Illawarra Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells missed out on a spot on Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott's frontbench when the new federal government's cabinet was announced yesterday.
The senator was appointed parliamentary secretary to the new Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews - a significant demotion from her position in opposition as shadow minister for ageing.
According to media reports, Senator Fierravanti-Wells was dumped after falling out of favour when she backed the controversial Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz - during the election campaign he was infamously only able to name one of his party's six points for stopping the asylum-seeker boats.
Sen Fierravanti-Wells' office did not return the Illawarra Mercury's calls yesterday.
Her demotion, along with the continuing uncertainty over the political future of Indi candidate Sophie Mirabella, leaves just one woman in Mr Abbott's 19-member cabinet - incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop. Yesterday Mr Abbott expressed disappointment that there were not more, and said it would have been different had Mrs Mirabella been ahead on votes in Indi.
"Plainly, I am disappointed that there are not at least two women in the cabinet," he said.
Liberal Senator Sue Boyce said she was shocked and embarrassed about the lack of female representation in the cabinet.
Sen Boyce, who is retiring from Parliament when her term in the Senate expires next July, said the lack of women in cabinet should be a wake-up call for the Liberal Party.
"It's a systemic problem for our party," she said.
Sen Boyce urged the party to reform preselection processes to foster the depth of talent to ensure both women and men take on senior roles.
She also had a crack at the Coalition's preselection process in her home state of Queensland where only six out of 30 candidates were women.