No bullying to see here: Liberal MP

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has urged his colleague Julia Banks to remain in politics, dismissing a culture of bullying within coalition ranks

Liberal MP Craig Kelly in the House of Representatives

Craig Kelly denies there's a bullying problem in the Liberal party, and wants Julia Banks to stay. (AAP) Source: SBS

A conservative government backbencher has doubled down on denials that the Liberal Party has a bullying problem.

NSW MP Craig Kelly urged his Victorian colleague Julia Banks to reconsider her decision to quit politics at the next federal election, following the rolling of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership spill last week.

"I didn't see bullying," Mr Kelly told the ABC on Saturday.

"There may have been vigorous debates, but I didn't see anyone threatening anyone, or the bullying of anyone."

In an excoriating letter this week, Ms Banks denounced the "scourge of cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation" in federal politics.

"In anticipating my critics saying I'm 'playing the gender card' - I say this," she wrote: "Women have suffered in silence for too long and in this last twelve months the world has seen many courageous women speak out."

But Mr Kelly said Ms Banks might reconsider after a week or so, calling federal politics "a tough game."

"Things get taken out of context, spun and twisted around, the moaning, it is a tough job," he said.

"I come in here and get called a dinosaur, a knuckle-dragger. They are the barbs that get thrown at us. It shouldn't be like that."

However, Mr Kelly found no quarter from Labor MP Pat Conroy who singled out the low representation of women in the Liberal's federal parliamentary team.

Nearly half of Labor's federal team are women, compared to only one in five within coalition ranks.

"That goes to the culture of organisation and the culture of bullying and intimidation that we saw on display last week," Mr Conroy said.

"Where some blokes in the [Peter] Dutton camp were clearly running around threatening preselections, forcing people to sign petitions."

2 min read
Published 1 September 2018 at 11:30am
Source: AAP