After weeks of hearing the ramblings of a former prime minister who is firmly entrenched in the past, it was refreshing this morning to hear comments from a former NSW premier who sounds like he’s sitting at least somewhere within the vicinity of the current century.
Nick Greiner is the freshly minted president of the Liberal Party, and he’s got some ideas and priorities for the party that include addressing its pathetic record on diversity.
Greiner’s also adamant that former prime minister Tony Abbott’s bizarre “five-point plan” for fixing the party – which includes abolishing the Human Rights Commission and the Renewable Energy Target, among other things — is “never going to happen”.
Greiner made the comments on the ABC’s Radio National program this morning, while speaking with Fran Kelly in response to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech in London over night, in which he said that the “sensible centre” is the sensible place for the Liberal Party to be.
Asked about his own priorities for the party, Greiner said more diversity is necessary.
“I think the Liberal Party has a problem with women and we have clearly not done as well as our opponents in terms of gender diversity. Diversity in general,” he said.
The party certainly does have a problem with women – in that there are simply not enough women represented, with just 18 of the Liberal’s 84 MPs being female.
Late last year, the party revealed a ten-year plan to reach a 50% female MP target by 2025 – through mentoring, a ‘Male Champions of Change’-style initiative, and by asking state committees to determine their own methods for helping to meet the target.
So how’s that plan going?
Over the weekend, a leaked memo published by Fairfax revealed that five men, but no women, had been shortlisted to fill a Liberal West Australian Senate vacancy.
Just six of Australia’s 32 female senators are from the Liberal Party.
Greiner also said this morning that he agreed with Turnbull on his desire to stick with the centre.
“My view is that the public expects governments to govern,” Greiner said.
“In the real world, the Australian public isn’t all that ideologically pure, they want good government.”
Last night, Turnbull reflected on Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies’ decision not to call his new centre right party a conservative party, but rather the Liberal Party.”
“Menzies said, ‘We took the name ‘Liberal’ because we were determined to be a progressive party, will to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his right and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea.
Aside from Turnbull’s use of the word ‘his’, it sounds like a party that should want to do better on actually reflecting the people it aims to represent.