It is 2018, but South Australia’s political landscape remains dominated by men.
That was again evident when an election issues debate was hosted this week by the organisation Women in Media — the panel consisted of five men (and a woman as host).
Here is a snapshot of what the all-male political leaders had to say.
Women in politics
Most parties admitted they had a long way to go.
Premier Jay Weatherill:
“We have the highest number of female candidates at the next election, but it’s only about 38 per cent so it’s nowhere near good enough.”
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall:
“The Liberal Party needs to do more. Like the Premier says, all major parties do need to do more.”
SA Best leader Nick Xenophon:
“Of course we should do more and I think the fact that we’re talking about it and it’s on the agenda is important.”
Greens leader Mark Parnell:
“The Greens around the country have 34 elected members in state and Federal Parliament, 20 of whom are women.
“Other parties have quotas — the Greens don’t need them.”
Australian Conservatives MLC Robert Brokenshire:
“I think we do have to do more, but I think we’ve come a long way and we’re doing a lot better in Parliament with getting women in there.”
Tackling domestic violence
With hundreds of women in crisis accommodation in SA, the leaders offered few practical suggestions, but promised to reveal more policies during the coming weeks of campaigning.
Party leaders are promising more policies on domestic violence during the campaign. (ABC News: Dane Meale)
“While we do need to exhaust all of the opportunities for keeping women in their own homes, that’s impractical of course for safety reasons in a lot of circumstances, so we need to expand the range of options.”
“What we’re currently doing is not only inadequate, it’s often very expensive and there’s better ways to spend that public money to get a better outcome.”
“Women in that situation flee their homes with their children because they fear for their lives — and the issue is ‘Why should they be leaving?’ There are some innovative solutions.”
“Legal aid, early intervention. I think we’re getting there but you can’t fudge the fact that it costs more money to keep people safe — more money, not less.”
“The bottom line is, from A to Z, we’ve got to revisit the whole thing. Prevention, early intervention, support and then, of course, accommodation.”
Women prison inmates
Leaders were asked about the lack of a unit offering family support in Adelaide’s women’s prison, in light of pregnant women facing jail time.
Leaders were asked if mums in prison should have their newborns live-in. (Flickr: Bridget Coila)
“If the question is whether children belong in prisons alongside parents, I think there are some real issues about the wellbeing of children. For me, the interests of the child are paramount.”
“This is a complex area of public policy. There is no black and white answer, it does need to be answered on an individual basis.”
“If the experts say that six months postnatal [live-in access] is appropriate, that might be the thing to do but children having access to their mums beyond that is important.”
“When I was elected 12 years ago, the first work excursion I got to go on was to Yatala [prison] and one of the places we went to was the mums and bubs unit and I thought, ‘This is enlightened’, and then to find out that with the passage of time that those services don’t exist.”
“It’s a deplorable situation what we have, particularly in our prison system for women. Conditions are not right, the mindset of the department is not right.”
South Australians head to polling booths on March 17.