Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Questions without Notice
Women in Parliament
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Payne. I refer to the minister, who has conceded that the Liberal Party has 'a very serious issue concerning the role of women in the parliamentary process and also in the efforts to engage more across the community'. I also refer to reports that Senator Payne chaired a recent meeting where the Liberal member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, lost control of her FEC. Can the minister confirm she chaired the meeting and, if so, whether the minister observed any behaviour which confirmed the concerns she has raised?
I note some chatter around the chamber. This does refer to a public statement. I do consider the question to be in order, in reference to the public statement. I take it that the second reference was also a reference to a report that is in the public domain. So I do, on that basis, consider the question to be in order.
Senator McAllister has referred to remarks that I have made which are on the record, and they are certainly remarks from which I don't resile. I know that I will work closely with my colleagues to make efforts in relation to these matters. In relation to her second question, I would not normally discuss matters concerning internal meetings of the Liberal Party organisation, and I suspect she would not discuss matters concerning the internal meetings of the Labor Party.
On Monday Ms Sudmalis complained of a culture in the Liberal Party of 'bullying, betrayal and backstabbing'. Did the senator observe any behaviour consistent with Ms Sudmalis's complaint? If so, has she advised the Prime Minister or his office of the behaviour?
The Senate can take it as read that, if I observed behaviour of that nature, I would do something about it. I am not going to discuss the internal meetings of the Liberal Party in the Senate chamber.
In response to Ms Sudmalis's complaint, the Liberal Party's vice-president has said, 'Women always want the spoils of victory without the fight.' Has the minister discussed these comments with the Prime Minister or his office and, if so, what action will he take in response?
Senator Gallacher interjecting—
I'm reasonably confident, having been here for a considerable period of time and knowing the efforts it takes to get here in the first place, that there's not a single person here in the parliament who hasn't made strenuous efforts to achieve that outcome and work very hard for it in the process.