‘Hang on a minute’: PM’s text to defector
JULIA Banks has once again been directly called on to name and shame the alleged bullies in her former party.
Speaking to Lisa Wilkinson on The Project last night, the Liberal Party defector came out with a number of explosive claims, saying preselections were threatened and members of the government tried to "buy her silence" after she resigned.
But there was one thing still missing from her answers: names.
When Julia Banks quit the Liberal party she accused her former colleagues of bullying, but refused to name the men responsible.@LisaWilkinson sat down with the newly independent MP to ask her about dirty tricks in and out of the party room. #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/bCOqm0JXOC— The Project (@theprojecttv) March 10, 2019
At one point, Ms Banks said she had been offered a taxpayer-funded secondment to New York City shortly after the spill in exchange for her silence.
But she declined to name the actual MPs as being responsible for the bullying.
"I want to spend all my time and energy not on name calling, and that's what the Australian people want too," she said. "From my experience, what people applaud is respectful debate about policy reform. That's what matters to people's daily lives. I think people are fed up with talking about the internal imaginations of the Liberal Party, and -'
"No, but I think people are fed up with a divided party," Wilkinson said, cutting her off. "Bullies only operate effectively if they're allowed to live in the shadows."
"I did not want to exit that place without calling out the culture," replied Ms Banks.
But Wilkinson wasn't backing down. She went on to directly put a couple of names to the independent. "Was Tony Abbott one of the bullies?"
"Look, I don't think I have to describe anything to the public about Tony Abbott. That's very well-documented," Ms Banks replied.
Asked if Scott Morrison was one of the men she "felt intimidated" by, Ms Banks noted he is a "deeply religious man" and "very traditional".
She described, as an example, the Prime Minister's response to a speech she gave in October to parliament, which called out the government for detaining children on Manus Island and Nauru.
"I hadn't even walked back to my office and I received a text from him saying I should have told him before I made the speech. This is the party of free speech, so it's like, hang on a minute, if you're a right-wing conservative you can say whatever you like, but if you speak out about something that you know is important to your electorate, you get a text message, not even a phone call."
"In the business world, you call that a junior manager's error," she added.
However, Ms Banks stopped short of directly confirming the names of anyone who had allegedly bullied her.
Last month, when the former Liberal MP appeared on ABC's Q&A, one questioner urged her to identify them, saying "we in the electorate need to know who the bullies are".
Host Tony Jones similarly stressed that Australians "want to know what happened".
But Ms Banks refused to budge, stating: "My position is that I'm not going to name the bullies because that will just give the Liberal Party the opportunity to start talking about themselves, with he-said, she-said and name-calling."
Last night she did, however, name Mr Abbott, Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt as among "the prime movers" of the leadership spill against former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull last year.
Ms Banks said Mr Turnbull's removal from office was "purely an act of revenge and people wanting to be in positions of power" that had "nothing to do with the nation's interest".
"I know for a fact that members were told if you don't vote for Peter Dutton, your preselection will be severely compromised.
"You just saw deals being made - people saying 'I'm going to quit unless I become a minister', or people's silence was being bought … they attempted to buy my silence."
She claimed Mr Morrison offered to send her on a $50,000 taxpayer junket to New York, which she rejected.
She also said her time in the Liberal Party was not what she had expected upon joining. "I imagined the Liberal Party would be a slick corporate machine. It wasn't like that at all, and in relation to women, it was decades behind the business world."
Ms Banks recently announced she would move from her seat of Chisholm to challenge for the seat of Flinders, an electorate currently held by Mr Hunt.
But she firmly denied the move was her own act of revenge.
"I'm a second-generation Mornington Peninsula family and my parents lived down here for many years," she said. "I'm just gonna work really hard. They're throwing everything at it."