will countenance.

    Pauline has received no more criticism, from journalists or anyone else, than most of her discriminatory, divisive and simplistic statements have deserved. She is not being criticised for being inarticulate, on the contrary, she has stated unequivocally for what she stands and it is that stance with which journalists and others take issue.

    I see no evidence that other people have not listened to Pauline Hanson. Indeed, if no one else has listened then there would not be the opposition that exists to her misguided diatribes. Her stance is one that is not at all “community minded” and she does, in fact, “tow the party line” 100% for her party’s policy [if it can be dignified as such] is hers!

    Speaking out against prejudice and bigotry is not “denigrating opinions we oppose” but taking issue with what we consider to be inappropriate, unjustified, prejudiced or unsubstantiated nonsense. Yes, “let democracy rein (sic)”, I’m all for it. Unfortunately, Australia is now an oligarchy rather than a democracy and if people of like-minds with Pauline Hanson were to form government we would very quickly become an autocracy or even a tin-pot dictatorship.

    Hopefully, Pauline Hanson will *not* ride the current wave of senseless populism that began with 12 years of anachronistic and sycophantic “leadership” from Howard and reached an amazingly stupid and irrational zenith with the election of Tony Abbott – probably our worst ever Prime Minister. With any luck, another failure to gain a seat will result, as Carolyn suggests, in the penny finally dropping and her leaving the political scene forever. Should she be elected, it will be a sad indictment on the Australian electorate, for the level of prejudice, mean-spirit and selfishness that such an outcome would indicate.

  • You forgot Kirralie Smith who is a big chance of winning a NSW senate position. She is surprisingly popular via a huge online presence and has a large number of Facebook supporters. She also has priority at ALA over Angry Anderson and so wouldn’t surprise to see her in the next senate. A big advocate for womens rights and one of the few candidates to actually tell it how it is.

  • I hope Pauline gets up and also Jacquie. The woeful left may lose Sarah Double -Standards in SA with Nick the Greek taking 3 or 4 senate seats. Good luck to Kirralee in NSW – Go the (not so far) right wing

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