There’s been something brewing in Federal politics over the past 12 months. From Senator Sarah Hanson-Young furiously calling out sexist remarks in the chamber, to Liberal MP Julia Banks’ defection to the crossbench, female MPs seem to leaning back – and hard – against the notoriously macho, testosterone-fuelled environment of our Parliament.
Their frustration, their determination, is born from what is a pretty desperate situation. In 2018, Australia slipped to the 50th spot on global rankings of female parliamentary representation – 35 places lower than where we sat in 1999.
Yes, we are actually regressing.
But this election year, a cohort of women is seeking to push parliament forward. Tellingly, they’re doing so by standing as independents. Away from gender-quotas, debates about “merit”, away from factional favouritism, away from being muffled by party policy.
They’re entering politics (and, they hope, parliament) on their own terms. But first they’ve got to topple some of the biggest names in politics.
In this political journey I have made so many wonderful friends. The power of women’s friendship should always be embraced and never underestimated ????❤️????❤️???? @JulieBishopMP #auspol pic.twitter.com/EcVmKLHMup
— Julia Banks MP (@juliabanksmp) December 7, 2018
Julia Banks’ decision to quit the Liberal Party in November was one of the biggest political stories of 2018. In a stinging address to the House of Representatives, the Member for Chisholm pointed to the lack of female representation in parliament and disrespect shown to women by their colleagues on Capital Hill.
“This is more than a numbers game. Across both major parties the level of regard and respect for women in politics is years behind the business world,” she told the chamber.
“To those who say politics is not for the fainthearted and that women have to ‘toughen up’, I say this: the hallmark characteristics of the Australian woman – and I’ve met thousands of them … are resilience and a strong authentic independent spirit.”