West Australian Liberal senator Linda Reynolds has warned her LNP colleagues to preselect more women or risk losing state and federal elections.
During a panel discussion on the topic of women in politics at the Queensland LNP’s convention, Ms Reynolds said conservative parties had failed to regain the women votes lost in 2001.
Speaking alongside Queensland LNP deputy leader Deb Frecklington and outgoing LNP women’s president Theresa Craig, Ms Reynolds said the parties lacked the meritocracy they claimed when criticised for its lack of women representatives.
“If (we) want to keep winning elections, federal and state, we actually have to preselect more women, it’s as simple as that,” she said on Friday.
“Since 2001 a majority of women have stopped voting for us and we haven’t won them back, and worse is younger voters no longer feel that we really represent them and every election we’re losing both young men and young women.”
Australia’s global ranking for the number of women parliamentarians was 14th in 1999, however it has since slipped to 49th place, behind Tunisia, Sudan and Uganda, Inter-Parliamentary Union data shows.
Ms Reynolds said her party had been slow to change its approach to gaining more women voters, and urged LNP faithful to support a push for greater diversity.
“For those of you who may not really be that receptive to the whole issue of gender diversity or diversity more generally, if we want to keep winning, the numbers are very, very clear.”
On the issue of merit, Ms Reynolds said while she agreed with the LNP’s position not to support gender quotas, its preselection system was not meritorious.
“When you have a look here in Queensland at the state parliament, one out of ten of your elected representatives here are women, two out of ten nationally for the coalition parties.”
“To me, that is not merit.
“For it to be meritocracy … (you have to have) the same transparent and clear standards by which everybody is judged and for the most (part) … we don’t have that.”