politics

Julia Banks just quit the Liberal party and tore shreds off them in the process.

With AAP.

Scott Morrison lost his majority in parliament on Monday and just a day later he’s dropped even further back, with one of his MPs quitting the Government.

Julia Banks had already announced she was leaving parliament at the election, but on Tuesday dropped a bombshell on the Prime Minister, revealing she was moving to the crossbench.

“Effective immediately, I will serve as a member of this House of Representatives as an independent representative,” she told the lower house on Tuesday.

And she wasn’t going quietly. In a brief, but blistering statement, the member for the Victorian seat of Chisolm, took aim at the members of her party that executed the overthrow of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August.

“Their actions were undeniably for themselves, for their position in the party, their power, their personal ambition, not for the Australian people we represent, not for what people voted for in the 2016 election,” she said.

Banks also pointed to the need for a swift culture change in Parliament around the treatment of female MPs and an independent whistleblower system to protect those who wish to report misconduct of senior colleagues.

“Across both major parties the level of regard and respect for women in politics is years behind the business world,” she said.

“Often when good women ‘call out’ or are subjected to bad behaviour, the reprisals, backlash and commentary portrays them as the bad ones; the liar, the troublemaker, emotionally unstable or weak, or someone who should be silenced. To those who say politics is not for the fainthearted and that women have to ‘toughen up’, I say this: the hallmark characteristics of the Australian woman (and I’ve met thousands of them) … are resilience and strong, authentic, independent spirit.”

The former corporate lawyer has been an outspoken advocate for equal representation in Parliament, and called for the Liberals to adopt gender quotas: “There are equal numbers meritorious Liberal woman out there in the real world as there are men,” Banks told the House in September. “It’s really simple, if you only have a man running and you can’t find a woman: find one.”

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Banks’ announcement came as Mr Morrison was effectively announcing the timetable for the lead-up to the next election, expected in May.

He said the federal budget will be brought forward to April 2, which will allow for the election to be held within the legal window for a half-Senate and House of Representatives election which closes on May 18.

The Prime Minister also said the budget would be in surplus, which would be reflected in the mid-year review to be published on December 17.

“It is absolutely our intention to have the budget before the election and to deliver a surplus budget, a surplus budget that we promised to deliver,” he told reporters.

He dodged questions about Ms Banks’ move to the crossbench.

She has promised not to vote for no confidence motions in the government.

The loss of Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth to independent Kerryn Phelps saw Mr Morrison lose his majority in parliament on Monday morning when she was sworn in.

But he has signed an agreement with Queensland independent Bob Katter to ensure he won’t lose no confidence motions.

Mr Morrison is due to visit Argentina for a G20 meeting after parliament finishes sitting on Thursday, before returning in time for the the final sitting week of the year.

STATE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Coalition 74

Labor 69

Crossbench 7

Adam Bandt (Greens)

Bob Katter (Katter’s Australian Party)

Cathy McGowan (Independent)

Kerryn Phelps (Independent)

Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance)

Andrew Wilkie (Independent)

Julia Banks (Independent)

Total 150 seats

(Also of note: Nationals MP Kevin Hogan sits on the crossbench but attends Nationals party room meetings.)

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