Doorstop interview, Canberra
Topics: Women in the Liberal Party
Journalist: What do you make of Ann Sudmalis’ speech last night where she named names in the NSW Liberal party?
Simon Birmingham: Well Ann has been a good hard working representative of the people of Gilmore. She’s raised issues and Scott Morrison has demonstrated action by insisting that every state and territory Liberal Party division put in place clear processes for dealing with any internal complaints. Processes that must be independent, they must be rigorous and they must be confidential and he has made that very clear to the state and territory divisions.
Journalist: This is another woman who has come out. Surely you must be embarrassed by the behaviour within the party, even at the state level as well?
Simon Birmingham: Well if there allegations to be made, they ought to be thoroughly investigated and Scott Morrison has demonstrated the leadership required to ensure that those state and territory divisions have practices in the place and those practices must be independent, they must be thorough, they must be rigorous and they must be confidential
Journalist: Do you think it’s a dramatic step though that she’s used parliamentary privilege as I guess as a final step as opposed to making these allegations or having them seen by the party?
Simon Birmingham: Well that’s a matter for Ann as to whether she wishes to have any allegations properly investigated by the party. She can choose whether she wants to pursue those processes.
Journalist: Why would a woman enter politics when there is a culture of bullying?
Simon Birmingham: Well just recently we had five different preselection’s occur across the country for the Liberal Party and four of those five preselected individuals in a winnable position were women. I want to see more Liberal women preselected in the future which is why we must work from the grassroots up to engage more high quality professional individuals and encourage them to put themselves forward for the parliamentary and political processes. It will be an even better system in the future because of the leadership Scott Morrison is demonstrating in terms of the new processes he’s insisting that every state and territory division have.
Journalist: The word independent was actually missing from the Prime Minister’s statement about how to deal with this new complaints process. So will you be pushing for it to be done outside of party officials?
Simon Birmingham: Of course these will have to be party processes. You’d rather expect that they are embedded in the party process but there’s got to be sufficient credibility, independent structure to ensure everybody can have confidence to raise an issue.
Journalist: So if it’s independent of the party who should be carrying out these?
Simon Birmingham: That’s a matter for the state and territory divisions to establish.