Labour’s gender quota

Most focus has been on ’s proposed man ban, but their proposed gender quota is equally worthy of focus. Few people disagree that we should have more women in Parliament, and a gender quota would of course achieve that. But quotas are inflexible and they mean that gender is regarded as more important than all other factors.

To illustrate why this is a pretty stupid idea, I’ve analysed what changes would have occurred to Labour’s caucus in the six MMP elections to date if they had a 50% female quota. Of course you can argue they may have done things differently, but we can only act on the info we have. Also for several of those elections Labour would have had no male list MPs at all, so it doesn’t matter how you argue it – they would have lost every male List MP if they were required to have a 50% quota.

1996 Lose

Joe Hawke
Jonathan Hunt
Mark Gosche
Dover Samuels

1996 Gain

Helen Duncan
Verna Smith
Suzanne Sinclair
Sue Moroney

1999 Loss

Joe Hawke
Jonathan Hunt
Michael Cullen

1999 Gain

Lynne Pillay
Lili Tuioti
Brenda Lowe-Johnson

2002 Loss

Ashraf Choudary
Dave Hereora
Graham Kelly
Jonathan Hunt
Michael Cullen

2002 Gain

Moana Mackey
Lesley Soper
Carol Beaumont
Gill Boddy-Greer
Louisa Wall

2005 Loss

Dave Hereora
Russell Fairbrother
David Parker
Shane Jones
Ashraf Choudary
Rick Barker
Mita Ririnui

2005 Gain

Lesley Soper
Louisa Wall
Denise MacKenzie
Leila Boyle
Jennifer McCutcheon
Linda Hudson
Marilyn Brown

2008 Loss

Stuart Nash
Rick Barker
Ashraf Choudary
Kelvin Davis
Charles Chauvel

2008 Gain

Judith Tizard
Louisa Wall
Lesley Soper
Erin Ebborn-Gillespie
Josephine Bartley

2011 Loss

Raymond Huo
Rajen Prasad
Shane Jones
Andrew Little
Charles Chauvel

2011 Gain

Carol Beaumont
Carmel Sepuloni
Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
Steve Chadwick
Kate Sutton

I think illustrates the inflexibility and dangers of quotas. In 1996, 1999 and 2002 Labour would not have been able to give any male MPs a winnable list place. That means they would have lost Michael Cullen. Ironically, one of the MPs who would have been elected in his place is Lesley Soper. Soper is the only pro-life woman in the Labour Party, and quite hated by most Labour women. The thought that replacing Michael Cullen with Lesley Soper is a triumph for women’s rights is absurd.

Labour would also have lost David Parker, Shane Jones, Kelvin Davis and Andrew Little if they had to apply a 50% quota for previous list rankings.

Yes quotas will achieve 50% female representation. But at what cost?

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