Alexandra Tselios

S&M: What we actually need in a female Liberal MP

Image: AAP/Lukas Coch

Last night I stood next to a man who said to me, “It’s great that there are no major female players in Australian politics right now – Gillard, Keneally, Bligh and Kirner all failed this country miserably.”

While I was disinterested in sharing the same breathing space with such a stupid man, regardless of my political views on each of those women, I was bitterly disappointed that I couldn’t really say much more than, “But we have Julie Bishop…”

The swift yet slightly anticipated demise of Barry O’Farrell has now given way for Mike Baird to step into the role unopposed. This decision led Independent Alex Greenwich to remark on the lack of Premiers actually elected by the people, in comparison to the leadership of Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

At the risk of upsetting many of my friends and colleagues, no, I admit I was not a huge Julia Gillard supporter. Yet I don’t get emotional about the fact I didn’t agree with all her views. I respected her and the time she spent in office, agreed with some of her party’s changes and was happy to see a female Prime Minister in power, even if how she got there was a bit murky. Am I the only person slightly disappointed that Community Services Minister Pru Goward removed herself from the running and in Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian missing out?

Regardless of your political persuasion, I wanted a female to take NSW on again. While there is the argument that the Coalition government had to make a quick decision to ensure governance consistency, I simply believe it was a missed opportunity and it is time for a female Liberal MP to take the reins as premier of NSW.

With  just one woman in cabinet, this would have been  a grand opportunity for the coalition to shift the imbalance of women among the ranks of senior leadership. Sure, we would still need to contend with some of Abbott’s other recent decisions, which I don’t even want to talk about, but surely we would see a physical manifestation of the actual need he has for some of the women around him – especially considering the level of guidance he apparently requires from Peta Credlin.

While I still am undecided if gender quotas actually work, I do believe that I am looking for something in a female Liberal MP that seems to be lacking at the moment. Think back to the now famous Heidi vs Howard Harvard Business case study, when a case study with Venture Capitalist Heidi’s was given to one class, and the exact same CV and outline of accomplishments were given to a separate class under the alias Howard. Result? Those given “Howard’s” CV applauded his business savvy, while those given Heidi’s said she sounded selfish – yet it was the same person.

I am always disheartened by the data correlating the likeability for women with the same drive and traits as their male counterparts with such negative reception. I cringe over anyone playing the gender card, but quite frankly, it astounds me that the strength I admire in many women is despised by the general public, even in 2014.  I need to see someone who is capable and willing to step up, effectively tackle outdated pre-selection processes and fight for her place on our political stage. Who is socially progressive enough to make core decisions based on the needs of what is best for our country and not on their own personal, particularly religious, bias. A woman who is able to act as a leader in the Liberal party, cultivate party unity, understand the strengths that this country has to offer in the global marketplace, yet still be received by the public as both strong and as actually having an intelligent sense of humour.

I am still waiting.

Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

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  1. AD said:

    Why does everyone say Alex is in illuminati hahahahahahahhahahahaha so random

  2. Michelle said:

    yeahhhh BUT maybe Prue Goward didn’t want the responsibility? What you will find Alexandra is many women will stomp about saying they want equal rights but they don’t ACTUALLY want that. They would never stay back in the office late like a man. It is their biological urge to care for their family at home.

  3. Tobes said:

    I dare you to say all that to Alexandra in person Brian. Go on, I double dare ya!

  4. Zoe said:

    When you said ‘understand the strengths that this country has for the globe’ and strength & humour I think you hit the nail on the head. The women currently leading are failing at that balance and failing at leading to ensure new leaders.

  5. Tanya Riches said:

    That is so desperately ridiculous Brian. I’m not sure what your premise is for this idea? There are thousands of truly great leaders over men in history. There’s no reason why there couldn’t be one in the NSW parliament.

  6. Hayley said:

    Thank you Alexandra. Thank you for saying what many progressive strong women are thinking. Thank you for giving me hope that my daughters may have women that they can have a good reason to look up to.

  7. Brian Cowdrey said:

    Alexandra you seem a bit confused so let me clear something for you. The reason you are unhappy with the present representation of leaderhship is because it is evolving as it should be. I am a staunch Labor supporter, so don’t think for one moment I am standing up for a piece of scum like Tony Abbot. Basically it is men who should be the leaders in their homes and the leaders in companies and politics, women shouldn’t be, in general, leaders of men. Men exercise a certain kind of leadership. You can balk all you want, kick and scream as much as you like Alexandra but that is why you will never change anything and you will never truly be a leader, just a woman with a big opinion.

  8. Pixie said:

    Good points raised Alexandra but need I remind you of the bollocking one female MP received for daring to stand up and take the stand? You may not have been a fan of hers but you will remember what she went through. I can only hope it serves as some sort of warning that our society is so backwards and this has not been helped by animalistic feminism by women who misuse power instead of using it in the way that you believe will be of benefit to their own cause and to the country.

  9. Rainer the cabbie said:

    You’ll be waiting for a very long time Alex, unless something major is shifting.
    Perfect example is the Heidi vs Howard case. Ask why this has happened.
    Misogyny is inbred. It happened for centuries and we all know how difficult it is to change a cultural development. It’s ingrained.

    Problem is that until now we have excelled at promoting the wrong women, the once that are more than happy to represent some sort of party line and made them into what we think women in power should look like.

    That women in general are nothing like these show ponies of power, bringing an independent perspective into the arena and working from a female prospective, is something we as a society never hear about, or even consider.

    I would even go so far as saying that feminism was a great idea but worked out to be counterproductive, again by pulling an agenda as opposed to stand by its own rules.

    We have a lot to learn Alex and a lot of readjusting to do. Good luck with all that, it’s not impossible but it requires a lot more understanding than we are currently displaying.

  10. Adam said:

    I cannot imagine the frustration of double standards women face. Alexandra, i think the mandate has been set and you yourself need to ‘step up’ as you put it. Australia needs women like you in politics. Happy Easter.

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