Everything you need to know about Australia's new Minister for Women.


Australia has a female Minister for Women. Senator Michaelia Cash will serve as the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Women in Malcolm Turnbull’s new line-up.

Senator Cash will be joined by Sussan Ley, Julie Bishop, Marise Payne and Kelly O’Dwyer in Cabinet. The inclusion of 5 women in the most senior ranks of government in the year 2015 hardly represents a revolution, but, it marks a respectable improvement.

Remember two years ago when there was a single woman in Cabinet for twelve months? And then those heady days when had TWO? Well now we have 5.

Look! Women!

That in itself is promising for the new Minister for Women. For the past two years the West Australian Senator Michaelia Cash has had the unenviable task of assisting the Prime Minister for Women in the women’s portfolio.

Given this was the same Prime Minister who deemed it perfectly reasonable to include a single woman in his leadership group of 19, Tony Abbott’s commitment to the portfolio seemed tenuous.

Senator Michaelia Cash was the assistant to the Prime Minister for women. Source: Facebook.

That 18 months into his job Abbott designated abolishing the carbon tax as his greatest achievement for women confirmed as much. Throughout that time Michaelia Cash dutifully fulfilled the role as the Prime Minister’s assistant. She attended a huge number of women-focused events, particularly concerning ending violence against women, but it was clear her hands were tied.

Senator Michaelia Cash, pictured here with Rosie Batty, is Australia’s Minister for Women.

Now, as the minister, Senator Cash will have the scope to set and pursue an agenda for women.

So who is our new Minister for Women?

Michaelia Cash grew up in Perth and is a longstanding member of the Liberal party in WA. She was an executive member of the Curtin University Young Liberals from 1988 to 1990 and then the Western Australian Young Liberal Movement. Her father the Hon George Cash was a WA state MP and then the Member of Mount Lawley.

“I have always been interested in politics. I joined the Liberal Party when I was sixteen as a Young Liberal and have been an active member since 1986,” Cash told her old school Iona in 2011.


After studying arts at Curtin University she later studied Law in London and graduated with honours.  She joined the law firm Freehills in 1999, where she worked until 2008, ultimately as a Senior Associate in Employment law. In 2007 she won pre-selection for the Liberal Party Senate ticket and was elected to Federal parliament the same year.

Senator Cash counts Margaret Thatcher as a source of professional inspiration. “She was a great stateswoman and an icon of our times. She was a woman of conviction who stood by her principles and put them into practice in what were very difficult times.”

Last year at an International Women’s Day event, Cash drew some criticism for saying she doesn’t identify as a feminist.

“I have never been someone who labels herself,” she later told Fairfax Media. “In terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement. That movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now.”

“Merely because you are a feminist does not mean you will implement policies that empower women,” she said. “Labelling myself as a feminist, if that is a prerequisite now for being a Minister for Women, that’s ridiculous.”

The Minister for Women at work. Source: Facebook.

Labels aside, a commitment to recognising and closing the gender gap that persists in Australia in the pre-requisite that matters most for a Minister for Women. Senator Cash’s workload will be significant: as the employment minister and the minister for women, her plate will be full.

“My parents often said to my sisters, brother and me whilst we were growing up: to achieve, you work hard, to achieve more, you simply work harder… it doesn’t matter what sex you are,” Senator Cash recalled some parental wisdom.

Here’s to a Minister for Women who will be committed to working hard to ensure that one gender doesn’t have to work harder than the other.