John Hewson (Canberra Times, February 24th 2017) is absolutely right: the public is disaffected with our political class. However, the question about the system through which they are drawn is just one part of the equation.

In 2015, Women for Election Australia researched the career aspirations and support for women parliamentarians and discovered some surprising and frankly, some depressing factors that underpin their poor levels of political engagement. Australia still lags significantly behind other nations in the proportion of women in parliament and this acts as a barrier to attracting more women into the field. We still have meagre and inconsistent funding and policy support for childcare and paid parental leave. The media treatment of women in power is woeful and acts as a huge disincentive to women entering parliament. That’s even before their participation within the (male) battlefield of their own party institutions. Culture change is urgently required.

Diversity is the key to reforming politics in this country. It starts with increasing the representation of women and must include those with life experiences had outside student politics, or the union or employer-based organisations or serving a staffer-apprenticeship.

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