I extend my congratulations to Gladys Berejiklian on her new role as NSW Premier.
At her first press conference an hour into the job, an unidentified reporter asked Berejiklian: "The obvious question is do you think [being unmarried and childless] is a disadvantage politically because people have kids and they have families and people identify with that."
This "obvious" question was not at the front of my mind, I have to admit.
In fact, the question is only obvious if we believe that an unmarried, childless person cannot govern fairly and effectively for married people and/or parents.
Do we really accept this form of identity politics? Are we genuinely concerned that an accomplished legislator can only represent those with whom they share a marital and parenting status? I can't say I've found myself struggling to identify with married politicians who do have children, on the basis of their family structure.
But if she's not a wife or mother, what can she possibly be?
The daughter of Armenian migrants, Berejiklian was elected unopposed as leader by the Liberal party room to become the 45th Premier of NSW following Mike Baird's resignation. She is the second woman to hold the office and the first from the Liberal Party. She is highly qualified for the role, having racked up 14 years' experience as the member for Willoughby with the latter half in cabinet, including three years as Deputy Leader of the Baird Government.
She is known for her moderate politics as a member of the socially-progressive left faction of the NSW Liberals. As with any politician, I agree with some of Berejiklian's positions and disagree with others.
I applaud her support for marriage equality, public education and health care, and compassion for refugees.
On the other hand, I was disappointed to read that while the former Treasurer wants to examine ways to stabilise Sydney's skyrocketing house prices, she has dismissed out of hand the possibility of a broad-based land tax. I have been disappointed with the lack of transparency surrounding the Westconnex and Eastern Suburbs Light Rail projects which commenced when Berejiklian was Transport minister.
I might consider "obvious" questions to Berejiklian to be: "Why bother to investigate the causes of the housing crisis if you've already decided not to consider one of the very possible remedies?" or, "Why will the pivotal central section of Westconnex be built last?"
As we move forward, I wish Gladys the best and hope we can judge our politicians on their actions and substance rather than the personal relationships they hold.
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