Home' In The City : Canberra Style - Spring Summer 2012 Contents Gai Brodtmann
Member for Canberra (Labor)
As a female federal politician,
Gai Brodtmann has been on
the front line of some heavy
criticism during the past few
"We've all copped the
misogyny," she said.
"In the last sitting session, I spoke on the
supertrawler debate and I was on the radio
when a guy from Perth rang up and said 'how
dare a woman speak on such an issue'.
"I've been in the parliament for the last
two years and I've been surprised by it and
I'm certainly noticing a trend.
"But it's at times like these where the
strengths of women play out and we are all
experienced enough to get on with the job."
Experience is something Gai is not short of.
Before being elected as Member for
Canberra -- an area which covers everything
south of Lake Burley Griffin in the ACT -- in
2010, she ran her own business for 10 years
and was a public servant, primarily with the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and
the Attorney General's Department.
Gai represented Australia in India and
worked on a range of international and
domestic issues, she is listed as a volunteer
director on the Gift of Life and Our Wellness
boards and is a Fellow of the Public Relations
Institute of Australia.
"I think it's really important at a young
age to actively engage with [politics], throw
yourself into it," she said.
"I meet a lot of young people around the
country who are actively engaged in politics,
especially women, and it's genuinely fantastic
A little more than two years after being
elected -- and with the next election no more
than a year away -- Gai admits she is still
developing as a politician and the increased
public exposure the role has.
"From my first speech, I've always been
comfortable speaking in parliament, it's such
an impressive place and I feel I'm settling in
to my role now," Gai said.
"You do have a vision for what you want to
do and I feel I'm getting there.
"Being so publicly accessible is not
something I've ever done before so it's a bit
strange, but people talk to you and share
their problems with you and it's incredible
humbling to be in that position.
"Canberra is the biggest electorate,
population wise, and representing the
community is something I love doing."
Senator for ACT (Labor, Federal Minister
for Sport and Multicultural Affairs
Kate Lundy's rise to a ministerial
role shows there is no set way
for women to enter the political
After dropping out of school
in year 11, Kate went to work
on a construction site and went on to be a
trade union representative in the Building
Workers Industrial Union.
Aged 28, she became the youngest woman
in the Australian Labor Party to be elected to
federal parliament and two years later took
on the sport and youth affairs portfolios in
opposition, which she held for 12 years.
"My story has been told before and I'm
flattered that people are interested in it," Kate
said with a smile.
"For women, there is no predisposed path
into politics and it really can happen from any
walk of life.
"I was living in Canberra and I think only in
Canberra could an industry like the construction
industry allow women to rise up. It's a very
A self-confessed sports addict, Kate has
been able to combine her passion for sport
with her career for much of her time in federal
politics and it is a role she has cherished.
"I'm one of those people who are rowing
on Lake Burley Griffin early in the morning.
Whether it's summer or winter, I'm there.
"The sense of place that Canberra has, living
and working in a beautifully designed place like
this, gives me -- and others -- great inspiration.
"Sport is so important, it goes across political
lines, it goes across borders and religions, it
touches every Australian in some way."
In March this year, Kate's rise to the top
was completed when she was made Minister
for Sport and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
in a cabinet reshuffle and with it, a dream
"It's a huge privilege to take on the
portfolio. It's where lives are improved and I
am actively working with the community to
make sure Australians are active and engaged
with sport," she said.
And while things have gone well for the
44-year-old, she encourages women to get
involved with politics in any possible way.
"When I first entered politics, I had doubts
about having the right mind to do it but I'm a
better person when I'm intensively busy and
that's what this job makes me.
"Whether it's Emily's List [for female
members of the Labor party] or other groups,
get involved because that's the only way you
can change things."
"...it's at times like
these where the
strengths of women
play out and we
are all experienced
enough to get on with
Gai Brodtmann and Kate Lundy
canberra style | THE CANBERRA TIMES
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