How The Election Has Changed The Role Of Women Linked To Leaders

For better, not worse.

30/06/2016 10:31 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:56 PM AEST
Getty Images
The Liberal Party has had to apologise to Lucy Turnbull.

The footage of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull trying to find Lucy in Adelaide is not only endearing because he looks a little lost without her, or because she'd run off to a toy store to find a gift for their grandson Jack. It was a little moment representing how the role of the women tied to both leaders of the major parties has changed in this campaign.

They're not the women behind Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten anymore, but partners standing side by side.

The rhetoric around them has grown beyond their glamour, hairstyles and choice of clothes. Their views and careers are referenced. And the Liberal Party even apologised this week for using Lucy Turnbull's senior state government-appointed job to promote a party fundraiser.

Lucy Turnbull's position as head of the Sydney Greater Commission was listed on the invite for a $3000-a-head, women-only boardroom luncheon with Minister for Women Michaelia Cash.

After apologising to the Prime Minister's wife, the Liberal Party directed all funds from the event to St Vincent de Paul Society NSW with a $40,000 cheque.

On the other side of politics, it was hard to miss Chloe Shorten starring in an ALP campaign, interviewing her husband on all things Bill.

The former newspaper and magazine journalist, who grew up in the public eye with the former Governor-General Quentin Bryce as her mother, had as much screen time as the ALP leader. And nothing is unintentional in election campaigns.

Shorten also credits his understanding of the domestic violence epidemic in this country to Chloe.

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's wife Thérèse Rein was also a force to be reckoned with, selling the recruitment company she founded, Ingeus, for more than $200 million the year after Rudd lost the election.

Powerful women linked to powerful leaders have long been here, but the 2016 election has shone a new light on them.

You could count the similarities between the Turnbull and Shorten on two hands. Aside from the fact they both converted faiths to their partners' (Turnbull from Presbyterianism to Catholicism and Shorten from Catholicism to Anglicanism), they both perform better when their partners are around.

More On This Topic