Liberal party 'committed' to fixing women program, has plan Featured

Party gender diversity advocate Senator Linda Reynolds. Party gender diversity advocate Senator Linda Reynolds.

When just 18 of 84 Liberal MPs are female, some kind of plan for gender diversity is welcome.

But just don't mention the 'Q' word: Quotas. The Liberal party don't need them. They'll attack the problem their own way with a ten year plan released to meet its target of 50% female MPs by 2025.

That plan, according to The Australian today, will include mentoring, a 'Male Champions of Change'-style initiative based on the business version, targeting Gen X and Y women, and a very strong commitment from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Signed off on by the Federal Liberal executive committee on Friday, it will be managed nationally with state committees able to determine their own methods for helping to meet the target.

Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds told The Australian the Party will "Adopt, own, administer and report" on the issue, while the PM said he's "committed to working on genuine organisational change to see this become a reality".

While the enthusiasm is encouraging, the test will ultimately be at an election in the mid 2020s. Can the makeup of the party change so drastically over three election cycles from being so heavily white-male dominated? Seems like a whole lot of men will have to give up their positions of power for the greater party good. As we know, that's not an easy ask.

At the July election the Liberal party went backwards on its proportion of women elected, losing five female MPs. Despite this, the 45th Parliament actually has increased its proportion of women on the previous Parliament, largely thanks to the Labor party which, through a system of quotas, has made serious and sustained progress on getting women MPs elected.

So finally the Liberal party has a plan. While we're yet to see the full details -- and we will let you know when we do -- we only hope for the sake of the sustained relevance of the party that it deploys some serious mechanisms for accountability. Because a future target is great, but a decade could very easily pass without serious change happening.

Angela Priestley

Angela Priestley is the Publisher and founding editor of Women's Agenda. She's an author, journalist and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality and diversity. Her first book is Women Who Seize the Moment.

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