While Australians are worried about actual problems like rising unemployment, the Liberal Party is worried about gender imbalance among its MPs.
It’s hard to believe that Australia’s conservative party would allow itself to be defined by progressive values, especially when progressives cannot even define the word “woman”.
But Liberals are allowing themselves to become convinced that anything less than 50 per cent of their MPs being women is inherently bad.
Nobody ever gives cogent reasons as to why there should be an equal number of men and women in parliament. That women comprise half the population is a statistical fact, but not an argument for the composition of parliament.
And the argument that “we need more representation of women” is a misuse of language since every member of parliament represents men and women equally.
The sexist idea that only a woman can truly represent the interests of women was well and truly dismantled this earlier week when it was revealed Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne was yet to speak to her Qatar counterpart about the alleged strip search of 13 Australian woman at Doha airport more than three weeks ago.
Imagine if a male foreign minister said he was waiting for an official report before raising the subject with Qatar’s foreign minister.
Meanwhile, the possibility that men dominate parliaments because most women are far too intelligent to pursue a career in branch stacking, faction dealing, fundraising and functions at all hours that interfere with family life is not allowed to be considered.
Anything less than male-female parity is now prima facie evidence of the Liberal Party’s “problem with women”. Only when parity is achieved can Liberals say they are inclusive and hold their heads high.
But if the Liberals were serious about a parliament that mirrored the general population, they would worry less about gender and instead focus on pre-selecting people with backgrounds other than in law.
Or they would insist that half of all MPs were professing Christians.
Or they would insist on pre-selecting candidates who were actually conservatives, regardless of gender, rather than people who were a pale shade of green.
A report released this week by Liberal think tank the Menzies Research Centre warned that the Liberal Party was taking only “incremental steps” towards gender balance.
Currently, 25 per cent of Liberal MPs across Australia are women. This is well short of the 50 per cent mark the party was hoping to achieve by 2025.
By contrast, 46 per cent of Labor MPs are women.
And how’s that working out for them? The ALP lost the last federal election and received around 300,000 fewer votes from women than did the Liberal Party.
No wonder the MRC report says that a significant number of Liberals deny that gender imbalance matters.
But like I said, it is now an article of faith that anything less than equal numbers of men and women is evidence of a problem.
So the MRC report insisted that “the first step in addressing the representation of women in the Liberal Party is to acknowledge that the Party does in fact have a problem”. In other words, if you think that gender imbalance is not a problem, you are the problem.
The report rejected the idea of “quotas”, as used by the Labor Party, but demanded “targeted intervention” which was a fancy way of saying quotas without using the word.
Each Liberal Party division, it said, should set targets for female representation that were measured and reported every year.
So the Liberals may not be using quotas, but their fixation on social engineering shows that they are taking Australia down the same woke cul-de-sac as Labor, only more slowly.
The Liberals will betray their conservative base who believe in meritocracy and they will disappoint progressives for not doing woke as well or as quickly as the ALP and Greens.
Whatever diversity candidates they do get into parliament will bring with them their baggage of imagined grievance, which they will then project onto the party and onto society at large.
Nothing good can ever come from prioritising the right genitalia over the right resume.
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