One-term MP Julia Banks has written a book based on what she broadly terms the horrors of working in Parliament House. She claims she was bullied by the Prime Minister and inappropriately groped by a Coalition minister during her tenure as the Member for Chisholm, the only seat won from Labor by the Liberal Party at the 2016 election.
Banks is a tough woman but not a particularly bright one. Politicians in Australia do not need to be bright. Or clever. Cunning and mastery of the political times will do.
Banks was unlucky, backing the wrong horse in the 2018 leadership challenge. As every Aussie punter knows, when your nag runs last, you just express your favourite swear words, tear up the betting slip and go home. Or the nearest pub.
Banks backed Malcolm Turnbull and, as was — and is — the custom, cast into outer darkness.
She was given the chance to recant and offered facetime with the PM, who didn’t want to lose a woman from the team, however ill-disposed towards him she may have been. So, it would appear the PM was conciliatory, and tried to see Banks’ point of view.
And, again, not so clever, she did not bank on her advantages and push for forgiveness and — maybe — better conditions, as every good trade union leader would have done. She decided to declare war on the man on whose decision her fate was balanced.
She was offered a three-month stint as an observer at the UN in New York – one of the great perks of Australian politics – and turned it down. So, what happened? That would have looked good on anyone’s CV and it would have given her time to think, to plan, to strategise.
Banks, however much she might have respected Malcolm Turnbull, could not have been blind to the fact that Turnbull, by his actions after losing the leadership, was not someone to carry a flame for or mourn too loudly. But she pressed on.
Banks knew how politics was played, yet dropped the ball.
Banks could have strategized her way out of her impasse but chose instead to make herself a heroine of the Left by first moving to the crossbench, then making a kamikaze run at Greg Hunt’s seat of Flinders, and was left in limbo when the curtain came down.
It’s too punishing for the main actors in these dramas; they become media-fodder and useful idiots (even if they are as street smart as Banks obviously is) for people with their own agendas. Don’t bet the house, but who says Albo won’t come out abrading the government and offering sympathy for the woman wronged when Banks’ book hits the bookstores? Twitter is already at it.
Tonight, on the ABC’s 7.30 — where else — Julia Banks will speak about her interactions with the PM and most viewers may find it self-pitying and, well, somewhat incoherent. Dark Green feminists will cheer.
“At the time I thought I’m challenging him, and that was his response,” Banks has said. “His response was to drag me through this sort of sexist spectrum narrative, that I was this weak, overemotional woman to the bully bitch,”
When the music stopped playing she should have grabbed a seat, but didn’t.
And a misstep is as good as a mile in politics.
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