Vanessa Whittaker and colleagues comment on the ABC’s website (8.2.19) about the aversion in Australian politics – predominantly on the conservative side – to promote women to positions of power and increase the levels of female representation in parliament. Through their new organisation, WomenVote, they hope to highlight issues relevant to women in the coming federal election campaign.
‘Frankly our expectations have been low. All our lives, women have been underrepresented in public office. We cringed through 2013 when there was only one woman in cabinet.
‘We, like so many other women, watched the unprecedented personal attacks on Julia Gillard with horror, but without particular surprise. Some of the most powerful men in Australian politics have made it plain that they see women as intrinsically less suitable to public life.
‘… There is a raft of issues that affect Australian women about which we don’t hear any meaningful public debate.
‘To name but a few: the fact that taxation policy is not gender neutral; the horrific rates of domestic violence; that abortion is a crime in New South Wales; the vast amount of unpaid work done by women; the poverty experienced by many women in retirement; and the underrepresentation of women in corporate leadership positions.
‘In our working lives, we have seen no serious political engagement with the fact that it is legal to tax deduct your conference in Whistler, but not the cost of child care while you’re at work. Women speak about these issues all the time. Politicians rarely do.’