Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Have you ever seen sexism in the ‘Canberra bubble’? What did you see and what did you do about it?

Jane Hume: “You would be hard pressed to find a woman who has not experienced sexism in the Canberra bubble – but I have experienced it everywhere. I think it’s endemic, but it’s something that everyone is working towards [improving]. International Women’s Day is an opportunity for everyone – whether men or women – to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors. ”

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Tanya Plibersek: “I’ve seen a lot of sexism in Canberra. I think there is still a lot of sexism in most workplaces and I try to call it out when I see it. I would probably say that the best thing for me is now that we are at almost 50 percent female representation in the Labor Party. I’m not the only one calling it that. There are a bunch of us who can take care of each other and create a different environment for new people when they enter our workplace. When you get a critical mass of women in a workplace, it changes everything. ”

Lidia Thorpe: “In light of the toxic culture that unfortunately exists in Parliament, it is about standing together in solidarity and continuing to fight against it and call it out. If we are silent, it will continue, and it is not only up to women to call this out, it is up to any Australian in this country to call bad behavior. Everyone deserves to work in a safe place. ”

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Helen Haines: “In my experience, this is a very blokey place. It is a very patriarchal place. I have experienced sexism here usually in the guise of men who did not necessarily speak directly to me, spoke to other men around me. The way I handle it is to step forward and make my voice heard and call them out. ”

What needs to change in Parliament?

Jane Hume: ‘Parliament needs to reflect on its culture, behavior and, in particular, on women. But we do. And the changes I have seen, even in just the four years I have been here, have been quite extraordinary and I hope to see that change continue. ”

Canberra politicians treat sexism in Australian politics


Tanya Plibersek: ‘It would be a better Parliament if it were more representative of our Australian society and that means it should be half women. This means that there must be different ages, different professional backgrounds. Parliament makes better decisions when it better represents our entire Australian community. ”

Helen Haines: We need to concentrate more on the evidence. We must have much less of this gain at all costs mentality. We need a bigger cross bench. If we had more independence in Parliament, we would not see so much tribalism. I think we would see a lot more collaboration. That is what needs to change. ”

In light of the current crisis, why should young women still consider a career in Australian politics?

Jane Hume: “If I were talking to a young woman who wanted to get into politics, I would say, go for it with your ears back. It’s a really hard job and you’ll have to work really hard. No one is going to give it to you on a platter. But the ability to make real changes in people’s lives, to make people’s lives better, is an extraordinary privilege, and one should not shy away from it. ”

Tanya Plibersek: “If a girl came to me tomorrow and said, ‘I’m thinking of a career in politics,’ I would say go for it. Despite the terrible stories that have been in the media lately about [allegations of] sexual assault and sexual harassment in Canberra, it is such an incredibly rewarding job. It is hard. It’s high conflict, it can be frustrating at times. But when you look back at the things you have accomplished, when you have actually helped someone who has been, you know, really struggled, there is no better feeling than that – it’s the best job in the world. “

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Lidia Thorpe: “For the women who strive to be in these leadership positions, it is about ensuring that you have good support around you. In our society, it is our aunts and our sisters and our old people who give us the strength and the resilience to keep going, so do not let that deter you. We will fight it until the end and we will pave the way for you. ”

Helen Haines: “Young women should not be discouraged in politics, we need more young women. We need to be seen in places of power, and by doing so I think we want to make our places of power much safer and much better places. ”

It is more than a decade since Australia got its first and only female Prime Minister. Who will be next, and why?

Jane Hume: “I can name about a dozen of my female colleagues who could be prime minister, whether it is now or five years ago, there are some real talents in our army.”

Tanya Plibersek: “I do not know who the next female prime minister will be, but given that we have had 29 men and only one woman, I think we have some catch-up to do.”

Lidia Thorpe: “We are well on our way to having a black female Prime Minister in this country. There are many other First Nations youth and women who are more than skilled and ready to step up in such a position. ”

Helen Haines: “Right now, there are 46 women in the House of Representatives. Any of these women could or should be Australia’s next Prime Minister and I would be happy [with] any of them. ”

International Women’s Day is marked on March 8.

If you or someone you know is sexually abused, call 1800RESPECT on 1800737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

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