This is in large part due to the failure of the Coalition to recruit, support and pre-select women – particularly in safe seats in the House of Representatives. In this election, women candidates contested approximately 30% of seats for the Coalition – however the majority were in safe Labor or marginal seats.
This has seen a predictable result. The number of women in the Coalition ranks in the House of Representatives has dropped to below 20% for the first time in many years.
There are just 15 female Coalition members in the House of Representatives and 62 men.
On the other side of politics, the numbers are far healthier - 41% of all Labor members elected to the House of Representatives are female. This equates to 28 women and 40 men on the Labor side in the House.
In the Senate the numbers are far more balanced, with 35 women and 41 men across all parties. In Coalition ranks, 34% of Senators are female (12 women and 23 men), while for the ALP 61% of Senators are female (16 women and 10 men). The Greens have five women and four men, while the cross benches sit at four men and two women (Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson). This ensures a much greater balance in both representation for the electorate and decision making.
So what is it about the Coalition that either puts women off standing for election in the Lower House yet sees them pre-selected on Senate tickets - albeit sometimes with controversy and difficulty?
While party pre-selection processes can be blamed in some instances, the key issues appear to be a stubborn mindset based on the discredited idea of ‘merit based’ selection – the idea that the best person (man) for the job will usually win (read https://www.sydneyobserver.com/2014/11/why-merit-fails-australian-women/) - or perhaps that the electorate won't vote for a woman. In the Senate they run on a ticket, so perhaps there is a mindset that this is a 'lower risk' strategy.
Amidst all of the other challenges that PM Scott Morrison faces as he leads the next government is ensuring that the team of 111 he leads works to address the serious gender imbalance in Government and to get serious about setting internal quotas
for the number of male and female candidates.
Table shows number of men and women elected to House of Representatives in 2019 Federal election.
|Independent / KAP / CA
Table shows number of men and women who will serve in the Senate following the 2019 Federal election.