In her first press conference, the first female Defence Minister asked to be judged on her performance, not her gender.
‘Marise Payne is Australia’s first female Defence Minister, but is she up to the job?’
That is one headline that ran in relation to Payne’s promotion this week.
Predictably, discussion about the number of women in Cabinet having more than doubled in the past week and has included posturing about whether those women promoted got there “on merit” or because of their “gender”… As if the two are mutually exclusive.
The real reason Marise Payne is defence minister is simple. She is eminently qualified for the position having spent more than a decade on parliamentary committees on defence and foreign affairs. She is a long-time politician, having served in the Senate since 1997, is considered to be extremely effective and is understood to be widely respected within defence.