Australian PM Tony Abbott criticised for one-woman Cabinet

 

Sydney

If Julia Gillard paved the way for future female leaders in Australia, there is no sign of that legacy in new Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Cabinet, which contains just one woman: Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister-elect.

The nation’s first female prime minister was elected in 2010 – and knifed by her own party three months ago. Now there are more women in Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet in Afghanistan than in Mr Abbott’s, according to the acting opposition leader, Chris Bowen, who said the country had taken a step backwards.

Announcing his ministerial line-up in Canberra on Monday, Mr Abbott said he was “obviously disappointed there aren’t more women in Cabinet”. But there were “some very good and talented women” in his Liberal-National Coalition, he said, “so I think you can expect to see, as time goes by, more women” in government.

Two other women were destined for the Cabinet, which is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday. But Sophie Mirabella, who was the Industry spokeswoman in opposition, is still fighting for her seat, 10 days after the election.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn Bishop, a veteran frontbencher, has been persuaded by Mr Abbott to  become the parliamentary Speaker. There are five women in the outer ministry.

Mr Bowen – who was Treasurer in Kevin Rudd’s short-lived Labor government – said it was a “sad indictment” that the new Prime Minister could find only one female MP “meritorious enough to serve in his Cabinet”.

Even Liberal politicians, both serving and former, expressed consternation. Senator Sue Boyce, who will retire next year, said: “I think it’s shocking, and embarrassing… not just nationally, but… embarrassing internationally.”

When Mr Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, was elected in 1996, a record number of conservative women entered politics. Yet he only appointed two to the Cabinet. Mr Abbott halved that.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager - Events

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager sought for pr...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash