Opportunity knocks: The re-education of Barnaby

The political comeback of Barnaby Joyce has sparked debate from living rooms to boardrooms across all states. But this could be an opportunity for the Deputy Prime Minister to become more educated about how the behaviour of men impacts women.

Concerns have been expressed by some rural women who have been advocating for reform and a fresh start to the party, that Mr Joyce has returned after he was forced to quit the leadership over revelations of a relationships with a former staffer and an investigation into a sexual harrasment complaint, which he denies.

Women on Board co-founders Ruth Medd and Claire Braund said they had no comment on Mr Joyce being re-elected leader as this was a matter for the party, but they were delighted to see that he would be part of a Cabinet taskforce set up to improve outcomes for women.

The taskforce was established by Scott Morrison in March after thousands of women took to the streets to rally against gendered violence and inequality.

They said it would be a great opportunity for Mr Joyce to understand that women's issues are a whole-of-government priority with regard to policy decisions across all portfolio areas now that the ministry he left three years ago is now paying much greater attention to women's economic empowerment and their right to be respected and safe. 

"Further, Mr Joyce may well become more educated about how the behaviour of men impacts women, what constitutes sexual harassment and how it remains a live and present danger that women face across all workplaces including Parliament and how long-term cultural change is required to address these issues,” they said.

"At the very least he will be accountable to the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Finance Minister, the Foreign Minister and every woman in the Government Ministry for behaviour and treatment of women in the Parliament and more broadly."

"So we see it as a way of keeping matters that may well have been swept under the carpet by the former (and now resurgent) Deputy Prime Minister now firmly in the spotlight.”

The pair said that changing the machinery of Government to incorporate ‘women’s issues’  across portfolio areas was a good start to addressing deeply ingrained gendered inequities that exist across government, business and the broader community.

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