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Former Liberal MP Julia Banks Has Slammed The Government’s Toxic, Sexist Culture On ABC ‘7.30’

She described the time she worked under ScoMo as "the most gut wrenching, distressing period of [her] entire career."

Julia Banks Scott Morrison

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Former Liberal MP and corporate lawyer Julia Banks has affirmed allegations of a culture sexism in Parliament on the ABC’s 7.30 program.

She spoke to chief political correspondent Laura Tingle on Monday, ahead of the release of her new memoir Power Play, where she describes her encounters with Scott Morrison, and his shut-down response to women who challenge him.

“When I entered politics it really felt like I was going back to the 1980s, it was very sort of Mad Men … versus House of Cards,” she said.

Days after the 2018 leadership spill which booted out Malcolm Turnbull, Banks said at the time that ScoMo’s sudden new position was a “last straw”, while also claiming there was a “cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation” against women in politics.

Banks had voted for Julie Bishop and not Scott Morrison to lead the country, and three months later, she moved from the Liberal Party to the Crossbench as an Independent.

She described the three months under Morrison’s leadership as “the most gut wrenching, distressing period of [her] entire career”.

In one claim, Banks says that ScoMo begged her to stay after she said she wouldn’t re-contest her seat for the LNP in the next election.

When she wouldn’t comply with his wishes, his office began damage control by telling the media she was going through an emotional breakdown and was not coping.

She claims that when the Prime Minister was asked about her leaving, he spun it to be an issue with her welfare and portrayed her as a “weak petal”.

Originally, she told Tingle she was going to stick it out ‘quietly’ on the Backbench until the next election, while still advocating for “women’s issues that were important to [her]”. But soon, she was left with no choice but to leave the party altogether.

Banks also alleges that ScoMo and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tried to flick her to New York for a few months to get her out of Parliament “because they wanted to silence [her]”.

To reclaim her narrative, she made a statement in the House of Reps against ScoMo’s wishes, which had Frydenberg banging on the door of her staffers’ office straight after.

“I realised Morrison, the most powerful man in the country, that he was — I describe him like a menacing, controlling wallpaper,” she said.

“He was either doing it through his emissaries or directly. He wanted me silenced, he wanted me to be quiet, he wanted me out of the Parliament, he wanted me out of the country.”

“His response was to drag me through this sexist spectrum narrative that I was a weak, over-emotional woman, to the ‘bully bitch’. That narrative was played all the way through.”

In the interview, Banks also described an instance of sexual harassment she experienced from an unnamed Cabinet Minister in Turnbull’s office.

“I thought, if that’s happened to me, where there’s pretty minimal power disparity, you can only imagine what happens to people who don’t have power parity,” she said, after stating a colleague made an advance and touched her inner thigh without consent.

While she wasn’t voted back in after the 2019 Federal Election, she says that seeing everything that’s happened since, from Christian Porter’s allegations, to the victim blaming of Brittany Higgins, and ScoMo’s blasting of Christine Holgate — none of it comes as a surprise.

“Any woman who calls out any conduct, there are consequences,” she said. “I really sadly don’t think anything has changed under Morrison’s leadership.”

“So long as we don’t have that critical mass and gender-equal leadership in our Government I really don’t believe we will get good, sound policy, and certainly we won’t get a healthy workplace culture in Federal Parliament.

You can watch the full interview here.