political

Barnaby Joyce's return to Nationals leadership angers regional women fearing 'backward step'

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Hon David Littleproud, Barnaby Joyce are posing for a picture: Some rural female leaders have spoken out against Barnaby Joyce's return to the National Party leadership. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Some rural female leaders have spoken out against Barnaby Joyce's return to the National Party leadership.

Regional women angered by Barnaby Joyce's return to the nation's second-highest political office are speaking out at what they dub "a backward" step by the National Party.

Mr. Joyce was sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister on Tuesday morning, a day after toppling Michael McCormack as the Nationals leader.

Pauline McAllister, an NSW trustee of the party and member of more than two decades, said the party's decision to vote out now-former leader Michael McCormack was a backwards step.

"I think there are a lot of women who feel a bit disenfranchised. I think there will be a lot of women who will be totally disappointed," Ms. McAllister said.

Ms. McAllister said Mr. Joyce's strengths as an "excellent negotiator" and "a great member for his electorate" were not enough to rebuild trust among female voters.

"I believe that a lot of women won't forget the events of some years ago, and I think it'll affect the female vote. I'm quite sure of that," Ms McAllister said.

"It's a very difficult situation that can't be fixed overnight."

A step backwards

Before yesterday's leadership spill, National Party MPs Anne Webster and Michelle Landry both warned against the reinstatement of the former leader, saying many women would be unimpressed.

Indeed, Mr Joyce's return as Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader has some fuming.

Former chair of the party's Women's Council and ex-Nationals member, Jess Price-Purnell was one of those shocked by the decision.

"It's actually pretty devastating," she said.

"My first reaction was a word I can't say on a recording. I think it's a backward step. I think we've now just taken a 10-year step backwards."

Ms Price-Purnell, who was a member of the Nationals for more than a decade and left last year, said women in regional Australia had grown frustrated by the party.

"I think women are getting frustrated that no one really seems to be listening," she said.

"Everything gets turned into a women's issue. You know, childcare shouldn't be a women's issue, it should be a societal issue.

"My husband is just as affected by expensive childcare as I am, yet I'm the one who's meant to stay at home and give up my career that I've studied for.

'Women are being ignored'

Alana Johnson, a farmer from Benalla in Victoria and founding member of Women in Agriculture, said she was also surprised.

"I thought surely they would have learned by now that re-establishing Barnaby Joyce as the leader of the National Party would be a demonstration that they certainly haven't been listening to women," she said.

Mr. Joyce resigned from the role in 2018 amid accusations of sexual harassment – allegations he strenuously denies – as well as revelations about his extramarital affair with a staffer.

The Member for New England yesterday said he was coming back into the leadership a better person.

"I acknowledge my faults and I resigned as I should and did; I spent three years on the backbench and I hope I come back a better person,” Mr. Joyce told reporters on Monday.

“Hopefully one learns from mistakes and makes themselves a better person.”

But Ms. Johnson wasn't convinced.

"They can be seen as very hollow words," she said.

"What we're hearing is that people like Barnaby Joyce will not deliver what women are looking for."

'What has happened in the past, I want to put in the past'

However, Nationals senator for NSW, Perin Davey, downplayed concerns about how women would react to Mr. Joyce's return to the leadership.

"What has happened in the past, I want to put in the past, we want to focus on the future," Ms. Davey said.

"I've had conversations with Barnaby about how we work together to get more women in the party and he's all for it."

Other women, such as Cecilia Dries in Mr. Joyce's electorate of New England, said they backed their local member.

"Who are we to judge people's personal lives? So no, I don't hold anything against Barnaby," she said.

For Ms. Johnson, actions will speak louder than words.

"We'll certainly be needing to see some proof by action if he's ever going to rebuild trust with women."

3 Comments

  • David Jackson

    David Jackson

    7:36 PM, 08-07-2021

    Hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha 😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆 Politics!!!!!!

    0 Reply
  • Pich

    Pich

    12:08 PM, 08-07-2021

    A party?

    0 Reply
    • Ray Cooney

      3:58 AM, 10-07-2021

      This is what we call a branch of a political group in Australia, this is the National Party.

  • Suvir

    Suvir

    12:21 PM, 22-06-2021

    A party divided

    0 Reply

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