Liberals lose another female candidate in a winnable seat as it struggles for gender parity – Politics
Liberal member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, is not running at the 2019 election. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)
Women have been preselected by the Liberal Party in fewer than one in four winnable seats in the federal House of Representatives at the next election.
- Liberal Party members endorse Grant Schultz to run in NSW south coast seat
- Incumbent MP Ann Sudmalis is retiring at the next election
- 15 woman are running in winnable Lower House seats for the Liberal Party
The party currently has 11 women in the Lower House but two of those incumbents will retire at the next election and have already been replaced by men.
The Liberal Party has a goal for women to make up half of the partyroom by 2025, but so far has endorsed just 15 female candidates in winnable Lower House seats for the 2019 poll.
Earlier this week, real estate agent Grant Shultz won pre-selection in the NSW south coast seat of Gilmore, replacing incumbent MP Ann Sudmalis.
Ms Sudmalis announced in September she would quit politics at the election, citing “branch-stacking, undermining and leaks”.
Mr Shultz is the son of former federal Liberal MP Alby Schultz and his pre-selection has reportedly frustrated former Gilmore MP Joanna Gash.
Queensland Liberal Jane Prentice, a former assistant minister, announced she would also retire at the election, having lost her pre-selection in May to Brisbane city councillor Julian Simmonds.
Last month, Victorian MP Julia Banks criticised the major parties and the Parliament’s attitude towards women when she announced she had quit Liberal Party to sit as an independent.
“There’s the blinkered rejection of quotas and support of the merit myth, but this is more than a numbers game,” she said.
But there are seats where the Liberal Party could make inroads to bolster its female representation in Canberra.
Melissa McIntosh, who works for a Western Sydney housing not-for-profit, has been preselected for the Liberal Party in Lindsay, currently held by Labor Emma Husar, who hasn’t been pre-selected for the next election.
With a wafer-thin margin of around 1 per cent, Lindsay is a chance to be picked up by the Liberals.
Ms McIntosh, a communications manager, did not respond to ABC requests for comment, but she has been active on Facebook.
The Labor Party has preselected Diane Beamer while Ms Husar — who is suing Buzzfeed for defamation following a story alleging she harassed staff — is understood to be considering running as an independent.
Women within the Liberal Party
The Liberal Party declared in 2016 that it wanted women as half of its federal MPs by 2025.
In the current Parliament, fewer than one quarter of Liberal MPs are women.
Responding to Ms Banks’ resignation in November, Government minister Christopher Pyne said he would welcome “a lot more women in the ranks”.
He also said there had been a “huge number” of women preselected for the next federal election, and that women were doing “very well” in nominations for the Lower House.
Of the 83 Liberal Lower House preselections recorded so far, 19 are for women.
Fifteen of those are in winnable seats, which are seats either held by the Liberals or within a 6 per cent swing of winning.
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The Liberal Party could further increase its female candidate numbers in the winnable seats it’s yet to finalise for preselection.
Those seats are Macquarie, Richmond and Dobell in NSW, Isaacs, Bendigo, Hotham, Jagajaga and McEwen in Victorian, Lyons and Bass in Tasmania and Moreton in Queensland.
Liberal women have won the first position on Senate tickets in three states: Holly Hughes (NSW), Senator Anne Ruston (SA) and Senator Linda Reynolds (WA).
Senate Amanda Stoker replaced George Brandis as a Queensland Senator earlier this year.
The party also pre-selected Gladys Liu to replace Ms Banks as its candidate in the marginal seat of Chisholm.
@senatorhume: Terrific to be hosting my friend Gladys Liu, the Liberal candidate for #Chisholm, at Parliament House today. Gladys will make a terrific parliamentarian and a fantastic local representative. She has a lot of support up here and at home. #auspol