NP under attack over lack of women MPs

25 Sep, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE National Party's failure to preselect women has been condemned by the Party's Women's Federal Council (WFC).

The failure prompted outgoing WFC Pam Stallman has called for an overhaul of the party's preselection procedures, to ensure more women were preselected for the Party to contest Sate and Federal elections in the future.

"Almost all of our delegates are women who have been involved in preselections," Ms Stallman said. "Not of them have found their way into parliamentary positions (and) few of them have been offered opportunities for involvement in government programs or onto boards."

The Party has two women among the 13 National MPs and senators in the federal parliament (13pc), compared to the Liberal Party at 24pc and Labor at 37pc.

"It wouldn't matter which party that we observed, I think we would find women don't feel enough is being done," Ms Stallman said, but admitted in many cases women were reluctant to even seek preselection

Rather than just complaining, the WFC has tried to develop strategies to better support female and young candidates by; electorate mapping to gauge levels of support for female candidates; support for raising the profile of women parliamentarians; and the establishment of a central data base at the Party's federal secretariat for the recording of women's resumes.

The Labor Party has a quota for the representation of women, which requires that women be preselected for 35pc of all winnable seats. All the quota isn't always attained, there are moves to take the quota to 50pc.

Although wishing to see more women preselected, Ms Stallman said she would not support the imposition of a similar quota system for the Nationals.

"I don't believe in preselection a woman for the sake of it," she said. "But I believe we ought to be more proactive and encourage women to have a go."

The WFC is conducting a study of women's experiences in the party, and hopes it, combined with the electorate mapping, will lead to more women being preselected.

Ms Stallman unsuccessfully sought to topple popular National Party Queensland senator Ron Boswell from the top of the Party's senate ticket prior to last year's federal election, but said the push by the WFC was from general dissatisfaction with the party's representation of women, rather than her own experience.

New WFC president Jenny Hawkins will take up the running of the issue.

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