If Nick Greiner had been looking for something tangible to back up his assessment yesterday that the Liberal Party has a problem with women, he didn’t need to look far.
According to an exclusive BuzzFeed report yesterday, Australia’s peak body for Liberal clubs on university campuses last week unanimously elected an all-male executive board for 2017-18.
Eleven men and no women comprise the new Australian Liberal Students’ Federation executive.
Exclusive: Zero women elected to the new executive of the peak Liberal students group https://t.co/G0tIxZOIh9
— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) July 11, 2017
According to BuzzFeed Xavier Boffa, the new president of the ALSF and the president of the Melbourne University Liberal Club, described it as “an executive that represents everyone”.
Which presumably means women aren’t counted?
It would be difficult to encapsulate the Liberal party’s problem with women in a single sentence better than Boffa.
Because while it is astonishing to elect an all-male executive it’s far more bewildering to do that and frame it as being wholly representative.
While the ALSF isn’t an official Liberal party body, it is closely affiliated with the party.
According to a statement made to BuzzFeed the ALSF said women will serve on the executive but they were unable to name those women or the positions they hold.
“The ALSF is very committed to continuing to do more to engage with women in our movement. We are delighted to confirm that several talented women will be serving as part of the 2017/18 ALSF executive and that we will soon be announcing our new female patron and a number of other new initiatives,” the statement read.
If the pipeline for executive positions, even at university, is so heavily skewed towards men how can anyone reasonably expect the Liberal party to improve the representation of women down the track?
Last Friday while the ALSF met in Melbourne to elect its new entire homogenous executive, Fairfax Media reported that the only female considering nomination for a vacant WA senate seat had withdrawn from the race.
— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) July 8, 2017
Erin Watson-Lynn was reportedly unable to get the numbers amongst delegates so pulled out. Five men have nominated for the position.
The backdrop to this is stark. The representation of women in the coalition is at its lowest level since Paul Keating was prime minister in 1993.
Of the 32 female senators in Australia just six come from the Liberal party. Of the 60 Liberal MPs just 12 are women. Of the 22 Cabinet members, five are women.
In light of the ALSF’s executive, it seems fanciful to consider that the generational shift will create or accelerate change for women.
The beginning of the pipeline just mirrors the end: women barely feature.