A report released today reveals that Australian members of Parliament are far more likely than the general population to come from a narrow and elite range of professional backgrounds.
They’re also more likely than the general population to be white, male, born in Australia and university educated – and the problem is being driven by the conservative side of politics.
The Liberal party has only 11 more female MPs than it did 30 years ago - the National party only one more - while Labor has successfully quadrupled the number of women on its benches since 1988 through a quota system.
The number of MPs who entered Parliament from a teaching career has dropped dramatically. This change is particularly pronounced in the Liberal Party, where in 1988 more than 11 percent of Liberal MPs had a teaching background, that figure is now less than five percent.
Since 1988, the number of MPs in the Liberal Party with a background in banking and finance has risen to more than 16 percent, despite less than five percent of the population working in these sectors.
The peak body for working people has called for better representation of working Australians – more people with vocational qualifications, from a wider range of occupations, more women, more people from culturally diverse backgrounds and more people who were educated in public schools.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“Our parliament should reflect the people who elect it. This means it should be more culturally diverse, represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, have more women, teachers, nurses, and tradespeople.
“We live in a diverse Australia – when we look at our Parliament we are not seeing this, we do not see all working and educational backgrounds represented.
“The Morrison Government is dead set on boosting representation of an elite few from big business and the banks while he’s ignoring the rest of us.
“The Morrison-led coalition Government has an obvious agenda - to disproportionately represent an elite few – big business, the banks. It is failing working people: They’re failing women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and those from other cultural backgrounds.
“It’s time for a Parliament that includes workers, includes women, and includes all people that make up our country.