Mar 3, 2014

Country for old men: little diversity in Abbott’s picks

A federal government that is composed nearly entirely of old white men is relying heavily on old white men for advice. It's unbalanced and not in the national interest.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

See if you can spot a pattern among the following appointments by the Abbott government.

In October, the government announced that a National Commission of Audit would be headed by 69-year-old Tony Shepherd. In December the government announced a financial services inquiry, to be headed by 65-year-old David Murray. In February the government announced 72-year-old Dick Warburton would lead a review of Renewable Energy Target. The Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Panel is headed by 76-year-old Maurice Newman. It has two female members out of 12 and an average age of 59 years old. In January, 66-year-old Peter Cosgrove was named the new Governor-General. Sixty-three-year-old Patrick McClure will head a welfare review. Seventy-year-old Dyson Heydon will head the royal commission unions; 67-year-old Ian Hanger will pursue Labor through the pink batts inquiry. Nick Minchin, 60, is off to New York as Consul-General; 62-year-old Alexander Downer is off to London as ambassador. Ziggy Switkowski, 65, was brought in to head NBN.

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54 thoughts on “Country for old men: little diversity in Abbott’s picks

  1. DiddyWrote

    It’s a Gerontocracy.
    Ancient Sparta was ruled by a council of elders called the Gerousia whose membership had to be made up of males over the age of sixty.
    Nice to see Abbott returning to traditional values.

  2. Dogs breakfast

    The baby boomers (and the pre baby boomers) aren’t going to let go of the levers of power without a bunfight.

    Apart from the obvious gender imbalance, there is probably no time in the history of humanity where the levers of power needed to get input from the yoof generation.

    Virtually everything we do today will be done differently in 5, then 10 years time, and it’s a problem that the people who are planning to meet the future are, ahem, unlikely to be familiar with the present.

    Yes, sorry, ageist comment. Inter-generational equity is going to have to be sorted out by those who are senior. Is suspect the younger generation are on a hiding.

    Oh, that’s right, climate change! Hi kids, here are a batch of problems for you to work on, we were too busy maintaining our grip on power to do anything!

  3. Jimmy

    This govt has a vision for the country that only the white over 60’s could really agree with, they want to review everything but only to get the outcome they want so they only people they can trust with the task are old and white males.

  4. klewso

    Maybe one of them is going to have a sex change?

  5. rhwombat

    I do so look forward to the day of PM Plibersek & Deputy PM Wong, if only to witness Rupert’s discomfort.

  6. Jimmy

    rhwombat – Rupert would have to have died and the News Ltd papers bought by someone less right wing for that to happen.

    Over the weekend I read Laurie Oakes, Miranda Devine and one other editorial in the Herald Sun – all of which criticised the ALP, there was no sign of any editorial even remotely approaching analysis of govt policy – and this after a week in which Fiona Nash got her self tangled up at senate estimates, Scott Morrison was trying to say he didn’t make a massive mistake and a poll came out showing the ALP up 54-46.

  7. wayne robinson

    It’s an absolute disgrace that the Abbott inner ministry is so old.

    And it can be mathematically proven that the cabinet is getting progressively older at the rate of 1 day per day, so the problem is getting worse.

    The solution is simple. Each day, sack one minister and replace him (it’s likely to be a male) with a new minister 19 days younger.

    Problem solved…

  8. Alex


    I am an old (or can I refer to the mid-fifties as older?), white male, in the business world, and I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment. The government does indeed, need far more diversity in its appointments. I wouldn’t even mind if they included a tree-huggin, tote-puffin, non-straight, female hippy! All outlooks that encompass equality for all, are worthy of consideration (although, I’d draw the line at inclusion of Collingwood supporters. Let’s not get too carried away!).

    Cheers, Alex (an embittered and deeply disappointed Demons supporter).

  9. Bill Hilliger

    And for those whom follow American politics, the Republican party is also known as the party of angry old white men …is there a comparison here? Methinks in more ways than the chur nalists MSM could, would or should honestly report in respect to similarities of GOP policies and many of the coalition aspirational policies.

  10. Dez Paul

    I’m 53, white, male, well educated, middle class. This gummint represents nothing about me or what I believe. Guess I must exist in some parallel demographic to the one favoured by Abbott and his cronies.

    @Dogs Breakfast – well said. I have no kids, but what a shi tty legacy to leave the yoof of today.

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