Australia

Nationals leader supports push for more women candidates after Broad scandal

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has praised his two female federal members but is hoping more will make it to Canberra next year.

The standard of behaviour in the Nationals could improve if the party had more women in it, according to leader Michael McCormack.

He says he is proud of the "outstanding" two women representing the Nationals in federal politics, and is hopeful for others who have thrown their hat into the ring for the next election.

The deputy prime minister has expressed the sentiments two days after lurid details were revealed about married Nationals MP Andrew Broad who used a "sugar baby" website to meet up with a younger woman in Hong Kong, charging taxpayers for the domestic leg of the trip.

Andrew Broad has resigned after a woman  who uses the online alias "Sweet Sophia Rose" claimed he used a "sugar daddy" website.
Andrew Broad has resigned after a woman who uses the online alias "Sweet Sophia Rose" claimed he used a "sugar daddy" website.
AAP/Supplied

Mr Broad decided on Tuesday not to recontest his northern Victorian safe seat of Mallee at the next election, as well as repay the domestic fare.

That was a step welcomed by Mr McCormack who says the MP had showed a "complete lack of discretion".

Asked whether boosting the number of women in the Nationals could improve the quality of behaviour in the team, the leader said it would.

His comments follow a call from the Nationals party president Larry Anthony to replace Andrew Broad with a female candidate in the traditionally safe electorate of Mallee. 

Senator Bridget McKenzie and Queensland MP Michelle Landry are, at the moment, the only women federal Nationals members out of a total of 22.

But Mr McCormack is optimistic the next election, due by May, could boost the parties stocks, with Brisbane-based business identity Susan McDonald running for a Senate spot for the Liberal National Party.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie at a press conference after the Nationals Federal Council at the Canberra Hyatt Hotel in Canberra, Saturday, August 18, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack with Bridget McKenzie , one of only two female federal Nationals MPs.
AAP

Regional Development Australia chair Perin Davey, meanwhile, will run to represent NSW in the Senate for the Nationals.

"I would love to see those two actually win those spots and go on to really contribute, not only to our party but to the nation," Mr McCormack told AAP on Wednesday.

When it comes to encouraging more women to be part of the Nationals, Mr McCormack has stressed the success of programs that are already up-and-running.

"Our women's council are doing an outstanding job at both state and federal level to make sure that women do feel accepted, do feel encouraged to not only run ... but to be members of our party and to contribute at party level," he said.

Women have also long been making big contributions behind the scenes in the running of the party, he said.

"Women have always contributed mightily to our party, as far as administration is concerned," he said.

The leader's own predecessor as Member for Riverina was a woman, Kay Hull, a former truck driver who rose to the rank of party whip.

"She sure knew how to discipline the troops," Mr McCormack said.

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