Politics

Women Greens MPs Have Banded Together To Ask Jeremy Buckingham To Step Down

"I am no longer going to be a part of a system that runs a protection racket for badly behaved men."

Greens MPs Jenny Leong and Mehreen Faruqi have banded together to call on their colleague Jeremy Buckingham to resign, following allegations that he sexually harassed a staffer and behaved aggressively towards women in the party.

Leong made a speech in NSW Parliament today calling for Buckingham to resign, using Parliamentary privilege to outline the allegations against him. She mentioned allegations made earlier this year by former Greens staffer Ella Buckland, who said that Buckingham grabbed her inappropriately and kissed her without her permission in 2011. Buckingham has denied these allegations.

“To Ella Buckland, who has shown strength in speaking out publicly about Jeremy’s act of sexual violence towards her, and the subsequent disgusting behaviour she has endured, let me say on the record that I believe you,” Leong said in Parliament today.

“Let me acknowledge that while I know there have been some good people working in good faith with the best intentions to resolve this, it’s true that we need to do better, and our party has failed you. I also wish to apologise for my silence and inaction to now.”

Leong also detailed other allegations of Buckingham behaving inappropriately, though she stressed that she did not intend to compare these to Buckland’s complaints.

“Jeremy’s actions and behaviour, some widely reported and documents, and some still held in confidence, which must be respected, have had a real and lasting consequence on individual women, members and former members of our party, as well as active volunteers in our party,” Leong said.

“I do not wish to go into detail on the experiences of others here, but let me say this: beyond what has been articulated by Ella Buckland about how Jeremy behaved towards her, I know that there have been active volunteers who have stepped aside or resigned as members as a result of Jeremy’s behaviour.” Leong also said that she had personally experienced Buckingham behaving aggressively towards her on two occasions.

“For a male Greens MP to behave in an aggressive manner and an intimidating manner towards a female Greens MP in the heart of her own electorate, while people are passing by, is clearly a sign of someone not being able to control their behaviour,” she said. “Jeremy, you have had countless opportunities to take responsibility for this, to apologise to those impacted and to seek to address them. Instead, you have followed with further aggressive tactics.”

Leong requested that Buckingham resign from his position as a member of Parliament, and remove himself from the ticket for the 2019 state election, urging The Greens to “act as though he is no longer a representative or member of The Greens, because we cannot advance our agenda for a more just, more sustainable and more equitable world when so much energy, effort, time, resources and pain has been exhausted trying to manage one man and his unacceptable behaviour.”

She added that “while I might be fearful of the reactions and repercussions of what I am doing right now, it is nothing felt compared to the feeling felt by those that are survivors. Let me be clear: this is not a Greens problem, this is not a Labor problem, it is not a Liberal or a Nationals problem. It is not even a problem just for this Parliament or for politics. It is a societal problem. I acknowledge that I am in a position of power and influence and can do more to speak out and to make it stop, and I can give my commitment today that I will.”

“I am no longer going to be a part of a system that runs a protection racket for badly behaved men in this place, or in society. It has to stop.”

Federal Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi released a statement backing Leong’s speech, writing that “the culture of sexism, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances in society in general and politics in particular must change”.

Jeremy Buckingham has released a short statement saying he does not intend to resign, and that “I reject Jenny Leong’s characterisation of a couple of conversations we’ve had”.

In the statement, he also said that Buckland’s complaint against him was referred to independent investigators who found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing on his part.