Conservative, honky males in suits

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, October 31st, 2016 - 22 comments
Categories: feminism, national - Tags: , , ,

There was much black humour last week when Paula Bennett was PM for day, highlighting how short National is on talent and depth. Perhaps coincidentally, Stacey Kirk in the Sunday Star Times took a look at National’s women – John Key’s got 27 problems and women are up to 50 per cent of them

OPINION: To say gender equality at the Cabinet table can’t be achieved at the expense of merit, is to say there aren’t enough capable women on the Government benches.

The problem for Prime Minister John Key, however, is that in the Government he leads, there aren’t.

He’s mulling his options as Cabinet requires a reshuffle, likely to happen in the new year.

Whatever its configuration, the A-team that National takes to next year’s election will predominantly be made up of middle-aged white men.

No change there then.

That’s certainly not to say Cabinet’s ranks don’t feature a formidable set of strong and very capable women; including Paula Bennett, Amy Adams, Anne Tolley, Judith Collins and Maggie Barry.

Maggie Barry? Anne Tolley? Really? Amy who?

But it is to say that all the female National MPs probably deserving of one of the 27 Cabinet positions are already there.

Kirk discusses the Nats’ lower order women – and doesn’t find them very impressive.

The reshuffle, though typical of a Key Government a year out from the election, has partly been precipitated by the loss of two key figures – unfortunately, both highly capable women.

In Nikki Kaye’s case, that’s by not necessarily permanent as she takes time off to focus on her treatment following a shock breast cancer diagnosis.

Key will also have a decision to make over whether to keep Education Minister Hekia Parata in her portfolio until she retires from politics at the election.

Good luck to Nikki Kaye with her treatment.

The female vote is a constituency National has performed well with under Key – though it’s by no means a given, and one they have to work to hold.

As senior Minister Murray McCully now famously put it in a 2004 internal email to party strategists: “We do look like a bunch of conservative, honky males in suits.”

Quite. As a government National is no friend to women, shutting down the Pay and Employment Equity Unit in 2009, ignoring a steadily growing gender pay gap, and undermining social services (such as Rape Crisis) that support women. As a party National has structural problems with selecting and supporting women. Problems that are coming home to roost.

22 comments on “Conservative, honky males in suits”

  1. Richard Rawshark 1

    If you were a woman, extreeeeemly lazy, and wanted a free ride to the taxpayer trough, joining National would be very attractive, as long as you could..

    A Stand the Company
    B Not concerned with throwing what little principles you have away.

    Or perhaps it’s actually right there are not many women in National, There are far less psychopaths of the female gender..strangely that’s true. So less are wanting to join in the first place..

    Perhaps the issue is not a lack of woman in National but that women are less callous and heartless!

  2. Ad 2

    Why is this post only evaluating National female MPs?

    Key has the luxury of another very well forecast reshuffle.
    Would be far better to broaden the evaluative lens and explain whether the gender balance will be any better at Labour, Greens, NZFirst, or Maori Party any time soon.

    • Because it is based on a media piece only evaluating National female MPs.

    • corokia 2.2

      NZ First- well you could have a look at this

      where Curwen Ares Rolinson is congratulating their party on “The lowering of age demographics and increasing of diversity”

      Its a photo of 14 men!

      (All the best to the women in NZ First, but one of your cheerleaders doesn’t seem to have noticed the irony in trumpeting increased diversity illustrated by an all male photo)

    • LOL “if the gender balance will be any better at… Greens… any time soon”

      You realise the Greens have a list that alternates based on gender, right? So they policy is that they are, at most, 1 off from being 50/50. They also want to balance any participation they have in future cabinets by gender, too. The Māori party, coincidentally, (as opposed to by design…) also has a 50/50 gender balance.

      Labour made moves to adjust for gender balance a while back, (iirc in 2013?) but it was immediately mocked as a “man ban” by hostile media. I can’t exactly blame them for not returning to the topic sooner. They’re not doing badly on this front, but neither are they doing well – with 10/32 female MPs last I checked, they have a caucus that is about 31% female, which is the average over parliament as a whole. The sooner they can find a way to address this without setting off a testosterone-fueled media hysteria, the better, but at least they’ve been talking about the issue.

      It’s the conservative parties, like NZ First and National, that really need to evaluate their bias on this issue. National has a caucus that is 27% female, and NZ First is even worse, with one quarter of their MPs being women.

  3. esoteric pineapples 3

    Most powerful people in this government ie those who don’t have to answer to someone else – John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce, Gerry Brownlee. All white males. The only woman in National who has some independence from these white males is Judith Collins.

  4. Macro 4

    Regrettably this old white male problem is not simply confined to our Parliament. If one were to research the recently elected local governments one would also find that we are governed locally by white greybeards. Of the 10 councillors on our local council 7 are male superannuates and over the age of 70. There are 2 women (the mayor Sandra Goudie Retired National MP 🙄 ) and one woman councillor. The remaining male is in his 50’s.
    How can these people be said to be representative of any community?

  5. whateva next? 5

    It’s come down to the same issue as the US dilemma, would we rather a woman corrupted by power, or a male corrupted by power?

  6. Mike Steinberg 6

    This kind of shallow focus on a candidates race or gender is abhorrent. It also seems to have lead to the bizarre outcome in Hutt South where a local with strong support has missed out apparently because of his gender?

    • corokia 6.1

      Where is the evidence that his gender is the reason he has not been selected?

      • Lara 6.1.1

        Conveniently ignoring all the instances where women are overlooked and not selected because they’re women.

        But then, we keep being told that never happens. Or rarely happens. Women just don’t put their hands up, don’t want to be selected or just aren’t as good as men.

        That’s why all these areas of power in NZ are dominated by men. Apparently.

  7. Bob 7

    “As a government National is no friend to women, shutting down the Pay and Employment Equity Unit in 2009, ignoring a steadily growing gender pay gap”
    According to the OECD figures, the gender pay gap has continued to decrease since 2009 from 8.76% down to 6.08% last year (this compares to 15.4% in Australia) and since 2010 under this government has consistently been at it’s lowest levels on record.

    Edit: added Australian figures in as comparison

    • You could start with the annual media reports referenced in the first paragraph here:

      How to improve pay gender equality

      • Bob 7.1.1

        Ah, ignore the OECD reports, listen to The Herald, that bastion of reporting, they would never sway the figures to make a headline…

        Put it this way, the way The Herald reports the numbers I earn more than my wife, by the way the OECD reports the numbers my wife earns more than me.
        The difference being, my wife has cut back her hours since we had a child, her hourly rate is still higher than mine, but now that she is working less hours (our choice so she can enjoy this important time in our daughters life) apparently the gender wage gap has widened…

    • corokia 8.1

      There is a lot in that Trotter piece that feels SO wrong. I’m middle class, I guess, so I don’t feel I can speak for working class women but I found it quite offensive that Trotter said….

      “Always assuming that those working-class women wanted their consciousness raised, which, by-and-large they didn’t.”

      How the hell would he know??

      • Muttonbird 8.1.1

        Agreed. I said this in the comments, “Those Dunedin matrons weren’t suspicious of your vowels, they were contemptuous of your superior attitude, which hasn’t dimmed one candela to this day.”

      • Galeandra 8.1.2

        Cause he said they told him on their doorsteps?

    • pat 8.2

      Chris Trotter could well be displaying the three P’s…..pomposity, patronising and prophetic

      • Corokia 8.2.1

        You are taking the piss aren’t you Galeandra? As if Trotter discussed feminism with those women back then.

  8. The Real Matthew 9

    Nothing like throwing a racist term in a headline to galvanise the left

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