Government admits equality issue but insists quotas not the answer

Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman says the Liberal Party is open to other ideas of how to get women into politics. Source: AAP

Government MPs admit that the representation of women within the party is not where it should be, but are disavowing quotas as the answer.

Coalition MPs are shying away from quotas to boost female representation in their federal party while leaving the door open to get there by other means.

Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman argues the coalition needs more structures, mentoring and training to get more women into politics.

"Whilst I don't support quotas, it is worthwhile for the party to be setting targets so we can measure our success," he told the ABC on Saturday.

"And that becomes a performance measure, a KPI (key performance indicator), against which we can be judged."

He said targets aimed at locking in a set proportion of male and female MPs, whereas quotas gave a "leg up" to female candidates during preselection.

Only one in five federal MPs within the coalition are female, compared to nearly half within opposition ranks.

"I don't think we'll be at the right place until we have parity," government frontbencher Greg Hunt told Nine News.

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Julie Bishop calls out bullying in the Liberal Party.
Julie Bishop calls out bullying in the Liberal Party.

"That's 50 per cent, plus or minus five per cent in either direction over time because these things will ebb and flow."

Nationals MP and government minister Darren Chester acknowledged his party needed to encourage more women to take part in politics.

"I am not a big fan of quotas, but I feel we have to be more actively seeking to recruit women to seats that are safer," he told the ABC.

"I think parliament is better when there is more diversity, and there is a challenge on our side to make that happen."

Nationals MP and government minister Darren Chester is not an advocate of quotas.
Nationals MP and government minister Darren Chester is not an advocate of quotas.
AAP

But quotas were the answer for Labor MP Linda Burney, acknowledging she was a beneficiary of such policy.

"One of the reasons that the Labor Party is almost at 50 per cent is exactly because of affirmative action policies," she said.

"Something deliberate like quotas or affirmative action is the answer, in my view, to bringing some equity about in terms of numbers."

Source AAP - SBS

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