The dumping of a Turnbull government assistant minister from her blue ribbon Brisbane seat has revived debate about the number of women in conservative ranks, with one angry Coalition MP saying she’s “appalled” and women are ready to quit the party.
Assistant Minister for Disability Services Jane Prentice has been the member for the safe LNP seat of Ryan in western Brisbane since 2010, but yesterday she lost a preselection battle to Brisbane City Councillor Julian Simmonds.
Cr Simmonds won the contest by 256 votes to 103.
After the vote, Ms Prentice was too upset to speak to media, but an LNP spokesperson said the party expected her to continue to serve until the next federal election was called.
There are only two other Queensland women serving as Coalition MPs in the Federal Lower House.
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she was “totally appalled” at Ms Prentice’s dumping.
“We’ve hardly got any federal females in Queensland in the Government and one has been pushed aside by a young male,” she told the ABC.
“I’ve had young females in the party ring me up saying ‘we’re going to resign, we’ve had enough, and I said, ‘no don’t — we’ve got to fight this’.
“We’ve got to build more women into the party. We’ve got to get more women into political positions so that we have as much power as the men do.
“Enough is enough and I’m just really upset by the whole thing,” she said.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, another Brisbane-based federal MP, defended the preselection outcome.
“We have a 100 per cent commitment to getting more women into politics, but equally we have a democratic process,” Mr Dutton said.
“The members … have looked at the merits of each candidate and have decided that Julian is best placed to placed to represent the seat of Ryan.
“They do that because he’s an energetic person. He’s somebody who’s demonstrated his capacity to deliver for local residents in the western suburbs.”
LNP member for the Gold Coast seat of McPherson, Karen Andrews, said it was a “devastating outcome for Jane”, but that was the way LNP preselection worked.
She said the party could be doing more to encourage more women into politics.
“I certainly want to do everything I can to make sure women have the opportunity to stand for preselection in winnable seats and to go on to win elections,” Ms Andrews said.