Stott Despoja, Former Democrats Leader, Appointed Ambassador For Women And Girls

The Abbott government has appointed the former leader of the Australian Democrats, Natasha Stott Despoja, as the next Ambassador for Women and Girls.

Stott Despoja

In announcing the appointment, the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said “gender empowerment is a priority for the Australian Government’s overseas development program”. She said it was the government’s wish “to be at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region”. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard In Conversation With Anne Summers

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made her first major public appearance since being deposed last June.

Gillard-Summers

The former Labor leader appeared with journalist Anne Summers before a crowd of 2600 people at the Sydney Opera House. [Read more…]


Katy Gallagher Elected ACT Chief Minister

Katy Gallagher was today appointed Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, following the retirement of Jon Stanhope.

Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister of the ACTGallagher was elected unopposed by the ALP caucus on May 13. She was endorsed by a vote of the ACT Legislative Assembly today, winning 11 votes to 6 for the Liberal leader Zed Seselja. Her deputy is Andrew Barr.

Gallagher, 40, brings to four the number of female heads of government in Australia. She joins Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, all of them from the Labor Party.

The five male leaders are: Premier Barry O’Farrell (NSW), Premier Ted Baillieu (Vic), Premier Mike Rann (SA), Premier Colin Barnett (WA) and Chief Minister Paul Henderson (NT).

The longest serving head of government is South Australian Labor Premier Mike Rann who has been in office since March 2002. The longest serving Opposition Leader is Tasmanian Liberal Will Hodgman who has held the position since March 2006.


McHugh Calls For More Women Justices On The High Court

There should be more female justices on the High Court of Australia, according to Justice Michael McHugh.

Addressing a dinner hosted by the Western Australian Law Society, McHugh said that despite many changes in recent years, “one thing that has not changed in the High Court is the small percentage of cases argued in the Court by female advocates. Some of the finest arguments that I have heard in nearly 16 years on the Court have come from women advocates. Indeed, given the small number of appearances by female advocates, superior arguments by women advocates are disproportionately high.”

Noting that he was facing imminent compulsory retirement at age 70, and that 4 Justices would retire over the next 4 years, McHugh said: “These retirements will present the federal government with a remarkable opportunity to ensure, to adapt the words of Chief Justice McLachlin, that the composition of the High Court approaches an accurate reflection of the place of women within the judiciary, within the legal profession, and within Australian society more generally.” [Read more…]


ALP Women Continue Fight For Equal Representation

The ALP Women’s Conference, meeting in Canberra over the weekend, has called for the ALP to achieve a target of 50% of women in internal party positions and in the various Federal, State and Territory Parliaments.

ALP Women MPs
Parliament % Women
Federal
27
N.S.W.
21
Victoria
32
Queensland
41
Western Australia
25
South Australia
48
Tasmania
29
A.C.T.
35
N.T.
31
Source: Canberra Times, April 29, 2002

The ALP has previously adopted a policy of having 35% of women in safe and/or winnable seats.

Speakers at the conference drew attention to the disparity in female representation across the various Parliaments. South Australia and Queensland have the highest proportion of ALP women members, whilst Western Australia and New South Wales have the lowest proportion. (See table opposite.)

The debate over affirmative action in party pre-selections is a controversial one within the ALP. Critics argue that candidates should be chosen on their merits, whereas the former Victorian Premier, Joan Kirner, is reported today as saying: “Well, yes, they should be selected on merit, and what this does is give women an opportunity to demonstrate their merit. The competition should be about merit for everybody.” [Read more…]


Simon Crean: Address To ALP Women’s Conference

This is the text of an address by the Federal Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, to the ALP Women’s Conference in Canberra.

Address by Simon Crean to the ALP Women’s Conference.

CreanI’m delighted to be here today to acknowledge the women who make such a major contribution to our work, and to tell you how important I believe increasing the input of women is to our Party’s future success.

I’m convinced that greater input from the women of Australia is necessary if we are to modernize the Labor Party and win office at the next federal election.

I acknowledge the groundbreaking leaders who have shown the way – women like former state leaders Rosemary Follett, Joan Kirner and Carmen Lawrence, and the new Chief Minister for the Northern Territory, Clare Martin. [Read more…]


Carmen Lawrence: Renewing Democracy – Can Women Make a Difference?

The former Western Australian Premier and Federal Health Minister, Dr. Carmen Lawrence, has called for wide-ranging political reforms in a speech to the Sydney Institute.

LawrenceLawrence, the Labor member for Fremantle, calls for a number of parliamentary reforms, including the establishment of an all-party Business committee to determine the business of the parliament. She proposes giving parliamentary committees the power to initiate legislation, especially if their recommendations have been ignored by the government.

The speech also refers to the increasing influence of money in Australian politics. She says: “We run the risk of becoming a “corporate democracy” in which the number of shares you have purchased in the party of your choice determines your effective voting power. While there has been extensive debate about big money in politics in the U.S., there appears to be a conspiracy of silence on the issues among Australian politicians. Public funding of elections was supposed to reduce the parties’ reliance on private corporate and union donations: all that has happened is a blowout in both public (doubled since 1993) and private funding as parties engage in an increasingly expensive bidding war at elections.” [Read more…]