Australia’s new cabinet male dominated

Julie Bishop, only woman on front bench, to be foreign minister

Australia’s prime minister-elect Tony Abbott  Julie Bishop, the only female cabinet member. Photograph: Getty Images

Australia’s prime minister-elect Tony Abbott Julie Bishop, the only female cabinet member. Photograph: Getty Images

Tue, Sep 17, 2013, 01:00

Australia’s prime minister-elect Tony Abbott has named a male-dominated ministry ahead of tomorrow’s official swearing in of the Liberal-National coalition government.

Though three women have been promoted in outer ministry positions, incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop will be the only woman in cabinet.

Mr Abbott said he was “obviously disappointed” there were not more women in cabinet but that within the coalition there were some “very good and talented women knocking on the door”.

‘Problem with gender’

Liberal senator Sue Boyce says her party has a problem with gender and needs to fix it. “[It’s] something that I think they need to be regarding as an emergency,” she said. “We really haven’t managed to get over 25 per cent in numbers of women in parliament, numbers of women in ministries or in parliamentary secretary positions.”

The opposition’s acting leader Chris Bowen said the outgoing Labor government, in which he was treasurer, had six women in cabinet and that Mr Abbott has taken Australia backwards.

“The fact that the new prime minister could only find, out of his entire party room, one female member of parliament that he regards as being meritorious enough to serve in his cabinet is a sad indictment,” he said. “The cabinet of Afghanistan now has more women in it than the cabinet of Australia.”

In his first press conference since winning the Australian election with a 32-seat majority 10 days ago, Mr Abbott said his ministry was one of the most experienced in Australia’s history. “There is enormous stability in this team,” he said. “This is the team to provide strong and stable government.”

‘Grandiose titles’

Mr Abbott also said he was avoiding what he called the “sometimes grandiose” titles of the former government. “Thankfully, I think we’ve got some title deflation as a result of this ministry,” he said.

Mr Bowen said this meant the incoming government did not have a specific minister for disability, energy, financial services, ageing, seniors or tourism.

The prime minister’s residence in Canberra, The Lodge, is closed for repairs for up to a year for rewiring, asbestos removal and to replace the possum-infested roof on the 1927 property.

In the meantime, Mr Abbott, his wife and their three daughters will stay in the federal police compound while in Canberra.