Voters in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have elected a female premier, Gladys Berejiklian, for the first time ever.
Though Berejiklian is not technically NSW's first female premier — Kristina Keneally became the first woman premier in a party room ballot in 2009 — Berejiklian is the first woman to be chosen by the people during an election. Berejiklian's historic win has now delivered the Coalition government a third term in office for the first time in 50 years.
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"I want to thank the people of this great state for having confidence in me and my government,” Berejiklian told reporters after claiming victory in Saturday’s election. "I am most proud of the state of NSW. A state in which someone with a long surname, and a woman, can be the premier."
Berejiklian — who originally took over as premier after Mike Baird resigned in 2017 — elaborated that her priorities would continue to center on the environment, infrastructure, sustainability, and delivering a strong budget.
“I will continue to govern for all of us, for all of you," she stated.
Thank you NSW! pic.twitter.com/Z4eSZmUAxi— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) March 23, 2019
All sides of politics have applauded Berejiklian following her election win.
Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, congratulated Berejiklian and announced that her win sent a great message to women and young girls across the country.
"In a world of far too few women leaders, I congratulate Gladys Berejiklian on being the first woman to win a NSW state election," Gillard tweeted.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Berejiklian won not because she was a woman, but in spite of it.
"The first woman elected to Premier of NSW is no small feat. The more women we have in politics, across all parties, the better our democracy and parliaments will be," Hanson-Young tweeted. "Working across party lines to make the political culture more respectful must be a priority."
Congratulations to @GladysB First woman elected to Premier of NSW is no small feat. The more women we have in politics, across all parties the better our democracy and parliaments will be. Working across party lines to make the political culture more respectful must be a priority— Sarah Hanson-Young💚 (@sarahinthesen8) March 23, 2019
The past 18 months have seen small progress made for women's representation across Australian parliaments. In December 2017, Queensland became the first state to see a 50/50 gender equal government under Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Victoria followed suit in November, with the Andrews Labor Government appointing a gender-equal ministry for the first time.
The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and the Northern Territory are likewise mostly gender equal. Despite Berejiklian’s win, the New South Wales government — alongside South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia — remain predominantly male.