The decrease of women in Australian politics

TRADITIONALLY, politics has always been a man’s world. Council elections held across NSW in early September show this is predominantly still the case, particularly in the state’s southern region.

The male-dominated world of Local Government elections became particularly evident with the appointment of nine men to Wingecarribee Shire Council, the first all-male cohort in 33 years.

Though 17 women contested the election in the Southern Highlands, from a total 56 candidates, none led tickets of their own. Of eight groups that ran for council, not one was headed by a woman; three had women listed as the second candidate. Two women ran below the line, albeit unsuccessfully.

In the Upper Lachlan Shire two women contested the election. Only one was successful, and will be the only woman among nine councillors during the next four-year term.

In comparison, a third of elected councillors to Goulburn Mulwaree councils were women, with three female representatives elected out of a total of nine councillor roles.

Yass was much the same, with the exception of only having one third of candidates female, yet the females elected got the highest number of votes either individually or for their ticket. More than 25 per cent of all formal votes cast were to Cr Abbey’s group, which saw her assured a spot on council from the very first vote count, along with second runner Allison Harker.

Jasmin Jones was the second to be voted to council, making the three females elected the first three out of four to secure a position purely on primary votes.

Goulburn MP Pru Goward said women needed to be in it, to win it; “We need to ensure women are in winnable positions so our council can reflect our community,” she said.

While Yass is an improvement on the non-existent female representation of Wingecarribee Shire Council, these figures are a far cry from the gender parity encouraged in governing bodies by the United Nations. But the under-representation of women in politics is not a regional issue: nationally, the number of women in parliament has steadily decreased over the past decade.

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