Merit was the key word mentioned when Prime Minister Scott Morrison said those at the NSW State Liberal conference on Saturday should get more women in Parliament.
“I want to see more women in our parliament and I want to see the NSW division work with me and my team to deliver that on merit, on merit, that’s the key,” he said according to AAP.
That’s two ‘merits’ in one sentence about women. With the added ‘that’s the key’, just to reiterate the point.
Has Morrison ever uttered a similar sentence about men?
He has definitely suggested fears that men might be overlooked as women rise, taking the opportunity on International Women’s Day of all days to suggest that, “We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.”
Unfortunately relying on merit hasn’t been a great strategy for the Liberal party, and certainly not for the women within it.
If it had been, then the proportion of those being preselected and ultimately winning seats (especially safe seats) would be higher — if you believe that merit is shared equally between men and women.
Merit also may have seen the most experienced person in the room during a leadership ballot a year ago elevated to the top job.
Instead Julie Bishop barely garnered double digit figures in the initial three way race, behind Peter Dutton and Morrison.
And merit is quickly often forgotten when it comes to the ‘mates’ of somebody already in power (another M word favoured by the PM). You may recall Morrison stepping in to override a preselection in order to ensure right-wing, climate skeptic Craig Kelly got the pick.
In Morrison’s eyes (and others) the fear persists that a qualified man may be overlooked for a role in favour of a woman.
For the rest of us, we hope that the men who continue to get the jobs over equally if not more qualified female candidates are at least mediocre — and not individuals or ‘mates’ elevated into roles who are actively disastrous for the future.
Back at the NSW Liberal Party conference, Morrison told those in the room that he trusts “you are going to deliver on those things” regarding representation in the party. He doesn’t appear to have offered any suggestions on how, according to media reports (we weren’t there and could have missed the ten point plan).
Perhaps, it’s to simple wait for the meritorious women to rise and the mediocre men to graciously step aside? Let the year’s roll by and she will have her day?
A convenient strategy for a male politician to outline for the future, but one that has little record of success.