Even Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe appears to have had enough of the behaviour of Australian politicians, using a speech in Perth last night to remind them of the words of the country’s first first female member of parliament, Edith Cowan, is a jab at the workplace dysfunction in Canberra.
His pointed comments come in the wake of Liberal MP and former corporate lawyer Julia Banks announcing she’ll leave politics after just one term, citing bullying during the recent leadership spill as one of the reasons for her decision.
Her marginal Victorian electorate of Chisholm was the only seat won by the government at the 2016 election.
South Australian Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi agreed with Banks and has threatened to use parliamentary privilege to name those involved, while Minister for Industrial Relations and Women, Kelly O’Dwyer told ABC TV’s 7.30 this week that it was clear to her that Liberal MPs “were subject to threats and intimidation and bullying” and she was “a little bit disgusted” after some of her male colleagues said the women in politics needed to toughen up.
Radio commentator Alan Jones said they needed “a teaspoon of cement”.
Revealing the new redesigned $50 note, which features Cowan, and Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon, will be released on October 18, the RBA Governor drew attention to one of the security features on Australian currency – the microtext written into the design, which while visible to the naked eye, requires magnification for many to read it.
The $50 note features an extract from Edith Cowan’s first speech to the Western Australian Parliament.
Low said: “For those who will struggle to read it, I would like to quote a little from the text. In 1921 Edith Cowan said:
I stand here to-day in the unique position of being the first woman in an Australian Parliament…
If men and women can work for the same state side by side and represent all the different sections of the community… I cannot doubt that we should do very much better work in the community than was ever done before.
The RBA boss picked up on the theme, adding: “Nearly one hundred years on, this sentiment is just as relevant as it was back in 1921. We are proud to have this text on the new $50 note and to recognise Edith Cowan’s achievement. The note will also have a seating plan of today’s Western Australian Legislative Assembly. It will also recognise Edith Cowan’s lifelong advocacy of women.”
Cowan entered politics, aged 59, in 1921, the year Western Australia passed legislation so women could stand for parliament. She beat the state’s Attorney-General – ironically, the man responsible for the change – to win her seat, but only served one term. She didn’t waste it, introducing laws so women could enter the legal profession and putting women on a par with fathers if their children died without a will.
She was also one of the first politicians to promote sex education in schools.
NOW READ: Here’s Australia’s new $50 note
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