The fallout from last week’s leadership spill is continuing today, with Liberal MP Julia Banks announcing she’ll be leaving politics at the next election, declaring that she will not tolerate “bullying and intimidation”.
She released a scathing statement this morning saying the events of last week were the “last straw” for her in Parliament, but noting that she’s not done as an advocate. She singled out gender equality specifically as a cause she’ll fight for, crediting the “courageous” women who’ve spoken out in the past 12 months after suffering in silence for too long.
Banks’ departure is not good news for the Liberal Party, which already has a serious problem when it comes to the representation of women in the party, and just days ago saw its most senior and experienced woman, Julie Bishop, announcing she was moving to the backbench.
Meanwhile, the two frontrunners for Liberal preselection in Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth are both male, despite a couple of prominent women being in the mix.
Banks, who won the seat of Chisholm in 2016 after it had been held by Labor for 18 years, said that the seat represents one of the most multicultural electorates in the state. She said she’d received hundreds of emails and calls from those in the community saying they wanted Turnbull to remain as prime minister and Bishop as his deputy.
She did not hold back with her words:
“I have always listened to the people who elected me and put Australia’s national interests before internal political game, 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.”
She added that the people she serves know what to expect from her.
‘They know that I will always call out bad behaviour and will not tolerate any form of bullying or intimidation.
“I have experienced this both from within my own party and from the Labor party,” she said.
Banks said she’s far from done, and will not be giving up the fight for gender equality. “The scourge of cultura and gender bias, bullying and intimidation continues against women in politics, the media and across businesses,” she wrote.
“In anticipating my critics saying I’m ‘playing the gender card’ — I say this: Women have suffered in silence for too long and in this last twelve months the world has seen many courageous women speak out.”
Banks said she’ll be taking a few days leave before returning to Parliament on September 10, noting that recent events had taken an enormous emotional toll on her and her family.
— Julia Banks MP (@juliabanksmp) August 29, 2018