Outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks calls for gender quotas


Julia Banks says only quotas, not targets will boost the number of Liberal women in Parliament.

Outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks has thrown her support behind parliamentary gender quotas, saying they would "create a level playing field".

Ms Banks announced last month she would not contest the election, calling out bullying from within her party and the opposition, and vowing to fight for gender equality. 

In a speech on Wednesday, Ms Banks said quotas would work as a "reset mechanism" that can make parliament more representative.

"It's really simple, if you only have a man running and there's no woman, find one. They're out there," Ms Banks told parliament. 

Overall, less than a quarter of federal Liberal MPs are women compared to almost half of Labor representatives.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (right) speaks to Liberal backbencher Julia Banks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, September 10, 2018. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Liberal backbencher Julia Banks and former foreign minister Julie Bishop in Parliament this week.

"[Women] represent half the population and so should a modern Liberal party," the member for Chisholm said.

She added that "only gender quotes will work in politics, not targets".

"The meritocracy argument is completely and utterly flawed. There are an equal number of meritorious Liberal women out there in the real world as there are men but they won't come if the barriers to entry and mountains to climb are too high."

It comes only a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison swatted away the idea of gender quotas.

"[Quotas are] never something I have supported ... I don't believe quotas are the way you remove obstacles," he told ABC's 7:30 on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison also dismissed claims of bullying against women in the Liberal party during the recent leadership spill.

"This is a very torrid business, as we know ... [But] there was no sort of gender-specific actions that related to what is, some would call very intense lobbying, which is fairly normal in the political process, albeit not edifying."

In her speech to parliament on Wednesday, Ms Banks said, "[during] my political journey, a culture of appalling behaviour has been widespread [and] pervasive".

She said reactions to her recent decision had ranged from "heartwarming support" to "reprisals and retributions" to "nothing to see here".

Julia Banks supports gender quotas in parliament
Julia Banks supports gender quotas in parliament

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is no fan of gender quotas.

"You've got people who would make fantastic members of parliament representing the people and I'm not going to say just because you're male or female," Senator Hanson told the Nine Network on Thursday.

"Why is she saying that? If she's going on about people being bullies in parliament, I can tell you, I can name at least four now on the floor of parliament in the Senate who are women who are actual bullies."

Independent lower house MP Cathy McGowan said constituents who come to watch Question Time call it a horror show.

"They don't like the disrespect, the yelling over each other," she told ABC radio.

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