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And in case you’re wondering, the feature image is John Setka’s wife from this video … yes … it is real. Further details and updates about Setka appear in the show notes.

The Liberals’ women problem

Yesterday WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds wrote about how great the Liberal Party was for women.

But she failed to make the case. This is the closest she comes:

The party has adopted targets and all state and territory divisions are taking action to encourage more women into the party, to mentor them into leadership positions and eventually into preselection and parliament: the longer path but the right one.

The party’s approach contrasts sharply with the “whatever it takes” approach of Bill Shorten and his team, who have shamelessly politically weaponised this issue. This approach does not surprise me but it does disappoint me. As they well know, it impedes progress of women in other political parties and publicly it does little to set the example for other women and encourage them to engage in the political process.

That the women of the Labor Party exploit these issues in the parliament and in the media says so much about the psyche of Labor. What saddens me is Labor women allow themselves to be used in this way. The obvious question is why do they do it. Is it because they cannot refuse to do so or is it because they have been so desensitised within the trade union movement and Labor that they neither see nor care about the consequences? Whatever the reason, it is a clear demonstration to me that the culture within the Labor Party has not yet evolved from the culture of another era.

It was easy to be slammed by feminists like Jenna Price in Fairfax. She didn’t miss. She likened Reynolds’ defence to Stockholm Syndrome:

It’s almost as if she believes the endless droning of her male colleagues who talk about how great women are, how they are being promoted within the party, how numbers are increasing. Late last year, deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg claimed the Morrison government’s inner ministry had additional representation of women.

Another problem: Reynolds in January 2019 conflicts with Reynolds in July 2018 who was quoted in The Australian saying:

Senator Reynolds said Coalition men were promoted faster than women.

“In the 44th Parliament Coalition men were first promoted into the Ministry significantly faster than women.”

“The average for men was 4.9 years and for women 6.2 years. In the 45th Parliament the gender promotion gap has increased with the average for men now 4.6 years and women 6.3 years.”

The Senator warned that the gender problem was “an issue for the Liberal Party at the grass roots level”.

If Liberal women are going to address the ‘women problem’, they need to actually make the case rather than drawing attention to the problem and giving away own-goals.