Women help give Labor breast chance of victory
For those who might have been pondering the issue, I can today tell you that Health and Ageing Minister Nicola Roxon has great breasts.
This is not my personal rating. I have taken the advice of an expert. Two Fridays ago mother-of-one Roxon gave a speech and then took questions from an audience in Canberra. A woman rose to compliment Roxon on the number of ministerial tasks she was managing. Slightly embarrassed by the praise she replied, “I have broad shoulders.”
“Yes,’’ continued the voice in the audience, “you do have broad shoulders. And great breasts.”
It must be pointed out that this was a professional evaluation of the Roxon rack and not some smutty ogling. The Minister had been addressing the annual conference of the Australian Lactation Consultants’ Association, a group of mainly women who take the breast very seriously.
The harmless endorsement highlighted the feminisation of government under Kevin Rudd.
Rudd’s relationships with female colleagues arguably make him the most woman-friendly Prime Minister since Bob Hawke—although for different reasons.
As much as he is capable of sharing power with anyone, he has given significant authority to women in his executive, and has been a ready and enthusiastic contributor to debate and promotion of women’s issues.
Those issues range from breast cancer research and maternity leave provisions, to campaigns against domestic violence.
There is little doubt that as well as taking in comment from Labor women, Rudd’s approach to these matters is strongly influenced by wife Therese Rein and married daughter Jessica.
Quite likely it is roughly the same influence operating on Malcolm Turnbull from his wife Lucy and daughter Daisy. If ever a Turnbull government is formed, it most probably would be just as sensitive to women’s issues.
However, at the top end of the Opposition frontbench in the House of Representatives sit Deputy Leader Julie Bishop and immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone, the only women amid a line of suits and ties.
One consequence of Rudd’s lack of inhibitions about power sharing with women has been the deployment of Roxon and, in particular, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, to the hand-to-hand engagements in the important policy debates on health, workplace relations, and education.
Roxon faces Liberal health spokesman Peter Dutton, one of the Opposition’s more strident prosecutors, while Gillard is the target of the unstinting Christopher Pyne—and just about everyone else during Question Time.
It is quite likely—I don’t know of any polling on the issue—that the Government’s female front row is impressing women voters to a degree which at least counters any policy points scored against them.
In fact, the number and status of women in the senior ranks of the Rudd ministry could be an electoral positive the Opposition merely highlights by attacking those women. That might be the perverse result of the Opposition demanding answers on some significant controversies.
Gillard and Roxon are joined by Jenny Macklin, who has had to explain expensively bungled Aboriginal housing projects, and Tanya Plibersek, who saw her social housing funds re-allocated to cover a blow-out in school construction costs.
It’s emblematic of the feminised Rudd Government that it is seriously pushing the prospect of women in the military taking on more combat roles as a matter of course, not as exceptions.
Minister for Defence Personnel Greg Combet has been pushing this idea for several weeks, and the debate will be resolved by military authorities after a university study.
However, it already has produced a demarcation line between the Government and sections of the Opposition over the capacities of women.
Queensland Liberal Bruce Scott didn’t wait for the research to be completed.: “Both culturally and biologically, males are engineered to protect females from harm and I believe placing servicewomen in life-threatening situations will affect the performance of male soldiers who may risk their own safety and the success of the mission to protect the female members of the team.’‘
The problem for Malcolm Turnbull, is that this government has reconfirmed that women can thrive on the political front line without manly interference on their behalf.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…