Scott Morrison’s pick for governor-general was as easy as it was predictable: An old white dude with military credentials. Women, take note, the boys club is very much alive.
On the weekend, ScoMo announced David Hurley his new pick for governor-general and, just like 25 of the 26 governors-general before him, he’s male. That’s right, Australia has only ever had one female governor-general – Dame Quentin Bryce, who held the position from 2008 to 2014.
In a time when equality has never received more attention, when we are forcing the boys club to step aside and demanding that powerful women take on powerful roles, why is another penis moving into Government House?
Taking a look at the 15 other countries who appoint a governor-general as their representative to the Commonwealth, the figures are certainly not in Australia’s favour.
In Canada, those friendly, equality-loving guys and gals have had no less than four female governors-general, with Julie Payette currently holding residence at Rideau Hall. And, given how loved Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is, it probably comes as no surprise that New Zealand have had three female governors-general, with Patsy Reddy holding the top job since 2016. Even in the Bahamas, three of the nine holders of the title have been female.
In fact, there are only five Commonwealth nations who appoint a governor-general who have had less women in the role than Australia.
Virginia Haussegger, director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, has spoken out, slamming Morison’s comment that Hurley was the only choice for the job as demonstrating a “dangerously narrow male-only vision”.
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This is not the first time that the Australian parliamentary system has been called out on their blatant sexism. Following the fallout of the leadership spill in September there was and still is a growing sense of unrest in Canberra, as more female politicians speak out about the outdated systems that leave women and minority groups in the backseat of a male-dominated government.
When then-Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop was all but ignored as a potential candidate in the September leadership spill, despite polls at the time indicating she was much more popular with the public than Morrison or Dutton, the boys club was hard to ignore.
International relations professor at Monash University, Katrina Lee-Koo wrote at the time that the party had “overlooked Bishop as a legitimate and credible leader”, and noted that this was, in her opinion, “the collateral damage of the Liberal Party’s macho politics”.
I have no doubt that the current New South Wales governor and former defence force chief is a great fit for the role. The lack of equality in this role can’t continue to go unnoticed though. We should be aiming to join Canada, New Zealand and the Bahamas at the top of the equality list, rather than ignorantly lingering just above the bottom.
And it’s not only ScoMo and the Liberal Party Boys Club that needs to take note. The Labor Party were quick to complain about the appointment of Hurley in terms of timing, but not a single comment was made about gender inequality. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was far more interested in promoting his pet Republic policy than discussing gender politics during the Labor Party conference in Adelaide over the weekend.
It seems as though both parties have a long way to go to break down the boys club tendency. It’s disappointing that as 2018 draws to a close, all of the lessons from this year about equality have flown out the window of Government House.