hoopla women

We asked some of Australia’s most eloquent, outspoken and passionate women to tell The Hoopla what they thought of this election result.

Here are their observations on the day-after-the-night-before… 

hoopla women



JESSICA ROWE – journalist, broadcaster, mental health and refugee advocate.

‘Is he nice to the orphans?’ said Miss Six, watching a red faced Barnaby Joyce beaming at the camera, thanking his supporters for voting for him.

‘Um, orphans…’ I said.

‘The people who want to come and live here?’

“Oh, you mean the refugees. No darling, that man and too many other people aren’t kind…’

‘Well I’m not going to send him a card!’

And so began our election night, me in the middle of the bed, with my two daughters on either side. I had managed to convince them it would be like a movie night, but even more exciting if we all snuggled up in bed together. It transformed my usually chaotic witching hour – getting them to clean their teeth, get in and out of the bath without pulling hair and pinching, and then STAYING in their own beds – into a whole new type of black magic…

My mum who was also having a sleepover, joined us in the king size bed while she commentated that watching this would be enough to send anyone to sleep. She spent the next hour entertaining her grand daughters by comparing various politicians appearances to the Muppets and peanuts.

Allegra went to sleep first. Mum then headed off back downstairs to the spare room. Giselle was the stayer, while I flicked through the television coverage, she tried out different hair styles on her dolly. She blew kisses to her dad when he popped up during Channel Nine’s coverage, but the highlight for her was seeing him interview Playschool star Rhys Muldoon.

Thank God everyone else had fallen asleep by the time we heard from Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.

No inspiration, humility or grace.

That was left to Julia Gilliard, who tweeted commiserations and then congratulations. All class…


Monica AttardMONICA ATTARD – Journalist, broadcaster, a columnist for The Hoopla and CNN.

You have to admire Tony Abbott.

Before he toppled Malcolm Turnbull for the Coalition leadership, time and again I uttered the words “he’s unelectable”, along with so many others in journalism.

But we were wrong.

In the end though it was no landslide win, even if it was hugely respectable. It was not an election delivered to the Coalition because of superior policy or vision. It was an election delivered to the Coalition because of Labor disunity and three years of internal division, showdowns (mock and real) and “look at us” dysfunction. Everywhere I looked, people were saying “enough already. It’s time for a change.”

Abbott ran a gaffe-ridden but steady as she goes campaign. Rudd ran a largely gaffe-free but chaotic campaign, mirroring what so many say, was his style of governing.

As Tony Abbott settles into his prime ministership, the ALP will lick its wounds and look to its youngun’s to provide a future. For a while last night, as Kevin Rudd’s concession speech moved into Rob Oakeshott territory-length, it looked as though he might try to hold on to the leadership. But he handed the baton on to… who remains the question.

But whoever becomes leader of a bruised ALP, one thing is for sure – it won’t be for long.

My biggest disappointment of the night was that neither leader was particularly magnanimous in their end of night speeches.

My biggest hope is that Mr Abbott does what all incoming prime ministers promise to do – and governs for us all.


EVA COX – Feminist, social justice campaigner.

There we were, clustering around the TV , anxious initially, then the bizarre feeling of relief that it hadn’t been worse!

The voters punished Labor for leadership coups and personal failings because the election campaign didn’t promote real policy differences!

So Tony Abbott beware, because your lot really don’t have a mandate to make big policy changes, but just not to indulge in leadership coups!!!


HELEN RAZER – Bad Hostess. ( Wrote this on her mobile phone on the way to the ICU.)


Strap yourself in over the next few days as analysts tell us that the election was about asylum, marriage and gender.  They’re all wrong.

This was an election fought and lost on economics. Because all elections are. Because the electorate knows by rote what “cause”-fuelled commentators so easily forget as they return to the wedge conversation on asylum or marriage equality: IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID.

I am very hungover as I drank my weight in malbec and feel I am currently unable to offer any analysis of value other than to enjoin the “left” to consider that its rather teenaged infatuation with cultural causes at the expense of social reform has enacted no end of harm.

In their affluence and with the self-satisfied ease online communications afford, progressives have learnt to think GetUp style; which is to say they act quickly and often without analysis and toward a single goal whose achievement (such as marriage equality or an end to sexism in a particular ad) is almost always symbolic.

It achieves no material end.

And so, the electorate has spoken and uttered the old truth: votes are motivated by hope chiefly for one’s hip pocket.

Yes. It would be nice if we were all motivated by loads of lovely Plibersek-fragrant sentiment but we are not. And all of the well-manicured hand-wringing I plan to avoid on the topic of our “lost” compassion in coming days won’t change the fact that people vote for the party they believe will collect and redistribute revenues with the greatest competence.

That the ALP failed to sell its exemplary record on finance is its greatest error. And now, a man who drew costings in crayon is our treasurer.

My point–or what remains of one as I lie here with a hangover I fear will last for an electoral term–is that we should all do now as Hockey has failed to and understand the market, the economy and the way in which government can fairly redistribute resources.

No more indulgent chat about Our Feelings. No more conspicuous compassion.  If we want to engage in a political conversation, let’s learn the limits of the influence a government can and should enact.

And please. Can we fucking stop talking about sexism in ads now?

I will try to organize my thoughts further.

But I may need to be sick first.  


ANNE SUMMERS – Author of Anne Summers Reports. The Looking Glass. Reflections: mine, yours, people we like.

Liberal governments are often unkind to women.

Look at what is happening this week in the NSW parliament where Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell is permitting a conscience vote on so-called Zoe’s Law, a private members bill that would confer “personhood” on a foetus of 20 weeks or 400 grams.

If this law is passed, and there is a real risk that it will be (because the ALP has also, inexplicably, allowed a conscience vote), a mother could be charged under the Crimes Act if she seeks an abortion after 20 weeks or is otherwise deemed to have hurt the foetus, through such behavior as drinking or drug-taking.

Will the new federal Liberal government be equally unkind? What can we expect in Canberra now that Tony Abbott has been elected?  Particularly as it seems that there will be two or even three Senators who are explicitly anti-choice.

We women should be externally grateful to former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard for the way she extracted a concession from Tony Abbott (as a result of her much derided “blue ties” speech launching the ill-fated Women for Gillard campaign) that he would not trade abortion rights to get legislation through.

This, of course, is what John Howard did, giving significant concessions on abortion to Senator Brian Harradine in return or getting the sale of Telstra through the Senate.  If the DLP or Family First Senators try to apply similar pressure to Tony Abbott, we will need to be ready to fight. The way we are now having to in New South Wales.

There will be a significant decline in the numbers of women in the government, with Abbott’s Cabinet having possibly just one woman, Julie Bishop, if Sophie Mirabella loses her seat (still in doubt as I write). This will be a sad reversal of the pattern in recent years of having a significant number of women at the Cabinet table exercising power in significant portfolios such as Finance, Health, Attorney-General, Family and Community Services. Not to mention Prime Minister.

Will the women of the Liberal Party stand up for women’s equality the way many of Labor’s women did?

Let’s hope so.

If not, we will need to do so on their behalf. We will need to protect and preserve the reforms for women that Labor introduced and to insist that progress towards full equality of the sexes does not go backwards under Tony Abbott the way it did under John Howard.

We should insist that Tony Abbott shows the same commitment to supporting gender pay equity as Julia Gillard did when she made sure her Fair Work Act included provisions for equal pay that have since been successfully tested in the courts. And we must hold him to his stated views that women must participate more fully in employment.

Tony Abbott has proposed his expensive and, in my view, inequitable paid parental leave scheme as a means of doing this. We all know, though, that it is not the first six months that determine whether or not a woman is going to be able to combine having a child and returning to work.  That’s the easier time.

It’s the next sixteen years that are hard. That’s because childcare is either not available, is not sufficiently flexible or is too expensive. Or, often, all three.

Mr. Abbott proposes to introduce his PPL legislation but refer the much more important issue of childcare to the Productivity Commission for a thorough review. While I think that this is a good idea because our childcare system is such a mess and an objective report on how to fix it is long overdue, we risk there being no money to fix childcare if Abbott goes ahead first with his $6billion a year PPL.

So here’s my idea.

Mr Abbott, why don’t you fold your PPL proposal into the childcare reference and ask the Productivity Commission to come up with recommendations that address both of these fundamental issues?

Let’s get an independent and economically sensible assessment of how to make the system work for women returning to employment after having children. Let’s address how to make parental leave and childcare compatible with each other rather than having each compete for scarce budget resources.

That’s a reform we women would welcome.


mrs woogMRS WOOG – Author of the blog Woogsworld and columnist for The Hoopla.

They say to never write anything angry or while you are under the influence of fermented and spirited beverages or suffering from the mother of all hangovers.

But despite all of that very sound advice, and while chugging down some black aspirin (Coca Cola), I will plough on. 

We have a new government and a new Prime Minister. Prime Minister Abbott.  It is what it is. The people have spoken and the people were pissed off.

And the hope that I hold is that Prime Minister Abbott uses those fine ears of his to start listening. About the importance of education and the importance of people who are struggling. About the rights of the gay community and the rights of people seeking asylum. About being a decent leader.

Tony Abbott, we are your bosses. You work for us. We will have a performance review in three years.

Don’t fuck it up.


MARY DELAHUNTY – Former Victorian ALP Minister. Journalist. Columnist. Author of Public Life: Private Grief.

So it’s come to this: Kevin clinging to Labor like a barnacle on the Titanic.

Tony PM- elect, declaring Australia under new management and open for business and new MP Clive Palmer heading for Canberra in his Titanic.

The nation tried to get rid of one narcissist in Rudd only for Queensland to inflict another one on us. American politics arrives: buy your own seat.

Yesterday a lot of insurance and anger was parked with tiny parties. The Green vote collapsed and the two major parties combined attracted less than 80% support. It’s the worst vote for Labor in 100 years.

Bob Hawke called it a devastating loss. Was the trauma of knocking off Australia’s first female PM worth it for this miserable vote?

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, one of the few visible women during the campaign nailed it. I would give us 9/10 for governing the country……0/10 for governing ourselves. 

Tony Abbott ran a disciplined campaign. He was never under sustained scrutiny. It was all about Kevin.

Tony Abbott made a gracious 10 minute acceptance speech pledging his service to Australia while Rudd babbled on about himself for 23 minutes.

Doesn’t this bloke ever shut up? 

That’s what Australians are thinking today.

Kev, it’s time to zip


MAREE NUTT – Genera Manager of RESULTS. International NGO which advocates for the world’s poor.

The Coalition election-eve promise to slash $4.5 billion dollars from foreign aid looks set to become a reality. Instead, those billions of dollars are to be invested in infrastructure projects providing Australians with better roads and motorways.

The winners will be Melbourne’s East West link ($1.5 billion), Sydney’s WestConnex ($1.5 billion) and the Brisbane Gateway Motorway upgrade ($1 billion).  

I am devastated to think that millions of people around the world could miss out on life-saving vaccines, bed nets to prevent malaria or basic schooling so that we can get from A to B faster and smoother.

Only last year, both major parties were committed to increasing Australia’s aid to 0.5% of gross national income by 2015. The Labor Government pushed that timetable out by two years and also diverted aid funds to pay for asylum seeker costs. With the Coalition announcement last week, it has emphatically won the ‘race to the bottom’ on the aid issue and their decision will soon become a reality.

As individuals, we Australians are a generous lot.

In Tony Abbott’s electorate alone, 54,000 individuals, 1500 corporates and 72 church and community groups support overseas aid either through donations, activism and volunteering.

Many of them have ben very vocal leading up to the election, including 3,000 on Manly Beach just over 2 weeks ago spelling out the message “Halve Global Poverty” on the sand.

We cannot allow the new Abbott government do this to the aid budget. Now, more than ever, we need to press for change and not accept this mean-spirited representation of Australian values.

We are still the lucky country. We can still afford to be generous to the world’s poor … and have our new roads too.


LINDA JAIVIN – Best-selling Australian author, writer, columnist, playwright.

Tony Abbott has never been, as he has admitted, the suppository of all wisdom.

But if a sampling of his announced policies are any indication – removing 170,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from World Heritage listing; cutting ‘green tape’ generally; repealing a key section of the Racial Discrimination Act; cutting foreign aid; discontinuing the Low Income Earners Superannuation Contribution; defunding public transport in favour of roads; asylum seeker and humanitarian intake, (policies that make the Howard era look like the golden age of compassion) – he may just prove the enema of social progress, environmental responsibility, economic equity and fairness.

There was a moment at my place on election night when, watching the results and playing The Monthly’s Election Night Bingo, we decided to drop a smartie on the box marked ‘Rupert Murdoch unhinges jaw, swallows Parliament House’.

Or as my Jewish mother might say, Aussie Aussie Aussie, oy, oy, vey.


MANDY NOLAN – Writer, author, teacher, comic.

I have never understood swinging voters. I grew up in Joh Bjelke Petersen country in a family of Labor voters. We always vote Labor. We were working class and believers in social justice and supporting the less privileged.

Ironically, now I’m disgustingly middle class. Ticking 1 for Tony would probably benefit me personally. But I couldn’t do it. We don’t vote for those smug scumbags.

Mum’s advice for the first day of school was ‘don’t tell anyone who we vote for’. She wasn’t ashamed, she just wasn’t ready for a lynching.

I remember the day Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister. Our family and one of the neighbours gathered in our lounge room drinking Cold Duck, hugging each other, crying. They were filled with hope about a new Australia, about a new type of thinking that would take us into the future.

Today I wake up to a different Australia, an Australia that will be taken back to the past. The Libs are gushing with excitement – Australia ‘chose change’. But change to what? Change for the sake of change is moronic. In a two-party system, its not really change anyway. A revolution would have been change.

Labor under a Gillard government implemented some pretty impressive long term and sometimes unpopular strategies: The Disability Insurance Scheme, The NBN, The Carbon Tax, The Mining Tax, Gonski.  Labor was the first government to say ‘sorry’ to Indigenous Australians. Labor was the first government to have a woman lead the country. And so Australians want change.

I would have thought that under Labor leadership they got a shitload of change.

When I look at tight-lipped Tony, I don’t think change. I think self-interest. Lack of empathy. Me first.

As for the costings? Leaking them out in dribs and drabs, that’s classic deception. That’s how I tell my husband how much I spent shopping. I never tell it all at once. I never tell it all. I hide shoes in the cupboard. I can bet you that Abbott has more than a few pairs of shoes in his costings closet.

So girls, get those aprons back on. It’s back to the kitchen for us. And single girls, cross those legs because although Tony declared ‘choose change’ he doesn’t support your right to choose abortion.

Gay people of Australia, you’re going to have to squeeze back in the closet, if there’s any room in there next to Tony’s undeclared costings.

Time to build that Abbott-Proof fence. Build that fence high, and inside it we’ll preserve the values of feminism, humanism, free thinking, and a belief in the greater good.


BENISON O’REILLY – Writer and co-author of The Australian Autism Handbook.

As the polls were closing last night, I sat sipping Hunter Valley Semillon at a medical conference dinner.  Suspecting I was not among friends ( doctors are usually conservative)  I kept quiet about the election until I started talking to a long-haired country GP who delivers the babies of young Indigenous women and spends a month each year volunteering in a poor region of Indonesia.

Assuming I’d met a fellow leftie,I hesitantly ventured a political opinion. He turned out to be a Coalition voter. One with a strong social conscience. Scott Morrison take note.

Me, this True Believer in the Labor Party, was planning a night of denial, but in the end I couldn’t help myself. At 8.30pm I peeked at my Twitter feed…and was pleasantly

Yes, a loss, but not the bloodbath the conservative pundits had been gleefully predicting. Despite the daily bilge spewed forth by the Murdoch press; despite the Coalition’s 4:1 spend on advertising; despite Eddie Obeid, Western Sydney was not a wipe-out.

Jaymes Diaz didn’t win. Chris Bowen did.

Now attention must turn to preserving the Rudd-Gillard legacy: blocking repeal of the Carbon Tax, making Turnbull see sense about ‘fraudband’ and holding the Coalition to their promise to support the NDIS.

Oh, and watching ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ unravel.

I’m in a lot better mood than I expected this morning.


LISA FORREST – Former swimming great, broadcaster, author.

I am not a LNP supporter, but after reading the vitriol on social media this morning, I feel ill. Whatever happened to gracious in defeat? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Can we complain about the standard of public discourse without holding ourselves to account?

To that end, congratulations to Tony Abbott – who has been working to become the Prime Minister of our great nation for most of his life. He stands for nothing I could vote for but I credit him with the ability to set a long goal, and work steadfastly and determinedly toward it, through all the ups and downs, until he got there.

Of course, he was mightily assisted by the Labor Party.

Would it be too much to ask the Labor MP’s get together for a long-term goal setting session themselves?  If holding the LNP to account, and re-election are the aims, then rather than blaming disunity and the Murdoch press, set goals to be a united party that can articulate its core values in a positive way to the people of Australia. I’m sure they’d find a welcome audience.

And for my money: Plibersek for PM sounds great. We might get it right the second time.


Tracey SpicerTRACEY SPICER – Journalist, broadcaster columnist for The Hoopla. Ambassador for many philanthropic causes.

Dear Prime Minister Abbott,

How I have longed to write those words.

Thank you for saving us from those socialist scoundrels.

Not an ounce of class among them.

(Why, I believe some even went to public schools!)

The worst were the women: shorthaired harridans – lesbians most likely – muttering about misogyny.

As you rightly said, women are not cut out for leadership. Or the workplace, for that matter.

My dear husband agreed last night, as I served his G&T.

“It’s simply, darling,” he smiled. “You’re much better at ironing than I am. We must stick with our strengths.”

Take your three daughters. What wonderful wives and mothers they will make.

It was lovely seeing them up there, swathed in white, like the Brides of Christ. Virginity IS a gift.

I do hope they save themselves for someone very much like their father – a man’s man – who can protect them from this feminist fungus growing all over the place.

I mean, who know what you’ll be able to achieve, with support in the Senate.

Outlawing abortion? Destroying discrimination laws? Abolishing political correctness?

Our future is in your hands. And I, for one, am feeling relaxed and comfortable.

(With the small exception of this girdle. It is, ahem, rather tight.)

Yours, with sex appeal,

Tracey Thompson (nee Spicer).


Catharine-LumbyCATHARINE LUMBY – Academic, feminist, writer, and for her sins – advisor to the NRL on violence against women.

Women With High Expectations: sounds like a form of sophisticated nagging.

Which brings me to my major concern the Morning After The Night Before – will the leftist, empathetic and politically sane among us remember the lessons of the Howard era this time around?

Abbott, like Howard before him, will portray Australia as a place divided between honest, hardworking Australians and elitist inner-city intelligentsia types who are so well-off they spend their time inventing fashionable issues like same-sex marriage.

Vocal Howard-hating got the latter group precisely nowhere in the so-called Culture Wars last time around.

Lefties who sneered at Howard’s tracksuits and 1950s views on women and ‘ethnics’ simply played straight into the snide politically correct stereotype he’d confected. Meanwhile, Howard was playing to the cheap (marginal) seats.

If we truly want to bring the fight up to the Abbott government and the right wing ideologue commentators then we need to stop sneering and start listening.

Rather than blaming Abbott for successfully scaring people into making a bad choice, we need to examine what is scaring our fellow Australians and how we can start a plain English conversation that honestly addresses their concerns.

And Labor needs to ditch the patronising ‘working families’ script. You don’t need to read Hegel to know a politician who’s been worked on by marketing geniuses when he or she turns up in your local Westfield.

There’s no question it’s far easier to be environmentally correct when you live on a professional salary with a small commute in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Try raising three kids on two blue collar salaries in Penrith with a large mortgage and crap public transport. Composting or installing solar panels is probably the last thing on your to-do list.

Oh. And one final thing before we start looking for the Horcruxes* that Abbott relies on for his power (as @virag064 remarked on Twitter today).

Let’s never lose our collective sense of humour. Satire – as opposed to anger and vilification – is the best outlet for despair.

*For those who haven’t read Harry Potter books, Harry and his friends had to find seven enchanted objects called Horcruxes to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort’s powers. The twist was that the eighth Horcrux was Harry himself. I suggest we start searching for the first one in Andrew Bolt’s hard drive.


WENDY HARMER – Editor in Chief of The Hoopla.

I’m giving myself the (almost) last word here – it’s my luxury, true. But I also know it prefaces for me just the beginning of a redoubled effort – just when I thought I’d run out of puff.

Whatever the government, whatever its political colour – blue, red, green or polka dot- I reserve the right to agitate for something better.

My interests are the environment, civil liberties, drug laws and education. I’m sure you have your own driving passions. Change doesn’t happen because you send someone to Canberra. It’s only the beginning… as I believe Deb Conway once sang.

If all the people who sit and whinge – the armchair activists and clicktivists – got off their collective concerned backsides and thought of ways to make a real change, then we’d be all the better for it.

I’ve learned the hard way that although we assiduously number our candidates on a sheet in a ballot box every three years, we can’t rely on any government to attend to our myriad needs and concerns.

No one government speaks for me… or you.

To all those who want something better from the ALP, the LNP or even the PUP –  get your hand off the button and commit.

I trust you’d be doing the same, no matter who is PM today.

Every. Single. Woman. Here. … has put her money, her time, her brainpower, her shoe leather and energy into making this country better.

I hope their passion inspires you to do the same.


PS: CATHERINE DEVENY –  Ratbag in the finest Aussie tradition.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” Steve Winterburn.



NB: The Hoopla sent out a request to more than 50 women to respond with their thoughts on the election. Some said they weren’t available because they were away from their desks; others felt unable to comment because they were in Government jobs and were mindful of future funding; others said they would try to respond and were subsequently unable to; others did not respond to the request and were not asked to reply if they could not. No comment was omitted.

We are very grateful to those who found time for The Hoopla and readers.



birdee-newsYou can read what younger women feel about the election result at our publication for young women, Birdee. A roll call of young women of the next generation who are looking to the future.

Their views are inspiring, angry, naive, hopeful … remind you of anyone?  

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