House debates

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Statements by Members

Parliament: Equal Representation

1:42 pm

Photo of Julia BanksJulia Banks (Chisholm, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

This week we have heard some wonderful valedictory speeches from female MPs in this parliament. From across the political divide, their speeches have shown that they all have big hearts and they all have great minds, and they've all contributed so much to our nation's interest and those of their local communities.

But we need more female hearts and minds in this parliament. Equal representation of men and women should be here now. We should never say never, especially to this. Women vote. Women are over half the population of this great country and yet they, especially those with sensible Centre values, feel severely underrepresented. Equal representation will create, organically, a culture change and a healthier and better workplace. Australia will be the stronger for it, if women of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life are reflected by our parliamentary representatives as in our population, from the young students and the young parents to the more senior and those women who are often referred to as the 'sandwich' or 'invisible' generation—those between their 40s and 60s, many of whom, like me, know firsthand the dual juggle of raising children and families and also caring for ageing parents against a backdrop of work outside the home. These are women with a lived experience.

Women can have it all, and all the same time, and they can have parliamentary careers. But it is up to those men and women here on the inside to ensure that more women on the outside can see a clear pathway to equal representation of men and women in this parliament.