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Julie Bishop not surprised by Banks' resignation

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Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop says the party will not reach its potential unless it fully harnesses the efforts, energies and skills of women.

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Bishop, whose resignation was emblematic of the party’s problems with women, said it was disappointing but unsurprising that Julia Banks has decided to quit the Liberals.

“It was apparent to everyone who follows politics that she was not happy with the leadership change in August,” she told reporters in Canberra today.

Banks told members of the cross bench but not Prime Minister Scott Morrison before quitting the government to sit as an independent.

“Of course that’s disappointing as all of our colleagues were disappointed,” Morrison told 2GB radio.

Bishop confirmed she was not given advance notice of the bombshell announcement.

“Julia informed me after she had made the statement in parliament. In fact, she informed a number of us after she had made her statement,” she said.

Bishop was also asked about Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s reported comments that the Liberal party is now viewed as “anti-women”.

“When I talk about a nation not reaching its potential unless is fully harnesses the efforts and energies and skills of 50 per cent of the population, that goes for organisations as well, and that includes the Liberal Party.”

Banks’ resignation has left the government struggling to control the House of Representatives.

It also means just 12 women remain of the 73 Coalition members of the lower house.

“The Liberal and National parties need to have a good, long, hard look at themselves and ask why is that the case,” Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said.

Banks delivered a scathing critique of Australian politics while confirming she was abandoning the governing Liberal Party to sit on the cross bench.

The first-term MP, who complained about the bad behaviour of Liberal colleagues during the August leadership spill, said the major parties were years behind the business world in their treatment of women.

“Equal representation of men and women in this parliament is an urgent imperative that will create a culture change,” Banks told Parliament.

South Australian Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie said it was clear the Liberal Party had a problem with women.

“I think the government, the Liberal Party, needs to take a long hard look at themselves,” Sharkie said.

– AAP

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