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'Toughen up': Alan Jones' advice to female MPs over bullying claims

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Broadcaster Alan Jones shocked Monday night's Q&A audience when he said bullied female MPs should “take a teaspoon of cement and toughen up”.

Broadcaster Alan Jones has shocked audience members of ABC's Q&A program with his advice for MPs facing bullying from within the Liberal Party.

"They know the game they're going into," he said. "And it is tough, and it is confrontational, and it is antagonistic at times."

Mr Jones said those making claims of being bullied need to substantiate them, adding that he had little sympathy for their position.

Former Liberal Member for Chisholm Julia Banks during Question Time.
Former Liberal Member for Chisholm Julia Banks during Question Time.
AAP

"But I would recommend some of them - and I don't know who they are, who say they are being bullied - I think they need to take a teaspoon of cement and toughen up."

A gasp was heard from several audience members at Mr Jones' remarks. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised to put an end to the bullying of MPs after Julia Banks quit in protest over what she claims were pressure tactics used during the leadership spill.

The Victorian MP was only elected in 2016 after taking the seat of Chisholm from Labor.

She said the bullying and initimidation she faced had been going on for some time, and after the leadership spill, she had had enough.

"I have experienced this both from within my own party and from the Labor Party," she said.

"I will always stand for equality regardless of people's heritage, sexuality or gender."

Social media users label remarks 'irresponsible'

The criticism of Alan Jones continued on Twitter, where social media users said bullying should not be accepted.

Others said his appearance on the show was enough to make them turn away.

Bullies inside Liberal Party to be named, senator vows

Kenyan-born Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi has also since come forward, saying plans to oust Malcolm Turnbull were hinted at during her pre-selection battle, which she lost in July.

The Senator claims she was asked a question about her support for Malcolm Turnbull as party leader by someone who she subsequently found out wanted Mr Turnbull out of the job.

Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi during the debate on the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill in the Senate chamber.
Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi during the debate on the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill in the Senate chamber.
AAP

"For that question to arise then, something was already happening I guess," Senator Gichuhi said.

The escalation during the leadership spill resulted in days where the senator would lie in bed, fearful of waking up to read media reports about the debacle.

Ms Gichuhi said she intends to use parliamentary privilege to name the bullies in her party.

"I will detail my experience not only with the PM's spill, because this is a culture, this is a systematic kind of issue. I will say from when I joined the Liberal Party, from when I joined politics... and how, what, where, I think, would be construed or would fit the definition of bullying," she told the ABC's RN Drive program on Monday.

Victorian Liberal President Michael Kroger said he had not received complaints from Ms Banks about bullying, and dismissed the claims as “scuttlebutt, innuendo, rumour”.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly said politics is a "tough game" and MPs needed to "roll with the punches".

“That’s the nature of the game," he said.

Ms Gichuhi said she not only experienced it, but witnessed MPs reduced to tears over the bullying tactics.

"I'm talking about senators and ministers who were in tears because they were at the crossroads where they could not choose, especially the ones from Victoria went through a very, very rough time because they were holding a carrot...  like this is your pre-selection — 'hey you do this, we do that'," she said.

"One senator had to be told that on your marking the ballot paper you show another senator. What kind of workplace is that?"

Minister for Women 'disgusted' 

Minster for Women Kelly O'Dwyer said she was disgusted at the reaction of Liberal figures who advised Julia Banks to toughen up.

"Julia Banks is no petal. She's no snowflake and she's no princess," Ms O'Dwyer told the ABC's 7.30 report, citing Ms Bank's previous legal career.

“We all accept that parliament can be a pretty rough and tumble place, but clearly there is behaviour that is outside the accepted bounds."

"If you play Australian Rules football, it's a robust sport, but we do not say it is at all acceptable for someone to punch him in the head behind play?"

Ms O'Dwyer admitted the party needed to do more to recruit female MPs. 

“There is no question that the Liberal Party can and should do better when it comes to getting women into the parliament and we need to do better at keeping them there once we get them there,” she said.

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