Federal NSW MP Ann Sudmalis is quitting at the next election after what she says was bullying from NSW state Liberal MP Gareth Ward, while other women have also complained about intimidation inside the party.
“Sometimes state members of parliament stick their nose into the business of federal members’ areas,” the prime minister told 2GB radio today.
“I don’t think that’s a particularly good look – that’s not how we do it round my part of town.”
Morrison, a former NSW Liberal state director, has asked the federal executive to come up with “a rigorous and confidential” complaints process to deal with concerns and complaints from all party members.
“We have that process within the parliamentary party,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
“I want to be confident the party organisation under their responsibilities is doing the same thing, because that’s where Ann’s complaint has gone to.”
Morrison refused to say whether state Liberal MP Mr Ward has further questions to answer.
Asked whether he was 100 per cent confident bullying was not an issue within the federal parliamentary party, the prime minister replied: “I am.”
Morrison also wants “concrete plans” to ensure Liberal women are trained and supported to win preselection battles.
“I continue to make it clear that I want to see more women in the federal parliament,” he said.
Sudmalis will quit at the next election, making her the third Liberal woman in the lower house to announce her departure.
“My decision has been made after six-and-a-half years of holding my pledge to be a team player in the face of NSW Liberal Party bullying, intimidation, leaking and undermining at a local level,” Sudmalis said on Monday.
Ward said the claims were “just not true”.
“I can absolutely, categorically rule that out, and anyone who believes that is true should say so publicly (outside parliament),” Ward told ABC radio.
Sudmalis’ exit comes as the Liberal Party faces losing even more women from parliament.
Victorian Liberal Julia Banks is quitting at the election after hitting out at bullying, while Queensland Liberal Jane Prentice lost her preselection to a man.
South Australian senator Lucy Gichuhi has also been relegated to an unwinnable position on the Liberals’ ticket for the next election.
There are 13 Coalition women in the lower house, but that could drop to as low as six at the next election.
Liberal women in federal parliament
- 12 out of 60 lower house Liberal MPs are women
- At least three are leaving at the election.
- Five are in seats with margins below five per cent.
- A modest swing could halve the numbers at the next election, taking the proportion of women to its lowest level in 25 years.
Karen Andrews (McPherson) 11.6 (margin)
Julia Banks (Chisholm, retiring) 1.2
Julie Bishop (Curtin) 20.7
Nicolle Flint (Boothby) 3.5
Sarah Henderson (Corangamite) 3.1
Sussan Ley (Farrer) 20.5
Nola Marino (Forrest) 12.6
Kelly O’Dwyer (Higgins) 10.7
Jane Prentice (Ryan, retiring, candidate is Julian Simmonds) 9
Melissa Price (Durack) 11.1
Ann Sudmalis (Gilmore, retiring) 0.7
Lucy Wicks (Robertson) 1.1
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