Peta Credlin pledges to help more Coalition women succeed in politics
July 17, 2014
he Prime Minister's chief of staff Peta Credlin has promised to help Coalition women rise through the ranks of conservative politics and into public life, while dismissing the idea of female quotas.
And Ms Credlin has also confessed to being hurt by Clive Palmer's public attack on her over the government's paid parental leave scheme, in an at times emotional speech to Coalition staff.
In a closed door briefing immediately following the repeal of the carbon tax, Mr Abbott, Ms Credlin, Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane, Nationals party director Scott Mitchell called together all staff to deliver a rev up and congratulate them on helping deliver a key election pledge.
Mr Abbott foreshadowed more hard work ahead to secure the passage of a politically unpopular budget.
In an unusual move, at the end of the meeting Ms Credlin asked the approximately 80 female staff in the Coalition party room to hang back for a further discussion.
She called on the assembled Coalition women – from receptionists through to senior chiefs of staff in ministerial offices – for their ideas about how to assist conservative women rise through the ranks to be MPs, senators, or senior political staffers.
Though Ms Credlin said she did not support female quotas – a measure Labor has implemented – new mechanisms would be put in place to ensure more conservative women succeeded in politics.
Ms Credlin said she was determined to make a difference for women in conservative politics while serving as chief of staff to the prime minister, a role that is one of the most powerful political offices in the land.
The Coalition has endured sustained criticism for a lack of senior female MPs in its ranks, with just woman – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – sitting in the cabinet, though behind the scenes 55 per cent of staff in Mr Abbott's office are women and 48 per cent of ministerial staff are women.
A briefly emotional Ms Credlin also told the assembled female staffers about the hurt she suffered when the Palmer United Party leader publicly attacked her in June, a matter she has never commented on publicly.
Mr Palmer suggested at the time Ms Credlin would receive a "massive benefit when she gets pregnant" – a thinly veiled reference to her public revelation about attempting to conceive through IVF – and described her as "top dog", before correcting that aside to "top person".
Mr Palmer has faced a chorus of criticism in recent weeks for addressing female journalists as "madam" and "my dear" and for alleged bullying a female member of Senate staff.
One staffer who attended the meeting said that Ms Credlin had not dwelled on Mr Palmer's comments and had stressed the importance of "giving women a hand up, not a hand out, in true Liberal fashion".