A 2019 Australian Federal Election Policy Guide










Elected members, leadership problems and gender issues.





In 1993, the Keating Government was returned, Keating himself claiming it was “the sweetest victory of all” the five successive Australian Labor Party election victories. However, the election also exposed the election implications of two issues Keating was already aware of. That is, (1) the neglect of women voters in Government policy and (2) the glaring absence of women inside the Parliament.


After the 1993 election, less than 15% percent of elected parliamentarians on both sides of the floor were women.


Keating attempted to address the first problem by appointing the former head of the Office of the Status of Women, Anne Summers, to help his government develop a suite of policies that would benefit women ahead of the 1993 election.


Keating held several media conferences to ensure that Australian women were aware of the new appointment. Despite this reform, the election results showed that women were still turning off the party and sending their votes elsewhere compared to men voters.


According to Paula Mathewson at The New Daily, one of reasons identified for this shift in women’s vote was identified in the Australian Election Survey held not long after the poll.


The survey found that found that 26 per cent of women rated PM Keating at zero on a zero-to-10 scale of popularity. He had addressed the first problem, but ignored the second, the absence of women in Parliament- women were walking away from the major parties in disgust.


Keating was reminded bluntly that if you don’t respect the woman voter in Australia, there is high risk that your party will not be elected. Women wanted more than being told by politicians to ‘look after the kids and we will help you find a job when they get to school age’.


To bring genuine reform into being, the Keating led Australian Labor Party introduced a gender quota system. As Paula Mathewson put it -


“The 1993 result made it clear that female-friendly policies were great, but they weren’t enough. Women in the community also wanted to see Labor supporting women by getting them into parliament”.


In 1994, the ALP National Conference passed an Affirmative Action Rule requiring that women be pre-selected in 35 per cent of winnable seats in all elections by 2002.


Source- EMILY's List Australia "Making A Difference: How EMILY's List is working to achieve gender equity in Parliaments".


In 1995 the Australian Labor Party formed an internal version of EMILY's List.


Emily’s list in Australia was inspired by Democrat Party women in the USA who started an organisation in 1985 based on pro-choice issues. It soon expanded to the point where the organisation now takes


“a strategic approach to recruiting women candidates, winning elections and mobilising voters. We are a driving force behind many of the campaign victories that bring the progressive decision-making power of Democratic women to office”.


Source: Emily’s List. Our History. A network- An Evolution-A Movement. https://www.emilyslist.org/pages/entry/our-history


By 1996, Joan Kirner established EMILY's List Australia outside the party and lifted the gender aspiration bar higher, aiming to attain 45% female membership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.


The culmination of these reforms was the inauguration of Australia's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Ms Gillard was a founding member of EMILY's List Australia and assisted to prepare their initial constitution from her background in Law. Ms Gillard presented the Inaugural EMILY's List Oration at Parliament House in September 2011.


Part of the role of both the EMILY’s List bodies within and outside the party was to ensure the women were not just selected for the female quota requirement. The aim was to identify, recruit, foster and instal “women of merit”. in the Parliamentary Australian Labor Party. Male Coalition members would refer to these women as "Quota Queens".


By 2019, women made up 46 per cent of Australian Labor Party federal elected members compared to 23 per cent of women for the conservatives. The deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party in the House of Representatives and the party leader in the Senate are women.


Moreover, there are 11 women in the 30-member ALP Shadow Ministry (36.6%) compared to 6 women members (20%) in the Morrison Government ministry.




1. Tanya Plibersek Deputy Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development


2. Senator Penny Wong Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment


3. Kate Ellis Shadow Minister for Education Shadow Minister for Early Childhood


4. Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health


5. Jenny Macklin Shadow Minister for Families and Payments Shadow Minister for Disability Reform


6. Senator Claire Moore Shadow Minister for Women Shadow Minister for Carers Shadow Minister for Communities Manager of Opposition Business (Senate)


7. Julie Collins Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government Shadow Minister for Employment Services


8. Sharon Bird Shadow Minister for Vocational Education


9. Michelle Rowland Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications


10. Melissa Parke Shadow Assistant Minister for Health


11. Senator Jan McLucas Shadow Minister for Mental Health Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness


Source: Australian Politics. Bill Shorten’s ALP Shadow Ministry – Full List. Oct 18, 2013 http://australianpolitics.com/2013/10/18/shorten-alp-shadow-ministry.html


The Australian Labor Party reformed gender equality in participation of women in Australian politics, elected members and ministry positions over the 25 years since Keating paid attention to women in 1993.


The results of the 1993 election which saw more men voting for the party than women has swung back the other way over time.


Recent election polls indicate that more women than men intend to vote for the Australian Labor in the 2019 election.


The participation, recruitment, election and ministerial role of women within the Australian Labor Party have improved significantly.


However, the treatment of women once they become elected members of Parliament still faces the need for reform and Male dominated factionalism remains a tricky hurdle to negotiate for some women. 


Source: Paula Matthewson.On Merit: How Paul Keating fixed Labor’s women problem and the Liberals can address theirs. The News Daily. Jan 31, 2019 https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/01/31/labor-liberal-women-paula-matthewson/



In the previous Chapters on the Liberal Party and National Party, issues with the proportion of women compared to men in the Parliament, the pre-selection process and the treatment of women in these Coalition parties was discussed in some detail. Now it is the turn of the Australian Labor Party.  Here is an overview.








                           MALE   FEMALE    MALE   FEMALE    MALE   FEMALE                                                                                                                                                            

ALP                         6           12             34           17            40            29            69


Percentage      33.4          66.6         66.6        33.4          57.9          42.1       46.0 


Liberal Party      14              4             33             7            47             11           58


Percentage      77.8         22.2          82.5       17.5          81.0          19.0       38.6


National                3             1               12             0           15                 1          16 


Percentage      75.0         25.0         100            0.0         93.8             6.2       16.1


Others                   0             3                3               1             3                 4          7 


Percentage         0.0         100           75.0        25.0           42.8          57.2        4.6 


TOTAL                 23           20               62              25          105            45         150


Percentage        53.4        46.6           71.2         28.8         70.0           30.0       100


Notes : Marginal seats are defined as any seat under 55.0 percent 2PP for this table.


Overall, close to half of the marginal seats are held by males and females, males dominate the safe seats (71.2 percent) significantly and males dominate the number of members of parliament (70 percent).     





Does the Australian Labor Party have problems with the pre-selection of women candidates apparent in the Liberal Party and National Party?


- 16 of 26 current Australian Labor Party senators are women (61.5 percent).


- 29 of 69 current Australian Labor Party MPs are women (42.0) and


- 45 of 95 current Australian Labor Party members of government are women (47.3 percent)


Compared to the Coalition these figures look impressive. Female elected representation in the Australian Labor Party is trending towards 50-50 gender representation as claimed when the party points out gender problems in the Coalition.


However, the next question is what seats are these women being pre-selected in and do they have a genuine chance of winning those seats ?


12 of the current 18 marginal Australian Labor Party seats (-5.0 percent 2PP) are held by women (66.6 percent).


Herbert QLD ALP 0.02


Cowan NSW ALP 0.7


Lindsay NSW ALP 1.1


Griffith QLD ALP 1.6


Macquarie NSW ALP 2.2


Braddon TAS ALP 2.4


Bendigo ALP 3.9


Richmond NSW ALP 4.0


Hotham ALP 4.2


Cooper VIC ALP 4.3


Longman QLD ALP 4.5


Dobell NSW ALP 4.8



This 2-1 ratio of women in marginal held seats suggests the Australian Labor Party may be following the habits of the Coalition party’s in pre-selecting women into unwinnable or difficult to defend seats.


However, a deeper look at the origins of these women’s election history suggests otherwise.


In 7 of these seats the women were originally pre-selected to stand against Coalition seat holders. Only one of these Coalition seat holders was in a safe seat (Herbert). The other six were in marginal Coalition seats with a genuine chance of success. The only other unpredictable and surprising win was in Richmond (2004) which was held by a National candidate. It is rare for an Australian Labor Party candidate to win a seat held by a National Party incumbent, albeit defending a paper thin 2PP margin.


In the other 5 seats the women were pre- selected to replace ALP seat holders. Two of them were in safe seats (Bendigo & Hotham) in general elections. The other three were won in marginal seat by-elections -with no relative certainty of success - (Griffith, Cooper & Longman) but all in long held Australian Labor Party seats.


If the Australian Labor Party does have a genuine problem in gender balance, representation and pre-selection it is more in ensuring the inclusion of Australian Labor Party women from both the left and right factions inside the halls of Parliament.


This issue has more to do with factional power play within the party than it does gender issues specifically, but one former senior member makes some salient points. Because she is a retired female member of parliament talking about women in the Australian Labor Party, it got my attention.


 Former Labor house Speaker Anna Burke  recently called for greater representaation of women in Bill Shorten's right wing faction. In an interview with the Australian, the former long term member for Chisolm said the Victorian right could do better to boost the number of women and...


"Its disproportionally not represented in the front bench either. There are women there, they are all from the left. You can't have your cake and eat it too...it's not up to one part of the Labor Party to do all the lifting for everybody."


Ms Burke was tentative about introducing quotas in the Victorian right because "--I don't want anyone to think i got there because they gave it to me"--, but unless there was systemic change there would not be an increase in women.


Senior Labor left MP Anthony Albanese told an Australian reporter that women on his side of politics were keen to enter parliament because his party was heading towards 50 percent female representation after the election


"(That) properly reflects the Australian community and that is what we want- a Parliament that reflects the people that vote for it". 


In the lower house, only two of 10 VIctorian right MPs are women, Joanne Ryan and Clare 0'neil. However, female right wing Labor candidates have been selected for Deakin on a 6.3 percent 2PP margin and Chisolm on 3.4 percent, both winnable seats for Labor


On the other hand, Labor Councillor Mary Delahunty who lost pre-selection for the Labor held seat of Macnamara to a man, reportedly said women are shunning the Right of the party because they are being shut out of safe seats. 


Source: Paul Karp Labor MP Michael Danby's preselection meeting undemocratic, candidate says. The Guardian 16 Jul 2018 



Socialist left leaning President of the ACTU Jenny George has often complained that Victorian right faction of the ALP is a "boys club".


Source: Rosie Lewis. Shorten faction 'not doing enough to promote women'.  The Weekend Australian, p. 2 26 January 2019.


On the other hand, in recent pre-selection news, Victorian retiring Senator Jacinta Collins will be replaced by a male (Raff Ciccone) and  Victorian senator Gavin MItchell lost 2nd spot pre-selection to a woman (Jess Walsh). 







On July 18th, 2018 BuzzFeed released this report.


Federal Labor MP Emma Husar is being investigated over allegations of workplace bullying and misconduct within her Western Sydney electorate office after a number of former staff members came forward with complaints against her. July 18 2018. The investigation — which was commissioned by NSW Labor and has been running since March — is being led by barrister John Joseph Whelan and is expected to be completed in coming days.


The scope of the Husar investigation has included allegations of bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, intimidation, and misuse of staff. Husar told BuzzFeed News she was horrified to learn that complaints had been made about her and claimed that no staff member had raised issues with her. “The assertions that have been made do not reflect who I am or how my office operates,” Husar said. BuzzFeed News has spoken to people who have been interviewed in the Whelan investigation. Some were approached by lawyers to give evidence, others came forward when they heard about the investigation.


Senior state and federal Labor figures have been aware of the allegations against the Western Sydney MP for over a year but did not launch an investigation until a former staff member put pressure on NSW's head office and threatened to go public. BuzzFeed News understands Labor leader Bill Shorten was made aware of the allegations about Husar’s behavior last year.


Shorten's office denies this.


Over 200,000 words of evidence have been given by at least 20 witnesses .


BuzzFeed News understands nearly all witnesses have given evidence anonymously, out of fear of repercussions from the powerful Right faction of the party, which is led by NSW general secretary Kaila Murnain. Whelan’s investigation is only probing Husar’s behaviour in the workplace over the past two years, although evidence about her conduct outside the office has also been presented. Reports of this nature traditionally aren’t made public, and Husar’s former staff fear it will be buried until the next federal election is called.


“The trouble with these reports is that no-one sees them, so the party can’t be held to account for the findings,” a NSW Labor source said.


Husar’s office has seen high staff turnover. During her two years in federal parliament, she’s had more than 20 employees through her electorate office (in four full-time equivalent positions). Former staff have given evidence to the Whelan investigation about what they saw as Husar’s inappropriate management style and staff expectations — including requiring staff to babysit her children during and outside work hours.


They also allege staff were instructed to walk her dog and clean up its faeces. Husar currently has a staff member living with her who performs household and nannying duties. In an internal Labor email, seen by BuzzFeed News, Husar advertised for a media and policy adviser.


The tasks listed for the role included “running errands” and “supporting various personal, professional and family obligations”. This role has been advertised a handful of times in the last year and is currently vacant.


Former staff members claim there is a toxic environment in Husar’s electoral office. One described working with Husar as “hell”. Another said: People are just afraid to go into work.I am disgusted in the party for covering this up. I think it’s scandalous. From the top down everyone knows about it and have let it continue.


All you have to do is look at the amount of people who have worked there, very capable people, who haven’t been able to last for more than a few months.” She is a member of the NSW Right faction “Where appropriate public comment may be made at the conclusion of the independent process. “


The ALP has put in place new procedures and codes since 2016. And follows these diligently under the supervision of the Administrative Committee of the Party.”


Source : Alice Workman Labor MP Emma Husar Is Under Investigation Over Allegations Of Workplace Bullying And Misconduct. BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia https://www.buzzfeed.com/aliceworkman/labor-mp-emma-husar-under-investigation?utm_term=.xq12Z3294#.udzgwGgmB


On July 20th Ms Husar said she was "horrified" to learn the New South Wales ALP is investigating allegations of bullying and misconduct levelled at her by former staff.


"My office is a professional and respectful workplace. It should not be perceived in any other way, and of course I am sorry if any person has been given reason to think otherwise"


Source: Matthew Doran. Emma Husar says she is 'horrified' to learn of bullying allegations from former staff 20 Jul 2018. ABC News Online.


On July 24th Ms Husar claimed she was receiving threats of violence, had referred the threats to police and written to Opposition whip to advise him that


“ I will be taking personal leave, effective immediately. I'm a single mum and my first priority is the safety and wellbeing of my children”.


Source: Henry Belot. Embattled Labor MP Emma Husar takes personal leave after 'threatening messages' 24 Jul 2018. ABC News Online https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-24/embattled-labor-mp-emma-husar-takes-personal-leave/10030986


Party Leader Bill Shorten was forced to explain why Ms Husar has a dog in her office and why staff were asked to walk the dog and clean up the mess left behind, saying it was her son's therapy dog. Mr Shorten said one of Ms Husar's children had autism and the animal was a part of his therapy and treatment.


Seizing on the issue ahead of 5 by-elections, Government Minister Simon Birmingham said any threats of violence against Ms Husar would never be appropriate, but called on Mr Shorten to take personal responsibility for the investigation.


"If any of the allegations are true, then Emma Husar has no place on Bill Shorten's team. He should go to Sydney and dismiss her as an MP, dis-endorse her as a candidate and ensure that he takes responsibility for a member of his team where they have been doing the wrong thing with their taxpayer funded staff. Emma Husar is a Labor MP who Bill Shorten has campaigned alongside of, she is now seriously alleged to have abused taxpayer entitlement, to have abused and misused her staff, to have exploited workers ".


Source: Louise Yaxley and Henry Belot. Emma Husar: Bill Shorten says dog being walked by embattled MP's staffer is therapy dog for her son. 25 Jul 2018. ABC News Online. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-25/bill-shorten-emma-husar-bullying-allegations-simon-birmingham/10031470 


By August 1st 2018, Ms Husar had been forced to weather a series of damaging headlines since it was revealed she was being investigated over allegations of workplace bullying when questions about her use of taxpayer-funded entitlements now prompted the first-term MP to ask the Parliamentary Expenses Authority to review her spending.


Ms Husar had skipped the second day of an NDIS committee hearing in northern Queensland to travel to Brisbane to attend a Bruno Mars concert on March 14. Senior Labor figures told the ABC that whether or not the allegations against her are proven, the perception and "pile-on" will make it very difficult for the first-term MP to survive. One commented to the ABC that politicians could survive a few days of negative press but in Ms Husar's case, it was seemingly endless.


Source: Jane Norman Emma Husar asks expenses authority to look into her travel entitlements after Bruno Mars concert claims. 1 Aug 2018. ABC News Online. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-01/emma-husar-asks-expenses-authority-to-look-into-bruno-mars-trip/10061932 


The last Straw: allegations of sexual harassment and lewd behaviours


A second Buzzfeed report in August 2018 exposed fresh allegations against Ms Husar which were not anonymous. It was reported that Ms Husar had been accused by a former staffer, Jeremy Anderson, of executing a Sharon Stone move from the movie Basic Instinct while her colleague Jason Clare was playing with his daughter on the floor in front of her.


Ms Husar had previously been the subject of 44 complaints about her behaviour in the workplace, twenty of them made by Jeremy Anderson after she had terminated his employment.


Source: Leigh Sales. 'Slut-shaming is used as a method of torture': Emma Husar explains why she quit politics. 19 Sep 2018 ABC. 7.30 Report https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-28/slut-shaming-forced-me-out-of-politics-emma-husar/10152266


Embattled Labor backbencher Emma Husar categorically denied the latest inappropriate conduct allegations levelled against her. Ms Husar used Twitter to describe those claims as a smear, saying they are "completely untrue, unfair and hurtful beyond belief, 100 per cent false". She called the story "absolute lies" and accused a former staffer of making up allegations and trying to destroy her reputation.


‘"I have done my best to cooperate with the investigation and clear my name, but it’s clear these people will stop at nothing to destroy me"


This final allegation put the writing on the wall for Ms Husar. Whether true or not, these latest allegations of exposing herself to a staff member would foretell the end of her political career. 


A few days later she announced that she would not be re-contesting the marginal regional seat of Lindsay at the next election.


Source: Jane Norman. Emma Husar rejects latest allegations, saying 'these people will stop at nothing to destroy me'. ABC News Online. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-02/emma-husar-rejects-latest-allegations-of-misconduct/10065460


A few days later the embattled MP announced she will not recontest the western Sydney seat of Lindsay at the next election.


"It's a really sad day. It's a disappointing day for me. I've made the decision, the agonising decision, that I won't be recontesting Lindsay at the next election. I support the right of anyone to have their complaints heard, which is why I cooperated fully with NSW Labor's independent assessment and, to uphold the confidentiality of that process, maintained my silence while my reputation was completely trashed in the media. This vendetta led to threats to my personal safety, the trolling of my children online and media parked outside my house around the clock. It has been terrifying for my kids and utterly traumatic for me."


Labor leader Bill Shorten said he respected the decision Ms Husar had made and understood it had been "a very difficult period for Emma and her family".


Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the investigation would be completed within the next two days. Labor frontbencher Mr Fitzgibbon said the first-term MP had "so much potential", but agreed her reputation had taken a major hit.


"She's obviously decided that her reputation has been now so badly tarnished that it's not sustainable for her. She's put the party first really by deciding that the damage is so extensive, it's best that she go, best for the party”.


Source: Jade Macmillan and Alexandra Beech. Emma Husar decision to quit politics is putting her party first, says Labor frontbencher.9 Aug 2018. ABC News Online. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-09/emma-husar-resignation-puts-party-first/10091320


An investigation into Labor backbencher Emma Husar was handed down the day after she announced her retirement plans. The report found that Ms Husar had subjected staff to unreasonable management- including disciplinary methods - the leaking of complaints against her was reprehensible and the allegations of sexual misconduct towards staff was “on balance, not supported”.


"Complaints that staff were subjected to unreasonable management including unreasonable communication, demands, practices and disciplinary methods have merit," it said.


Mr Whelan's report found merit to some of the complaints against Ms Husar but said, based on the assessment, that there was no basis for her to resign from Parliament.


"I note the report has cleared me of the most malicious and damaging of allegations, which were not only baseless but leaked to the media," Ms Husar said in a statement.


Source: Louise Yaksley. Emma Husar investigation finds staff subjected to unreasonable management but calls leaks 'reprehensible' 10 Aug 2018. ABC news online.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-10/emma-husar-investigation-finds-staff-unreasonably-managed/10106424


Labor needed Ms Husar to fall on her sword before Parliament resumed. There was no way she was going to be retained as the candidate, but the timing of her announcement she would retire at the 2019 election limited the damage to the party brand. 


Senior Labor frontbenchers made appropriate comments about her service to the community, her self-less act of putting the Party ahead of her own career and the matter seemed to be done with. However, as astute political reporter Michelle Grattan foretold “Having an angry and distressed Ms Husar within Labor ranks will be difficult”. 


In an interview with Leigh Sales on the 7.30 report in September explained that she quit politics because of “slut shaming” which is allegedly used by “anonymous” men wanting to destroy a woman’s political career.


"What brought my career in politics to an end was being slut-shamed so viciously, with no ability to come back and stand up for myself. It's almost used as a method of torture. I think this was particularly aimed at me because I fired a member of staff who felt that he was entitled not to be fired," she said.



Source: Leigh Sales. 'Slut-shaming is used as a method of torture': Emma Husar explains why she quit politics. 19 Sep 2018 ABC. 7.30 Report https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-28/slut-shaming-forced-me-out-of-politics-emma-husar/101522


In October, the Western Weekender reported that the NSW Labor executive was considering bypassing the local preselection process and appointing a candidate itself. Such a move would be within the rules but would likely cause immense grief within the party locally and could create major divisions.


Ms Husar was having a change of mind. She reportedly indicated she may reconsider her position but Labor was unlikely to entertain that prospect.


Source: Source: Troy Dodds: Exclusive: Labor considering bypassing preselection for new Lindsay candidate. October 15, 2018. The Western Weekender.


A month later on November 26th, ABC reporter Alexandra Beech reported that NSW State Labor politician Diane Beamer had been pre-selected by the NSW Labor Party executive to stand for the seat of Lindsay in the 2019 federal election. Ms Beemer had not yet been formally preselected, but locals within the Labor party urged her to run and she had agreed.


Source: Alexandra Beech. Diane Beamer chosen by Labor to run for Emma Husar's seat of Lindsay in NSW 26 Nov 2018. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-26/diane-beamer-selected-by-alp-to-run-for-seat-of-lindsay/10556586


The very next day, Dan Conifer at the ABC reported that Emma Husar had


back-flipped on a promise not to contest the next federal election after it emerged the party had already chosen her replacement. She wants to remain the ALP candidate but has not ruled out running as an independent”.


The incumbent for the seat of Lindsay insisted she was still the party's endorsed candidate.


"I do want to recontest the seat as the Labor member. The Labor Party in NSW have got a certain idea of how they want things to go, but I am here and I'm saying that I'm willing to put my hand up."



She would later tell the Australian newspaper that “Bills always got my back”, referring to Opposition leader Bill Shorten.


Sources: Dan Conifer. Emma Husar slams ALP officials and threatens to run as an independent 27 Nov 2018, 3:51pm ABC news Online. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-27/husar-wants-to-recontest-seat-despite-party-choosing-replacement/10557942 The Australian ‘Bill’s always got my back’ November 27 2018. www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/emma-husar-may-run-as-an-independent-for-lindsay/news-story/81ef63e920bf324c95ca6edd80ce8679


However, the Opposition leader had moved on from unequivocal support of Ms Husar. Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten was now of the view that Ms Husar shouldn't contest the next election in 2019. Mr Shorten said  his view hasn't changed since the Lindsay MP announced she was quitting.


"I said at the time ... I thought that was the right decision then, both for her and the party," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday. "I haven't changed my mind."



Source: SBS News: Husar dumped as ALP candidate for Lindsay. 7 December 2018. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/husar-dumped-as-alp-candidate-for-lindsay


The final episode of this saga for 2019 happened in the House of Representatives after question time on December 6th. Murphy reported Husar announced her intention to launch a defamation suit over the ‘slut shaming BuzzFeed report. Ms Husar told the House she is


“not a bully, I am not Sharon Stone, I am not a thief, and I did not deliberately misuse my work expenses. I will fight for my integrity, for my family, and for Lindsay, which is full of battlers just like me and fight for every woman who comes after me, I’m going to do my bit, Mr Speaker, to ensure that this never happens again They went ahead and published their slut-shaming story knowing with full intent that it would go viral”.


Source: Katharine Murphy Emma Husar launches defamation suit over 'slut-shaming' BuzzFeed report. The Guardian. 6 December 2019.https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/dec/06/emma-husar-launches-defamation-suit-over-slut-shaming-buzzfeed-report





The Emma Husar case in relation to the House of Representatives pointed to the possiblliy of gender bias in the party at some levels in particular cases, though not systemic. Moreover, that both men and women MPs are capable of behaviours with staff for which they ought to be held to account.  


The Australian Labor Party Senator Lisa Singh case examined below exposes the impact of male dominated factional 'deals' which can railroad the career of women in the party who do not tie themselves to any State factional group, the "un-aligned".


it also exposes how power plays in  the Party can discourage, isolate and eventually destroy the political career of any woman who will not pick a side and maintain a zealous loyalty and fidelity to that faction on any issue. The fact is, you need not just be a "woman of merit", you need to be a "woman of merit attached like an umbilical chord to the left or right factions" of the State of Tasmania Labor party to remain a welcome member of the Parliamentary team once you have become elected. 


This is an example of the principle ‘women of merit’ becoming ‘women of merit attached to a faction’ once your are elected to a position in the Parliament. 


Senator for Tasmania Lisa Singh was elected as an ALP senator in 2010, making her the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to the Australian Parliament.


Ms Singh was elected from fourth spot on the Australian Labor Party ticket for a six year term. Six Senate positions were up for election.



Order Elected  Name                                 Party                                        2010 TAS 


1                         ABETZ, Eric                      Liberal


2                         MILNE, Christine             Australian Greens


3                        URQUHART,  Anne            Australian Labor Party


4                        PARRY, Stephen                Liberal


5                        SINGH, Lisa                      Australian Labor Party


6                        POLLEY, Helen                  Australian Labor Party



Source:AEC. Senators Elected – Tasmania 2010



After 3 years as a backbench senator, Ms Singh was promoted to Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Attorney-General in 2013.


In 2014, under party leader Bill Shorten, Ms Singh was switched to Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Water.


Later in 2014 Ms Singh was awarded one of India’s highest civilian awards, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, for her exceptional and meritorious public service as a person of Indian heritage in fostering friendly relations between India and Australia.


Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India Pravasi Bharatiya Samman The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) 2014. https://www.mea.gov.in/pravasi-bharatiya-samman.htm 


The 2016 Election


In June 2015, despite being lauded as an “exceptional Senator” within the Party - indeed a ‘woman of merit’ who is a member of Emily’s List- the Tasmanian Labor Party’s pre-selection ballot for the 2016 election relegated her to fourth position on the Tasmanian Senate behind unionist John Short and one member each from the left and right factions of the party. John Short being the State Secretary of the AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union).


The only explicable reason given for Ms Singh’s demotion on the ticket to number four instead of number two as the rank and file members had voted was that she


(a) was not a member of a either the left or right faction in Tasmania and


(b) she was not popular with delegates who had a toxic attitude to Ms Singh, claiming that she refused to engage with unionists.


Source: Lucy Shannon. Tasmanian senator Lisa Singh blames factional deal for fourth place on Senate ticket". ABC News. 27 June 2015.


Ms Singh had performed well in the Senate when promoted to the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary position and won the respect of Senators from both sides of the Senate floor.


However, the expectation was that Ms Singh was not going to be re-elected in 2016 given three seats would be the limit party could expect to achieve in Tasmania.


Crossing official party lines on Q & A


By the time Ms Singh was invited to be a guest on the ABC’s Q& A program in October 2015, the writing was on the wall for her political career.


Left and Right factions within the Tasmanian branch of the party had made a pre-selection deal which put a unionist ahead of her.


Being non-aligned herself, Singh found herself with no factionally aligned friends in Tasmania to back her re-election campaign for 2016.


Given these circumstances, loyalty to the official party line on offshore detention became mute for Ms Singh.


Singh was a vocal opponent of Australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers. On Q & A Ms Singh held nothing back.


She broke with the Australian Labor Party official position to call for an end to indefinite offshore detention and mandatory detention of Refugees and Asylum seekers.


Facing back-lash from the broader community over refugee ‘deaths (sic) at sea’, the Rudd Labor government restarted offshore detention and established regional resettlement plans while in government. Both remain the party's official policy. Senator Lisa Singh told Q&A.


"I really think that the ongoing mandatory indefinite detention of people on Manus Island and Nauru has to stop. I think that the children need to be taken out of Nauru and our detention centres. There is no processing going on. It is indefinite detention and that is not humane. These are people that have ... fled persecution, they are refugees, they've been deemed refugees, and yet they've been left languishing in Manus Island and Nauru for years and years on end. I think we do need to have a new conversation about refugee policy in this country. I think it will be a dark mark on our history."


Source: Dan Conifer Q&A: Labor frontbencher Lisa Singh calls for end to 'inhumane' indefinite offshore detention ABC News Online.13 Oct 2015 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-13/labor-frontbencher-lisa-singh-calls-for-offshore-detention-chan/6848604


The Coalition seized on this interview to claim that ALP policy was to close the detention centres on Manus and Narau, abandon mandatory detention, process all detainees on Australian shores and “start the boats again”.


This was a Tony Abbott trump card in 2013- Turnbull picked it up off the floor and dropped in on the election campaign table for all to see.


Source: Dan Conifer Q&A: Labor frontbencher Lisa Singh calls for end to 'inhumane' indefinite offshore detention ABC News Online.13 Oct 2015 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-13/labor-frontbencher-lisa-singh-calls-for-offshore-detention-chan/6848604


The Australian Labor Party senior party and executive leaders were furious that Ms Singh may put a dent in the Party’s election hopes in 2016 with just one interview on Q@A after they had gone out of their way to sell a ‘hard line’ policy approach to border security and processing of detainees.


Her position became more difficult prior to the election when then Prime Minister Turnbull dissolved both houses and called for a double dissolution election. Singh was promptly demoted from fourth to sixth position on the party ticket ahead of the election in May 2016.


Her position was widely described as “unwinnable”. To overcome the factionalism and unionist bias against her within the State wing of the Party- and give herself some hope of re-election - Ms Singh and her supporters encouraged voters to vote for her below the line of the party senate ticket.


The fact that twelve seats were up for election instead of six at her first senate election (2010) improved her chances of re-election using this unexpected strategy.


The 2016 election result clearly demonstrated that Ms Singh was admired and respected by the rank and file members of the party in Tasmania and also the Tasmanian electorate. 20,841 voters went to the trouble of voting below the line on the Senate election paper and put a 1 next to her name.( In fact, I was one of them). 


This gave Ms Singh 80 percent of the quota on first preferences alone. She was elected to the 10th position ahead of Labor’s Catryna Bilyk and the Greens Nick McKim. Unionist John Short was not elected.


Senators elected in Tasmania 2016



ORDER      NAME                                       PARTY 


1                Eric ABETZ                      Liberal                                          


2               Anne URQUHART           Australian Labor Party  


3               Peter WHISH-WILSON   The Greens                  


4               Jacqui LAMBIE                Jacqui Lambie Network 


5               Stephen PARRY                Liberal     


6               Helen POLLEY                  Australian Labor Party 


7              Jonathon DUNIAM           Liberal 


8              Carol BROWN                    Australian Labor Party 


9              David BUSHBY                  Liberal 


10           Lisa SINGH                        Australian Labor Party 


11           Catryna BILYK                   Australian Labor Party 


12           Nick McKIM, Nick            The Greens 


Source: AEC. Senators Elected. Tasmania 2016 https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/SenateSenatorsElected-20499.htm#tas


The 2016 Australian Labor Party Shadow Ministry (September 2016) featured 48 members. 23 from the Left, 24 from the Right and one Unaligned member- Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh from the seat of Fenner in the ACT.


The Tasmanian member for Franklin, Julie Collins, [left faction] was re- appointed to a cabinet position as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Health.


Senator for Tasmania Carol Brown [left faction} was re-appointed to her role in the Shadow Outer Ministry.


Senator for Tasmania Helen Polly [right faction] was re-appointed to her Shadow Parliamentary Secretary position.


Ms Singh was not on the 2016 post-election Shadow Ministry list. Her Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Shadow Attorney General was made redundant.


Source: Australian Politics. Bill Shorten’s ALP Shadow Ministry – Full List. Oct 18, 2013 http://australianpolitics.com/2013/10/18/shorten-alp-shadow-ministry.html Source:


Australian Politics.Bill Shorten’s ALP Shadow Ministry – September 2016. http://australianpolitics.com/2016/09/13/shorten-alp-shadow-ministry-statistical-analysis-revised.html


Despite these setbacks, amongst other things, Ms Singh successfully moved a motion in the Senate calling for greater offshore detention centre transparency


Thursday, 1 September 2016




Date Thursday, 1 September 2016


Source Senate Page 375 Questioner


Responder Speaker Singh, Sen Lisa Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (12:41):


I move: That the Senate— (a) notes that: (i) a large cache of documents has been made public regarding the treatment of asylum seekers including children on Nauru, and (ii) these documents contain concerning reports of alleged abuse; and


(b) call upon the Australian Government: (i) to reveal whether these serious and disturbing allegations of abuse have been investigated and the outcomes of those investigations, and (ii) to appoint an Independent Children's Advocate backed by adequate resources and statutory powers to ensure the rights and interests of children are protected.



Source. Commonwealth of Australia. Parliamentary Debates. The Senate. Immigration Detention Speech. Thursday September 1, 2016. Senator Singh.p357 Hansard. https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansards/1a29ded1-e7dc-4605-87aa-2fcf6a321e27/0091/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application/pdf


The 2019 Election Pre-Selection process comes next

In September 2018, the State branch of the Australian Labor Party held a State Conference. At that conference the rank and file members or the party again voted to place Ms Singh at No 2 position on the Tasmanian Senate party ticket for 2019.


However, this rank and file vote was over-ruled by more powerful party delegates. Factional deals between the left and right in Tasmania saw them pledge to support a senate ticket which relegated Ms Singh once again to fourth place on the ticket behind unionist John Storer.


The no 1 spot was given to Carol Brown [left faction],


2 Catryna Bilyk [right faction]


3 John Short and


Senator Singh{ non-aligned} in fourth place.


Lisa Singh pledged to get on with the job and will fly to Canberra tomorrow in preparation for Parliament’s return after being relegated to the difficult-to-win bottom spot of Labor’s senate ticket for a second time.


Senator Singh will consider her political future after falling prey to factional deals. Senator Singh vowed to support Labor’s campaign to win federal government but, when asked whether she would run for the senate, said she needed to


“reflect on where I find myself. I was disappointed last time and I’m disappointed again. I would’ve been much happier to be further up the ticket. Having said that though, I respect the process, I understand the process, and I will join with my Labor colleagues with dignity to campaign for a Shorten Labor government.””


Former Labor senator and party historian Margaret Reynolds said it was time for independent oversight of preselection across parties, calling out the expectation within factions and unions that members show their vote to other aligned members before placing it in the ballot box.


The processes that left Senator Singh in a hard-to-win position


confuse and disgust people. It’s ho-hum but it’s serious ho-hum because without Lisa at the top of the ticket it confuses the electorate. Going into a federal electorate looking to change the government, you don’t dismiss 21,000 votes” Ms Reynolds said. 


Political analyst Kevin Bonham said if Senator Singh chose to run for the senate she would be reliant upon a high Labor vote and a strong showing below the line.


“If it’s the same party vote and the same below the line vote as last time then that’s not enough. It’s not hopeless, but I think it’s more difficult than last time.”


Mr Short — the state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union — would also be reliant on a strong Labor vote.


Source: Emily Baker. Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh to reflect on future after another senate ticket snub. Mercury September 8, 2018 https://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/tasmanian-labor-senator-lisa-singh-to-reflect-on-future-after-another-senate-ticket-snub/news-story/13635a8e8bdd3bfee43c44e60a5b8c47


Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed Labor’s concerns about the Liberals’ treatment of women by questioning the ALP’s decision to place “very respected” Tasmanian MP Lisa Singh at the bottom of its senate ticket for a second time.


Mr Morrison deflected questions from federal Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek on his rejection of gender quotas within his party by slamming the Opposition’s treatment of Senator Singh.


The Prime Minister zeroed in on an expectation from Labor’s factional heavyweights that members show their vote before casting it in the ballot box during the preselection process



“From memory [Senator Singh] was relegated to number four on the ticket because she wouldn’t join up with one of your mob’s factions … and I’ll tell you why. Under the Labor Party show and tell on your vote isn’t an exception, it’s the rule.”


Australian Labor Party Deputy leader Ms Plibersek acknowledged Senator Singh as a “fantastic contributor” to Labor but would not be drawn on whether the so-called show-and-tell process was


“intimidating. We are a party of collective decision-making … The internal workings of the Tasmanian preselection processes are for Tasmania to decide”.


Senator Catryna Bilyk from the Tasmanian right faction of the party told the Mercury Tasmanian Labor had the most democratic preselection process of any branch in the country, with half the conference delegates elected by members. Pushed on the show-and-tell vote, her office said:


“In regards to show and tell, the majority of votes were submitted either by post or online from the privacy of people’s homes. What delegates did with their ballots at the state conference was entirely up to them.”


Senator Singh acknowledged she had borne the brunt of “the negative part” of factions.


Source: Emily Baker. Senate ticket snub of Lisa Singh draws attention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Mercury. 12 September 2018. https://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/senate-ticket-snub-of-lisa-singh-draws-attention-of-prime-minister-scott-morrison/news-story/92fa56311de7d6fee015d3133bf06775


Senator Singh has ruled out standing as an independent.


Can this  "woman of merit' defy the factionalism in her party that rails against independent thinking women and win again in 2019 ?


The consensus seems to be that the Liberals will take two seats and the no1 and no2 Labor candidates will take 2 spots leaving one for Jacqui Lambie in fifth spot.


The final spot will come down to a battle between Ms Singh, assuming she stands, and Nick McKim of the Australian Greens if she repeats the below the line voting strategy adopted in 2016.  This would once again take the Unionist out of the race for the final seat. 


It became apparent that the Greens were war planning the same scenario when they conducted a survey in January 2019 asking voters to compare McKims stance on climate change, refugees, the Adani Mine and detainee processing along with the ability to hold the major parties ot account with Ms Singh's stance and practices. 


Source: Emily Baker. Greens commission polling comparing Nick McKim, Lisa Singh January 30, 2019 https://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/greens-commission-polling-comparing-nick-mckim-lisa-singh/news-story/49413c5cc1e677bd671671d9a6b1245f


Senator McKim acknowledged Senator Singh’s push to get Tasmanians to vote below the line in the 2016 federal election drew from his voter base.


There is no doubt that Senator Singh impacted on the Greens’ vote at the last election, which is part of the reason we only held the seat by 141 votes from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. We simply can’t afford to take the risk this time that we lose a strong Green voice in the Senate to keep the major parties honest.”


Political analyst Kevin Bonham said booth-by-booth analysis showed Senator Singh attracted “inner-city, middle-income” Green votes that had her re-elected from the bottom of Labor’s Senate ticket in 2016.


Dr Bonham said it was possible that Senator Singh could be re-elected if she attracted enough below-the-line votes to pull ahead of third-placed John Short and Labor attracted enough above-the-line votes to have her sworn in.


“She can’t survive if it’s a once-off thing and the novelty’s worn off,” Dr Bonham said. “If she gets the same sort of below-the-line vote again, it’s possible for her to win.


On the Greens, Dr Bonham said:


“If Labor did really well and [Jacqui] Lambie did really well and the Greens suffered further losses compared to last time, it becomes possible then that the Greens could miss out. I think that the Greens vote just about bottomed out last time, but with the poor state election result you might wonder if it might go down a bit further — that would be the concern, the vote they got in 2016 wasn’t quite rock bottom.”


Source: Emily Baker. Greens commission polling comparing Nick McKim, Lisa Singh January 30, 2019





In 2016, Emma Husar was pre-selected to stand for election in the seat of Lindsay. Ms Husar won the seat against Liberal Fiona Scott with a 2PP Swing of  4.1 percent. She was strongly supported by party leader Bill Shorten and touted as a future star of the NSW party front bench. 


By January 2019, Ms Husar -


1       had lost pre-selection for the 2019 election,


2      Was threatening to resign from the Australian Labor Party and move to the cross bench alongside ex Liberal Julie Banks because senior members of the party were allegedly making her position "untenable" , and


3      Used an interview with The Australian newspaper to -


(a) Accuse male peers on not giving her "a fair go", isolating her and restricting her access to resources; 


(b) State that men still held most power within the party despite the more equitable numerical representation of genders compared to the Coalition,


(c) Claim that the party also has a "women problem", and


(d) Blamed  "gender bias" for her "downfall".



Source: Rosie Lewis: Husar- Labor division deepens. The Australian. January 8 2019. p4.


Controversial complaints and allegations about Ms Husar's Issues around management and treatment of staff members were exposed to the Australian media including bizarre allegations that she was guilty of the sexual harrassment of a former male staffer. There may be an element of truth to the slut shaming allegations she made.


However, the ALP report confirmed that she was responsible for the poor treatment of staff which saw 20 staff changes inside two years and ever 'vacant' positions in her office suggest there were problems of her own making in managing staff appropriately.



Male and female staff alike had problems working with Ms Husar -those allegations were found to be supported by the evidence gathered in the ALP investigative reports.


Therefore, to blame her demise as the Member for Lindsay entirely on "gender bias", slut shaming or a personal vendettas from a former male staff member or a combination of these things alone seems from the outside at least to be quite fanciful.


Senior ALP woman Penny Wong would not be drawn on Ms Husar's claims that she had been unfairly treated by men in the party, saying it was "obviously a very distressing situation" for Ms Husar.


"We have worked very hard to make sure we have have women well represented, and women well supported in Parliament. Our track record shows the success of that".


A former Emma Husar staff member was less generous with her comments. Ms Cook worked voluntarily for Ms Husar in the pre-election campaign then as a casual staffer until April 2018. Ms Cook's scathing assessment was this


"Ms Husar does not represent Labor values. Her downfall was nothing to do with her gender. As a woman, I am offended she has used this as an excuse or defence of her downfall" 


Source: Rosie Lewis: Husar- Labor division deepens. The Australian. January 8 2019. p4




I conclude that the representation of women in this party is exemplary compared to the other major parties and will evolve to genuine equinimity over time.  On the issue of the support of women once they make it into the Parliament as sitting members, this party may need to "work very hard" as Ms Wong put it a while longer to reach those higher standard goals.


As the Lisa Singh case demonstates, the party is yet to celebrate, put to work and welcome the presence of an independent thinking,  'non- alligned' woman in the party.  There is the waft of a 'boys club" cigar hanging around the Australian Labor Party, particularly in the  factional "deals"  where the current leadership resides. 


Passionate, intelligent, gifted and humane women like Ms Singh can find themselves isolated, unsupported and virtually powerless to do much about it unless they are willing to foreswear fidelity and allegiance to one over-zealos faction or the other in Tasmania . Singh did something about it in 2016, can she do it again ?  Personally I hope Singh can do it again - but 45,000 + below the line votes is a big ask on my apple isle (Tasmania).








After the 2016 election, the ALP had 26 seats in the 76 seat Senate. 13 ALP Senators will stand for re-election in 2019. The other 13 will not have to stand for re-election until 2022 when their 6 year Senate terms expire.


DUE FOR RE-ELECTION in 2019 (13)


Doug Cameron    NSW

Clair Moore        QLD

Chris Ketter     QLD

Alex Gallacher   SA

Carol Brown   TAS

Lisa Singh     TAS

Catryna Bilyk     TAS

Jacinta Collins       VIC  -Retiring 

Gavin Marshall        VIC - Lost 2nd spot pre-selection

Patrick Dodson      WA

Louise Pratt      WA

David Smith     ACT

Malarndirri McCarthy     NT


           DUE FOR RE-ELECTION in 2022 (13)


Kristine Keneally    NSW

Jenny McAllister    NSW

Deborah O'Neill    NSW

Murray Watt    QLD

Anthony Chisholm    QLD

Penny Wong    SA

Don Farrell    SA

Amanda Urquhart    TAS

Helen Polley,    TAS

Kim Carr,    VIC

Kimberley Kitching   VIC

Sue Lines    WA

Glenn Sterle WA


Source: Parliament of Australia. Senators and Members https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/03%20Senators%20and%20Members/31%20Senators/chamber.jpg?h=189&la=en&w=758

See the BIG PICTURE chapter for a discusion of this Party's Senate election prospects for 2019.