FORMER Victorian Liberal premier Ted Baillieu has lashed his party after federal MP Julia Banks’ dramatic resignation, saying it’s a “wake-up call” for the Libs over their problem with female members.
Last week’s leadership chaos in Canberra was the “last straw” for a fed-up Ms Banks who today quit in spectacular fashion.
The member for Chisholm in Victoria, announced she will not contest the next electionand
revealed she was bullied by members of her own party in the lead-up to the vote that toppled Malcolm Turnbull last week.
Mr Baillieu supported his former colleague’s resignation and said the state’s Liberal Party has a “problem” with women.
“There are some individuals involved who just haven’t been barracking for our female members of Parliament,” Mr Baillieu told ABC radio.
“That’s a problem for the party and the party has to overcome it. Whether it’s hostility or whether it’s just taking female candidates for granted, it’s a problem.
“It’s a wake-up call for absolutely everybody.”
Ms Banks won against Labor in 2016 but according to Mr Baillieu, she did this without any help from her own party.
“She didn’t get the resources that she should have got … she won it anyway on her own merit,” he said.
“Since then she’s been given a hard time and the same has applied to Senator Jane Hume.”
In announcing her resignation, Ms Banks referred to the “bullying” and “intimidation” of which she’d been a target.
“This period has taken an enormous emotional toll on me and my beloved family,” Ms Banks said in a scathing statement this morning.
“I have always listened to the people who elected me and put Australia’s national interest before internal political games, factional party figures, self-proclaimed powerbrokers and certain media personalities who bear vindictive, mean-spirited grudges intent on settling their personal scores.
“Last week’s events were the last straw.”
“I have laid down the law to my cabinet,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
“I have laid down the law to my ministry and to the parliamentary secretary ranks of my government.
“There can be no question about the culture of the Liberal Party.”
Ms Banks said she had received hundreds of calls and emails from residents in her electorate, who wanted to see Mr Turnbull remain as PM, and Julie Bishop stay as the party’s deputy.
“The people of Chisholm know that I say what I think. They know I will always call out bad behaviour and not tolerate any form of bullying or intimidation,” she said.
“I have experienced this both from within my own party and from the Labor Party.”
On the allegations of bullying, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference that he had reached out to Ms Banks.
“My first concern is for her welfare and wellbeing and she is taking the time to ensure that that’s taken care of, and she has my support fully in that,” he said.
“I will continue to consult with my colleagues about ensuring that there can be no question about the culture of the Liberal Party.”
Ms Banks will now take leave before Parliament resumes next month, she said.
“I ask simply that in the months ahead that people be kind.”
Responding to her departure from politics, Mr Morrison said his priority remained the stability of the government.
“I want to thank her for strong vote of confidence she has given me in remaining in the parliament to support my government going forward,” he said.
Ms Banks narrowly won her seat at the last election, which Labor had held for 18 years. Her decision not to recontest will be devastating for the government at the next election.
It’s unlikely her announcement will be the only one to come in the next few weeks.
Liberal sources told news.com.au a number of disillusioned MPs were considering their futures, which could see a flurry of incumbents bow out ahead of what will be an uphill election battle for Mr Morrison and the badly damaged government.
Nationals MP Kevin Hogan confirmed today that he would move to the crossbench, but has pledged to continue supporting the government on legislation.
Mr Hogan said he “will never look at Canberra in quite the same way again”.
In an explosive claim, a number of politicians say they were bullied, stood over or promised ministries if they agreed to sign the petition.
“I’ve had three females — one senator and two members of the House — complain to me that they felt stood over in trying to sign a letter which had been asked for by the Prime Minister,” Mr Laundy said.
“And, you know, that’s clearly not acceptable. Those three women didn’t sign the letter, but the term they used was, ‘We were stood over’.”
Ms Banks holds the marginal seat of Chisholm by just 1.24 per cent.
Mr Laundy is also weighing up whether to leave politics after the bitter fallout from the tumultuous week of leadership tensions.
Mr Turnbull will resign his Sydney seat of Wentworth on Friday, triggering an October by-election.
The Morrison government is facing an uphill battle to retain the prized Sydney seat of Wentworth — and its slim majority in parliament — with a new poll showing the Liberal vote has plummeted after a right-wing attack on Mr Turnbull.
The ReachTel poll shows the Liberal Party and Labor pegged at 50 per cent each on a two-party preferred basis, in a clear sign Wentworth voters are planning to punish the Liberals for dumping the former prime minister.
In the 2016 federal election, the two-party vote was 67.8 per cent in Mr Turnbull’s favour.
Mr Turnbull will resign as an MP on Friday after representing the seat for 14 years, ahead of a by-election expected in early October.
Senior Labor MP Richard Marles said Wentworth was one of the country’s safest seats and the outcome of the by-election would reflect on Mr Morrison.
“Anything other than a strong Liberal win in the Wentworth by-election is going to represent an initial rejection by the Australian people to the idea of Scott being the prime minister,” he told Sky News.