I read with interest Julia Banks’ recent resignation from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent. She cited the bullying she had received as one of her reasons. Since then several other Liberal women have publicly stated the party does have a problem with the way it treats women.
The lack of women in the Liberal Party is in itself a sign of this. The Liberal Party says it picks candidates on merit only but that’s a very weak excuse. There are a few men in the Liberal Party so lacking signs of merit that any notion they are there on that criteria alone is a joke.
Put aside the politics and personalities and focus on the fact parliament is a workplace. Every woman has the right to go to work and be treated with respect and courtesy. Sure, as politicians women will cop a lot of hate because politics is about expressing an opposing opinion and approaching things from a different viewpoint, but the disrespect should not come from within their own party.
They enter politics knowing it will be a rough and tough environment and none have been shrinking violets. All have forged successful careers before politics. It is not for the money either, as I feel many of these women would have probably earned more in their previous roles.
If an employer or other employee in any other industry was subjected to the same level of bullying these women claim to have been while working in government, the person doing the bullying would have lost their job and the employer would have been prosecuted under anti-discrimination or workplace laws. In the case of politicians I guess we are the ultimate employer, but what of the responsibilities of party leaders and party whips to workplace harmony and a workplace free of bullying and sexism.
I’ve read claims that it is only because the women are being treated as ‘equals’ in parliament that they cannot take it. However, we seem to forget that many of these women have achieved at a high level prior to entering the political ring and have demonstrated their capability in operating within a male-dominated environment.
The idea, too, that male politicians, however, are subjected to the same level of bullying or derogatory sexist comments is ridiculous in my opinion. Bullies don’t attack those they consider equal, but those over who they have an advantage and unfortunately women can fall into that category time and time again.
Our parliament should be something we can proudly show our young as a fine example of democracy at work. However, I am repulsed by this lot of politicians. I expect that unless the Liberals can move forward in a positive way, the next election will reflect the public’s opinion of them. Ultimately it will be the voters who decide if they are happy with what they see in the Liberal Party. I hope that some strong women stand as independents and challenge some of the worst of the misogynists in the party.