From a simple count, the current Federal Liberal/National Coalition government has 19 core ministerial positions, including the Prime Minister himself. These days in Australia, there are (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics) just 98 men per 100 women.
Yet somehow, of those 19 core ministerial positions, there
are is just one woman on the front bench, Julie Bishop. Women are so misrepresented on the front bench that the PM declared himself to be the (Prime) Minister for Women. Yes, the Prime Minister for Women in Australia is a man.
But he has a helper, who happens to be a woman.
The PM claims that by making himself the minister for women, he’s giving the portfolio very strong attention. Yet, his words speak louder than his actions, and we have to remember various things he’s said over the years:
“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on, are going to go up.”
Samantha Maiden and Jodie Minus The Australian, February 9, 2010. Tony Abbott Slams Politically Correct Critics…
In her famous misogyny speech in Parliament, Julia Gillard quoted Abbott as having said in an interview once:
“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”
And let’s not forget his quote on abortion, even though the article disappeared thanks to a global redirect of his local MP website to the Liberal party website:
“The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.”
More recently, let’s not forget that wink. But it’s not just about Tony Abbott, of course. When challenged recently about the amount of money spent by the Federal Government to combat terrorism vs the amount spent to combat domestic violence, George Brandis (yes, the George Brandis, of “people have rights to be bigots” fame), declared:
“It’s important not to confuse priorities” and “it’s foolish to conflate unrelated issues”
This led to Destroy the Joint to post:
You’d think that as the Prime Minister for Women, Tony Abbott might have rebuked George Brandis over such a cavalier response, but I’ve not read anything that might suggest even a tap on the shoulder about it.
And most recently, we had the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann attack Bill Shorten’s economic credentials by declaring Bill Shorten to be an economic girlie man. Whether he wants to admit it or not, Cormann implicitly intended insult against a man by likening him to having female traits.
This is not a government that is supportive of women.
The minister for women is a man, and one who has a terrible track record for saying things that under any normal circumstances would be at best seriously question any claims he makes about supporting gender equality.
The ministry has one, just one woman in it, despite a significant number of women who are currently elected federal ministers in the Liberal party.
The attorney general says that it’s important not to compare the number of deaths in Australia due to terrorism this year (0) to the number of deaths in Australia of women due to domestic violence (56).
And the finance minister delivers a “stinging” riposte by suggesting the opposition leader is “girlie”.
This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a government interested in equality. One might even go so far as to say it’s a very sexist government.