Wendy Askew will be the fourth woman to represent the Tasmanian Liberal Party on a federal level, across both houses, ever.
That’s according to political analyst Kevin Bonham, who said Ms Askew will join Dame Edith Lyons, Jocelyn Newman, and Shirley Waters in the list of Tasmanian women representing the Liberal Party federally since its formation in 1945.
“There’s a large number of males that have been representatives in that time, so it’s been a quite a large gender gap, by modern standards,” Mr Bonham said.
Comparatively, there are seven Labor women representing Tasmania federally in the current Parliament: Catryna Bilyk, Carol Brown, Helen Polley, Anne Urquhart, and Lisa Singh in the Senate, and Justine Keay and Julie Collins in the House of Representatives.
There was also Jacqui Lambie representing Tasmania federally, until the citizenship scandal last year. There are no female Greens or independents representing the state in Canberra.
Mr Bonham said he had not conducted research into the reason behind the gender disparity.
But he said a possible cause could be that senators are nominated within the party, rather than the public voting for individuals.
“It does seem that some forces within the [Liberals] have been not very interested in gender equity,” he said.
“The state parliament is not exactly even, but there’s a much higher proportion of females on the Liberal side.
“So its been a curiously federal issue, maybe due to the fact that [senators] are elected by the party itself and not the public.”
President of Tasmanian Liberal Party, Sam McQuestin, said the endorsement of Brighton councillor Jessica Whelan as the federal Liberal candidate for Lyons, the same day Wendy Askew was selected to fill a Senate vacancy, demonstrated that the party was taking great strides.
“With Jessica’s endorsement the Liberal Party has 50 per cent female representation in our lower house candidate team, including Bridget Archer in the marginal seat of Bass,” he said.
“Assuming Claire Chandler is elected to the Senate from the second position on the ticket, 40 per cent of our Senate team will be female.
“These statistics clearly demonstrate that the Liberal Party has listened and is acting when it comes female representation.”