Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

One election certainty, SA will maintain its long history of male only premiers

Kissing babies. Isobel Redmond during her time as Liberal leader
SATURDAY night will be a historic moment, regardless who wins power at the state election.

For Weatherill, leading a 12-year old government (with more baggage than a cruise liner) to victory will be a win against considerable odds.

For the Liberals, a win with a political novice at the helm, after years of in-fighting, will be a minor miracle.

But no matter who’s running the place on Sunday morning, here’s one reason this election won’t go down in history.

With all that testosterone sloshing around, it’s a good thing so many women are falling over themselves to run for election this time around, right? Ah…. well, about that.

 Of the 204 people standing for a seat in the lower house this election, less than half - just 63 - are women.

On a party basis, the Greens are running the most female candidates (17 out of 47), followed by the ALP (16 out of 47), Family First (12 out of 42), the Liberals (11 out of 47) and Dignity for Disability (four out of seven).

“ALL THE LADIES IN THE HOUSE SAY YEA …..” umm where are all the other ladies in the house?

Things look worse in the upper house where female candidates make up just 22, out of 63 candidates. 

Compare that to The Advertiser’s politics team where State Political Editor Dan Wills is outnumber by his female colleagues four to one!

There are virtually more women writing about politics in SA than participating in it.

The last time SA came anywhere close to electing a female Premier was 2010, when Labor suffered an 8.4 per cent, two-party preferred swing to Isobel Redmond’s Liberals.

We all know how Redmond’s turn at the Leadership ended. Not well.

But neither did her term as leader begin all that smoothly, having been forced to answer questions about her physical appearance and makeover her image.

“On the one hand I have to listen in case there is something about my appearance which is off-putting and stops the message getting through,” she said at the time.

“But on the other hand, I don’t want to lose myself in this process. I’m me and I’m determined to stay me”. 

The iniquities in the way male and female politicians are sometimes treated are well known, but they’re not peculiar to South Australia.

Nor are the heavy demands and crushing stress that make being a politician Number 1 on my list of “Jobs You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough To Do”.

So what’s keeping women out of SA politics? Would more women bring some fresh new dimension to the social debate?

Do the parties have a plan to promote young female talent to their highest ranks? Does it matter? Do we care?

In the first State in Australia to give women the vote, surely it’s at least a debate worth having.

Don’t forget to vote this Saturday.

This column was first published in The City Messenger and on advertiser.com.au