We're less than three days out from election day.
But as you go to the ballot box on Saturday, depending on which electorate you're in, you might notice something...
Yes. With all due respect to Geri Halliwell, there are a lot of men out there. Some might say too many. We ran the numbers on the candidates running in this election, and it's not good news for gender equality. There are 35 races where the major parties -- Liberals, Labor and the Greens -- failed to field a female candidate; 10 percent of lower house races don't have a single female candidate at all from any party; and women were almost totally passed over in the safe seats.
Let's get into it.
There are 150 electorates around the country, meaning 150 members of parliament (MPs) will be elected on July 2. The overwhelming majority already have a sitting member, but there is an unusually high number of current sitting MPs retiring at this election, so there are 23 vacant seats ripe for the picking.
The Liberal-National Coalition, Labor and the Greens are all fielding candidates in every single electorate around Australia (with the exception of the Liberals, in the Victorian seat of Calwell, who have disendorsed their nominated candidate). The Coalition is actually fielding more than 150 candidates, with some seats seeing both a Liberal and a National running for office. So, of those 150-odd candidates from each party, how many are women?
The Liberals fare the worst, at just 37 female candidates and 113 men. Labor do a fair bit better, at 60 women and 90 men, but the Greens are setting the standard at 75 men and 75 women among their candidates for the 2016 election.
But when you delve down into the details of each individual race, things start to look a bit worse. You see, of the 150 lower house races, there are 35 where the Liberals, Labor and Greens are all running men.
Even worse, there are 15 races around the country -- that's one in 10 -- where not ONE female candidate is running from ANY party. Many of those 15 races are in smaller electorates and smaller races, with as few as three declared candidates; however, in the seats of New England (10 candidates, 10 men), Wentworth (eight candidates, eight men), Menzies (eight candidates, eight men) and Hinkler (seven candidates, seven men) it's a bad look.
"What about the all-female races?" you may ask. Well, there aren't many. There are only 10 races out of 150 where the Liberals, Labor and Greens are all fielding female candidates; Cunningham, Dobell, Gilmore, Robertson, Corangamite, Griffith, Curtin, Forrest, Franklin and Canberra. There are no all-female races. None.
Drilling down even further, let's look at those all male races. There are 70 -- yes SEVENTY, almost half the races in the country -- where both Labor and the Coalition have chosen men to run. Yes. In almost half the races in this country, neither of the two major parties selected a woman to run.
Marginal seats (where the leading party tallied less than 56 percent of the vote in the last election) are where parties focus their energy, in hopes of winning the seat and adding it to their total. They are the ones where the non-sitting candidate conceivably has a chance of winning. There are 56 marginal seats in Australia. In those 56 seats, the non-holding party (be that Liberal or Labor) has placed women in 26 of those races, and men in the other 30.
THE VACANT SEATS
It's not just in the competitive seats where women are getting ripped off, it's in the safe ones too. As we mentioned, there are 23 MPs retiring at this election, and therefore 23 vacant seats up for grabs. Of those, 13 are considered safe by the Australian Electoral Commission (that is, that one party would need more than a 6 percent swing to lose it -- a pretty big change in electorate behaviour). So, 13 seats where the pre-selected candidate from the party who previously held it has a pretty slim chance of losing, and therefore where the pre-selected candidate is all but assured of winning and having a job in federal parliament until the next election.
Of those 13 safe vacant seats, 12 went to men. Just one -- Boothby -- saw a woman pre-selected. In the safe vacant seats of Mackellar, Fisher, Calare, Shortland, Groom, Fairfax, Goldstein, Berowra, Maranoa, Murray, Wills and Wide Bay, men were given the plum job.