Australia

Liberal MP Karen Andrews calls out 'inappropriate' behaviour

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Karen Andrews said she walked out of a meeting after a man pretended he was going to take off his pants.

A senior Coalition female minister has discouraged men from meeting privately with a woman after detailing "inappropriate" behaviour that prompted her to walk out of a recent meeting with a male stakeholder. 

Industry, Science and Aviation Minister Karen Andrews described the incident on ABC's Q and A program on Monday night. 

"A male in the meeting thought it was appropriate for him to make gestures as if he was going to remove his trousers … and at that point, I called it as inappropriate behaviour, and I left the meeting," Ms Andrews said. 

"The behaviour needed to be called. It wasn't funny, it wasn't smart - it was inappropriate. And I think that women need to start calling out that behaviour as and when it happens.

"There would have been no point in me continuing that meeting, and then complaining about it to my peers afterwards."

Minister for Industry Karen Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrive for Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, October 24, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Karen Andrews says the Prime Minister's words on International Women's Day were a little clunky.

"I needed to act and I did."

She said she got a written apology from the man involved the next day. 

Asked about men mentoring women, Ms Andrews advised them to conduct the discussions in public places such as a coffee shop to ensure other people are around.

"I would discourage a male in the current environment from taking on one-on-one mentoring, I would have to say."

The advice echos Vice President Mike Pence's rule against dining alone with a woman, which polarised opinion when it was revealed in 2017.

Morrison's speech 'clunky' 

Ms Andrews comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison used an International Women's Day speech to say that he supported the rise of women, but not at the expense of others. 

Ms Andrews agreed with host Annabel Crabb that the Prime Minister's words were a little "clunky".

"I'm prepared to forgive the clunky words, because I know that the sentiment is - that he has and that his respect for women is there."

The Liberal Party has a target for half of its federal representatives to be female by 2025, but Ms Andrews told the program that wasn't going to happen. 

"Look, quite frankly, I think a 50 per cent target in that space of time is very ambitious and we need to accept the likelihood of us achieving that is slim."

Ms Andrews said a target of 30 per cent would be more realistic and still deliver "sustainable change". 

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