Another week, another alleged incident of sexual misconduct exposed in Parliament.
This time, the spotlight’s on Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham. A man accused by a former Greens staffer, Ella Buckland of inappropriate touching and ongoing intimidation in 2011.
The accusations were made public earlier this year on the ABC’s 7:30, but the incident blew up this week when a number of female party members accused the Greens of failing to deal with the allegations appropriately. Buckingham was cleared by an independent investigation earlier in the year and continues to deny the allegations against him.
Not convinced, Newtown MP Jenny Leong publicly urged Buckingham to resign from Parliament immediately and extended her full support to Buckland.
Leong said she had been elected to “speak up and speak out” and was unwilling to “stay silent anymore” over Buckingham’s conduct.
“To Ella Buckland, who has shown strength by speaking out publicly about Jeremy’s act of sexual violence towards her and the subsequent disgusting behaviour she has endured, let me say on the record that I believe you,” she told the ABC.
Leong also suggested that Buckingham’s unacceptable behaviour was well known to the party and extended beyond this one example.
“Beyond what has been articulated by Ella Buckland about how Jeremy behaved towards her I know there have been active volunteers who have stepped aside or resigned as members as a result of Jeremy’s behaviour,” she said.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi agreed, issuing a joint statement with Leong yesterday.
“The culture of sexism, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances in society in general and in politics in particular must change,” they wrote.
— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) November 13, 2018
“Survivors must be listened to and believed. No more excuses. No more delay.
“Today we are calling on Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham to step aside and not contest the next election. This is in the best interests of the complainant, members, supporters and volunteers.
Implying they had broken party policy by speaking out about the issue, the pair added: “We have made this decision as independent women and have not taken it lightly.”
Their position swayed Greens leader, Richard Di Natale to issue his own statement, encouraging Buckingham to resign.
“I believe the most appropriate course of action is for Jeremy Buckingham to stand aside as a candidate for the next election,” he said.
So far, his pleas have gone unanswered, with Buckingham digging his heals in until further notice. But it’s hard to see how he can survive past the week.
There’s no denying 2018 has been a dismal year in Australian politics, with allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment running rampant. But it’s also been the catalyst for change; triggering a widespread recognition that: A) Too many men have been abusing power flagrantly, and B) Women in politics have had enough.
In years gone by, these allegations– against Foley, Buckingham, Joyce, Leyonhjelm– would have been swept under the rug. Their female victims would have been painted as ‘petty drama queens’ or ‘frigid liars’. Their stories would have never seen the light of day.
But with greater representation of women in Parliament comes a new wave of disruption and an agitation of the status quo. Women standing by each other, speaking out and getting heard. ‘No more excuses, no more delay.’
And men who abuse their power, should be vigilant.