It’s important for several reasons.
The first is that it puts a human face on the women who struggled to become Members of Parliament in the face of male misogyny and indifference on both sides of Parliament.
The second is that it shows the acceptance of the importance of the role of women in Parliament is far from accepted by their male colleagues. However, if this program is to be believed, this is more true in the Coalition.
The third is that it calls out the shocking sexist behaviour in the Parliament and the appalling behaviour of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in what may be remembered as one of the most disgraceful events in Australian Parliamentary history.
Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella supporting Tony Abbott in from of Parliament House during his attacks on Prime Minister Julia GillardAnnabel Crabbe interviewed Bronwyn Bishop for the program. Unfortunately, she did not question Bishop about her role in this demonstration. It was a significant shortcoming in an otherwise excellent program about the role of women in Parliament.
Apart from Annabel Crabb, who does an excellent job as the interviewer, the other standout is Penny Wong. Composed, intelligent, reflective, Wong stood out amongst the other parliamentarians interviewed on the show: Anne Aly, the first woman of Islamic faith to be elected to the federal Parliament. Bronwyn Bishop, the first NSW woman elected to the Senate. Julie Bishop, the first woman to serve as deputy leader of the Liberal Party. Sarah Hanson-Young, the youngest woman to be elected to the Australian Parliament. Ros Kelly, the first woman to represent an ACT seat in the House of Representatives. Julia Banks, Quentin Bryce, Linda Burney, Emma Husar, Cheryl Kernot, Carmen Lawrence, Marise Payne, Nova Peris, Margaret Reynolds, Natasha Stott Despoja, Kate Sullivan, Judith Troeth, Amanda Vanstone and Penny Wong
Not everyone was happy. The outgoing South Australian Senator derided the one-sided attacks on the program towards Liberal men such as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was labelled “probably a misogynist” by former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone.
Well, on that point, Julia Gillard would probably agree with Amanda Vanstone.
Liberal MP Kathy Sullivan was one of the stars of the show.
The programs should become compulsory viewing for all secondary school history classes. It provides an essential benchmark for the development of Australian political history.
It has been great to see Annabel Crabb develop her career to a point where she can now be considered one of Australia’s leading interviewers.
The next ABC project should be Ms Reported, the history of women in Australian television. Annabel Crabb would make an excellent anchor.