Charles Richardson writes:
Yesterday, as we noted in Crikey, The Age focused on the
more colourful side of the Victorian Young Liberals. Today the
attention shifts to policy: a call from the Young Libs to abolish the
system of affirmative action in the Victorian Liberal Party, which
requires equal numbers of male and female delegates to almost all of
the party’s decision-making bodies.
The Age treats this as a radical idea, on a par with self-evidently
loopy motions such as the one calling on the government “to train
undercover agents to kidnap or kill those responsible for the Bali
bombing.” Abolition of affirmative action, however, has been talked
about for a long time, and not just by those on the right: some think
that equal representation actually gives the party a conservative bias,
due to the prevalence of husband-and-wife teams at state council.
The reporter, Farrah Tomazin, also seems to be under the impression that it’s a
nationwide feature of the Liberal Party, but in fact it has always
been a Victorian (and Tasmanian) peculiarity that other divisions of
the party regard with some bemusement. It was established because of the
strength in Victoria of the Australian Women’s National League, one of
the founding constituents of the Liberal Party, which insisted on equal
representation as the price of giving up its separate existence. Sixty
years later, it should be possible to suggest that it is a relic whose
time has passed.