Factions hinder gender equality, former MP

Jennie George
Former Labor MP Jennie George says factions within the party are obstructing gender equality. (AAP)

The former head of the ACTU Jennie George has called out factionalism within Labor as an obstacle to gender equity.

A former Labor MP says factions within the party are obstructing gender equality.

The comments from Jennie George, who once led the ACTU, follow scrutiny of Labor's affirmative action report card at its national women's conference over the weekend.

"Why is it that only one woman from the (NSW) right makes it into a shadow ministry of 32 MPs?" Ms George said in The Australian on Monday.

"By contrast, the nine male MPs of the right are well rewarded: five are shadow ministers, two assistant ministers and the other chief opposition whip. Isn't merit gender-free in the NSW right?"

Ms George blamed the lack of women in Labor frontbench positions on figures from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's right faction.

In 2015, Mr Shorten publicly declared a goal that 50 per cent of Labor representatives would be women by 2025.

Labor senators denied that factionalism was the issue.

"I don't think you can assign that problem to that particular issue," said Queensland senator Chris Ketter.

Senator Ketter said it was quite natural for political parties to have different groupings within them with different focuses.

"It's not something that's unique to the Labor party, the Liberal party has its own groupings as well."

The senator also said Labor was making inroads on that issue and that equal representation was on track in his home state of Queensland.

Colleague Doug Cameron insisted his party hd done more to promote equality than any other.

"In the days I've been involved in the party at the start to where we are now is a much better position and Labor will continue to support women on the basis of equal opportunity in our party," he said.