cross-party unity confounds ideology

Cross-party women's unity is changing the Australian Parliament according to political analyst Michelle Grattan, writing in The Sun-Herald on 12 November, 2006.

In an article entitled "On Health, women senators march together to do battle", introduced with the view that "Party lines stand for little in the face of a new dynamic that's changing the way our Federal Parliament works", Grattan reports that women "were the driving force and decisive numbers in having power over abortion drug RU486 removed from [the Health Minister's] hands".

"Women were also among the leading players" in the passage of the therapeutic cloning bill and Senate women "have highlighted the imbalance in funding for gynaecological cancers compared with breast cancer".

"A current issue stirring the women is a private member's bill ... to force pregnancy counselling agencies to reveal their attitude to abortion to those contracting them for help".

"While most of the women are in tune with these causes", a small cross-party group of pro-life women parliamentarians are opposed.

Grattan quotes Senator Ruth Webber as suggesting that cross-party women's unity "could well become habit-forming - all of us learning to work together".

"We're not going to cop the ideological line from blokes on either side."

"It's certainly a new dynamic in the Senate".

With the prospect of an Australian Republic to be implemented over the next decade a women's legislature in Canberra is becoming a likely option.

November 14, 2006