It all started with a cross-party fundraiser attended by the women of NSW’s Parliament House…
And it ended in a protest by female MPs – including Minister for Women Pru Goward and Speaker Shelley Hancock – armed with hairdryers and straighteners.
Ms Hancock told 2GB’s Ben Fordham some of the MPs began talking about the inequality between the size and number of the men’s and women’s bathrooms.
So the troupe of women traipsed down to the gym in a late-night excursion.
They inspected the ladies’ bathrooms and counted two basins, two toilets, a couple of mirrors and a small area with eight lockers, Ms Hancock said.
Next up, the men’s.
“My goodness, Ben. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a semi-circle of basins, 30 lockers…,” Ms Hancock recounted.
“I don’t know what they think sometimes, Ben, but they really don’t need floor-to-ceiling mirrors.”
She said to add further insult to the discrepancy between the size of the gym bathrooms, on each level of Parliament House there are three men’s showers and only one women’s shower.
And it’s something she wants rectified.
“The truth is that this building was built in the 1970s and there were about seven women then, but there are upwards of 50 women now,” she said.
Ms Hancock said instead of charging taxpayers half a mill for renovations to even up the space, all she wants to do is switch the male and female signs around.
She said the campaign was a bit of a shenanigan, but there was also an important underlying principal to the issue about gender equality.
“It’s a clear message that we need to make sure that we encourage women into parliament,” Ms Hancock said.
“We’re pretty poor really with the number of women MPs we have here, we need to encourage them – we don’t need any more disincentives in this building.”
She said she’s also trying to ensure mothers have the facilities they need to breastfeed in the building and was planning on having words with Premier Mike Baird on the issue.
But she could be in trouble if parliamentary secretary to the Premier, Ray Williams, gets in his ear first.
Mr Williams told 2GB that if the female parliamentarians had more bathrooms, they wouldn’t attend parliament.
“You know as well as I do, how difficult it is (to get wives and daughters) each day to get ‘em out of the bathroom,” he told Fordham yesterday.
“The Premier knows full well that if we were to give the women in parliament any more bathrooms, then we’re never going to get anything done in parliament,” he said.
“We’ll never be able to get ‘em into Question Time.”
See what the Speaker has to say about the dunny discrepancy:
He said female parliamentarians didn’t even know where the gym was located.
“Ben, this is not about equality, it’s a takeover,” he continued.
“It’s bad enough fighting for bathroom space at home, I’m not going to fight for it at the gym in Parliament.”
We had hoped his rant was just a bad attempt at humour – as the Premier last night insisted it was.
But Mr Williams told News Limited he was not joking.
Let the restroom revolution begin!