Centre for Independent Studies, Week 8, Anis Rezae, Gender Quotas?

Anis Rezae

Given the role of women in politics, are setting affirmative-action quotas the answer to boosting female representation? Next week the CIS senior policy analyst, Eugenie Joseph and other speakers will discuss issues surrounding women in politics. With an upcoming federal election, this has been a hot topic. Although running for office should be on a merit-based system, discussion on these topics is constructive to ensure quality public policies meet their outcomes. As Eugenie Joseph points out in her recent op-ed – “Capable women – from lawyers to factory workers, teachers to bureaucrats – are perfectly well-qualified to run for public office. But quotas will do little to help them if pre-selection is still biased in favour of political insiders.”1 While gender quotas may be seen as an easy solution it does little to tackle the deeper issue within political parties.

Another issue that has been at the forefront of discussions is the issue of homelessness in Australia. Research at the CIS has found that despite inflated figures showing an increase in 30% over a decade, only 7% of people are classified as homeless in Australia.2 This overestimation is because those living in overcrowded accommodation are being classified as homeless. Given that overcrowding has occurred in most major cities in the past decade, the figures are simply a reflection of this problem. Homelessness is an unfortunate social problem in Australia and the government needs to put in place effective policies to address this issue such as incentivising employment for young people.

A number of policy suggestions have been put forward by the CIS. Firstly, adopting a non-opt-out outreach program for those affected by homelessness to ensure those who suffer from mental illness are properly treated. Since those who are homeless are disproportionately affected by drug and alcohol problems, expanding mandatory drug treatment may lead a road to recovery.

It has been another great week in Sydney with Australia Day just around the corner. We reflect on our values of democracy and freedom. However controversial the celebrations, we should feel proud of our nation and its people. Simon Cowan, CIS policy director says it best – “it is OK to celebrate the good as long as we don’t bury the bad.”