Malcolm Turnbull grabbed headlines by suggesting that the Liberal Party “absolutely” has a “women problem”. The real question that needs to be asked is, “Do voters vote for women?”
Labor luminaries like Tanya Plibersek love talk about a “women problem”, but let’s look at the facts.
In Wagga, Labor has chosen a candidate that they believe is in with a chance. Female? No. Did the Greens find a female candidate? Surely there’s a Sarah Hanson-Young somewhere in Wagga?
Political parties pre-select a candidate they think can win.
We had a fine female member for Riverina in Kay Hull. She was the epitome of a quality local politician.
Kay’s representations were responsible for guaranteeing the long-term future of Wagga’s defence bases, and for finding federal finance to dramatically expand courses and specialist buildings at CSU, to name but two achievements.
In fact, while I was waiting around with the DA’s camera at the opening of one of CSU’s new buildings, Kay Hull was praised by the minister, Labor’s Mark Butler, for her persistence in knocking on doors in Canberra and presenting a sound business case for CSU.
As a mother, business woman, and former Wagga City councillor, Kay was well-known, well-liked and well-respected. Her pre-selection would have been on sheer ability and voter appeal.
That is how it should be — we need the best candidate, male or female, someone who, if elected, will work hard for this area.
Our current independent member, Joe McGirr fits that work-ethic description. He is well-known, and impressive when speaking on local issues. He rose to public prominence during the very long battle to have a new hospital built in Wagga.
If I was a betting man, I would suggest that Joe will be re-elected.
I have no doubt that Labor’s Dan Hayes has a similar profile.
He speaks well, appears to be a decent young man, and his position on the council has given him a platform to become well-known in the community. But do we want a Labor government, given the past record of total Labor neglect of Wagga?
A vote for the Greens or Shooters is simply a vote for Labor.
You might guess that neither of these will be near the top of my ballot paper.
Then we come to Mackenna Powell, and I return to my comments earlier. Will voters vote for a female candidate?
More to the point, Mackenna Powell will potentially join a government that has a female Premier. Do voters approve of a woman leading the state?
The record of the Coalition government speaks for itself. We waited during years of Labor promises for a new hospital, ambulance station, police station and courthouse upgrades.
We had to have demonstrations in the main street during the Labor days to draw attention to the plight of the hospital.
The building of the Gobba Bridge had to wait until the election of a Liberal/National government in 1988. Labor promises were never honoured, and we witnessed repair after repair on the crumbling Hampden Bridge. It looked like one of these projects that would never happen.
“But a turning point came when the project became a key promise by the Coalition before it won the 1988 NSW election,” The Daily Advertiser said in a 2010 story at the time of the big flood.
“It was a promise made and a promise insisted on,” Mr Schipp said in 2010.
“It has served its purpose, and it has proved its worth.”
While I am always sceptical about election promises, I think we can be confident that Mackenna Powell will be able to deliver if a Coalition government is re-elected.
That is how it should be — we need the best candidate, male or female, someone who if elected will work hard for this area.
Then there is the wider picture. In just one-and-a-half terms, Queensland Labor has earned the dubious distinction of the highest unemployment of all the states.
Victorian Labor has already delivered electricity shortages, paying out $1.1 billion to companies for temporary shut downs during peak electricity demand.
Gladys Berejiklian has been an excellent Premier.
If it is true that we need more women in parliament, will voters support another woman by electing Mackenna Powell?
A “women problem”? Voters will decide.