Openly lesbian Australian Labor Party senator Penny Wong has been re-elected to lead her party in the Senate while in Opposition following a leadership contest for the party between two supporters of same-sex marriage.
Wong, a senator from the state of South Australia since 2002 and Finance Minister in the Gillard and second Rudd governments, was re-elected by her colleagues earlier today, which also saw Tanya Plibersek, another vocal supporter of LGBT rights made the party’s deputy Opposition leader in the House of Representatives.
New Labor Opposition leader Bill Shorten told a press conference that the female representation on his front bench would be in stark contrast to that of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s which only had a single woman with a ministerial portfolio.
‘We look at the Abbott Coalition, where they’ve managed to only find a position for one woman in the top 20 cabinet spots in Australia,’ Shorten said according to The Guardian Australia, ‘I reject the assumption that merit is more located in the brains of men than women.’
‘I can’t believe that it’s not possible to have a greater proportion of your cabinet who are women. I’m looking forward to what the shadow ministry do, and the shadow ministry elections, in terms of seeing more diversity.’
Shorten, a power broker from the Labor Party’s right wing faction was elected Opposition leader after a leadership contest against Anthony Albanese from the party’s left.
Both are supporters of same-sex marriage, though neither will commit their party to a binding vote on the issue – allowing individual MPs to vote with their consciences.
Shorten’s election was welcomed by the Australian campaign for same-sex marriage.
‘For the first time in Australian history both Labor Party Caucus and rank and file members were able to choose between two ardent supporters of marriage equality,’ Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said.
‘We look forward to continuing our shared efforts in recognizing the right of all Australians to marry the person they love in the country they love. We hope Bill Shorten will work in a multi-partisan way to progress marriage equality.’