The Liberal Party leadership spill has claimed another victim, with potentially damaging repercussions for the Coalition’s chances of reelection next year.
Julia Banks, who won the marginal Victorian seat of Chisholm from Labor in 2016 with a 2.8% swing, says last week’s leadership spill was “the last straw” and she will leave politics after just one term. The government holds Chisholm on a 1.6% margin.
Banks, a lawyer with more than 25 years experience at executive level in the corporate world, said she experienced bullying and intimidation “from within my own party and from the Labor Party” and will take some leave before Parliament returns on September 10 because the latest round of turmoil in her party “has taken an enormous emotional toll on me and my beloved family”.
In a statement announcing her decision to stand down, Banks says she’s had hundreds of emails and calls from her constituents who wanted former PM Malcolm Turnbull to remain as leader, with Julie Bishop as deputy.
“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 power-brokers and certain media personalities who bear vindictive, mean-spirited grudges intent on settling their personal scores,” she says.
Banks was just one of 11 people who backed Bishop in the 3-way leadership tussle. That small showing of support is said to have influenced the former foreign minister’s decision to move to the backbench and contemplate also leaving politics after 20 years.
Turnbull is due to announce his resignation on Friday, causing a by-election in his Sydney seat of Wentworth. Early polling released today has the seat on a knife-edge following a nearly 18% swing away from the Coalition following the departure of the former PM.
With the government holding just a one-seat majority, and voters in challenger Peter Dutton’s suburban Brisbane seat of Dickson also appearing to turn against him in polls, putting the seat on a knife edge, the chances of the Coalition receiving a third term in power are fading following last week’s political chaos.
Banks says she will support new Prime Minister Scott Morrison and deputy Josh Frydenberg, but “will always call out bad behaviour and will not tolerate any form of bullying or intimidation”.
She added that she will continue to fight for gender equality.
“The scourge of cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation continues against women in politics, the media and across business,” Banks said.
“In anticipating my critics saying I’m ‘playing the gender card’ I say this – women have suffered in silence for too long and in this last 12 months the world has seen many courageous women speak out. To young women and men reading this announcement, I say I’ve only ever aspired to inspire. If I’ve inspired any one of you to have leadership courage – that will sustain me.”
Her full statement is below:
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