Speaking on ABC’s AM about World Mental Health Day, Gillard said quotas are an important facet of the merit debate.
“It matters to political culture to get more women into parliament and it matters from the point of view of merit,” Gillard said.
“If you believe, as I do, that merit is equally distributed between the sexes, then you can look at any organisation — the Parliament, the Cabinet — and not see around half-half men and women, then that must mean that there were women of merit who should’ve come through, but didn’t come through.”
Drawing on the example of her own party, Gillard said that affirmative action quotas demonstrably work effectively and the LNP would do well to take note.
“I mean, there is no doubt it’s worked. The Labor Party is well on its way in the Federal Parliament to having 50 per cent women,” she said.
“The Liberal Party didn’t take the same path and indeed it was kind of critical when Labor took that path … I think the scoreboard’s in now and the Liberal Party has only managed to claw its way over 20-odd per cent women, I think it’s 23 per cent.”
“There is a need for the conservative side of politics to think again around questions of targets and really getting serious about encouraging more women into parliament on their side,” she said.
Asked whether the high turnover rate of Prime Ministers was damaging to Australia’s democracy, Gillard said the latest Coalition coup was reflective of growing fractures in conservative politics globally.
“I do think that the most recent leadership change is, in some ways, an Australian echo of the fracturing of conservative politics that is happening in so many places around the world,” she said.
“Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t personality questions and other things involved, but right around the world we’re seeing conservative political parties torn on their direction.”