Whether it was the ALP’s conference declaration on female MPs or a staffer who just couldn’t stand the sight of another party room Pirelli calendar, something gendered happened this week in the Liberal Party. Federal MP Sharman Stone called on her party, whose lady-presence has dwindled in the Senate, to positively preselect female candidates and uttered the dirty word “quota”. Christopher Pyne, who kick-started this round of public conversation, echoed the sentiments of the PM and of every other neoconservative when he said that he “did not believe” in quotas. He does, of course, believe in the principle of merit, which holds that equality in all things, including parliamentary representation, is there for the taking. In other words, women face no obstacles other than themselves en route to power, and Pyne suggests “other measures” for equal participation.