When you look around either the Reps or the Senate chamber it quickly becomes clear which side has the greater representation of women. John Howard used to refer to Labor’s "patronising use of quotas" but currently 35% of Labor MPs and Senators are women, compared to 26% of Liberal MPs and Senators and 14% -- which means two -- of the Nationals.

When it comes to ministerial representation, however, the conservative side has lifted its game. Seven of Labor’s 30 ministers are women, compared to seven of 32 on the Coalition side. And the senior portfolios of Treasury and Foreign Affairs on the Coalition side are now with women, and Helen Coonan will also be manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. Foreign Affairs is an odd choice for Coonan, but it brings her closer to the action, which is no bad thing given her experience.