Two weeks ago former Prime Minister John Howard, addressing the National Press Club, made the announcement that there will never be an equal representation of women and men in parliament.
Because, he is quoted to say, “women play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role”.
The former Prime Minister sparked outrage when he claimed that women have less “capacity” to enter politics because they are too busy caring for children and will always be outnumbered by their male counterparts.
Perhaps Mr Howard should have a look at the Yass Valley local council election for some insight into the percentage of women interested in politics and the public’s response to having women run for these roles.
Incumbent mayor Rowena Abbey claimed a quarter of the Yass Valley votes. She wasn’t running alongside buffoons, this years council elections bought to the polls a number of intellectual and sophisticated names, a third of which were women.
Councillor Jasmin Jones claimed the second highest number of votes on her ticket. The mother of four, having been re-elected this year is only one example of how you can have both a professional career and be a carer. I’m sure she would argue the two go hand-in-hand.
Yet perhaps Yass is just setting a precedent. Since the July election, Australia’s female representation in Parliament has slipped from 42nd in the world to 50th. Women make up just 32 per cent of Australia’s parliament.
Women entering politics have always dealt with an unreasonable amount of scrutiny and yet in the recent council election we had 12 out of 32 female candidates put their hand up for the position – just over a third. And, three were successful in their pursuit – exactly a third.
It goes to show that Yass Valley women are putting their hands up for local government and the public is willing to support them in doing more than just “fulfilling the caring role”.
If John Howard could only have a sit down with 18-year-old Lizzie Paradice and see what our next generation really has to offer the world of politics, I’m sure he would eat his tongue.
To me, the comments speak more about John Howard’s character, than the female population. Perhaps he should wonder where the younger generation is going, by remembering where it came from.