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The Implementation of Voluntary Gender Quotas by the Australian Labor Party Dr Lesley Clark.

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Presentation on theme: "The Implementation of Voluntary Gender Quotas by the Australian Labor Party Dr Lesley Clark."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Implementation of Voluntary Gender Quotas by the Australian Labor Party Dr Lesley Clark

2  ALP is over 100 years old, one of two major parties, its base is working people, with centre left ideology  Approx 30,000 members spread across the country, 40% of whom are women so that women candidates can be indentified in all seats  Culture is changing, women now work in equal partnership with men inside the Party on all decision making committees and forums  There are also strong and active women’s units which exercise considerable influence on policy and decision making to ensure that women’s voices are heard and acted on. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting2

3 The Australian Labor Party is the only political party in Australia which has adopted an affirmative action policy and set gender quota targets for both internal Party positions and elected public office positions at all levels of government. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting3

4 Affirmative action was initially applied in 1981 to internal positions only and was set at 25%. The gender quota has increased over the last 20+ years and extended to all positions. A gender quota was introduced for public office positions in 1994 and set a target of 35% women candidates to be achieved by the year After 2012 the target will be 40% women 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting4

5 The ALP is committed to men and women in the Party working in equal partnership. It is our objective to have equal numbers of men and women at all levels in the Party organisation, and in public office positions the Party holds. To achieve this the Party adopts a comprehensive affirmative action model of 40:40:20… whereby a minimum of 40% of relevant positions shall be held by either gender. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting5

6 The current gender quota is gender neutral in that it applies equally to men and women. The rule ensures that there will be a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 60% of either men or women holding positions in the Party 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting6

7 Number to be elected Women 40%Men 40%Either 20% /6/09PacificPlus Consulting7

8 The AA rules apply to the following seats:  in relation to lower houses, those seats needed to form government, or those seats held by Labor, whichever is the greater; and  in relation to upper houses, at least 50% of seats in the upper house, or those seats held by Labor, whichever is the greater.  In Queensland the AA rule also applies specifically to non held but winnable seats defined as those requiring a swing of 5% or less to win. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting8

9 State and Territory Branches of the Party are required to abide by the principles in the national constitution and have amended their rules so as to achieve the minimum gender quota target of 40% women candidates. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting9

10 The National Executive has the responsibility and the power to enforce AA rules generally and specifically to determine the outcome in any public office pre- selection in any State or Territory. This reserve power has never been required to be used but should ensure that all branches comply with the national AA rules. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting10

11  The gender quota rule can only apply to the number of women candidates selected to contest the election  In a majoritarian candidate focussed electoral system such as Australia’s alternative vote system the voters ultimately decide the number of women who will get elected  In order to survive swings against the party at elections women need to hold sufficient numbers of safe seats 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting11

12  In Queensland the ALP holds 51of the 89 seats and women hold 25 of these.  The seats are held by margins ranging from 25% to 0.01% and women are spread evenly across this spectrum.  Of the 8 safest seats with a margin of 15% or more, 5 (62.5%) are held by women and of the 17 seats with a margin of 5% or less, 8 (47.0%) are held by women. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting12

13 PARLIAMENTNUMBER OF LABOR WOMEN MP’S PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN IN LABOR CAUCUS NATIONAL QUEENSLAND NEW SOUTH WALES VICTORIA SOUTH AUSTRALIA WESTERN AUSTRALIA TASMANIA631.6 AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY NORTHERN TERRITORY646.2 TOTAL /6/09PacificPlus Consulting13

14 PARTYMENWOMEN% WOMEN ALP LIBERAL PARTY NATIONAL PARTY GREENS INDEPENDENTS /6/09PacificPlus Consulting14

15 Set a gender quota target to give enough time to allow for replacement of men by women. Setting gender targets without a clear method of achieving them, including an enforcement mechanism, would almost certainly result in lack of compliance. Quotas need to be in place for a long time to achieve cultural change 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting15

16 Women need to remain vigilant to ensure that the Party complies with its own gender quota rules Once gender quotas are implemented and women are elected and carry out their role effectively then opposition to quotas decreases Competition between factions in the party to get women elected helped to ensure women candidates were identified and supported 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting16

17  The adoption of gender quota rules, particularly as they apply to elected public office positions, requires a long and intensive campaign by women. Men do not give up power and privilege readily.  Women as well as men will oppose gender quotas 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting17

18  Set clear aims and goals  Women MP’s carry out their roles effectively to show the contribution women can make  Work with other women in the Party. Use women’s wings and other party units and committees to put proposals forward to the Party  Use organisations outside the party to advocate on your behalf  Enlist public support for more women in parliament using the media  Indentify and enlist influential male champions 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting18

19  Do women have enough power within the Party to successfully advocate for candidate quotas?  Is affirmative action within the Party structure needed first?  Would a Party disadvantage itself by adopting a quota and selecting women candidates? 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting19

20  Will current male MP’s, men seeking political office and other party members be willing to abide by the rules of the Party?  Does the party have an executive willing and able to enforce the Party rules on affirmative action? 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting20

21  What measures will be put in place to educate existing MP’s, party members and voters to gain support for the introduction and implementation of candidate quotas?  Are there male champions of influence within the party who will advocate for quotas? 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting21

22  How well can the party identify its safe and winnable seats?  What support will the party provide to get women candidates elected?  Is an external body such as an Electoral Commission able and willing to enforce the implementation of mandatory quotas if necessary? 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting22

23  Political parties will be reluctant to pre-select women if they think it will reduce their chances of winning seats.  If political party quotas were to be adopted then a mandatory quota applying to all parties could be more effective than relying on parties to adopt a voluntary quota system.  Women’s units in political parties will need to campaign strongly to promote the adoption of any form of Party gender quota. 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting23

24  Web site for Australian Labor Party  Web site for ALP International Projects 7/6/09PacificPlus Consulting24


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