Victorian MP Julia Banks has quit the Liberal Party, throwing a curveball into the Morrison government.
The member for Chisholm announced her decision on Tuesday in a lengthly statement on her website in which she cited party in-fighting and Liberals’ attitudes towards women as the catalyst for the shock move.
Banks had previously announced she would not contest her Victorian seat at the next election following the August leadership spill that deposed Malcolm Turnbull and injected Prime Minister Scott Morrison into The Lodge. In her resignation statement she referred to the “dark days” following the coup and the “personal ambition” of those responsible who she claims put their own wants and desires ahead of the Australian people.
“The gift of time and reflection has provided some clarity regarding the brutal blow against the leadership,” she wrote.
“Led by members of the reactionary right wing, the coup was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsements or silence. Their actions were undeniably for themselves. For their position in the Party. Their power. Their personal ambition. Not for the Australian people who we represent. Not for what people voted for in the 2016 election. Not for stability. And disregarding that teamwork and unity delivers success.
“The aftermath of those dark days in August then acutely laid bare the major parties’ obstructionist and combative actions and internal games. All for political point scoring rather than for timely, practical sensible decisions on matters which Australians care about.”
Echoing the Minister for Industrial Relations, Kelly O’Dwyer’s harsh critique of the Liberal Party’s attitude towards women, Banks said both major parties were years behind the business world in their level of regard and respect for women in politics.
“Often when good women ‘call out’ or are subjected to bad behaviour – the reprisals, backlash and commentary portrays them as the bad ones; the liar, the troublemaker, emotionally unstable or weak, or someone who should be silenced,” she said.
“To those who say politics is not for the faint hearted and that women have to ‘toughen up’ – I say this: the hallmark characteristics of the Australian woman (and I’ve met thousands of them) be they in my local community, in politics, business, the media and sport – are resilience and a strong authentic independent spirit.”
Banks said she will remain in the House of Representatives as an independent and has assured the government it will have her full support when it comes to voting for policy and legislation.
She intends to make a decision about her political future in the new year.