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Voters should heed the warnings given by Liberal women

Yesterday, Jane Prentice joined a growing list of Liberal women calling out their own side.

“Impatient ambition, treachery and lies are now, more than ever, part of our political fabric. Increasingly we are seeing candidates and elected members whose primary focus is not a desire to serve their communities, but to serve themselves. Personal ambition seems to be replacing an ambition for our nation,” Ms Prentice warned in her farewell speech having lost preselection despite having been a sitting member since 2010.

Julia Banks made similar comments when she chose to leave the party.

She said she had always put Australia’s national interest “before internal political games, factional party figures, self-proclaimed power-brokers and certain media personalities who bear vindictive, mean-spirited grudges intent on settling their personal scores … Last week’s events were the last straw”.

Banks took aim at members of “the reactionary right wing … aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsement or silence. The Liberal party has changed, largely due to the actions of the reactionary and regressive right wing who talk about and to themselves, rather than listening to the people.”

Lucy Gichui spoke of the intimidation she and others were subjected to, saying the deterioration in political culture had reached crisis point.

“I don’t think anybody would want to be in that kind of an environment where your friends are no longer friends and the colleagues you sit next to they are no longer looking at you with the same eyes – that we are parliamentarians together. It is also the betrayal. You can imagine that people who have been your mentors, all of a sudden you don’t know who they are. You can imagine that people who have been your friends, then you are deemed to be in different camps, and even what is the worst thing is to have to choose when you don’t think you have to choose.”

“The minute you have to toe a certain line, you are being intimidated, you are no longer using your free will. Politics can be a decent career for all. Even in politics I should be able … to make free will decisions. Any time somebody is overpowering you … that’s not political. We should be able to work in a professional environment.”

Linda Reynolds said, at the time, that she did not recognise “the bullying and intimidation that has gone on”.

“Whatever happens tomorrow, this is a sad day for my party and for our nation. I just hope … whatever happens tomorrow that the behaviours that we have seen and the bullying and intimidation that I do not recognise as Liberal in any shape, way or form be brought to account.”

Outgoing Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, said she’d had a number of conversations with male and female MPs and it was clear that people were subject to “threats, intimidation and bullying” and that she had been “a little bit disgusted” by some of the commentary in recent days directed at women in the Liberal party to toughen up, or implications that women were being snowflakes or princesses.

Julie Bishop echoed those remarks.

“I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted,” she said.

“Politics is robust, the very nature of it, it’s not for the faint-hearted. But when a feisty, amazing woman like Julia Banks says this environment is not for me, don’t say: ‘Toughen up, princess.’ Say: ‘Enough is enough.’”

Ann Sudmalis also complained of “bullying, betrayal and backstabbing” by members of the Liberal party.

“Politics is a place where if you do not have great resilience, the actions of others can impact on your mental health,” Ms Sudmalis told Parliament. “I have decided enough is enough. Who was this about? Certainly not the people who elected me. It was about ego-driven ambition, bullying and betrayal and my local position is completely untenable.”

Veteran former senator Judith Troeth, who represented Victoria from 1993 to 2011, said the party’s administrators “set the tone” and needed to take responsibility for systematically failing women.

“Why would you leave a good career to risk a short-term venture into politics only to see one’s career aspirations cut short by random cruelty and anarchy and brutality?” she asked. “Sometimes what you put up with at work is just not feasible and it’s just not worth doing anymore.”

Julie, Kelly and Julia all decided to leave, Jane, Lucy and Ann were kicked out, and Linda’s silence was bought with a big promotion.

Meanwhile, the main protagonists, the bullies they spoke of, remain protected as Ministers and influential members of the Morrison government.

It is up to we voters to heed the warnings given by these Liberal women and say “Enough is enough”.

The standards you walk past are the standards you accept.

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  1. Kronomex

    The Liberal Party still has the proverbial and severely outdated “boys only club” mentality but it does have a tiny annex marked “Sigh, I suppose if we have to let women in we can at least shunt them aside into their own sandpit.” I really don’t see anything changing for the foreseeable future while the undead like Caterpillar Eyebrows, The Mad Monk, and the ever present ghost of Menzies (just to name a tiny handful) holds sway.

  2. Ill fares the land

    Of course the angelic Julia Banks was always noble in her pursuit of a better Australia. Utter tosh – yes, her complaints are valid and should be listed to, both by voters when judging the calibre of the LNP and by her party, but she was, untiul she wasn’t, emeshed in the party machine. This, I might also add, is the numpty who insisted she could live on Newstart. Perhaps she shouldn’t be judged by one comment, but it was a particularly stupid and ill-advised remark to make and showed that she, as a wealthy Australian (I believe she owns at least 5 properties, including the obligatory Canberra property to enable her to maximise her access to travel allowances, which, I might add, are greater annually than the Newstart allowance), she has no idea at all of how many Australians live – or survive to not put too fina a point on it.

    The truth appears to be that within a party, there is always vicious infighting, back stabbing, factional battles and out-and-out treachery. I believe this is true of all sides of politics – they spend far more time fighting with their own colleagues than doing whatever the hell their “job” is and I suspect they are more cordial to their opponents. The so-called angels of the LNP, Banks, Cash and Bishop to name three will have done their share of back-stabbing and shafting colleagues and I am left to wonder if Bishop in particular reaped what she had sown when she was cast aside ion the last leadership spill, so let’s not over-egg the custard.

    They are right about the male-dominated and toxic LNP environment where the LNP men still can’t abide powerful women, but then that is the hallmark of conservatives. In the US, conservatives are driven by a combination of predominantly hatred and to a lesser extent fear, although they are different sides of the same coin. In Australia, conservatives tend to be more driven by fear – and the men in the LNP are petrified that they might have to surrender their positions of power to capable women. In every bully there typically resides the ability to work out what the weak points of a rival are, or where they can score easy points – with rivals who are women, it is simple; resort to sexist, misogynistic and even physically intimidating behaviour. I suspect there is a broader behavioural issue in the LNP – Labor has managed to manage internal factions and hatreds (although I am sure they always bubble away beneath the surface), whereas the LNP has not and it appears, cannot, at least for the moment.

    So, how do you have a dolt like Teena McQueena (another big-mouthed but of low intellect bully) as party VP and still not have an environment where women are not bullied

  3. Diannaart

    Teena McQueen, poster girl for, “See, women really are stupid”.

  4. Frances

    It doesn’t matter who you vote for, a politician always gets in. Must be a well-paid job, the per diem allowances, travel allowances, the superannuation benefits, etc. Many years ago I read an analysis of the personality traits of women in politics and the ‘successful’ women were no different personality wise from the men. Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Madeline Albright. Voting based on gender of the candidate should not be considered.

  5. Kaye Lee

    It is hard to have respect for anyone in the Liberal party but the repeated claims of people infesting the party who are there for what they can get (and that seems to be most politicians – Ted Mack being a notable exception and possibly Tony Windsor too), and the overweening personal ambition of individuals leading to intimidatory tactics makes parliament a very unproductive and corruptible place.

    I would love them to have to go through a time and motion study and impose an efficiency dividend on them. I would love them to be forced to post a report about every trip they claim for with an hourly diary attached. I would love to build a motel on the grounds of parliament house where they can stay for free during sitting weeks. Should they choose to stay elsewhere, they must pay for it and transport themselves. Oh and how about banning alcohol from this public workplace. Any pay rise would be dependent on productivity increases.

  6. Aortic

    Good stuff again Kaye. As far as expenses and entitlements are concerned apart from the PM and a handful of others such as the Foreign Minister say, the rest should be given a fixed yearly amount depending on seniority, and once expended that’s it. Watch for the Dom to become Oz, the five star become three and an introduction to the rear end of aircraft. Far too easy to say expenses were within guidelines and even if, on the rare instance they are caught out, the sum is repaid with no further penalty.

  7. New England Cocky

    @Kronomex: Sadly the ALP have little better in the past when One remembers the electoral success of Maxine McKew in Bennelong removing Little Johnnie “Flakjacket” Howard from his seat and government simultaneously, only to be ignored for her natural position as spokesperson for Labor, that would have used her journalistic skills and personal media following to greater advantage than the “boy’s club” nominee “what’s his name?”

  8. DrakeN

    Kaye Lee: “Oh and how about banning alcohol from this public workplace.”

    A simple task like driving a car becomes increasingly dangerous above an alcohol intake of … zero!

    A complicated job, like administering a whole country, can be successfully undertaken while “well oiled”?

    Alcohol and drug tests, similar to those proposed for welfare beneficiaries and effected in most workplaces, might reveal some significantly unsavoury personal habits within the legislative workforce.

    It’s a weird world in politics.

  9. Frank Smith

    Yes, the Libs do have a major “MEN problem”. Regrettably, I do not see that I am in a position to do much about the Libs “MEN problem” as I will never be a member of the Liberal Party and, as a progressive voter in a blue-ribbon Liberal electorate, I have little chance of ever using my vote to influence the Libs “MEN problem”. Yes, I can voice my disapproval and concerns to friends and acquaintances, but even as I do, I detect some very odd “looks” in this conservative electorate. Reform has to come from within the Party itself but with “Leaders” like Teena McQueen that may be a long time coming. I am particularly enraged by the Libs ousting of Liberal Member Jane Prentice in the Ryan electorate by “staffer” Julian Simmons – why didn’t Turnbull or Scummo rise to Jane’s defence as Scummo did to secure Craig Kelly’s pre-selection? Prentice is a far more worthy Member (and Minister) than Kelly will ever be.

    On a somewhat different topic Kaye Lee, I note that your opening cartoon features The Daily Rupert. The New York Times Magazine have just published an excellent three part series on the influence the Murdoch Empire continues to have on US, British and Australian politics. It is a longish read, but I am sure that AIMN participants will find it very enlightening (and frightening).

  10. Alcibiades

    Having speed read it. Highly recommend Frank Smiths linked NewYorkTimes 20,000 word article. Dynamite on the Murdochracy, the cancer it is within Democracy. Now to devour it, slowly.

  11. paul walter

    I must say, all political parties have form. The Greens have had spats on the issue over the last year or two, but I really do wonder about Labor as to the Emma Husar matter.

    What was that REALLY about?

  12. Matters Not

    Certainly a good, in-depth read. And yes, it takes some time but it’s well worth the effort. Now book-marked.

    Thanks Frank Smith.

  13. Kronomex

    Another big “Sigh, how unexpected” moment –

    But, then again, there’s an election looming so I won’t be in the least little bit surprised if the minister has a sudden change of heart (the old one shrivelled up from non-use and has been replaced with a temporary length of electioneering kind heart) and lets the family stay.

  14. David Bruce

    What the Australian politicians are doing (and have already done) to the Australian electors is treason. Maybe a way out is a class action against our current “honourable members”, with an ICAC as a minimum outcome.

    I read an interesting piece about this recently and found that (22.) Quentin Bryce, Former Governor-General, is a Knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and vested Alex Chernov into the role and title of Deputy Prior of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem for the State of Victoria.

    Quentin also happens to be Bill Shortens mother-in-law. Seems we are badly influenced by a foreign power?

  15. Kaye Lee

    Wow David. Would it burst your conspiracy bubble to point out that they are the group responsible for St John’s Ambulance and St John Eye Hospital Group? Influenced by a foreign power????? Get a grip. That submission you linked to is farcical. Who wrote it?

  16. Patagonian

    Julie Bishop. What a glorious joke. Observed appalling behaviour for 20 years and yet NEVER OPENED HER TRAP TO CONDEMN IT.

  17. Alcibiades

    Good grief, Charlie Brown. The offence of treason :

    Section 80 of the Commonwealth(Cth) Criminal Code makes it an offence punishable by mandatory life imprisonment to:

    (1) Harm, imprison, detain or cause the death of the Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, the consort of the Sovereign, the Governor-General or the Prime Minister; or
    (2) Levy war or do an act preparatory to levying war against the Commonwealth; or
    (3) Instigate a non-citizen to make an armed invasion of the Commonwealth or a Territory of the Commonwealth.

    Section 80(2) of the Cth Criminal Code makes it an offence, also punishable by mandatory life imprisonment, to assist another person to escape punishment for treason offences or to fail to inform police of another person’s intention to commit treason.

    Section 80.1AA of the Cth Criminal Code, a person commits treason if they are an Australian citizen or resident and intentionally engage in conduct that materially assists the enemy in armed conflict against the Commonwealth or the Australian Defence Force. A person is not guilty of treason under this section if the assistance is purely humanitarian in nature.


  18. Lambert Simnel

    David, our unstinting thanks.

    From this we are led surely to the Holy Grail itself.

    We will be freed of Sodomy and Baphomet and like Grand Master Jaques De Molay will face the Cathedral as we burn at the stake, “relaxed over” by the cowled figures to the higher mercy of the Lord himself..

  19. 2353NM

    While I agree the conservatives do seem to have a problem with attraction and retention of a number of different groups of people that aren’t white ‘Christian’ males, I really don’t have much sympathy for Jane Prentice. Prentice had previously been a Brisbane City Councillor who was parachuted into a ‘gimme’ federal seat after the previous Liberal Party MP was expelled from the party for ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ (wonder if that could happen today).

    Prentice is close to or at retirement age, wasn’t one of Brisbane’s better councillors and has not been anything like a stellar performer in her local area. She is being replaced by a Brisbane City Councillor who is again being parachuted into her seat. On both occasions, the ‘parachuting’ occurred when the LNP could ‘appoint’ someone to the Brisbane City Council as it was/is under 12 months to a Council election (it’s a similar strategy to that used by the LNP to line then Lord Mayor Newman up to be Queensland Premier).

    So Prentice may have some anger over the way she was dumped (and it might have been done with greater ruthlessness than when she was a party to doing it), those that forget their history are bound to repeat it. Her replacement already has posters up claiming he will fix local roads – surely that is a Council responsibility. And as he was the local Councillor, says a lot for his ability to get traction for local issues . . .

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