indeed I would say we desperately need more women in parliament. It would be a very good thing indeed.
But...they have to be the right women. There have been some women elected to parliament who have not been right for the job. You need to be tough in politics. Some of the women have not been tough enough.
I know two former female Senators very well. Both are former Ministers - on opposite sides of the political fence. I know my local and federal MPs - both women. I have worked with other female MPs as well as male MPs.
Women bring something different to the job. I went to law school with one of the Senators. I don't think anyone will forget the occasion on which the lecturer was discussing a case and saying "The Minister made the decision on..." He went on to try and explain the law behind the decision.
I was sitting next to the Minister. She grew restive and finally said,
"The Minister is present and the Minister made the decision on her experience as a wife and a mother. The law just happened to fit the decision."
Perhaps it wasn't quite as simple as she made it sound but she left politics with a reputation for being caring and compassionate as well as practical. Would that have been possible if she had not had the experience of bringing up a family? She wasn't trying to undermine the lecturer, be funny or smart. She simply wanted people to know that there was much more to the decision than simply following the law of the day.
Yes, you also need to bring maturity to politics. While it might seem good to have young, new blood come in there needs to be an understanding of what can be done. I often wonder how many people have entered politics with genuine good intentions - only to discover that you can't do what you have said you will do. All sorts of things get in the way. The law may not allow something. The money won't be there. A committee blocks it. The party you are with decides to change the policy or drop the idea. The public servants subtly refuse to cooperate so no progress is made. The legislation proposed gets knocked down.
You need experience to handle all of that - experience many people simply don't have. It doesn't need to be in politics itself but it does need to be in areas where policy or the law or both is being made if you want to reach the top. You also need time...and time is also in short supply in parliament so it is best to arm yourself with experience first.
I am aware of moves to give young people of sixteen the right to vote. I am opposed to that. Too many don't have the experience or maturity necessary even if they seem to be well informed. I think eighteen is too young to be compelled to attend the ballot box. It also means we could potentially end up with someone not much older than that in parliament. I think they would struggle - and that we would struggle with them.
Being in parliament is also a full-time job. It isn't a 9-5 job or even a 9-5 job plus some night work. It can, if done properly, be twelve hour days and 70 hour weeks. It's stressful. It doesn't leave much time for the proper parenting of small children. Perhaps that is why some of the more successful female politicians have been older women?
Perhaps it is older women we need in parliament, women with experience and maturity. It really would be good to find some. Parliament might be a very different place.