Our man in the press gallery, Hugo Kelly, dips his toe fearfully into gender politics…
So Mark Latham is dumping the old fogies in favour of a harem of young women?

The likes of Laura Tingle in today’s AFR have already started
tut-tutting about the women coming out from behind the political
kitchen sink. She, and others amongst the commentariat, believe this
move is not based on merit, therefore risky, even dubious.

As if merit was ever the deciding factor in political jobs – anywhere,
any time. And as if risk wasn’t a byword for political change.

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Ultimately, politics is about the magic of perceptions. Sure, Labor
blokes like outgoing ALP econocrat, David Cox (now packing his bags in
his former EO at Kingston) are chanting the mantra of “the economy, the
economy, the economy”. But who says economic policy is the sole domain
of dull men in suits?

The dull men in suits have failed Labor for too long. They lost another
federal election the other week, in case anybody didn’t notice.

Julia Gillard, Tanya Plibersek, Nicola Roxon, Penny Wong are the new
faces of Labor. Bring them on, test them in the fire of Parliament.
They have a story to tell, too, and who’s to say it won’t resonate with
the electorate?

With the Press Gallery crying out for Mark Latham to shut up about
“Green Valley” and his personal Ladder of Opportunity, it’s time for
a new story; a story about how women in positions of power can change Australia for the better.

What can John Howard offer on this front? A first lady who models
herself on Hyacinth Bucket? The incredible bulk named Mandy Vanstone?
Super schoolmarm Bronwyn Bishop in the Speaker’s chair? Puh-lease!

Latham must realise Labor can do better than that. Unleash the Harem, Mark, and go to it, gals!

*Any femocrats or neanderthaals with observations or adulation should
tear themselves from the bedroom, the kitchen sink or the cave, and
send their feedback to our man in Canberra: hugo @crikey.com.au

And the feedback has flown thick & fast:

Simon Crean vs The Labor Girls

“That’s about it! I’ve seen and heard Julia G. & Nicola R. speak on
different occasions – and they are fantastic! Wish I were younger and
I’d be out there having a go, too!

Regards, Ann

P.S. I’m a feminist BUT I have to say they are both a helluva lot more attractive than – say – Simon Crean! GO GIRLS!

Socialising Labor with integral theory

If I was wanting to change the mental worldview centre of gravity of
the Labor party, or any group of people for that matter, solid long
term psychology research on ego-development (Jane Lovinger & Robert
Kegan), moral reasoning (Kohlberg & Carol Gillian) and values
complexity (Clare Graves) shows that putting a larger group of women
into play, particularly in prominent positions, tends in short order to
raise the level of personal development and collective norms of the

Now if the women are overly masculine in their orientation to life’s
tasks, then it doesn’t quite count. BUT, most women have a very
healthy feminine side developed in terms of how they relate to decision
making and social realities even if they are highly masculine in task
based activities.

Sooo, bring on the harem I say. As long as they’re not getting
completely roasted by the backbench blowtorches of frustration, nor
dogmatically separated from each other by a womanising or aggressively
domineering leader, or overly preoccupied with their amazing abilities
to be in nasty feuds with other women competitors, then they should be
able to work some magic.

Not that their magic would need to particularly potent, given
Labor’s current status. But, they COULD be the breath of
fresh air that is not only perceptually interesting and affirming to a
lot of the electorate (and let’s face it, that’s still a big ask
because even most women are too used to the manly suit of politics, and
are likely doubly suspicious of, and likely to criticise, women
politicians), but also a source of real change in party and
parliamentary norms and eventually policy.

I can only hope, right?

(A spare time psychologist and sociologist – which means I think and
talk about “integral theory” over my no milk latte and red coloured

Julia for leader

Very disappointed that Julia Gillard wasn’t on the list of potential
new Labor leaders – now that would have a lot of us cheering!

Judith Deland

Change is long, long overdue

Don’t know if I meet the cut for being a femocrat, but as a long time
ALP member from Qld, a former public servant at the state and federal
level, and now only just returned from work after caring for my
daughter for the last two years (not to mention my ex and her father
being a MP in Qld) can I say: thank you Hugo!

Merit has nothing to do with it. Having witnessed first hand the
political manouverings for Ministerial positions (we used to hang out
at Parliament when she was little), it is all about what the leader
wants, what the factions will give and who best represents regional
areas/gender/special interest groups etc.

When you see how almost every backbencher regardless of commonsense,
experience, skill or intelligence seems to think THEY should be the one
to get the latest faction position, than you realise that ego has no

Runs on the board – forget it – you more likely to pick up a gig by
being in the right seat or being mates with the Premier or Treasurer.

I’d much prefer to see one of the women (who actually are balancing
having a child, raising a child and work, unlike the blokes who have
wives to take care of it – gees, don’t we all need a wife!) taking on the Government and giving it a go.

The Government has the measure of Rudd, Swann, Crean etc. They’ve been
in parliament so long they know all their moves. Let’s see what
the women have to offer.

I’m sick of seeing the only women coming through being the potential
leadership material (one only at a time, girls!), who are promptly
shot down in flames the moment they trangress the media’s standards for sainthood.

We don’t expect it of the men, and we shouldn’t expect it from the women.

More please Hugo, you’re calling it like we see it.

Fiona Wright


Dear Hugo

Harem is a demeaning term. You just don’t need to use it.

David Blake
( A long time subscriber to Crikey)

Kate Ellis on the rise

Re: your ALP women’s article.

You missed Kate Ellis, the new member for Adelaide. She is also going
to get a go, over Senator Linda Kirk, who has managed to annoy
almost everyone in the SA right.

You heard it here first!”

Losing the plot


Prior to the Election you were fast losing the plot. It is now
clear that the trauma of defeat has left you legless as well as
plotless. Whatever you’re on son, get off it and get back to work.

You cannot seriously suggest that you’re suggested bunch of hairy
legged, brainless, ideology infused and utterly useless femme fatales
are THE ANSWER? I mean hell, why not go full hog a bring on Carmen as shadow treasurer?

MAO’S GALS are capable of inflicting far more damage on the poor
old Labor than Simple Simon could conjure up in a month of Sundays.
Leave it the boys to handle the self destruction please.


Mark Latham – it’s in the fingers

Can you tell me why Dilbert wears his wedding ring on his right hand, rather than his left?

Is it because of his factional alliances, or does he rooly rooly
still love his first wife? Or, is he preparing for the day that his
factional colleagues bowl up to the Green Valley Castle to sever some
digits as revenge for the election & subsequent fallout?

View Lateline 21/10/04 for evidence.

cheers, Maree

Julia Gillard as shadow treasurer? Rediculous!

Latham and La-bore are once again excelling in the rediculous, fantastic!!

Putting Gillard in as shadow treasurer can only be described as a
master stroke, a true sign of genius on the part of the losers. Now I
know these half-wits really do want another 8 years in opposition. No
wonder Gough has given up on this lot!


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