Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2013
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/01/2013
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FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARIANS (a)
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MINISTERS (a)
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CABINET MINISTERS (a)(b)
On 1 January 2013, 29% (66) of 226 federal parliamentarians were women. The proportion of woman federal parliamentarians has risen by three percentage points since 2004, when 60 out of 226 federal parliamentary seats were held by women. In the federal government ministry, as at 1 January 2013 there were eight female ministers (including the Prime Minister) and 22 male ministers.
National life is influenced not just by tangible qualities such as economic output, health and education, but also by many intangible qualities such as the quality of our public life, the fairness of our society, the health of our democracy and the extent to which citizens of Australia participate actively in their communities or cooperate with one another. (Endnote 1)
One principle underpinning democratic government is that parliament should represent and express the will of the people. Parliamentarians therefore spend considerable time working with their constituents. (Endnote 2) However, the legitimacy of parliament is further strengthened when its composition is seen to reflect all sections of the community. Since Australia's population comprises roughly equal numbers of males and females, an unequal representation of either gender in parliament may reduce the diversity of views expressed in the political process and influence outcomes regarding government policy and decision-making. (Endnote 3)
On 1 January 2013, the proportion of woman members of the House of Representatives was 25% (37 out of 150). This proportion is the same as in 2004. The proportion of woman senators increased from 29% in 2004, to 38% in 2013 (up from 22 to 29 of the 76 senators). The proportion of woman parliamentarians in state governments was 28% (167 out of 598) in 2013, slightly lower than the proportion of woman federal parliamentarians. The proportion of woman state parliamentarians has decreased by two percentage points since 2004 (down from 30% or 179 of the total of 598).
Federal and state government ministers
Gender equality in decision making positions is crucial in a democratic society. In the federal government ministry, as at 1 January 2013, there were eight female federal government ministers and 22 male federal government ministers. This reflects an increase in the number of woman federal government ministers from five in 2004.
Of the eight female federal government ministers in 2013, five were Cabinet ministers, compared to 17 male Cabinet ministers. In 2004, only three of the 17 federal Cabinet ministers were women. The federal Cabinet comprises senior ministers (headed by the Prime Minister) and effectively controls not only a government's legislative program, but also government departments of state. (Endnote 4) The Cabinet is the Government's pre-eminent policy-making body. (Endnote 5)
As at 1 January 2013, 22% (26) of all the state/territory government ministers (119) were women, compared to 26% (29 out of 111) in 2004.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004, Year Book Australia, 2004, (cat. no. 1301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Year Book Australia, 2009-10, (cat. no. 1301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
3. Norris, P and Krook ML 2011, Gender equality in elected office: A six-step action plan, viewed 20 June 2012 <http://www.osce.org>
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Year Book Australia, 2012, (cat. no. 1301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
5. Parliament of Australia, 2012, Infosheet 20 - The Australian System of Government, viewed 15 January 2013, <www.aph.gov.au>.
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This page last updated 16 May 2013