Affirmative Action

EL founding members were integral to the ALP integrating affirmative action into its national platform in 1994.

Women such as Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence, Meredith Burgmann, Jan Burnswoods, Kay Setches, Cheryl Davenport, Judy Spence, Carolyn Pickles, Sue Mackay and Fran Bladel joined emerging labor women leaders Julia Gillard, unionist Helen Creed, assistant ALP national secretary Candy Broad and community advocate Leonie Morgan, to make structural change within the ALP.

Achieving, in 1994, an initial target of women being preselected in 35% of all winnable state and federal seats by 2002, this target was later amended to 40% by 2012 after a campaign involving EL MPs Sharryn Jackson, Penny Wong, Julia Gillard, Jenny Macklin, Trish Crossin, Sue Mackay and Carmen Lawrence and union leaders Helen Creed and Sharan Burrow.

In 1995, Joan Kirner wrote of the need for constant vigilance to ensure that the ALP moved to meet its targets. Read her article here.

The ALP’s AA targets assisted in increasing the proportion of Labor women federally from 14.5% in 1994 to 38.2% in 2015.

They also contributed to women making up 47% of the Victorian Caucus and 41% of Cabinet after the 2014 election and 39% of the Queensland Caucus and 57% of the Queensland Cabinet after the 2015 election.

2015 – a major step forward

In July 2015, EMILY’s List and the National Labor Women’s Network succeeded in campaigning to change the ALP’s affirmative action rule to ensure 50% female representation by 2025.

This new affirmative action rule, which embeds a penalty for non-compliance, will be phased in, with the current target of 40% lifted to 45% by 2022 and 50% by 2025.

Click here to read the revised ALP National Rules

As part of EMILY's List's campaign for equality, the 2015 Status of Women report was released. Click here to read the report.

We are now working with each State to make the necessary changes to each branch’s rules.

In late August, WA unanimously adopted a new rule to enshrine 45% by 2017 and 50% by 1 January 2021 while Queensland adopted an enforceable target of 50% by 2025.

Queensland EMILY's List MP and Minister Shannon Fentiman spoke about the importance of AA and gender equality in July. Read an edited version of her CEDA speech here.

AA – a win win

"It is less that women have a right to be there than we have a need for them to be there.

It is less an argument for women than an argument for the country".

Paul Keating, Opening Address, Women, Power & the 21st Century, Melbourne 1993.