Former Liberal MP turned independent Julia Banks has declared she will run against one of her former colleagues in this year’s federal election, throwing a curveball into the Morrison government.
In a statement to media overnight, Banks — who went to the crossbench after the messy downfall of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister last year — confirmed the rumours she would contest the election as an independent, saying she has “unfinished business” and will challenge Health Minister Greg Hunt in the Victorian seat of Flinders.
“It’s important that the people of Flinders are not taken for granted and have a strong Independent representative who listens, gives it their all and takes pride in being their voice,” she said in a statement, obtained by 9News.
Banks is currently the member for Chisholm in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs, which she won for the Liberals in 2016 under then federal leader Turnbull.
“I realised that everything I’ve stood and fought for my entire adult life intersects with this moment in time in Australia,” she continued. “There’s still work to be done and unfinished business. I’ve decided I’m staying in this race.”
In November, Banks announced she had quit the Liberal Party 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.
She had previously announced she would not contest her Victorian seat at the next election following the August leadership spill that deposed 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.
Banks also 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.”