There’s officially another woman in the Senate, after Amanda Stoker was preselected by the LNP over the weekend and formally sworn into the Federal Parliament on Thursday.
Stoker replaces former Attorney General George Brandis.
At 35, Stoker becomes one of youngest women in the Senate, and brings an extensive legal background to the role. The former Commonwealth DPP prosecutor and Minter Ellison lawyer, was the youngest woman to join the bar in Queensland, and has served as a judges’ associate in both the Supreme and High courts.
She’s also been instrumental in aiding the work of pregnant barristers, having been the first to order maternity bar jackets for women to wear in court, and is the vice president of the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland.
But Stoker’s already faced criticism, especially regarding her appearance at a pro-life rally in Brisbane on the weekend, also attended by Coalition MP George Christensen. Speaking at the event, she said that even though babies and children are unable to vote, “We must ensure they are heard by and protected by those who govern”.
Stoker was selected from a shortlist of six men and six women.
Upon being preselected, she noted her areas of focus, stating that: “I’m ready to fight to improve the international competitiveness of Australian students’ school performance, and to ensure there are high-quality education opportunities available in regional Queensland.”
The LNP had been under pressure to appoint a woman to replace Brandis, but LNP president Gary Spence was quick to point out they had chosen, “the best person for the job on merit.
“The LNP doesn’t need quotas to choose our representatives,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to promote opportunities for women and recruit the best people we can from all walks of life, but at preselection the best person for the position will be chosen.”
In the public gallery yesterday were Stoker’s husband, three daughters and a number of family members and friend.
Stoker’s appointment furthers the representation of women in the Government, with just 19.8% of candidates elected for the Federal Coalition being female at the 2016 election.