It wasn’t so long ago that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian led her party to victory in the NSW state election. Just months later, Berejiklian looks set to be challenged after a group of rogue MPs declared they’ll take on her leadership due to her “shameful” handling of the abortion bill.
To be clear, that handling includes responding to a conscience vote on the matter, which successfully passed the lower house 59 to 31, with support from Labor and the Nationals.
It also wasn’t so long ago that one of the key opponents to Berejiklian’s handling of the bill, Tanya Davies, was the state’s Minister for Women, and issuing reports and initiatives aimed at ’empowering’ women and girls. Having previously promised to join the cross bench if her amendments to the abortion bill were rejected, Davies is now part of the trio orchestrating this spill, along with Matthew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato.
The move by the rogue MPs is unlikely to be successful but is no doubt designed to weaken Berejiklian’s leadership and keep the abortion issue firmly on the table, more than 119 years after it was first instated.
The trio taking on Berejiklian’s leadership declared that it was “made clear to the Premier” that their four key amendments to the bill were required at a minimum in order “to ensure continued membership of the Liberal party room”.
Their statement — which arrived in inboxes at 8:30pm Monday night, states that: “We have come to the conclusion that the right course of action is not to leave the Parliamentary Liberal Party but to hold the Premier to account for presiding over this shameful process.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has called the leadership challenge ‘ridiculous’, while Health Minister Brad Hazzard has tweeted that “it is plain bizarre”.
Ridiculous and bizarre it is. But also, insulting.
Earlier this year, Tanya Davies launched an ‘inspiring’ women project designed to ‘empower’ more women into participating in male-dominated fields, calling on members of the public to submit a video in order inspire more girls to achieve their potential.
How inspiring will it be for girls to see a female Premier’s leadership attacked for her response to a successful conscience vote on abortion reform?
Davies has also presided over the launch of the Women in NSW 2018 Annual Report launched in January, expressing her concerns in the report’s foreword regarding the overall health, wellbeing and safety of the state’s women and girls. “We want every woman in NSW to be able to reach their potential and be their best,” she wrote.
“We have made it a priority to ensure that women in our state can thrive – to support women and empower them.”
As long as, she should have added, my personal feelings on women’s reproductive rights are firmly upheld.