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Happy International Women’s Day, But Sorry Quotas Still Aren’t the Answer

Today, Thursday the 8th of March marks a very important 24 hours in the international calendar of days, a day for roughly half of the world population, women. To all women, my mother, sister, friends, followers and strangers I wish you the happiest day today on International Women’s Day.

Women are an integral part of society, without whom there would be no future population unless we suddenly discovered and were legally and ethically allowed to clone human beings in place of the natural act of reproduction. Women are the givers of life, they go through about 9 months of mood swings and childbearing weight gain and then hours of pain to bring new life into the world. For that alone women deserve unending praise and awe the world over.

For the integral part that women play in society, not just in childbirth but in the broader day-to-day motions of life, women, even in a prosperous nation like Australia, are still not treated as equal to the fullest possible extent. There is a low concentration of women in senior management roles and women are still not paid equally to men, even though that statistic is slowly creeping up to the parity line. The equal pay case success in the community services sector will certainly aid that important aim.

While women are not on an equal footing with men in positions of authority, that has certainly been evolving over recent years in Australia. We now have a female Premier of Queensland, even though that is about to end, a female Governor of Queensland and other states, a female Governor-General and even a female Prime Minister. One of the most powerful bank bosses in Australia is also of the fairer sex, namely Gail Kelly from Westpac and over time the representation of women in these positions will surely continue to grow.

The question is what is the way to achieve greater representation of women in the workplace? There continues to be a debate in this country, made even stronger and more public on days like this as to whether or not quotas on boards or in political parties is the answer.

The quota argument says that businesses must choose a certain number of women from a pool of candidates of men and women for board and senior management positions after appointing a maximum number of men, regardless of exact levels of experience and skill base, a kind of positive discrimination for the workplace if you will.

Quotas simply are not the answer, not forced ones at least, voluntary ones are a totally acceptable option for businesses to undertake to implement because there are certainly always a suitable array of female candidates available for any role in any occupation, whether it be at board level, senior management or otherwise.

Merit is by far and away the best option for the appointment of women to any role, the problem is that women are often overlooked for equally meritorious male candidates for various reasons, none of which are suitable and are often very discriminatory.

Merit in a perfectly pure sense should allow for the equal allocation of positions to women, particularly with women taking up a large percentage of undergraduate and further degrees, particularly in the recent decade or thereabouts.

To be able to use merit effectively though, to the advancement of women requires a change of mindset on the part of employers from the frankly pre-1950s view of women that must surely continue to exist in some businesses across the land, most notably in the higher echelons of management in these businesses.

Businesses must also openly encourage women to apply for positions, no matter what and do what they can within their means to identify and foster identified female talent, to keep them connected with their respective companies through practical measures that suit the circumstances of women.

To break down these barriers will not be easy but it will a better, more fair outcome for both men and women and will, in a pure way of the practise of merit, likely lead to the same outcome. Women deserve an equal chance at being chosen for jobs based on the skills that they have gained and practised to the same extent as men.

Again a thank you to all women and may all of you have a happy 2012 International Women’s Day and may the next year be even better for you in all that you do.

The Campaign That’s Almost Over Before it Has Begun Has Now Begun

Ladies and gentlemen of voting age that time once every three years where we rock up to a school or a community centre hoping to get a park and wishing not to be stuck in a cue for half an hour is now here. That’s right, Queensland Votes 2012 has now officially been launched with the Premier paying the Governor of Queensland a visit today to ask that the parliament that copped an earful this week now be dissolved. From this begins the most promising official campaign period for the LNP in many years.

If the last week is anything to go by, the campaign will certainly top the list of dirtiest campaigns in the history of the state and perhaps up there with the dirtiest Australia has seen. This year the attack ads hit many weeks ago, a lot earlier than usual which is clearly an indication of the magnitude of the task for Labor though it seems it would take more than a handful of Olympic sized swimming pools of mud flung to get even close to a reaction that would warrant another 3 year term for Labor. Not only that it goes further to prove that the Bligh Labor Government is tired and has put character assassination above policy creation.

On the policy front it appears from the length of the campaign so far and from the state of the budget, that there may not be too many policies to be revealed during the campaign itself. Rather, there will likely be more detail added to recently launched policies from both sides and perhaps one or two big announcements likewise. This is where other parties, like Katter’s Australian Party and the Greens will find more of their policies being examined as has seemingly occurred, particularly those of Katter’s Australian Party.

This campaign also does have, along with the strong leadership and policy focus an “It’s Time” factor about it which it seemed was the case near the last election, but will almost certainly play out that way this time around.

The leaders will undoubtedly be targetting the marginal seats, including Ashgrove, which while at a margin of over 7% is by the nature of the contest involved a “marginal” seat a and must win for a Campbell Newman LNP Government. The LNP will need to focus on winning many inner and outer suburban Brisbane seats and taking back many of the regional city seats held by MPs of the Bligh Government.

Another focus for the LNP will surely be targetting those seats where defectors have either become Independent MPs ¬†or Katter’s Australian Party MPs and candidates for the party at the March 24 election.

For the Bligh Government the election campaign will almost certainly be about loss limitation, particularly in the key seats around Brisbane and regional cities where even margins considered safe look able to be easily surpassed in many cases if the polls are near an accurate indication of statewide voting intentions.

Now to the party that is getting a lot of attention from the media but probably will not live up to the hype surrounding it and certainly not up to the expectations of its leaders. Yes, I am talking about Katter’s Australian Party.

Bob Katter and his new party are clearly suffering from delusions of grandeur as has been borne out by all polls in recent weeks and months showing the party lucky to achieve single digit poll results. As the campaign bubbles along this may hit closer to 10% but that would be the absolute plateau for voter numbers.

Katter’s Australian Party may cause an upset or two in regional seats, the only real area where they would possibly gain any seats, but the likelihood of a Katter’s Australian Party Government or even a major force are completely and utterly non-existent.

It is the Greens that are likely to end up in third place at the end of this 5 week election campaign with a vote hovering around double digits and it will be interesting to see how this translates into individual seats, but again, like the Katter’s Australian Party, is unlikely to convert into seats.

So the campaign has begun and over the next five weeks we be door-knocked, come across many street stalls and many and various party members waving signs hoping we honk to acknowledge our vote for their candidate. The campaign will be robust and it will be widely reported. The only question left is how exactly will it play out and for that, we have to wait with baited breath until March 24th, somewhere after 8pm one would think.

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