The Liberal Party needs quotas, and there are an equal number of ‘meritorious’ women in the real world as there are men, Julia Banks said during a Parliamentary speech last night.
The Liberal Member for Chisholm, who announced recently that she would not contest the next election due to appalling behaviour she’d recently witnessed, told the story of a young girl skipping on the beach with the line “Equality Always Wins” on her t-shirt.
“Before that little girl on the beach is an adult this parliament must be represented by a 50/50 split of men and women in both major parties . A Parliament which truly represents the principle that Equality Always Wins.”
“[Women] represent half the population and so should a modern Liberal party,”
Banks said the way to get there was through quotas.
“We’re talking about quotas for women who represent more than half our population,” she said.
“The meritocracy argument is completely and utterly flawed. There are an equal number of meritorious Liberal women out there in the real world as there are men. But they won’t come if the barriers to entry and mountains to climb are too high.
“It seems that quotas are only resisted when they relate to gender. Quotas are not demeaning to women, and nor will women be regarded as the “quota girl”.
“It’s really simple if you only have a man running and you can’t find a woman: find one.”
She called out a culture of “appalling behaviour”, saying it’s an umbrella descriptor for bullying, intimidation, harassment and a lack of integrity.
“In my political journey a culture of appalling behaviour has been widespread, pervasive and undermining like white ants.”
She said politics is five to ten years behind the business world, which she believes has already made efforts to address women’s representation.
Banks left a career in corporate law to pursue her political ambitions.
Her exit is a significant blow for the Liberal Party, given there are just 13 Liberal women in the House of Reps, compared to 62 men
Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to Banks’ speech by declaring it’s been a “harrowing time” in the Liberal Party and that his approach is to support his colleagues and “ensure there’s the support available to them that they need.”
That followed comments he made on the ABC earlier this week that women don’t need quotas, but rather more “practical” approaches like training and support.
The Liberal Party is now widely tipped to tonight pre-select a woman to run in Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth.