This post is a little different from my usual on leadership. It involves current political issues – that I usually steer clear from as it divides people – but at the heart of this post is a request for leadership and values at the highest levels of our country. Being married to a beautiful, intelligent and inspiring woman (who I should listen to more), and trying to raise an intelligent and strong willed daughter (who I don’t always fully understand but am trying to) this issue has struck home more and more in the last few days.
Here is the transcript of the speech I would love to hear in parliament this morning from our current Opposition Leader Tony Abbott– but it will never happen. It would take extraordinary guts, determination and a vision for the future that I don’t believe our politicians possess – but I can hope for it anyway. I have no doubt this speech would win him an election – which is not my intention – but it would help right a cause that has become so wrong in this country.
‘Mr Abbott, can you comment on the recent radio interview between the Prime Minister and radio host Howard Sattler?’
“I have time to reflect overnight on the interview that was conducted between the Prime Minister and Mr Sattler, and in all honesty, it has troubled me.
Troubled me because I do not believe that the Prime Minister should have to respond to such garbage – the fact that she did so with such grace and dignity is a credit to her.
The comments troubled me because I have had time to consider several issues regarding gender in the last couple of months, following comments from the Prime Minister in regards to my behaviour and calls of misogyny.
They trouble me because I am married to an intelligent and inspirational woman and I am trying to raise independent and intelligent daughters, and I can’t in good conscience let the behaviour that has been expressed in the media, both mainstream and social, in the election so far, in parliament and in Australia in general continue in the fashion that it has.
I yesterday watched the Chief of Army make an impassioned speech on this issue following revelations of Officers and SNCO’s in the Army allegedly communicating inappropriate comments and pictures via the Defence network. One comment that he made has resonated with me – ‘The standard that you walk past is the standard that you accept’. I feel I have walked past the standard on gender too often in recent times and it is time that I corrected that, not only on my behalf, but on the behalf of my party.
From this day on, the Prime Minister is going to know that she is for the fight of her life to win this election. This battle will be fought on policies and the recent history of achievements of her party – it will not be fought with gender as an issue.
Any member of my party that uses or condones inappropriate behaviour based on gender will be removed from office. Any member vying for office found to condone behaviour that is demeaning or inappropriate to women will lose pre-selection. Any media outlet promoting negative comments or debate based on gender will have no further interviews with any member of my Party until the election. If my party and I are elected, that media outlet will receive no comment or interview for the entire first term of office.
I will not walk past this standard any longer. I serve alongside some amazingly strong and intelligent women, to let this debate continue not only disrespects the Prime Minister, but them as well.
Comments such as ‘Ju-liar’, ‘Ditch the witch’ and others are inappropriate and should never have been used. Comments on the Prime Ministers clothing, size and relationship with her partner have no place in mainstream media, social media or this Parliament. Comments from shock jocks such as Alan Jones suggesting people should be thrown overboard should have been treated for what they were – vulgar and inappropriate. Menus created as a joke should never have been created, and worse, once discovered should never have been promoted. Speculation regarding the Prime Minister’s relationship and treating gossip and innuendo as newsworthy is not only inappropriate and offensive to her, but also to the office she holds.
The office of Prime Minister is one that should be respected, irrespective of gender of the person that holds it.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister referred to the ‘blue tie’ brigade of men that exist in my party, and media articles have stated that if elected, my party will have 50% less female representation than currently exists. I will admit to not having considered this prior to it being raised this week.
In this instance I am not perfect. As a politician striving to become Prime Minister of this country, I realise that the expectation is that I should be. I am far from it – but I am learning now and will continue to learn in my current and possibly future office. I cannot change this statistic in the next six months, but I will make efforts to address it in my first term in office if elected. Women represent more that 50% of the population of this country, it is then logical to assume that in the highest offices in the country, that percentage should at least be comparable.
These are the standards that I now expect of myself, my colleagues and the party. It will be our goal to ensure that those values become reflected in our society. If we as a Government and a nation wish to be respected on the world stage, this behaviour should be common place.
This change will not happen overnight – it may take a generation. But in the same way that laws enforcing the of wearing seatbelts in cars and wearing helmets on bikes seemed radical at the time but have become common place – so should the acceptance of men and women to equal roles. I hope the day comes in the future when my daughters can see a woman elected as Prime Minister and think of it as normal.”
That is what I would love to hear. Leadership, vision, respect, humility, defiance, values and hopefully some honesty. We can live in hope.