'We have to stop beating up our women': Liberals seethe over sexism after Julia Banks quits party

Debate over sexism was once again at the fore of Australian politics on Tuesday after former Liberal MP Julia Banks quit the party to sit on the crossbench and Greens leader Richard Di Natale was suspended from the chamber after defending a fellow senator over what he considered a sexist slur.
Announcing her defection, Ms Banks echoed former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull when she declared respect for women in Australian politics was "years behind the business world". Her resignation left the Coalition with just 12 female MPs out of 74 in the lower house.
'The Liberal party has changed': Banks quits party

'The Liberal party has changed': Banks quits party

One of Liberal's star recruits, Julia Banks has announced she is leaving the party to join other independents in a blistering speech in Parliament attacking the "reactionary right."
Ms Banks' speech to Parliament followed an emergency meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and federal Victorian MPs in the aftermath of the Liberals' disastrous state election loss, during which Jobs Minister Kelly O'Dwyer reportedly said the party was viewed as "anti-women".
South Australian Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi, who slammed the behaviour of male "bullies" in the party during the August leadership coup, said the Liberal Party had to "stop beating up our women".
Liberal MP Craig Laundy listening as Julia Banks announces her decision to quit the party.
Liberal MP Craig Laundy listening as Julia Banks announces her decision to quit the party.Alex Ellinghausen
"We have so many women in the directorship level. Why we don't get them to Canberra or to other state parliaments I don't know," she said. "But it must be just the way we do politics, just the way we pick our leaders. Something in [the] Liberal Party ... there's a bottleneck."
Senator Gichuhi said it was obvious that events since Mr Turnbull's ousting had been extremely damaging for the government, and that the Liberal Party had a problem with women.
"That is a fact. It's open for anybody to see. So if we can start by accepting we have a problem, we address it ... and stop beating up our women, that's all we have to do," she said.
"Absolutely everything that has been happening since a few weeks ago has been really bad for us as the Liberal Party. There's no hiding it. We are in a low spot ... the only way to go is up."
Since the coup against Mr Turnbull, the Liberal Party's deficit of women has come to the fore. Former deputy leader Julie Bishop quit the frontbench, Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis announced she would not recontest her seat and Ms Banks had already said she would quit politics.
Separately, Senator Gichuhi was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the Senate ticket in her state, and the Queensland LNP's Jane Prentice was dumped by preselectors for a man.
Liberal MP and former minister Craig Laundy - a close friend of Mr Turnbull and Ms Banks - used Tuesday's events to double down on his call for the Liberal Party to use quotas to boost the number of female MPs in its ranks.
The new crossbench MP talks with Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in the chamber on Tuesday.
The new crossbench MP talks with Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in the chamber on Tuesday.Alex Ellinghausen
"We need to increase the numbers of women we have in Parliament," he told Fairfax Media. "I’m not scared of interventionist routes to do that because it's so important."
Mr Laundy, who is weighing up his own political future in the wake of Mr Turnbull's ousting, said Ms Banks' decision to quit was "sadly the latest example of transactional costs of messy leadership coups".
Other Liberals played down accusations of sexism and bullying in the party. Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne told Sky News people had been "smeared" by allegations without any formal complaints being made. Liberal MP Sarah Henderson said she had not seen "fundamental or systemic bullying" in the party.
But there were accusations of sexism in the Senate on Tuesday after Coalition senator Barry O'Sullivan said of Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young: "There's a bit of Nick Xenophon in her - and I don't mean that to be a double reference, but there's a bit of Nick Xenophon in her."
Senator O'Sullivan withdrew the salacious remark. But Senator Hanson-Young said she was "sick" of sexist slurs from male senators, naming Senator O'Sullivan, David Leyonhjelm, Cory Bernardi and Fraser Anning, and branding them "not fit to be in this chamber".
The incident prompted an extraordinary response from Senator Di Natale, who refused to withdraw calling Senator O'Sullivan "a pig" and "a disgrace". The Greens leader was then suspended from the Senate for the remainder of the day.
Michael Koziol
Michael Koziol is the immigration and legal affairs reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Parliament House

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/we-have-to-stop-beating-up-our-women-liberals-seethe-over-sexism-after-julia-banks-quits-party-20181127-p50inc.html


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