Liberal Women

Women are unquestionably destined to exercise more and more influence upon practical politics in Australia…In the educating of the electorate in liberal ideas they have for many years been an effective force. Now we have an organisation in which all distinctions have gone, and with men and women working equally for the one body …
Robert Menzies, Albury Conference, 1944

The Federal Women’s Committee (FWC) was established at the inaugural meeting of the Liberal Party Federal Council in August 1945. The FWC was incorporated in the Party Constitution as an official component of the Party in October 1946, and has had representation on the Party’s Federal Executive since that time.

The voting membership of the FWC comprises the Chairman of each State and ACT women’s section, the female Federal Vice-President of the Party and the President and Immediate Past President of the FWC. Observer members include the Party’s Federal President, Immediate Past President and the Federal Minister for Women.

Each State and Territory Division of the Liberal Party has a women’s section, with constituted powers and representation at senior Party levels. The sections have been influential over the years and instrumental in the development of many of the Party’s major initiatives for women at Federal, State and Territory levels.

As the peak body representing women in the Liberal Party, the FWC has been active in promoting women for elected office, advocating policy, advising on a wide range of issues, assisting in election campaigns and performing a vital role in the enduring success of the Liberal Party. Much of the FWC’s efforts are unsung but they are crucial to the development of a truly representative nationwide party organisation.

ACHIEVEMENTS FOR WOMEN

As Sir Robert Menzies led Australian politics into a new era, the Liberal Party introduced a number of policies that continue to influence the lives of Australian women today.

Among the achievements of the Menzies Government between 1949 and 1966 were policies on child endowment and a national health scheme. In the Holt, Gorton and McMahon Governments between 1966 and 1972, the Liberal Party introduced policies protecting deserted wives and introduced equal pay legislation.

Between 1975 and 1983, the Fraser Government introduced a family income supplement scheme to help lower income families and signed the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. This later led to the establishment of the Sex Discrimination Office.

From 1996 to 2007, the Howard Government significantly increased opportunities for women by creating an additional 2.3 million jobs, more than half of which (almost 1.2 million jobs) were filled by women.

This record of job creation continued with the election of the Coalition in September 2013. Of the over 1.28 million jobs created since September 2013, 730,900 (56.7 per cent) have gone to women. (February 2019)

The Howard Government introduced a number of family-friendly policies, including the introduction of the Baby Bonus, substantial increases in the rates of family benefits, the provision of extra childcare places, the introduction of the childcare tax rebate and the encouragement of flexible family-friendly work practices.

The Morrison Government is strongly committed to further supporting choice and boosting workforce participation for women. Our childcare reforms and the new Child Care Subsidy will deliver relief of more than $1,300 per child for the average family and benefit nearly one million families. It is expected these changes will encourage around 230,000 families to increase their workforce participation.

The Howard Government helped women to better prepare for their retirement, including through the introduction of the Superannuation Co-contribution. The Morrison Government is building on this, by enabling women who take time out of the workforce to make catch-up contributions after they return to work. We are also progressing reforms to protect superannuation which will benefit the financial security of millions of Australian women:

  • Around 2 million women who hold low balance, inactive accounts will be protected from erosion through excessive fees and inappropriate insurance;
  • Around 6 million women who are still contributing to low balance accounts will also see hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of savings; and
  • 3 million women will have their retirement savings boosted by around $2.5 billion thanks to being proactively reunited with their lost and low, inactive balances.

The Liberal Party is committed to an Australia where women are full and active participants in all spheres of public and private life. At the end of the Howard Government, around one-third of Government Board positions were occupied by women. In 2016, the Turnbull Government set a target of women occupying 50% of Australian Government Board positions. This target is on track to be met with 45.8% of positions (the highest proportion ever) currently held by women.

Ensuring the safety of all Australians is the first priority for government and the Coalition has led concerted efforts to tackle domestic violence. The Howard Government’s dedicated ‘Women’s Safety Agenda’ funded prevention, health, justice and services.

Since 2013, the Government has committed $840 million to addressing women’s safety. This investment has included work in areas of Commonwealth responsibility, coordinated action with the states and territories, and changes in policy and legislation and responses. It includes measures to increase services and to change the culture that leads to violence. In March 2019, the Morrison Government committed $328 million to reducing and preventing family, domestic and sexual violence, the single largest investment ever by the Commonwealth.

This investment as part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children includes:

  • $82 million for frontline services.
  • $68 million for prevention strategies.
  • $35 million in support and prevention measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
  • $78 million to provide safe places for people impacted by domestic and family violence.
  • $64 million for 1800RESPECT

The achievements of the Liberal Party since 1944 are testament to the commitment of the Liberal Party when it comes to recognising, protecting and enhancing the position of, and opportunities for, Australian women.