Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader when she was humiliatingly rejected in the leadership ballot. Picture: AAP
Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader when she was humiliatingly rejected in the leadership ballot. Picture: AAP

The Libs’ real woman problem

Sure, the Liberals have a "woman problem". Actually, they've got two - which is why Julia Banks is now hailed as a feminist hero for ratting on her party.

And it's why Julie Bishop's red shoes - worn when she sulkily quit as the Liberals' deputy leader - have just been collected by a museum as a symbol of women's "empowerment".

It's also why Cabinet Minister Kelly O'Dwyer this week complained that the mud she flung at her own party has now stuck.

Boy, do the Liberals have a problem with women. These in particular.

Yes, yes, the federal Liberals do have one "women's problem" that seems obvious. They don't have enough of them.

Just 20 of their 85 MPs are women, which has Liberal-hating commentators joyfully denouncing the party as sexist.

That may be right.

Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader when she was humiliatingly rejected in the leadership ballot. Picture: AAP
Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader when she was humiliatingly rejected in the leadership ballot. Picture: AAP

Then again, maybe too few women like the blood sports of politics, or having to spend so much time away from home.

But wait! The Liberals are now down to just 19 women, after Banks on Tuesday denounced the government's "reactionary Right wing" and quit to sit as an independent.

But here's where we get to the Liberals' second "women problem" - the double standards that lets Banks and other malcontents use gender wars as an excuse for bad behaviour.

Banks is now hailed in the media as an example of the Liberals mistreating their women, when she's actually an appalling example of their woman mistreating the Liberals.

She is a strong supporter of Malcolm Turnbull who is furious
he was dumped as prime minister by his party for no good reason - that is, if you ignore that he was so hopeless that he lost 14 seats at the last election and every poll in his
last 23 months.

Julia Banks initially announced she would quit politics at the next election and then twisted the knife by claiming the Liberals had subjected her to ‘bullying and intimidation’. Picture: AAP
Julia Banks initially announced she would quit politics at the next election and then twisted the knife by claiming the Liberals had subjected her to ‘bullying and intimidation’. Picture: AAP

Banks initially announced she'd quit politics at the next election (she was almost certain to lose her seat anyway) and then twisted the knife by claiming the Liberals had subjected her to "bullying and intimidation". Those claims badly damaged the Liberals in her home state of Victoria, and just before a state election, yet Banks has not given a single example of this alleged bullying, either publicly or privately to her party.

But who cares? Banks' apparently baseless claims were eagerly seconded by other female Turnbull supporters such as Julie Bishop, Kelly O'Dwyer and Lucy Gichuhi.

Again, none gave a single example of this bullying, and Gichuhi later admitted to Prime Minister Scott Morrison she had none.

Yet Gichuchi still had the hide to bob up this week to this time demand the Liberals "stop beating up our women". And, as usual, no journalist asked her to back her lurid smear with evidence.

Why would they, when it gives them a delightful excuse to trash the party most journalists despise?

Still, O'Dwyer, the Minister for Women as well as Industrial Relations, must have loved having the ABC finally treat her as a unquestionable force for good as she helped it to paint her party as women-hating.

But how strange to see her this week complain to colleagues that the Liberals were indeed now seen by voters as "anti-women".

 

Kelly O'Dwyer during Question Time in the House of Representatives Chamber, Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Kelly O'Dwyer during Question Time in the House of Representatives Chamber, Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

 

Who put that idea in voters' minds, Kelly?

And then there was Julie Bishop.

Bishop threw her own tantrum in August, resigning as foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader when she was humiliatingly rejected in the leadership ballot to replace Turnbull.

Most Liberals actually consider Bishop a policy flake, and she got just 11 votes. It seems not even a majority of the female MPs backed her. Mortified, she quit at a press conference at which she wore red high-heeled shoes.

Now, rational people can normally tell the difference between someone who got beaten fighting for a personal promotion, and someone who got beaten fighting heroically for others.

Normally, they can also tell the difference between a woman in high heels walking to a fight and running from it.

Not this time. Bishop's red shoes were on Wednesday handed over to the Museum of Australian Democracy for display at the Old Parliament House as - I kid you not - "a symbol of solidarity and empowerment among Australian women". Empowerment? A woman resigning in a personal snit actually empowers all women? How very strange.

But in a glass case, they'll now be displayed, those high heels - the perfect symbol of how a few disgruntled and showboating Liberal women kicked their party to pieces.



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He was also seen to pull an arm back to throw a punch at a guard