Rank and file decide on merit not gender
THE first woman elected to the House of Representatives, Dame Enid Lyons, said in her maiden speech in 1943 that “any woman entering the public arena must be prepared to work as men work. She must justify herself not as a woman but as a citizen. She must attack the same problems, and be prepared to shoulder the same burdens.” The current debate about preselections in the Liberal Party, following Jane Prentice’s loss last weekend in the Brisbane seat of Ryan, owes more to questions of performance and competence than they do to gender. I’ve written many times that the Liberal Party must do better when it comes to women in the parliament and, almost more importantly, picking up the female vote in the electorate. But that doesn’t mean a “right” to a seat based on gender. Liberal preselections are decided by rank-and-file members, so if you’ve done the work and performed in the parliament, preselections are nothing to fear. If you’ve lost touch or not focused on real-world issues, well that’s just the sort of judgment the party should deliver before the electorate does.