Jobs For The (White) Boys: Liberal Democrats Explain Lack Of Diversity Among Candidates


David Leyonhjelm and the Liberal Democrats aren’t exactly doing their bit to help recast the fedora wearing, ‘white man in search of freedom’ image that clings to the political tag ‘libertarian’.

The freedom lovers over at the LDP, who picked up a NSW senate seat after running first on the ballot in 2013, have preselected just three women to run as candidates at this year’s election. Three out of a total candidate field of 47.

A list of candidates posted by the party also reveals what appears to be a staggering lack of variety in racial background as well. The party’s logo may be yellow and blue but it does, after all, sit on an all-white background.

LDP imageBut when it comes to heritage and identity, looks can be deceiving, so we asked the LDP whether the party was concerned about the lack of diversity among candidates.

“We haven’t questioned candidates about their ethnicity, or judged them on their appearance or name because that would be creepy. Maybe you need to go ask the Greens,” a spokesperson – or more accurately, a spokesman – said.

Being sensitive towards issues of race may be important to the party when picking its candidates, but its a value they seem to forget after the ballots have been cast. Lone Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has previously decried ‘white face’ and mocked the apology to the Stolen Generations.

Why so few women then? The lack of gender balance in parliament is not exactly what you would call an emerging issue – Labor has long employed a quota system, and there have even been rumblings in the Liberal party about its failure to preselect women in recent years.

The LDP, however, sees nothing wrong with its selection processes, and said all the women who stepped forward were preselected for the seat they desired to run in. They also proffered their own explanation as to why so few had put their hand up.

“Three female members expressed an interest in running and were preselected in their preferred seat. Perhaps other potential female candidates were put off by this kind of scrutiny,” the spokesman said.

So there you go. Nothing to do with the party, its policies, or the attitudes of the men who run it.

When LDP national director Gabriel Buckley was contacted for comment and asked about how the party’s pre-selection processes works, he initially told New Matilda “that’s none of anybody’s business really”.

The spokesman was subsequently a little more forthcoming.

“Members were asked to express interest through a series of member newsletters from mid 2015. Respondents were vetted to ensure they were eligible to become a parliamentarian, and they supported the party’s principles and policies.”

We can only speculate as to the subject line of that newsletter, but we have a suggestion for future official LDP correspondence: “Dear member, you’ve got males.”

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.