Liberal frontbencher Sussan Ley says it is time her party considers using quotas to increase the number of Liberal Party women in the federal parliament.
- Ms Ley says the low number of women in Parliament forced her to reconsider her opposition to quotas
- She says she is concerned women are constantly put into marginal seats where their careers are uncertain
- Ms Ley says her party needs to put in place processes to deal with complaints
Ms Ley said while she had historically been opposed to quotas, the low number of Liberal women in the Parliament had forced her to reconsider her view.
“We do need to do more to recruit female MPs without a doubt,” Ms Ley told RN Drive.
“If you look at our party, the picture tells its own story.”
“I’ve never been a fan of quotas, but I must say recently I’ve wondered whether we should consider them.
“In what context I’m not sure, but we don’t have enough women. But the issue has to start long before you get to parliament.
“If we need to find a quota system at some point, we should talk about how we do that.”
Ms Ley said she was concerned women were constantly put into marginal seats where their careers were uncertain.
“I’m not necessarily impressed by the Labor Party quota system where they seem to tick boxes with women in what I would describe as less-winnable seats, which in itself causes problems,” she said.
“We don’t want women in seats that we would all describe and understand as marginal, because their longevity in the parliament is not there.
“We know that women are terrific at winning marginal seats, but they’re also pretty good at holding safe ones too.”
Complaints processes needed: Ley
Ms Ley’s comments came after former Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop, speaking at a Women’s Weekly awards event in Sydney, said it was “not acceptable” less than a quarter of MPs in the Liberal Party were women.
“It’s not acceptable for our party to contribute to the fall in Australia’s ratings from 15th in the world, in terms of female parliamentary representation in 1999, to 50th today. There’s a lot to be done,” she said.
Ms Ley agreed the situation needed to be changed and new measures were required.
Ms Ley also said while she was not bullied, she believed the party needed to put in place processes to deal with complaints and to change its culture.
“I believe we as a party need to put processes in place so that those who are upset about behaviour or feel there is bad behaviour in their workplace have somewhere to go, and somewhere to express those views and have something done about them,” she said.
“I think the whip’s office is a good place to start … things that you might not necessarily air in the party room, that you wouldn’t air with your colleagues, that are sensitive for personal reasons … comes to the whip, which is why the whip position is a very important one.”
It comes after former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s daughter, Daisy Turnbull Brown, criticised the Liberal Party for failing to boost the number of female MPs.
“It is going to be very hard to raise daughters and tell them to look to the Liberal Party for strong female role models,” Ms Turnbull Brown said on Twitter on Thursday.
“I have never been a fan of quotas, but they may be the Liberals’ only hope to win back female supporters.
“You need to remove the toxic culture of parliament that makes it extremely unattractive to women.”