Minister leading drive to recruit more women to Parramatta Council

In the lead-up to the September 4 local government election, there is a concerted push to recruit more Liberal women for Western Sydney councils, particularly Parramatta. Minister for Women Senator Marise Payne is playing an active role in this, aided by Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer. Parramatta has never had an endorsed Liberal female councilor.

THERE is a concerted push in the Liberal Party to get more of their women onto local councils, with Liberal Senator for Western Sydney  Marise Payne playing a key role.

Ms Payne, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, will be taking time out of her busy schedule to convince women to run for Western Sydney councils, notably Parramatta, in the September poll.

The current Parramatta Council has four women councillors, Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Garrard from the Our Local Community party; council elder Lorraine Wearne, an Independent; and Labor’s Donna Davis and Patricia Prociv.

The Liberal Party has only officially endorsed candidates for local government since the early 90s and there has never been an endorsed Liberal female councillor at Parramatta.

Liberal Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer for one, wants that to change.

He has confirmed with the Parramatta Times that he is working closely with Marise Payne to “convince some Liberal women to run for council in September”.

“It’s about time we changed the male domination of Parramatta Council,” Cr Dwyer told the Times.

“Women are 51 per cent of the population after all, and they bring a different perspective to all levels of government.”

Cr Dwyer said the women on his council worked well, even if they were not in his Party.

“I would love to see Liberal women on  this council,” he said.

One reason for success

One of the reasons Labor was more successful in fielding women was because “many come up through the unions”, with the Liberal Party lacking in that training ground, he said.

But part of the problem was that when Liberal women did put up their hands, they were further down the ticket than the male candidates.

That has to change, Cr Dwyer said.

In other words, if women want to run on a Liberal ticket, there have to be given the best chance of being elected.

Cr Dwyer has identified a number of women working in the community who would make good Liberal councillors – if only they were in the Party.

“Not all the women I have identified are in the Party, and that’s part of the task facing us,” he said.

A spokesman for Ms Payne confirmed that the Senator was keen to convince more women to run for all councils in Western Sydney but had a special focus on Parramatta.

Ms Payne will be commenting further in the coming months.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the current controversy of sexual harassment and discrimination that women face in the blokey world of politics.

The Times hopes to discuss that further with Senator Payne in the countdown to the council elections.

Cumberland Council has only two female councilors, Ola Hamed and Lisa Lake, both Labor.

Photo: Federal Minister Marise Payne pictured at last year’s WSABE event at Rosehill Gardens.

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