FAILED POLITICIANS emit sob stories like dying whales, screeching and splashing about as the harpoons drag them towards the canning ship.
For those of significant fame, the dramatic end is orchestrated for them. Their demise is fodder for the twenty-four hour media storm. Whether it was the ‘I swear I was hacked!’ Christopher Pyne gay-sex-Tweet-like or conspicuous Aldi bags full of cash doing the rounds – there is always a sudden roar of camera flashes which ends with a virgin face presented to Parliament the next day.
Then there are the MPs that no one cares about. These political creatures are ill-equipped to navigate the dangerous waters of power and find themselves caught up in other people’s games. Like driftwood, they bob up and down, getting snared on branches until they finally rot sufficiently to sink below the waterline where they die in obscurity.
Julia Banks decided to rectify her disappointing demise by scurrying up the #MeToo money tree spreading through Parliament like a foreign weed. According to current feminist rules, if you identify as a woman and can produce a victimhood story – there’s a book deal in it.
Power Play – Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys’ Clubs was launched by Banks during a rambling 19 minute special on the ABC’s 7:30 Report.
According to the book’s description on Booktopia, “Power Play reveals the unvarnished realities of any workplace where power disparities and gender politics collide: from the unequal opportunities, casual sexism and systemic misogyny, to pressures around looks, age and family responsibilities, and the consequences of speaking out.”
Despite Banks’ claims of an oppressive, male-dominated profession, her (presumably patriarchal party) preselected her for the Melbourne seat of Chisholm where she was widely praised by her (male) colleagues for being the only member during that election to win a seat off Labor. This (male-dominated) industry then invited her to play a prominent role in a major Parliamentary inquiry into the big four banks called for by One Nation’s Pauline Hanson – a woman…
“This helped us do better in Victoria, winning one seat from Labor – Chisholm, won by the magnificent Julia Banks, a moderate Liberal, who was subsequently rewarded for her victory by constant undermining and denigration by the right-wing group that controlled the Victorian division and was later to enthusiastically support Peter Dutton in his attempted coup of August 2018.”
– Malcolm Turnbull writing in his self-pity epic, ‘A Bigger Picture‘.
In other words, Banks formed part of the LINO faction that exists within the Liberal Party as a gangrenous infection previously led by Turnbull, a man who tried to join the Labor Party.
Her decision to cuddle up with Turnbull and then back fellow loser Julie Bishop in the leadership Hunger Games backfired. What happened next was political, not sexist. Power brokers within the party moved against Banks as part of a wider clean up operation against the left faction (incorrectly titled ‘moderates’).
Banks insisted that the leadership spill was a vengeful coup by Abbott’s supporters – which ignores the reality that Turnbull was a disaster in the polls. After citing a 30-straight Newspoll loss as justification for rolling Abbott, he then lost 39 Newspolls in a row and chose to announce his own leadership spill.
When Banks fell in line behind obvious dud Julie Bishop, she said that there was advice given by the other moderates to shift her vote.
“We got the direction to move our votes from Julie to Scott. I said no, I’m voting for Julie in the first round and then I had people sent to me and phone calls, trying to move my vote … the thing that happens with bullying is people were afraid. They started becoming really concerned that Peter Dutton was seriously going to win. Men and women were being harassed and bullied.”
What Banks cites as ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying’ is part of the ordinary intense political war that goes on inside Parliament and has done since its foundation. Ideological struggles cannot be passive affairs and nor should they be. If an MP cannot survive the heat of their own party room then they have no business sitting in office to face off against the Opposition.
Julie Bishop suffers from a similar relevance-deprivation syndrome, who went on to complain later that her bid for the leadership was dismissed because she was a woman rather than face the prospect that Morrison simply had sharper political knives than her. Morrison had been shuffling around in the background for many years, having wanted to make his play for the leadership during the toppling of Abbott, but found himself outplayed by Turnbull.
The short of it is, Banks misjudged a key political situation and found herself on the wrong side of the outcome.
After this mistake, Banks and Bishop started to speak out about ‘bullying’ – something which neither had shown an interest in while they enjoyed the trappings that political and factional power afforded them. Accounts from their peers detail that Banks did not handle this failure particularly well.
“That week was so stressful that a number of events were organised to help us interact. Drinks parties were held in various colleagues’ offices and on the Friday, Fletcher hosted a morning tea. It is obvious that the week had taken its toll. New MPs like Julia Banks, the Member for Chisholm, and Sarah Henderson, the Member for Corangamite, had never been through such an experience and the strain showed on their faces and on the faces of other friends.”
– Christopher Pyne, The Insider.
Which brings us to one of the pivotal events in Banks’ claim to victimhood status. Though we know little about which party or who was involved, Banks told 7:30, “I was sitting on a couch talking to another MP. And then a cabinet minister sat on my right, and he sort of did that flippant ‘how are you’, and then put his hand on my knee and ran it up my leg, on the upper part of my leg.”
Banks momentarily froze and walked away to another female MP who she told about the incident and asked her to ‘keep speaking with her’.
The corporate power-women reading this are probably thinking to themselves that the correct response would have been to stare the man down and say, “Get your hand off my knee or I’ll pour my coffee on your balls.” That comes with a 100% guarantee that it won’t happen again.
Whether the event happened or not, it cannot be overlooked that Banks – an MP afforded a position of responsibility and power – chose to say nothing until it was politically convenient to her.
This mirrors a sentiment expressed on Twitter by Federal Labor MP Peta Murphy:
Just now on @InsidersABC Minister Birmingham response to incidents like the sexual harassment recounted by Julia Banks is that they ‘should be reported’.— Peta Murphy MP (@petajan) July 3, 2021
Yet again, responsibility for stopping this behaviour is put on women.
The Morrison government just doesn’t get it.
Of course the responsibility falls on women to report incidents if they want to see them stopped. How does Murphy think crime works in the rest of nation? Do we send memos to thieves and drug dealers kindly asking them to ‘please stop’ or do victims report crimes by calling the police?
The #MeToo narrative teaches that victims have no responsibility because their aim is to drag out the problem indefinitely as the foundation of their activist profit. If women were encouraged to report and confront offenders, the social problem would find itself facing extinction – along with the #MeToo movement.
Far from being a victim of a boys’ club, it was Banks’ decision not to re-contest her seat at the next election and her decision to make the announcement at the worst possible time for a Morrison government that she didn’t like. It is inconceivable that she was surprised by the Prime Minister’s call to request her to reconsider in the interests of the party, or at the very least delay the announcement to a better time.
MPs within a party are expected to care about the survival of the party, otherwise why did they get into politics? Morrison’s request was reasonable, as was the anger and frustration later directed towards Banks – who was seen as a selfish, thoughtless, revenge-seeking minor MP. Banks deserved the damage-control politicking triggered by her resignation. One thing is for certain, it had nothing to do with her gender.
“This whole narrative about me being this weak petal that hadn’t coped with the coup and that’s the reason I was leaving was the narrative that they had created and that he [Scott Morrison] was complicit – absolutely complicit – with when he did that first presser,” said Banks.
What did Banks expect? It’s politics.
She then decided to serve the rest of her term as an independent, also known as a traitor.
There are two types of treacherous independents in politics; those like Craig Kelly who betray the party to serve the people because the party has fallen off the rails, and then the Banks of the world who vindictively rage-quit in the hope of giving themselves more power and significance by flirting with the Opposition.
“I thought, if I’m to exit this parliament, I’ll exit it on my terms and under my story and not on their terms. So I announced that I was going to become an independent. I made that statement in the House, in the November sitting week and did a power walk back to my office. I knew it would cause a reaction and there was this rapping at my door. We’d locked the doors and the phones were going nuts – we couldn’t hear ourselves speak, my staff and I. And then we realised it was Josh Frydenburg banging on my door.”
If anything, Banks’ story reads as someone who was bullying the party and revelling in the fallout of attention that she admits to knowing would result. In all probability she’d have cried offence if the party had shrugged and ignored her act of self immolation. Reports of Frydenburg live texting Sky News during the event are hilarious…
Banks was far from alone on the crossbench. She shared it with a collection of Liberal-In-Name-Only female MPs who have more in common with the Greens than their blue ribbon constituents. They were the awkward public fallout from a power struggle between true Liberals and the seat warmers who had lost some of their creature comforts after the demise of Turnbull.
There was no love for them, with the fringe and sometimes violent left-wing activist group GetUp! pouring a fortune into election campaigns in their seats, backing them with the hope of stopping the Liberals from regaining the seats. Banks’ opponent was Greg Hunt, who was set upon by GetUp!. This situation cemented Banks’ reputation not just as a traitor to the party, but to the Conservative movement.
“She [Banks] moved to the crossbench and, despite being elected as a Liberal, routinely voted with the Opposition. […] Banks had exited over the Dutton challenge in August the year before. There wasn’t a lot Dutton could do to convince her of anything!”
For the rest of her time, she sat on the crossbench as an obstructive force – betraying the people who voted for her in the ultimate misuse of power and violation of trust.
As for Banks describing Morrison as ‘menacing controlling wallpaper’ – Margaret Thatcher would have gotten out the vinegar and set about removing him.
For young women looking at political careers, MPs like Banks set an extraordinarily poor example. Not only are they incapable of playing politics, they monetise the worst attributes of femininity that plague women trying to forge ahead – namely, emotional weakness.
Banks isn’t the only one. Quota systems have put a whole stack of women in the firing line of politics who never would have earned their place in a fair fight.
Politics is a cut-throat industry that suits natural male attributes, but does not exclude women who want to play the game.
Back in the 80s, predatory men who unwisely chanced their luck with young women on packed Sydney trains found their feet riddled with Stiletto holes at the next stop – which is not the kind of penetration they were looking for. Meanwhile, men who are slain by the political machine cannot blame their demise on others or write a ‘poor me, I had to rebuff the adoring looks of pretty girls at cocktail parties’ book. Men have to own their decisions, and if women want equality, so should they.
But these women don’t want equality. They want quotas to parachute them into power, unbalanced social regulation to shroud them from the fray, and a money-making activist machine waiting in the wings to punish anyone who dares to challenge their meritless existence.
They are the perfect example of ambition without resolve, and power without principle.
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Alexandra Marshall (@ellymelly on social media) is the host of "Curtain Call", a Good Sauce show exploring the leading personalities in the culture war. She writes on liberty, philosophy and geopolitics. You can find her on Twitter or read her articles over at her blog.
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