If women weren’t turned off a career in politics already, Senator Michaelia Cash’s comments in Senate Estimates yesterday may just get them there.
The former Minister for Women has still not properly apologised for her comments threatening to name “every young woman in Bill Shorten’s office” about whom “rumours abound”.
She did withdraw the comments, with the caveat that she was doing so, “if anyone was offended”.
Another former mininster for women, Tony Abbott, said it was a “brain snap”.
Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said the comments were a “smear” on young women, and noted today that Parliament House is tough enough for women without having to deal with such comments.
In Question Time this afternoon, the Prime Minister said that, “All of us should show respect to the staffers, and we should show respect to each other.”
But Turnbull added that Senator Cash was “bullied and provoked by Senator Doug Cameron” during a “heated session” and that she has withdrawn the remarks.
Michaelia Cash threatens to name “every young women in Bill Shorten’s office” that she’s heard rumours about.
Labor senator Doug Cameron tells her to take what the young people call a “chill pill”. #estimates pic.twitter.com/bfNXhfM60E
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) February 27, 2018
Opposition leader Bill Shorten released a statement, just prior to Question Time on Thursday.
He said that on behalf of his staff, he is angry. He said he is waiting for Senator Cash to call his office to arrange a formal apology.
He said he agreed with Malcolm Turnbull’s comments that Parliament House needed to become a more respectful workplace for women — but added that maybe the PM should do more to make that happen.
“It’s this sort of nonsense that turns people off politics,” he said. “We should be focusing on the things that matter to Australians, not hurling insults and making up stories about people who can’t defend themselves.”
Senator Cash is due in Senate Estimates again this afternoon.