Department of Family and Community Services

1.2 Elected representatives

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Current position

Local government

At the 2012 local government elections, women made up 26 percent of elected councillors.

NSW Government

As at January 2013, women made up 20 percent of members of the NSW Legislative Assembly.

Gender gap

  • Women fill around one-quarter of elected positions in local government, and one-fifth of seats in the NSW Legislative Assembly.
The direction of
change over time

Local government

At the local government level, there was a slight (one percentage point) drop between 2008 and 2012 in the percentage of women elected to local government, which is the same now as it was 13 years ago, in 1999. See Figure 5.1.

NSW Government

The proportion of female members in the NSW Legislative Assembly decreased from 23 percent in June 2012 to 20 percent in January 2013. This continues the trend since 2007 for a steady decrease in the number of women in the Legislative Assembly. See Figure 5.2.

Discussion

Local government

The council with the highest proportion of women councillors following the 2012 elections was Pittwater Council.

Of the14 councils with 50 percent or more women councillors, the majority (9 out of 14) were located in Sydney. See Table 5.2. Interestingly, in all these Local Councils (except Nambucca Heads and North Sydney), the percentage of women elected to councillor positions was equal to or greater than the percentage who stood for election.

Five councils elected no women councillors. These are: Blayney Shire, Coonamble Shire, Gundagai Shire, Lachlan Shire and Orange City

NSW Government

The drop in the proportion of women members in the NSW Legislative Assembly between 2012 and 2013 is due to the resignation of two female members in the second half of 2012. Kristina Keneally resigned from the seat of Heffron on 29 June 2012 and Clover Moore from Sydney on 21 September 2012. Male candidates won the by-elections in both seats.

Table 5.3 presents the percentage of seats held by women in Parliaments around Australia, as at September 2012. Queensland and Western Australia were only the states where the representation of women in the lower house was lower than in NSW. In the upper house, NSW had a lower percentage of women members than any other jurisdiction.

Local government in NSW consists of 152 councils across the state, which have between five and 15 elected councillors, and in some cases an elected mayor. NSW local government elections are held every four years. The Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the NSW Parliament with 93 members, each representing an electorate of the state.

Year collected: 2013.
Data source: NSW Electoral Commission; research with individual councils that conducted their own elections; NSW Parliament website. More information is available at www.elections.nsw.gov.au; www.parliament.nsw.gov.au

Table 5.2 Councils with 50 percent or more women councillors, NSW, 2012

Local council

Women councillors %

Women candidates %

Pittwater

67

34

North Sydney

58

67

Camden

56

45

Great Lakes

56

37

Greater Hume

56

50

Singleton

56

50

Ashfield

50

50

City of Canada Bay

50

40

Gunnedah

50

50

Ku-ring-gai

50

44

Manly

50

37

Nambucca Heads

50

62

Waverley

50

41

Willoughby

50

44

Note: The table shows the percentage of women who were elected as councillors in the 2012 local government elections and the percentage who stood as candidates in those councils.
Population: Local councils where 50 percent or more of elected councillors were women following the 2012 election.
Source: NSW Electoral Commission website; research with individual councils that conducted their own elections; and ABC, Antony Green’s election blog, 30 August 2012.

Figure 5.1 Women in NSW Local Government elections, 1991-2012

Fig 5.1

Note: The total number of candidates for election (female and male) in 1991 was 3,820, then 4,084 (in 1995), 4,950 (in 1999), 5,078 (in 2004), 4,441 (in 2008) and 4,566 (in 2012).
Population: Women candidates for local government and women elected as councillors.
Source: NSW Electoral Commission website; research with individual councils that conducted their own elections; NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Division of Local Government (2008) Candidates and Councillors 2008; ABC, Antony Green’s election blog, 30 August 2012.

Figure 5.2 Women members of NSW Parliament, 1973 to 2013

Fig 5.2

Population: Members of the NSW Parliament between 1973 and 2013.
Source: NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service (2011) Women in Politics and Public Leadership, Briefing Paper No 6/2011 and Parliament of NSW website.

Table 5.3 Women’s representation in State and Federal Parliaments, September 2012

Lower house %  Upper house % 
NSW 

22

31

Victoria 

33

33

Queensland* 

20

n/a* 

Western Australia 

19

47

South Australia 

30

32

Tasmania 

24

40

Australian Capital Territory* 

41

n/a 

Northern Territory* 

32

n/a 

Parliament of Australia 

25

38

 
Note: *Queensland, Northern Territory and the ACT have only a lower house of parliament.
Source: Wilson J. and Black D. (2012) Women Parliamentarians in Australia 1921-2012, Parliament of Australia Parliamentary Library.