Describing herself as a 'conviction politician', Member for Murray Sharman Stone says she is disappointed not to see more women on Tony Abbott's front bench.By Trent Horneman
Member for Murray Sharman Stone believes Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott’s decision to include one female minister on his front bench is a slap in the face for women.
‘‘It is not a great day for women in politics,’’ she told the Riverine Herald.
Dr Stone had lobbied the cabinet for the speaker’s position in the House of Representatives, but was overlooked in favour of Bronwyn Bishop.
Of the 42 ministerial positions available, only six women were awarded roles, including Member for Farrer Sussan Ley as assistant Education Minister.
‘‘Thirty-six men and six women. It is nice to be appreciated,’’ Dr Stone said.
Dr Stone, who had clashed with Mr Abbott on issues such as the abortion debate and recently the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, said she was disappointed not to see more women on the front bench.
Dr Stone said her recent decision to cross the floor and vote against the Coalition’s acceptance of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan could have played a part.
‘‘Going against the party is a career-limiting decision,’’ she said.
‘‘Tony and I have had a differing view on women’s reproductive health for 10 years, an issue which has recently reached its conclusion.
‘‘I am a conviction politician.
‘‘That is what politics is all about; it is not like any other vocation. It’s the Prime Minister’s call.’’
Despite her place on the back benches, Dr Stone said the decision still allowed her to represent the Murray electorate.
‘‘I have been unleashed to support the Murray electorate and that is what I will do,’’ she said.
High on her list of priorities are advocating change in anti-dumping laws, delivering the NBN to regions including Echuca and working to help farmers tackle rising costs of water and other inputs.
On the other side of the Murray, Member for Farrer Ms Ley will assist Education Minister Christopher Pyne.
Ms Ley was the Shadow Employment Participation, Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Minister while in opposition.
Ms Ley disagreed with Dr Stone’s comments.
‘‘While I would like to see more women in parliament, I do not agree with Dr Stone on this issue,’’ she said.
‘‘To me it is not about being on the front bench. You can be just as effective from the back bench influencing opinion and chairing key committees.
‘‘I think that Tony Abbott has made the right decision. You have to pick the right team for the job.’’
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