Labor MP Terri Butler has made a lot of sacrifices to get to where she is today.
But she’s absolutely certain that it’s all been — and will continue to be — worth it.
And she wants to see more women in politics — especially mothers of young children, who can give Parliament a better perspective on some of the issues affecting working mothers right now.
She notes that a number of significant issues simply won’t get the attention they deserve if women aren’t involved in politics: issues like access to medical terminations, the rise of homelessness in older women, equal pay, childcare and women in sport.
“It’s not that men aren’t able or capable of responding to them [these issues]. It’s just that getting them on the agenda in the first place takes women,” she said.
The former lawyer with law firm Maurice Blackburn has been a member of the Labor party for more than two decades. She’s witnessed how the factions work, and even married someone from a different faction — which she concedes made the table seating plan at the wedding challenging. She’s now a shadow assistant minister, having won the seat of Griffith in a 2014 by-election, when former PM Kevin Rudd left politics.
Terri’s just published a book, Labor of Love, which is a call to arms of sorts for people to get involved in politics, rather than sitting on the sidelines upset at what is (or isn’t) getting done.
“I’m really worried about the fact that people don’t want to get involved in politics because they see politics as being this disgraceful occupation people only do for bad reasons,” she says.
“Politics is still one of the best ways to change the nature of our society. The only way for change to happen is for people to see the value of going into politics.”
Terri believes that too often, a handful of politicians can be responsible for creating bad headlines, leaving people to generalise across all 220 or so people elected to the upper and lower houses.
She believes both the Liberal and National parties need to do more to improve their female representation, and to accept that structural impediments are getting in the way of women being elected.
“Even once we (the Labor Party) committed to quotas, it took us twenty years to get from 20% to 40%. The Liberal party is not even at that point of accepting there are structural impediments.”
Terri joined Angela Priestley and Georgie Dent for the ‘Work It Out’ podcast, where this week we attempt to work out the lack of women in politics.
Listen below, or find it under ‘Work It Out’ on iTunes.