Nationals deny women problem in parliament

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie says her party does not have a problem with women. (AAP)

Bridget McKenzie says the fact she's been elected Nationals deputy leader shows the party doesn't have a problem with women.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie denies her party has a problem with women, despite being one of only two in the 22-member federal partyroom.

The Nationals' sole female frontbencher pointed to the fact 20 Nationals men had elected her as their deputy leader.

"I think things are changing and I think it's important that they do change," Senator McKenzie told the National Press Club in Canberra.

"But I think at the end of the day we want the best representatives possible for the regions irrespective of their gender."

In Senator McKenzie's home state of Victoria, the Nationals had just one female parliamentarian at a state or federal level before her preselection seven years ago.

She said since then, the Nationals had elected four female state MPs in Victoria, and are now led by Mia Davies in Western Australia and the Liberal-Nationals' Deb Frecklington in Queensland.

While the federal statistics are grim for the Nationals, the Liberals have copped the bulk of the criticism about female representation.

The debate flared in the senior coalition partner after junior minister Jane Prentice lost a preselection battle earlier in the year.

Almost a quarter of the Liberals' federal representatives are women, while the two Nationals women amount to less than 10 per cent of the partyroom.

Labor leads the way, approaching gender parity on the back of quotas.


Liberals: 85 MPs and senators - 65 men, 20 women (24 per cent)

Labor: 95 MPs and senators - 51 men, 44 women (46 per cent)

Nationals: 22 MPs and senators - 20 men, two women (nine per cent)

Greens: 10 MPs and senators - six men, four women (40 per cent)

Source AAP

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