Nationals need more women-Drum

By Myles Peterson

The poor behaviour of colleagues and the need for more women in the National Party’s parliamentary ranks are two topics mentioned by Member for Murray Damian Drum in an interview recently.

Sordid details of an attempted affair conducted by Member for Mallee Andrew Broad broke this month on the same day his government was trying to promote its mini-budget.

‘‘His behaviour simply was not good enough — the consequences are that he’s resigned from the ministry and will walk away at the next election,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘It’s been decisive action from the party and I think it signals a time when the (Nationals) have to have a very serious look at the representation and the gender ... quite simply we need more women.’’

With Mr Broad stating he will not re-contest the Federal Seat of Mallee, the Nationals are hunting for a candidate — preferably a woman, according to Mr Drum.

One name in the mix is party deputy leader and senator Bridget McKenzie, who could step down from the Senate to contest for a lower house seat.

‘‘I think Bridget would be a fantastic candidate for Mallee — and the seat of Indi; there hasn’t been any decision made, anyway.’’

Speculation has been rife that Ms McKenzie may take a tilt at independent Cathy McGowan’s nearby seat of Indi, but nothing has been officially confirmed.

Obtaining a seat in the House of Representatives would open up the possibility of Ms McKenzie contending for leadership of the federal parliamentary branch of the National Party.

Former Abbott adviser Peta Credlin has also been touted as a possible Mallee candidate.

Mr Drum said the National Party needed to work hard to find new candidates at state and federal levels.

The party has been wracked by scandals at the federal level which could put at risk seats such as Mallee and has been reduced to just six Victorian lower house parliamentary seats, down from 10 in 2010.

One of the key advantages of the Nationals’ pre-selection process was, unlike the other major parties, a preference for candidates with business and life experience according to Mr Drum.

‘‘Whenever we have a vacancy we tend to go into the community and look for leaders ... We hardly ever have any of those people who have only ever worked in an electorate office ... The National party don’t do that.’’

A difficulty in sourcing the best candidate through such recruitment was that many already had established careers and families and making the jump to politics was a big decision.

‘‘It’s a very family-unfriendly job, but again it’s just as unfriendly for men as it is for women,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘This impacts us in a negative way because when you find community leaders, many of them sometimes will say: ‘The timing is just not quite right, I’d love the opportunity, but I have a couple of young kids’.’’

At a state level, the Nationals recently re-elected Steph Ryan as deputy leader of the Victorian parliamentary party.

She was first appointed to the position while serving her first term.

Ms Ryan was also recently re-elected with an increased majority.