The Minister for Women has donated $50,000 to a new fund, in an attempt to boost the number of women in the federal Liberal Party.
Kelly O’Dwyer wrote to her Cabinet colleagues, asking them to donate the same amount of money to the “Enid Lyons Fighting Fund” which she set up earlier this year.
The details of her push have emerged after Assistant Minister Jane Prentice was dumped at preselection and replaced with a younger male, which has led to a fierce debate about the small representation of women in the Liberal Party.
In a letter sent to her cabinet colleagues, Minister O’Dwyer said it was “extraordinary” that since federation only 24 cabinet positions had been filled by women.
“All parties need to find proactive and practical ways of doing better,” she said.
She believes financial assistance will help boost the number of women in the Liberal Party because women are often worried about raising adequate funds.
“When women put their hands up for preselection in the Liberal Party, they need to know that they will have the financial firepower behind them to run effective campaigns,” she said.
The fund will provide financial support to Liberal women in federal election campaigns, including current politicians in marginal electorates and those preselected in winnable seats.
Minister O’Dwyer has already secured the support of the Prime Minister, who has confirmed his Wentworth branch will contribute.
“My conference, the Liberal Party in Sydney, will certainly match that,” he told 3AW.
Donations are expected to come from specific fundraising events, individuals, Liberal Party divisions and branches.
The fund is named after Enid Lyons, who was the first female MP in 1943, and all donations are tax deductible.
Liberal Party federal director Andrew Hirst and the party’s federal treasurer Andrew Burns will consult with female Cabinet ministers to decide how the funds are distributed.