Gender balance in the Parliament: what the data says


Earlier today I posted the full list of candidates compiled in the creation of the Tally Room election guide. You can view it here. The list has already expanded to 473.

This data makes it possible to look at the gender balance of candidates running, and what effect that might have on the next Parliament.

The House of Representatives currently consists of 113 men and 37 women. 23 of these women are Labor MPs, while the other 14 are Liberals (including three Queensland LNP members and one Country Liberal from the Darwin area). Every single National MP (including those LNP members who sit with the Nationals) is a man, while the seven other crossbench MPs are all men. 32.4% of the Labor caucus are women, compared to 19.4% of the Coalition joint party room.

The Senate paints a better picture for each party. A slim majority of the ALP’s Senators are women (16/31) while two thirds of the Greens senators are women (6/9). The Coalition’s Senators are still overwhelmingly male, but proportionally include more women than in the House of Representatives (8/34, or 23.5%). The Nationals, who don’t have any women MPs in the lower house, have two women Senators.

So how have the parties performed so far with their candidate selections?

Read more below the fold.

In the House of Representatives: they follow the same pattern. The Greens have the highest proportion of women, followed by Labor, then by the Coalition.

42.3% of the 104 announced Greens candidates are women. 33.1% of the 118 announced Labor candidates are women. Both of these parties will eventually announce candidates for all 150 seats, so those numbers could change.

The Coalition is very close to finishing their preselection. There is at least one Coalition candidate in 144 seats. Four of the six seats without a candidate are safe Labor seats in northern and western Melbourne. Only in the seat of Fremantle is the Coalition considered a chance. The Liberal Party also plans to run a candidate against the Nationals in Mallee, and it’s possible the Nationals or Liberals might run against each other in other seats.

Out of the 147 candidates announced so far, only 21.1% are women. The performance is particularly bad for the Nationals. All fourteen Nationals candidates running in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia are men. This figure improves slightly once you include the women running for the merged conservative party in Capricornia, Kennedy and Lingiari. All three of these women would likely sit with the Nationals if elected, and in two of these three seats the conservatives are expected to win.

Figures aren’t much better for the other political parties where I have collected multiple candidate names.

Clive Palmer’s United Party is surging ahead with at least 52 candidates announced. Only thirteen are women. Only three out of fifteen candidates running for Katter’s Australian Party. The Greens are the only party to run more than 40% women. The only other party apart from Labor and the Greens to crack 30% is Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party and the affiliated Australian Christians (which now runs in states other than NSW). So far they have announced three candidates. One is a woman (also engaged to Fred Nile), which gives quite a high number of 33.3%, but it is very early to say about whether they can keep such a high proportion.

Update: Since I wrote this post, I was notified of seven additional candidates for the Socialist Alliance. On current figures they have eight candidates, including three women, so their percentage of 37.5% is higher than Labor or the CDP.

It is hard to predict what the gender balance will be in the new Parliament – but most candidates with a serious chance of winning a seat have now been selected.

I have assumed that either Labor or the Coalition has a chance of winning every Labor seat on a margin of less than 10%, and also assumed that Denison, Batman and Melbourne are winnable by either Labor, the Greens or Andrew Wilkie (other seats involving a non-classic contest such as Grayndler, Sydney, New England, Lyne or O’Connor are races between two candidates of the same gender).

Under this scenario, there will be between 103-125 men in the next House of Representatives, and between 25-47 women. This could either result in a significant increase or decrease in the number of women represented.

In the Senate, the race is more nuanced. It is reasonable to assume that Labor is likely to win two seats in each state and the Coalition is likely to win three.

Amongst Labor’s first two candidates in each state, there are six men and six women. The ALP is running men for the first two positions in New South Wales, and running women for the first two positions (and the third) in Tasmania. In the other four states, the top two include both a man and a woman. In addition, the ALP is running women for the two winnable seats in the territories. If the ALP wins two seats per state and one in each territory, they will elect six men and eight women. There are currently eight men and ten women who represent the ALP in the Senate who will be up for re-election.

The Coalition are running two men and one woman for their top three spots in four states. In Queensland they are running men for the first four positions on their ticket, and in Western Australia they are running two women for winnable positions. They are also running men for both territories. If all of these candidates win, the party will elect fourteen men and six women. This would include two more women than are currently in the Coalition’s Senate delegation, and one more man.

The Greens have two men and one woman up for election, and are running men as lead Senate candidates in three states and the ACT, and women in the other three states.

These figures suggest that, while the ALP is running women for a majority of winnable positions in the Senate and the Coalition is running women for less than a third, a shift from Labor to the Coalition is unlikely to see a major change in the gender balance.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!


  1. McPherson 2013 has four female candidates (LNP, ALP, 21st C and Palmer) and just two male candidates (Greens and KAP) ….

  2. I only have three candidates listed for McPherson – if there are more, please post their names and I’ll add them to the list.

    I don’t have candidates for KAP, ALP or 21st C.

Comments are closed.