A senior federal government minister has said any inappropriate behavior should be reported after former Liberal MP Julia Banks alleged that she was inappropriately touched by a Coalition MP.
In an excerpt from her forthcoming book published by Nine newspapers on Saturday, Banks alleged that she was inappropriately touched in the House of Parliament.
Banks says the anonymous MP put his hand “just above my knee and slowly and deliberately moved up my inner thigh and then up my leg” in an “astonishingly brazen” act.
“The only saving grace was that this time I was wearing suit pants, not a skirt and bare legs,” she writes of the incident in Power Play: Breaking Male Prejudices, Barriers and Clubs.
Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the first thing he heard of that incident was when he read the excerpt released over the weekend.
“Obviously, such behavior is inappropriate,” he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
Birmingham said that if there were any problems, “it should be properly reported by anyone” and that is why the government was trying to establish “better reporting and investigation mechanisms throughout parliament to support staff, members of parliament or anyone else. “. .
But the minister indicated that the new procedure was unlikely to cover incidents that allegedly occurred in previous parliaments, and said it “becomes a point as to where the line is drawn in those respects.” He suggested that it would apply “from this parliament onward.”
“It will certainly provide a model for now and in the future that really allows people to have confidence that their complaints can be heard and investigated independently and confidentially if they so choose,” Birmingham said.
A Morrison spokesman said the prime minister “was not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment faced by Ms Banks” and that “any such behavior is completely inappropriate.”
In the book’s excerpt, Banks claims that Morrison offered to send her to New York as a delegate for the United Nationals, or to negotiate with the opposition for a parliamentarian so that she could leave, after she decided, following the leadership spill. 2018, retire at the meeting. upcoming elections.
Banks claims Morrison’s tone in a 2018 phone call was “intimidating, brief, quick and coldly calculating,” and she alleges that Victoria’s Liberal Party forces and the prime minister wanted her to be “silenced.”
But Morrison’s spokesman said the prime minister “absolutely rejects claims about the nature of those talks.”
“The prime minister was disappointed with Ms Banks’ decision to resign from the parliamentary party and had several conversations with her to understand what she was going through and see what support could be offered to her before making her decision,” the spokesperson said .
“That included support for personal leave so that he could take the time to recover from the discomfort that many people suffered during that period. Several of Ms Banks’s colleagues had similar conversations. “
Banks served as MP for the Victorian Chisholm See from 2016 to 2019.
She was elected as a Liberal, but in late 2018 she resigned from the party to sit on the crossover bench and eventually ran as an independent against Health Minister Greg Hunt in the Flinders seat in the 2019 election.
Banks also says in her book that she was subjected to insults about her age and appearance from both sides of politics and was asked about her age and who would take care of her children when she sought shortlisting in 2015.
She says she was subjected to “gross and overt conscious bias” while serving as a deputy “as opposed to the more educated and unconscious variety that I had experienced in my business career.”
Stephanie Foster, Undersecretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, recommended that parliamentary staff have access to a new independent complaints mechanism to deal with incidents of alleged assault and sexual harassment along with serious harassment.
In the report released last month, Foster also suggested that a serious incident team should be developed to deal with incidents of sexual assault such as the one alleged by former Coalition staff member Brittany Higgins.
Labor responded to the review saying that the grievance mechanism needed a broader mandate to be able to retrospectively investigate serious incidents.