Australian parliament 'toxic' for women, says Labor's Clare O'Neil
Australian politics Australian parliament 'toxic' for women, says Labor's Clare OâNeil
Frontbencher says unlike Liberals, Labor has anti-bullying processes and defends partyâs handling of Emma Husar complaints
Politics is increasingly toxic for ânormal peopleâ in general and women in particular, Labor frontbencher Clare OâNeil has said.
The shadow financial services minister made the comments on Sunday in the wake of Li beral MP Julia Banks announcing she will quit at the next election because of âbullying and intimidationâ from within her own party.
OâNeil argued that â" unlike the Liberal party â" Labor has processes to prevent gendered bullying and defended Laborâs handling of complaints against MP Emma Husar, arguing the case is different because there was fault on both sides.
In the past fortnight Banks and Liberal senator Linda Reynolds made public claims that lobbying over the Liberal leadership stoush resulted in âbullying and intimidationâ of parliamentarians.
While some senior Liberal women have circled the wagons, arguing there is no culture of bullying and the claims are part and parcel of leadership challenges, moderates such as MP Craig Laundy have warned the complaints will have to be investigated.Politics in Australia has a woman problem â" and itâs time it stopped | Sarah Hanson-Young Read more
OâNeil told ABCâs Insid ers that âincreasinglyâ the culture in parliament âfeels really toxicâ for ânormal people generally, but in particular for womenâ.
âSo thereâs a level of aggression, of conflict, of egocentricism that dominates the culture in parliament house and I think that that is quite hard to handle,â she said.
OâNeil said there was âa very gendered aspectâ to the treatment of Husar, but argued Labor has been tackling the problem with 25 years of affirmative action policies whereby the proportion of women rose from 14.5% of the party room to 48%. She said this had âshifted the culture across my party very significantlyâ.
Husar, the member for the western Sydney seat of Lindsay, also announced she will quit at the next election, citing leaked bullying allegations, including a claim she acted in a sexually inappropriate manner towards frontbencher Jason Clare, which was not sustained in an internal investigation.
Asked about the two cases, OâNeil said there is a distinction between the experience of women in the two major parties and that Husarâs case was âa bit more complicatedâ because there was âacknowledged wrongdoing on both sidesâ.
While the most serious allegations of sexual harassment were not supported, the investigation into Husar found that staffersâ complaints that they were asked to do personal duties had merit and claims of misuse of entitlements warranted further investigation.
OâNeil said Banksâ criticism reflected âthe culture within the Liberal partyâ and said the response had been âtone deafâ, with senior people suggesting she needed to âtoughen upâ.Emma Husar says 'vicious slut shaming' ended her career Read more
âI can say, very honestly, if there was bullying and intimidation put on me as a member of parliament, I would pick up the phone, I would call [Labor Senate leader] Penny Wong and call [deputy leader] Tanya Plib ersek and there would be a nuclear armageddon on the person who did this to me,â OâNeil said.
By contrast, OâNeil said, she did not see âwho will drive that cultureâ within the Liberal party âto make sure that women feel valued and that they have a voiceâ.
âIâm not claiming that the Labor party are perfect here, but youâve got to say that weâre having a crack at fixing the problem and I donât see the same being done on the other side of politics,â she said.
OâNeil also targeted the Morrison government for its handling of the financial services portfolio.
She said it was âextraordinaryâ the role had been given to the assistant treasurer, Stuart Robert, who was sacked in 2016 over a âprivateâ trip to Beijing to oversee a mining deal involving a major Liberal donor and meet a Chinese vice-minister.
OâNeil said Robert had âmisused his position as a ministerâ and âbehaved completely inappropriatelyâ.
âSomeone who was sacked for misconduct is going to be put in charge of fixing bank misconduct? Itâs a joke,â she said. âAnd it shows that the government has never taken [the financial services] royal commission seriously.âTopics
- Australian politics
- Labor party
- Liberal party
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