Julia Banks' exit puts the spotlight on political 'boys club'
Federal MP Julia Banks denounced her party yesterday and moved to the crossbench, leaving the Government two votes shy of a majority.
But it also signalled a tidal shift in her party and, potentially, in Australian politics.
As reported on the ABC this morning, Ms Banks' exit and her reasons for doing so have renewed debate about the treatment of women in Parliament.
While some, such as Kelly O'Dwyer deny their is any ill-treatment of women in Parliament (the same minister who denied the need for a royal commission into banking and finance), others, such as Labor's Emma Husar, are saying that the treatment of women in Parliament was "years behind" the corporate sector.
This sentiment was only enforced with the sexist slurs slung in the chamber.
"I think the Parliament does have a problem and I don't think it's an ALP problem, I don't think it's a Liberal problem or a Green problem," said Ms Husar.
"It's a men problem."
"To me, I see it very much as a boys' club," said crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie, referring to the issues in the Liberal Party.
"Certainly in my time working in the Liberal Party several years ago, it was some of the language, some of the behaviours, and really a cultural aspect to it that made me leave working for the Liberal Party."
Ms Husar said that Ms Banks' experience is not isolated, herslef blaming the "white, stale, pale brigade" for trying to end her political career.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale was suspended from the chamber on Tuesday after refusing to withdraw his comments calling Liberal senator Barry O'Sullivan a "pig", because of remarks he made about Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
"If we cannot debate and act civilly in this chamber, that is the most representative chamber in this country, that is the prime legislative chamber of this Parliament, then how can we expect people outside the chamber to debate and argue and disagree respectfully?" said Senate President Scott Ryan.
Senator Di Natale said he wanted to take a stand to stop a pattern of behaviour in the Upper House.
"If we are going to encourage more women to our national Parliament, then we have to set a standard for them that their workplace is a safe one," he said.
"It is completely unacceptable that a woman would need to endure the sort of sexist filth that is being levelled at some of my parliamentary colleagues on a nearly daily basis."
Do you think women are misreated in Parliament? Would you like to see more women in politics?