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Fact Check

Anthony Albanese says his cabinet has the largest number of women in history. Is that correct?

RMIT ABC Fact Check
Anthony Albanese wears glasses and is speaking with Penny Wong in the background. Verdict: CORRECT with a green tick
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his new cabinet has the largest number of women that have ever served in an Australian cabinet.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

The claim

The new Labor government has moved quickly to demonstrate its bona fides on an issue that for years dogged the Coalition: female representation in its senior ranks.

With the unveiling of his ministry on May 31, 2022, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claimed to have appointed a record number of women to cabinet positions.

"This is the largest number of women who have ever served in an Australian cabinet, with 10 women in the cabinet," he said.

So, has Labor clinched the record? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Mr Albanese's claim is correct.

The previous record was 8 women in cabinet, or 34.8 per cent of cabinet positions, achieved during the final term of Scott Morrison's Coalition government.

The first ministry of the Albanese Labor government includes 10 women in cabinet, taking their share of these senior positions to 43.5 per cent.

Anthony Albanese standing on the steps of government house with the women in the ministry after the swearing in ceremony
Anthony Albanese with the women on Labor's frontbench, including cabinet ministers.(ABC News: Matt Roberts )

Increasing representation

From federation until the election of John Howard's Coalition government in 1996, there was never more than one woman in cabinet at a time.

The number of female cabinet members then ranged between one and three under Mr Howard, and from four to six under the Rudd-Gillard Labor government.

The peak during Malcolm Turnbull's Coalition government was also six, a number maintained as a minimum after Scott Morrison became prime minister in 2018.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with newly sworn in ministry
When the Coalition was elected in 2013, there was only one woman (Julie Bishop) in cabinet. This was expanded to eight by the time the Coalition left office.(AAP)

Mr Morrison's history

Two months before the 2019 election Mr Morrison increased the number of women in cabinet to seven, and upon re-election claimed that his new ministry "maintains the record representation of women in cabinet for an Australian government".

Fact Check found that this claim checked out, both on the raw number and in proportional terms. His cabinet's seven women accounted for 30.4 per cent of 23 positions, just edging out the previous 30 per cent record under Kevin Rudd, when women held six of 20 positions.

Over the remainder of Mr Morrison's term, several ministerial reshuffles saw the number of women in cabinet fall then rise again.

A new peak was reached in July 2021 when Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie, who had resigned from cabinet the previous year, rejoined her party's frontbench.

Close up of Bridget McKenzie in a blue suit talking at a press conference, with Scott Morrison in the background
Senator McKenzie left cabinet following the so-called "sports-rorts" scandal.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

As Liberal MP Melissa Price had also recently returned to cabinet, that took the number of women in cabinet to eight, and the share of female membership to 34.8 per cent.

The rate dipped to 33.3 per cent with the expansion of cabinet to 24 members in October 2021.

So, did Labor break the record?

Mr Albanese claimed to have appointed "the largest number of women who have ever served in an Australian cabinet".

As the government's June 1 ministry list shows, 10 women were given cabinet positions, making up 43.5 per cent of the 23-person total.



Katy Gallagher

Finance; The Public Service; Women

Linda Burney

Indigenous Australians

Penny Wong

Foreign Affairs

Tanya Plibersek

Environment and Water

Catherine King

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

Michelle Rowland


Madeleine King

Resources; Northern Australia

Amanda Rishworth

Social Services

Julie Collins

Housing; Homelessness; Small Business

Clare O’Neil

Home Affairs; Cyber Security

On both measures, this surpassed the peak under the previous Coalition government and so set a new record for women in cabinet.

Mr Albanese also appointed an interim cabinet for the first 10 days of his government, in which women held 40 per cent of positions.

Principal researcher: David Campbell