NSW state election: Quotas are not the way forward to equality in politics, CSU says

ACHIEVING EQUALITY: Quotas are not the way forward to gender equality in politics, : CSU
Photo: FILE
ACHIEVING EQUALITY: Quotas are not the way forward to gender equality in politics, : CSU Photo: FILE

HAVING extra female politicians might be vital for a more “balanced view” of the community and its needs, but quotas are not the way forward, Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) Fiona Nash says

As state and federal elections approach during the next few months, and on the back of a number of recent resignations by female MPs across Australia, the gender of our politicians has become a hot topic.

Of the 10 state and federal MPs in the Central West, just two are female – Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke and Goulburn MP Pru Goward who has already announced she will not recontest her seat.

Former senator Ms Nash, who is now CSU’s strategic adviser for regional development, said the gender of politicians was extremely important.

“We’ve got roughly 50-50 men and women out in the community, so my view has always been that the closer we get to that in representation, the more balanced view we’ll have of the community,” she said.

“Women have a different way of thinking, and that’s not being critical, that’s just somebody who was in politics for 12 years.

Women have a different way of thinking, and that’s not being critical, that’s just somebody who was in politics for 12 years.

Fiona Nash

“Women often have a different perspective on things.”

However, while Ms Nash said it made “a lot of sense” to have a greater proportion of female politicians, she said quotas should not be introduced.

“I’ve really grappled with this over the years,” she said.

“Politics is a very full-on occupation and my view has always been we need the best people who are the best representatives.

“I think targets are fantastic, I think we should be encouraging women to go into politics.

“I would hate to think that I had ever achieved anything in politics simply because I was female.”

I would hate to think that I had ever achieved anything in politics simply because I was female.

Fiona Nash

After her years in politics, Ms Nash did have some advice for those considering entering public life.

“Absolutely do it. Regardless of the challenges of political life there is nowhere where you can make decisions that make such a difference to try and make people’s lives better,” she said.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be able to represent people and to try and get it right to do things for them that makes their lives better.

“Just believe in yourself and back yourself to have a go, nobody’s perfect, nobody will get it 100 per cent right.

“The only failure is not in trying and not succeeding, the failure is not trying in the first place.”