News

More women is the key to cutting corruption, says MP

IN THIS heady age of grimy corruption revelations, thanks to the ICAC merry-go-round, it's good to know there's a simple answer to end corruption in politics.

That is, to get more women elected Australia-wide, according to Lennox Head-based NSW Upper House MP Catherine Cusack.

Ms Cusack has just been elected to chair the Commonwealth Women's Parliamentary Steering Committee, and her appointment comes during a crisis point for women.

The number of female MPs is dropping; nationally the number has fallen from 254 in 2010 to 239 in 2014.

The NSW Parliament is one of the worst performers, and has the lowest number of women in more than a decade.One of the more compelling cases Ms Cusack makes is - equity issues aside - women in politics equals less corruption.

The UN, and also Australia in its Pacific aid program, are pushing this proven fact in the developing world and encouraging more women into politics there.

"Obviously we're talking in general ... but there's an inverse relationship between the number of women in positions of power and the level of corruption," Ms Cusack said.

"If you want to improve the quality of political leadership, a very straightforward solution is to increase the number of women."

In Australia, Ms Cusack said things were better for women in the 1990s after more than a decade of calls for gender equality had seen women rise, but complacency had set in.

She said the public treatment of Julia Gillard sent a "poor message" to women considering politics, but things were already on a downward trajectory before that.

Even if the country's parliaments responded to the call, it would take a decade to see a turnaround. Her ultimate goal is to see equal representation.

"A former Liberal Party president, our first federal female president, Chris McDiven, said to me 'we'll achieve equality the day we have as many mediocre women we have as men'," she laughed.

Topics:  corruption icac politics women



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