Fact sheet

Fact Check: Does Labor have twice the number of women the Liberals have in Parliament and on the frontbench?

Australian Labor Party Women in politics
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek claimed in a tweet that Labor is well ahead of the Liberal Party when it comes to female representation, with more than double the number of women in its parliamentary party, and double the number of women on its frontbench. Ms Plibersek's claim checks out, but there's more to it. There are more than twice the number of Labor women in Parliament than there are Liberal women, in both raw numbers (44 vs 19) and proportional terms (46.3 per cent vs 22.9 per cent). But calculating the frontbench is more complicated. Firstly, the Government's frontbench contains members from both the Liberals and Nationals (and the Liberals do not control who the Nationals select). Secondly, there are differing opinions on what constitutes the frontbench: does it include assistant ministers (who typically sit in the second row)? Regardless, Labor has a larger frontbench than the Liberals. When the frontbench is defined as all ministers or shadow ministers (excluding assistants), Ms Plibersek's claim holds in raw numbers and proportional terms. Twelve of Labor's shadow ministers are women (40 per cent), compared to five female ministers for the Liberals (20.8 per cent). When adding assistant ministers, the claim holds in raw terms (20 vs nine), but not proportionally. Under this broader definition of the frontbench, Labor's female representation is just 1.6 times greater.
Verdict: Yes, but more to it
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