The Fair Call

Australian Politics & Current Affairs

Females in Power – Part Two

(If you haven’t read part one, please do do first – balance is alive and well at Too Smart By Half)

Credit where it is due – these are just a handful of examples of the stellar work done by female politician in this country. But in Clementine Ford’s world, when a man criticises a woman (regardless of how legitimate and obvious those criticisms may be), he is quite clearly a bigot, a misogynist, and an all-round ‘orrible bastard.

This is a joke – any serious feedback must also identify failures – one can hardly be proud of one’s achievements without also addressing grave mistakes. Ford is trying to grant immunity to female leaders for no other reason than they are female. In doing so, does her cause a great injustice – a leader must be accountable, and mistakes must become lessons. And in government, these mistakes are plentiful. For example:

       Julia Gillard was a failure as prime minister

Gillard’s prime ministership was the epitome of “the Midas touch in reverse”. Cursed from the outset by the manner in which she seized the top job, Gillard went from scandal, to backflip, to disaster. Granted, she was plagued by a dogged opposition leader, and worse, crippled by her own colleague. A narcissist intent on destroying her leadership out of nothing more than spite, Rudd made sure no decent performance could ever come from his own team. But Gillard let this happen. Moreover, she invited disaster by making the move in the first place, as she and the ALP chose short-term popularity over long-term self-respect, justified by nothing more than opinion polls. The rest is history – her prime ministership suffered from a severe lack of teamwork, consultation, direction, vision, communication, purpose, and above all, legitimacy. Gender is irrelevant – this government was the pits.

      Peta Credlin is nothing but a liability

To the Liberal Party, to Tony Abbott, to the government, and to the nation. A dangerous precedent is being set, where a solitary, unelected individual has more clout in cabinet than any minister. On top of this, she is married to the President of the Liberal Party. This is a centralization of power into the hands of three insulated people, the likes of which this country has never seen. Ford claims Credlin “has become the scapegoat for all the failings of the Abbott government”, supposedly because she is a woman. Rubbish. Credlin is the target of very valid criticisms because her inflated, excessive role is at odds with our entire Westminster system, it sets a dangerous precedent, and it prevents Tony Abbott from acting on the advice he needs from cabinet.

      Bronwyn Bishop is a grub (and no, I am not referring to her appearance)

Bronwyn Bishop has hijacked the role of speaker and perverted the lower house. In 18 months, she has ejected 285 MPs, and almost all of them have been Labor. She ejected Labor MPs a total of 101 times before ejecting a member of the Coalition for the first time, and shows zero respect for the impartiality the role demands. She denies points of order without even hearing them and worse still, she has been spotted acting on cue from Christopher Pyne, who will give her a nod or a wink when he wants her to disrupt Labor’s attack. The speaker’s chair has gone from its crucial role of impartial umpire into nothing more than a tool of the Coalition. This has nothing to do with gender (Pyne, and the current government in general, are equally culpable). It is a disgusting abuse of power, it is a threat to our democracy, and it needs to end.

See what I did there? I called a spade a spade – credit where it is due, calling out failures where it is not. Gender plays no role in these assessments, nor would any man escape the same criticism under the same circumstances. Ford needs to realise that excuses don’t cut it in public life. If anything, they do great harm to the efforts of women who prize merit over labels. Applaud the successes, accept the failures, and let those who created problems rather than solutions be held to account.

We want smart women in politics. We want smart anyone in politics. This country couldn’t care less if the person who comes along to lead us out of this intellectual wasteland, away from the petty arguments, internal power struggles, and self-serving ambition, and towards a viable and promising future, is male, or female, or has two goddamn heads. Just get on with the job, and leave the excuses at the door.

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