The Victorian Liberals have long struggled to get women into Parliament, and the perception of male dominance is continuing within the boundaries of Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong. The women of Boroondara in Melbourne’s leafy suburbs are issuing a call to action after the most Liberal-dominated local council in Victoria on Monday voted to pull the rug out from under popular Municipal Association of Victoria president Coral Ross.

Ross, a well respected independent, was elected acting president of the MAV after long-serving president Bill McArthur was ejected by his local constituents in the Shire of Golden Plains at Victoria’s statewide council elections in October.

The MAV is one of the last bastions of male dominance in Victorian politics. Formed in 1878 by an act of Parliament, it has never had a female president elected for a full term.

Ross is the third female acting president who has taken over from a bloke who failed to finish his term and was in the box seat to make history by being elected by the 79 member councils to be president for a full two-year term at the upcoming elections in February.

Alas, her Boroondara colleagues have just voted in a confidential session on Monday night “not to appoint a representative to the Municipal Association of Victoria”, which means the incumbent president won’t even be able to run.

The hand of young turk hard right state Liberal Member for Hawthorn Tim Smith has been seen influencing decision, despite lobbying from a range of people, including his boss, state opposition leader Matthew Guy.

Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins is also not amused, and pressure is already being brought to bear to call a special council meeting to reverse the decision.

Liberal mayor Philip Healy has the power to call such a meeting, as do any three of these 10 councillors. Watch this space.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey