Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 631 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Of course, here in the ACT we have a particularly proud record in relation to the appointment and election of women to significant positions within the party: the first woman head of government in Australia, the first woman Speaker in Australia, at the moment two-thirds of our federal representation are women-very, very significant.
Mr Stefaniak: That's not true.
MR STANHOPE: Annette Ellis and Kate Lundy: we have three federal seats and two of them are occupied by women. We have significant achievers. At the moment, the president of our party is a woman. Throughout the sub-branches of our party, significant numbers of the positions within each of the executives, and probably in all of them, at least 50 per cent are held by women. The makeup of this Assembly is testimony to this as well but, for whatever reason-and a range of reasons have been put forward-women within the Labor Party, as with the Liberal Party, have not been as successful in gaining election to this Assembly.
I do not know whether that is a particular feature of the Hare-Clark system. Some people suggest that it is. I think there are certain aspects of Hare-Clark that perhaps do impinge on the capacity of women within the major parties to gain election. It certainly does not impinge on their ability to gain preselection, as far as the Labor Party is concerned. As I said, we in the Labor Party have an affirmative action policy which ensures that at least 50 per cent of all our candidates are women. Of course, under Hare-Clark, it is not a question, as it is in other jurisdictions, of perhaps nominating women for safe or winnable seats. Under a multimember electoral system such as Hare-Clark, that is simply not a consideration.
We went to the last election, as we did to the election before, with 50 per cent, or as near as, of our candidates being women.
Ms Dundas: I have a point of order. My question was specifically related to women in the cabinet, not about women in the electoral process of the ALP; so, while I find this information fascinating, I would ask for relevance, Chief Minister.
MR STANHOPE: I actually thought that Ms Dundas was interested. I had always assumed that members would be interested in context, and I was providing some context. I think it is perfectly relevant to reflect on the fact that, in the last Assembly, to our great regret, there were no women in the Labor caucus, none. It is to the benefit of the Assembly, it is to the benefit of my party, it is to the benefit of the government, that we do have in the caucus-in this government-two women. It is a significant advance. We have made great inroads. Two of the eight: we have gone from none to 25 per cent. It is a great advance, and something about which we are particularly pleased and proud.
We do have, of course, within this place, two extremely good members in the two women who are now members of this government, and I have no doubt that each of them will in time be a cabinet minister, and an extremely good cabinet minister. It is quite likely that one or both of them will one day lead the party.