MENZIES HAD A MESSAGE FOR MORRISON: “GENDER QUOTAS ARE UNFAIR AND ILLIBERAL”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is deeply committed to boosting female representation in the Liberal Party. He is pushing for structural reforms to improve such representation in Parliament.
First of all, the premise that only a woman can truly represent the interests of women is not only is absurdly sexist but was discredited when Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne claimed she had “yet to speak to her Qatar counterpart” about the invasive internal examinations Qatari authorities subjected 13 Australian women to in Doha in October last year.
However, Payne and other Liberal MPs, including Karen Andrews, Sussan Ley, Melissa Price, and Katie Allen, have seized on Morrison’s support for gender quotas, and are calling for greater female representation in Parliament.
Curiously, there is no push for gender quotas in other “exciting” employment areas where women are massively underrepresented. Rarely can women be found in the fields of garbage collection, grave digging, and road construction.
Morrison and his colleagues in Parliament should think twice before dishonouring the founder of the Liberal Party by upholding such a divisive agenda.
Dr Furse-Roberts holds a PhD in history from the University of New South Wales and is a research fellow at the Menzies Research Centre. His book “Menzies: The Forgotten Speeches” has an entire chapter on the “Status and Role of Women.” The first section in the chapter is based on a broadcast delivered by Sir Robert Menzies on Jan. 29, 1943. There, Australia’s longest serving prime minister said:
“Of course, women are at least the equals of men. Of course, there is no reason why a qualified woman should not sit in Parliament, or on the bench, or in a professional chair, or preach from the pulpit, or, if you like, command an army in the field. No educated man today denies a place or a career to a woman because she is a woman.
“But there is a converse proposition which I state with all respect but with proper firmness. No woman can demand a place or a career just because she is a woman. If it is outmoded and absurd to treat a woman’s sex as a political disqualification; it seems to me equally absurd to claim it as a qualification in itself …
“For myself, I declined to vote for any woman just because she is a woman, but I will vote for her with no prejudice and with great cheerfulness if I am satisfied that she is, in the homely phrase, “the better of the two.”
“For, like most electors, I am not half so interested in the sex or social position or worldly wealth of my representatives and rulers as I am in the quality of their minds, the soundness of their characters, the humanity of their experience, the sanity of their policy, and the strength of their wills”.
Years later, in a 1958 address to a women’s conference, Menzies re-affirmed his opposition to the idea of gender quota:
“I have myself, on more than one occasion, listened to a woman candidate for Parliament who stood up and made it her great policy speech to say, ‘I am a woman. The woman’s point of view ought to be represented.’ If I were to stand up and say in Kooyong (which through sheer animadvertence does me the honour of returning me to Parliament), ‘I am a man and the man’s point of view ought to be listened to,’ they would think I had become a little odd.
“I have frequently had to say to my female political friends, “Look, don’t ask people to vote for you because you are a woman. Ask them to vote for you because you are the best person in the field. You are the one to represent them. You are the one who will understand public problems.”
As can be seen, advocating gender quotas was entirely anachronistic to Menzies’ classical liberal philosophy. Clearly, he would completely abhor modern identity politics, and the leftist agenda of gender quotas supported by Morrison.
So, how can the modern Liberal Party dishonour Menzies’ legacy by promising to introduce gender quotas that will surely result in unfair treatment based on gender?
It is quite simple. These individuals are not true Liberals in the sense conceived by Menzies. Indeed, according to Mark Powell, “Menzies was deeply concerned as to how the left had started to infiltrate the party he had founded.”
It goes without saying that Scott Morrison’s beliefs on the supposed unequal treatment of women should be challenged. Affirmative action policies, like quotas, tend to leave job applicants with the same experience and qualifications disadvantaged.
Because laws make their employment increasingly more difficult, Australian white men swell the ranks of the homeless and the prison population. Despite these sobering realities and statistics, railing against “white male privilege” continues to be the rallying cry of those who control the mainstream media, academic, and politics.
Of course, one would still expect the party founded by Menzies to pre-select candidates solely on the basis of merit, and regardless of gender. Menzies would be appalled to see what the prime minister and these Liberal Party MPs with a small “l” are doing to the party he created.
Above all, Menzies regarded it as profoundly unfair and indeed a great absurdity to claim a person’s gender as a qualification to become a Liberal MP.
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