Time for Targets Time for Targets National Affairs Opinion SHARE Jacob Masina , March 2, 2016 / 700 0 Conservative politics has an obligation to the nation to ensure that the best minds and people are doing the job, regardless of their sex. Feminism has always been a progressive movement, however conservative politics has failed to keep pace with the expectations of the private sector in relation to female representation in positions of leadership and influence. This error has cost conservative political parties at the ballot box, but more importantly, it has robbed some of the most intelligent and and capable members he chance to represent at Macquarie Street and on Capital Hill. We simply cannot wait any longer to change the way we approach gender representation. This was completely exposed by the absence of a mandate held by Tony Abbott on women’s affairs as Minister for Women. No matter how much additional support his government provided to domestic violence victims and research into women’s cancers, he and his male-dominated cabinet just could not get clear air. Last month, the Menzies Research Centre (MRC), championed by the legendary Nick Cater, published a report entitled ‘Gender in Politics.’ Through statistical and qualitative analysis of pre-selections, representation and interviews with party members; evidence of a barrier towards women entering the upper echelons of Australian politics was emphatically proven. The MRC report establishes a mandate (albeit a soft one) for the institutional discrimination to be challenged. Mr Abbott launched the report and wrote the foreword, so if successfully implemented, his legacy in female representation will be a strong and lasting one. It is undeniable that an increasingly representative political sphere is beneficial for the growth of Australia. Any system which seeks greater gender balance however, must only be adopted on the presumption that the elected representatives are evaluated based on merit and the candidate’s proven competency for the position. There are of course, a diverse range of perspectives in the debate over quotas and targets. This reflects the multiplicity of divisions within the issue of gender representation; equal outcomes versus equal opportunity, short-term power restructuring versus long-term empowerment and so on.. Quotas are a deplorable method of selection as they disintegrate any value of democracy and progress, our democracy and our liberty should be preserved through equal opportunity rather than equal outcomes. Gender-based targets are an entirely different kettle of fish altogether. Targets for increasing female membership and a focus on meaningful engagement is certain to make a difference. Women simply are not getting the opportunity to lead at lower levels of political parties and government. The MRC report highlights this as being one of the key reasons why we see women underrepresented at the top of the public sector. In addition to this, a progressive selection culture towards a more representative process should be implemented. Australia has already a progressive female Prime Minister and Governor-General. It is well and truly time for conservative politics in Australia to not only embrace a transition to better gender representation, but to be a leader in going about this right way. A way that respects democracy and the hard-work and achievements of both incumbent and prospective elected representatives. Conservative politics has an obligation to the nation to ensure that the best minds and people are doing the job, regardless of their sex.