Sharman Stone is not exactly a household name, not even in her own house. In two decades as a federal Liberal MP for the Victorian seat of Murray (1996-2016) she didn’t set the lower house on fire either. At best, she plodded along, serving eight years as a parliamentary secretary in the Howard government and then two years as the Minister for Workforce Participation (2006-07). Debating her was like being savaged by a dead sheep. Yet perhaps this was only a stepping Stone, as she seems to have saved her boldest contribution for later in life, as a Julie Bishop-appointed Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls. When I was in Sri Lanka recently I was shown a newspaper article detailing Stone’s ‘keynote address’ at a women’s conference in Colombo. ‘Why do you Australians send your diplomats overseas to attack your own country?’ my ever-helpful host, a local businessman, inquired. Good question.
The newspaper report was headlined: ‘Top levels of industry, government stubbornly male: Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls’.Reading it, you would think Gladys Berejiklian, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Marise Payne, Katie Page, Ann Sherry, Michelle Guthrie and Catherine Brenner didn’t exist. Oops, Guthrie and Brenner don’t anymore – another Pyrrhic victory for identity politics in picking people on gender grounds.Stone also failed to mention that Australia had had a female Prime Minister, someone so unpopular the Labor party decided to replace her with a guy its frontbenchers loathed for the way in which he had sabotaged their previous election campaign, driving them into minority government. That would have had Sri Lankan heads spinning faster than a Muttiah Muralitharan doosra.No wonder Stone stuck to the easier theme of bagging Australia in front of a foreign audience. She argued, ‘Girls are forging ahead at school, including at the tertiary level, but for many women success in education does not necessarily translate into employment.’
This is pure propaganda. In their chosen vocational fields, Australian women are powering ahead in the workforce, to the point where we now have more female than male lawyers, GP doctors, vets, office managers, teachers and public servants. In terms of missing out on employment, Australia has 100,000 more men than women living on long-term welfare – very often white men restructured out of blue-collar manufacturing. So far in life they have missed out on the mirage of ‘white male privilege’. Why would Stone fail to tell her audience of this Australian story in gender equality? Because it doesn’t fit the Left-feminist narrative of perpetual female grievance and victimhood. In practice, this kind of politics betrays the best interests of women and girls, the people Stone is supposed to represent. It tells them the way ahead in life is by playing the gender card, by pleading for special treatment, rather than studying and working hard and achieving great things on merit.
Thankfully, most Australian women are ignoring the Stone-age message and making their own way in the workforce, dominating prestigious industries like the law, medicine and veterinary science. The Ambassador further misled her audience by claiming, ‘Research shows that companies with gender-diverse boards generate higher returns on equity and have better share-price performance.’ Like AMP? In fact, there is no peer-reviewed academic research supporting Stone’s claim. Examination of meta-data studies by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has found that the gender composition of boardrooms makes no tangible difference, for better or worse, to a firm’s performance. The great driver of corporate outcomes is culture – the type of firms board members (male and female) have come from in their past business life.
Stone also argued that Australian women are victims of a gender pay gap, ‘earning 16 per cent less than men’. This is a curious claim as since the time of the Whitlam government, Australia has had equal pay laws. It is illegal to pay women less then men for doing the same job. In fact, federal government data shows that for a majority of professions, when Australian women leave university (graduating in greater numbers than men) they are better paid in their first job than men.The ‘gap’, so called, is almost entirely a product of women subsequently leaving the workforce to have children – a source of immense joy for the parents involved. Only Left-feminism could take these happy family events and turn them into yet another miserable, whinging political propaganda campaign.
Despite the best efforts of the Safe Schools program and gender fluidity theory, the Left hasn’t been able to alter one immutable biological reality: men can’t have babies but women can. There is something wrong with the Australian diplomatic corps (let’s call it the Bishop Legacy) when someone like Stone feels free to attack and misrepresent our country’s achievements overseas. Especially in a place like Sri Lanka where the caste system still treats women poorly. It’s reminiscent of how the Department of Foreign Affairs funded the notorious Yassmin Abdel-Magied to tour the Middle East telling people how racist we are. The Colombo visit was Stone’s 33rd overseas trip in less than two years, spreading her ‘message’ at a million-dollar cost to taxpayers. It’s further evidence of how Australia too has a swamp, and it’s time to drain it.