LABOR PRE-SELECTION DEMEANS WOMEN
Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at www.zanettisview.com
We’re witnessing a core reasons why we don’t get the best parliamentary representation available. Labor’s handbag hit squad is embroiled in an unedifying old fashioned street scrap over preselection for retiring MP Martin Ferguson’s Melbourne seat of Batman.
In one corner we have the Prime Minister endorsing and promoting one of her key backers, David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. She’s choosing him largely for ‘loyalty’. It’s a reward and a wedge against Rudd forces. Feeney was instrumental in her seizing the PM’s job so it’s a quid pro quo. He’s also a good performer, so that assists her argument.
In the other corner are Gillard’s fellow Emily’s Listers. They have their knickers in a knot ‘cause they want a woman – but Feeney is a man.
The likes of Jenny Macklin, Penny Wong and Catherine King are in a tizz, saying the ALP is failing to meet its rules that require 40 per cent of candidates in winnable seats to be women. The seat of Batman is Labor’s safest.
Feeney, in their view, and according to convoluted Labor policy, shouldn’t get the job because...well, he’s a man. The handbag hit squad members are sexists. Or more accurately, misandrists.
No matter that Feeney’s already a proven performer. The hit squad wants Mary-Anne Thomas to be shoe-horned into parliament in the safe Labor seat.
Jenny Macklin said on the weekend, ''As a former senior vice-president of the ALP and a former deputy leader, I am very concerned that if a woman is not preselected for Batman, the ALP in Victoria will have only 27 per cent of candidates in seats held who are women.''
Macklin’s argument is that a person should get the job, not for what they have between their ears – but what they have between their legs.
It’s cringe worthy tokenism, demeaning and condescending to women. Macklin is arguing women are simply not good enough to be preselected based on ability – but on sex.
Martin Ferguson has thrown his support behind Feeney for the seat, declaring him the best qualified candidate to deal with the challenges facing the party. He said, “I’m backing David because he brings experience, strength and determination.”
Contrast that position with the Liberal Party, where women (including the deputy Leader) are preselected for being ‘the best person available for the job’, not sex or gender. Leader Abbot has a woman for his Chief Of Staff. That’s how it should be. Equal opportunity regardless of sex, age, religion or race (the Liberals are also ahead on race with a growing list of candidates sourced from ethnic communities)
If Labor wants to rebuild after the trashing of the disastrous Gillard years, it will review its tokenism and get back to selecting its candidates based only on ‘best person available’ regardless of gender, not based on gender.