What do Australians want in politics? More women, honesty, transparency, empathy

What do Australians want in politics? More women, honesty, transparency, empathy


The majority of Australians want to see more women in politics and would like to see more politicians that are honest, intelligent, empathetic and transparent.

That’s according to new research from Women for Election Australia, that also revealed the skills and qualities of our current political leaders do not match up with what most Australian believe would make ideal political representatives.

The research found that 63 per cent of Australians wanted to see more women in politics and 69 per cent said greater diversity in politics would lead to better outcomes from all Australians.

Licia Heath, CEO of Women for Election, said strengthening women’s presence in all levels of politics will help achieve better social outcomes for everyone.

“Women represent more than half our population and bring a different lived experience to problem solving and decision-making. There is great power in diversity, and support for female candidates is available like never before,” Health said.

In the research, the top four skills and qualities used to best describe politicians today included: self-interested (49 per cent), smooth talker (28 per cent), ambitious (25 per cent) and confident (15 per cent).

Meanwhile, when respondents were asked about their preferred skills and qualities of politicians, they said: honesty (75 per cent), intelligence (60 per cent), empathy (55 per cent), transparent (55 per cent).

67 per cent said that politicians do not accurately represent the diversity of the Australian population, and 71 per cent agreed that politicians tend to be similar types of people.

Simone Clarke, CEO of UN Women Australia, said all countries need to commit to greater diversity in politics.

“Our goal is to achieve gender equality worldwide by 2030 and we believe that equal participation of women in political and economic decision-making is critical in achieving that goal,” Clarke said.

“It’s not the responsibility of one country, but all countries worldwide to make a commitment to this – not only to achieve equality for women and girls but to improve the quality of life for everyone.” 

The research comes one week after Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins released her Set The Standard report, that found 1 in 3 people working in federal parliament have experienced sexual harassment. One of the report’s key recommendations related to achieving gender balance in parliament, as well as improving representation of First Nations people, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people and people from CALD backgrounds.

Licia Health says the events of 2021 have mobilised women across the country who want to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in regional and rural Australia in recent years and have met thousands of women through our programs. They are out in the community every day, working out what can be improved and fixing it; for the betterment of their community.”

The research from Women for Election is based on a nationally representative online survey of 1017 people.

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