The women changing Australia are mainly in Queensland

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Queensland's female powerhouse (left to right) Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

The six top leadership positions in Queensland are all held by women but the mainstream media has scarcely noticed, writes Noely Neate.

I DON'T KNOW about Australia, but Queensland has changed.

I'm normally one of the first on Twitter to get cranky when I see something important happen, particularly in politics, when it is not reported by all the usual suspects — more commonly referred to as the mainstream media (MSM).

However, the most recent announcement by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk really had me torn. Let me explain.

When the ALP came from behind out of their "Tarago" – only holding seven seats in opposition back in 2015 – to win government from Campbell Newman, history was made in Queensland in regard to female representation, leadership and diversity — not to mention the sensational turnaround. But it really did not make as much of a splash as you would have expected in the wider Australian media landscape.

This again annoyed me when Gladys Berejiklian became NSW Premier in her own right this year and it was lauded in the national media as an astonishing accomplishment, massive for women and immigrants, blah blah. And then I saw tweets similar to this one below from the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas and I thought, What the hell? What is Anna P, chopped liver?! I could be wrong, but I don’t remember national political commentators lauding Palaszczuk in this manner.

I’ll admit, normally when I think of Queensland I find it hard to defend my State. We send some of the most odious politicians to Canberra – you know who they are – and even to this day we still have quite a bit of the Joh era hanging over us and we often do deserve the "redneck" barbs. But there is also something to be proud of, really proud of — nearly every top leadership position in this State is held by a woman. Yep, a woman, in Queensland, of all places.

With the announcement yesterday of Katarina Carrol becoming the first female Queensland Police Commissioner, she joined an ever-growing group of women who are leading in Queensland’s public sector.

I’m not talking about one lousy premier here, either. Take that New South Wales! I’m talking about all the top jobs.

This is a leadership list:

Before any of the good old boys start squealing, last I looked, the Palaszczuk Cabinet was actually 50/50 — as in 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female — which in itself is pretty bloody sensational, even in 2019.

But this is where my conflict comes in.

Part of me is seriously unhappy that this astonishing female leadership is not made more of in the media, not being lauded — hell, not even really being noted. It is pretty special and it has taken a long long time to see that many ladies in top jobs.

On the other hand, I sort of think it is good that no-one is noticing. I mean, if we want equality, you know the ability for women to be just as mediocre as men but still get those top jobs, we probably shouldn’t even be noticing how many women are in leadership positions in Queensland because it really should not be that unusual.

I am not suggesting any of the above-mentioned women are mediocre. I mean, just look at Ms Palaszczuk, alone. She raised her Party from decimation in opposition, to taking government, then winning government again to become the first Australian woman to be elected for two terms as premier. Not to mention, this woman achieved this success not only from the starting point of the Tarago but against massive cheerleading for the Campbell Newman Government. I would go so far as to say, campaigning, of the scary “Oh my God, bikies!” type, conducted by the State's only newspaper as well. A very impressive feat by anyone’s standards.

I still don’t know how to feel about it. For so long we have had all top positions in the State and around the nation filled by men. To see those top six positions held by males is not unusual — in fact, we often note when it is one or two women who get to sneak in and have a whiff of that power.

Though, on balance, I think it should be celebrated. It should be noted. I’m a very big believer in the adage, If you can see it you can be it.

I really don’t have a lot of hope for Queensland media. Sadly, looking at recent years' form from the Courier Mail – which sets the "tone" for most #Qldpol reporting in this State – Annastacia Palaszczuk could find a cure for cancer and the Courier Mail would probably still have a front-page splash accusing her of spending too much money and taking too long to do it, and how many died while she stuffed around.

Seeing ABC News Breakfast Michael Rowland's tweet below does give me hope that more national media may take notice and pay a bit more attention to this achievement in Queensland:

On Sunday mornings, I do regular #BallsOnly tweets, where I look at the splashes in the sports sections and check out how much coverage #WomenInSport is getting. As I said above,if you can see it you can be it and getting decent media coverage matters. Having young kids see they can become elite athletes in their chosen sports, as females, matters. Politics, police and the law should be no different.

It would be really good if national media noted this extraordinary state of affairs with female leadership in Queensland.

You never know how many little girls might see that Police Commissioner, Premier, Attorney-General, or Chief Justice on the telly or in the newspaper on the kitchen table and think, "I can do that when I grow up too”.

Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.

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