Coalition’s Queensland women set to highlight growing policy divide in party

Support for a controversial anti-abortion bill, a push against quotas, reuniting families separated by the pandemic and demands for an investigation into the exploitation of backpackers on working visas are among the resolutions the women of the LNP are fighting for, highlighting the growing divide in the party’s ideologies.

The LNP women’s annual conference will be held in Brisbane next week, where the women of the Queensland branch of the Coalition, set out their wish list for government policy. Covid lockdowns mean it will go ahead without the prime minister, who will be quarantining in Canberra ahead of the next parliamentary sitting. The Guardian has seen the list of resolutions the women will be debating, as they seek to influence the government’s policy direction.

Queensland is considered one of the Coalition’s strongholds – it holds 23 of the state’s 30 electorates.

But it has also been the scene of a battle for the Coalition’s soul, with a growing push from the Christian right, both in terms of power and direction.

The division was most recently made clear during the preselection process for Andrew Laming’s Bowman replacement. After a fierce selection process, Henry Pike, the only male candidate in the field of five, and close ally of right firebrand senator Amanda Stoker, was preselected.

The move to reopen preselections, which laid out a pathway for Pike’s win, is just one of the issues women in the far north and gulf region want the party to discuss, asking the conference to pass the resolution that: “This State Council cautions State Executive to not exceed its authority and rejects the view that State Executive had the right to re-open nominations under section U15c on the Constitution in relation to the seat of Bowman, considering there was already a second candidate who had nominated by the due date and had previously been positively vetted through Candidate Review.”

The Bonner women’s branch wants to see more action from the federal government in response to Brittany Higgins’s allegations, calling for an independent complaints body to be established, in line with Higgins’s and other staff’s wishes.

“I believe all of us would be saddened to hear about what happened to Brittany. [Alleged] Rape is an abhorrent crime and parliament should be a safe space for women,” the delegation representative explained in the resolutions.

“This body will make it easier for women to report to and the role could be added to an existing MP’s portfolio so should cost little to nothing.

“Let’s ensure women and men of all parties feel safer and are more likely to report such things to keep others safe.”

Others want to see a move for families who have been separated by the pandemic reunited, by opening the definition of ‘immediate family’ to parents.

But the push for that, along with a desire to see the exploitation of backpacker workers investigated and ended, is contrasted with motions seeking support for George Christensen’s “protect life” bill, a ban on mandatory Covid vaccinations and any move towards “totalitarian” vaccine passports, as well as support for anti-trans positions.

The women’s executive, which governs the LNP women’s group, wants Christensen’s bill – already labelled “nonsensical” by medical experts – adopted as party policy.

“… This Convention of the LNP calls on the LNP to acknowledge that the Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021, proposed by the Member for Dawson, George Christensen, implements party policy, and should call on the Morrison Coalition Government to adopt this as a Government Bill, or at least allow it as a Private Member’s Bill with a conscience vote, and ensure that it goes to a vote in both Houses of Federal Parliament in this term.”

The women’s executive has also declared “any proposal for forced or mandatory medication is a human rights violation” and wants to follow the example set by Florida and ban any proposal for a vaccine passport on the grounds “any proposal for so-called ‘vaccine passports’ or certificates is totalitarian in nature and has the potential to infringe many fundamental freedoms”.

Women from the inner-city metro-south region have borrowed from the language of anti-trans groups to try to influence the federal government to support “biological sex” facilities and exclusions, in support of the Tasmanian conservative, senator Claire Chandler.

“… We are seeing across the board gender identity politics which is erasing womanhood and motherhood. Anyone who speaks out against this social engineering is bullied and labelled as hateful in an effort to silence them.”

That same group wants quotas outlawed: “Are we going to basically punish men, who might be the right person for the job, based on their gender to achieve ‘gender equality’? Thus placing a lesser qualified person (donna) in the role to achieve ‘gender quotas’. We believe that the right person should get the job, not someone merely to satisfy ‘gender equality’.

“We, as women, obviously want to uplift women and have balance in Parliament and will endeavour to work, support and ensure that this will be achieved, but not at the expense of the Australian people.”

It’s the same battles the Liberal party room in Canberra faces, being played out on the floor of Queensland, by the women who want to shape the party.

The resolutions, even when passed, are non-binding, but point to the direction the base wants the party, and in this case the federal government, to take.

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