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OPINION: Why all women should be cheering Julie Bishop.

By HELEN MORTON

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has certainly got my attention right now. And so does the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin.

As two of the most powerful figures in Australian politics today, they give me – forgive the Barack Obama-ism of this phrase – hope for the future. They make me think that we’ll be able to move beyond the time when our first female Prime Minister was torn down, in no small part, because of her gender.

Julie Bishop and Peta Credlin make me think that governments which are inclusive of strong, capable, clever women don’t have to be a dream but actually could become reality.

And it seems, I’m not the only one.

New polling released today by News Limited shows that Julie Bishop’s popularity has sky-rocketed over the past few months. She’s proven herself an able and effective foreign minister, deftly handling situations including free trade deal negotiations and the aftermath of the MH17 disaster.

She’s now equally as popular as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and unsurprisingly, many in the media are now speculating about whether or not she’ll ultimately reach the top job.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Similarly, Peta Credlin, continues to make news across the country for her infamous careful, calculated and clever political control of the Prime Minister’s office. She’s spoken to the Australian Women’s Weekly this week about why she started a group for female political staffers; she knows that it continues to be tough for women who are often dismissed as ‘unimportant’ or not ‘real’ political players in senior circles.

Credlin is determined to be a part of changing this.

And yet, when I’m vocal of my support for these women, I cop major flak from my friends on the left side of politics (FYI, I would describe myself as a left-leaning swinging voter).

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Many of those who most loudly condemn me for being a ‘traitor’ by praising Bishop and Credlin as impressive, are women themselves. And they’re women who call themselves feminists (and yes, I know Julie Bishop doesn’t). Yet for all their goings on about the sisterhood, they still refuse to entertain the idea that a strong and brilliant woman might hold a different political view from their own.

Julie Bishop and Peta Credlin’s political views aren’t my particular cocktail of choice. But I respect them as political figures who work hard, who are intelligent and pragmatic, who are giving women a voice at the highest levels of government and toughing it out in the biggest boys’ club in the country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin.

Surely part of being a feminist and supporting the concept of more women in parliament shouldn’t just be confined to women you agree with? While none of us want to see a parliament flooded with the ignorance and empty cruelty of the Jacqui Lambies of the world, can’t we all agree that seeing more capable women elected or serving in senior roles is fundamentally a good thing?

I want to see more women in parliament, more women in senior business roles – more women making decisions about the future of this country. Why? Because we’ve been shut out of decision making for too long and it’s been to the detriment of what Australia could have been. I think we will be a better and fairer place if women’s voices are heard properly.

Julie Bishop, Peta Credlin and other effective female political figures like Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong and Larissa Waters (Greens) are making a difference in that regard. And whether you agree with their policies or not, surely we can all be woman enough to take a step back and cheer on other smart members of the sisterhood.

You can support a woman’s right to speak, without agreeing with what she has to say. Right?

Helen Morton is a pseudonym but the author is known to Mamamia. She is not a member of a political party. 

Tags: career-and-money , current-affairs , politics , women
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