Julie Bishop has weighed in on the Australian government’s slew of sex scandals, with the former deputy leader of the Liberal Party insisting the country cannot reach its full potential until the issue of gender equality is tackled in public discourse.
The 64-year-old made the comments to Daily Mail Australia as she appeared on the red carpet for the Australian premiere of musical Hamilton at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on Saturday night.
When quizzed on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech in the wake of recent parliamentary scandals, the impassioned former politician said: ‘I think that we are at least having a public discussion about how important it is for us to have gender equality and gender empowerment in this country’.
Julie Bishop has weighed in on the Australian government’s slew of sex scandals. The 64-year-old made the comments to Daily Mail Australia as she appeared on the red carpet for the Australian premiere of musical Hamilton at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on Saturday night. Pictured with partner David Panton
Bishop added: ‘No nation will reach its full potential until and unless it fully embraces the talent, energy and contribution and skills of fifty percent of its population that’s female’.
The comments come after Federal MP Andrew Laming stepped down from all parliamentary roles following complaints about his conduct online and allegations he took a photo of a woman bending down.
When quizzed on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech in the wake of recent parliamentary scandals, the impassioned former politician said: ‘I think that we are at least having a public discussion about how important it is for us to have gender equality and gender empowerment in this country’
Bishop added: ‘No nation will reach its full potential until and unless it fully embraces the talent, energy and contribution and skills of fifty percent of its population that’s female’
‘I will step down from all Parliamentary roles effective immediately and complete both the counselling courses I committed to; as well as additional clinical counselling, and ask for privacy while that is completed,’ the statement said.
‘I will have more to say on my future as soon as that process is completed.
‘I would like to thank my local community for their understanding during this time and assure them my electorate staff remain available to them.’
His announcement comes after after Brisbane mum Crystal White accused Mr Laming of snapping a picture of her bottom and underwear at a landscape supply business in 2019.
‘The photo was really inappropriate, especially when I was bent over,’ Ms White told Nine News.
The comments come after Federal MP Andrew Laming (pictured) stepped down from all parliamentary roles following complaints about his conduct online and allegations he took a photo of a woman bending down
Sean Blinco, who was working at the time, said the store manager forced Mr Laming to delete the photo.
Mr Blinco questioned the MP over the 2019 incident on Facebook after reports emerged in recent days about Mr Laming trolling two women.
Mr Blinco said: ‘Remember that time you took a photo of an employee bending over at local landscaping yard, you perve? We had to force you to delete it before you left the store. We remember.’
Mr Laming replied: ‘I do but it wasn’t meant to be rude. I thought it was funny but your reaction was awkward.’
Mr Laming, the Liberal National Party member for Bowman, on Thursday apologised in Parliament for trolling two other women online.
The Queensland LNP backbencher issued a statement on Saturday night and revealed he would undergo sensitivity training ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured)
He then backtracked on social media and claimed he ‘didn’t know’ what he was saying sorry for.
‘In this climate – I willingly apologise – I didn’t even know what for at 4pm when I did it,’ Mr Laming wrote on a Facebook post, which has since been deleted.
Mr Laming was forced to apologise after telling a charity worker, Alix Russo, on Facebook: ‘Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them.’
Ms Russo, a single mother who said the trolling left her suicidal, told Nine News: ‘I want to be alive, I don’t want to be attacked anymore.’
‘This man has to stop. He cannot continue abusing his community like this.’
His announcement comes after after Brisbane woman Crystal White accused Mr Laming of snapping a picture of her bottom and underwear at a landscape supply business in 2019
Sheena Hewlett, a schoolteacher, said Mr Laming – who was elected to Federal parliament in 2004 – asked for her teaching timetable then hid in bushes while taking photos of her in 2019. The incidents were reported to police.
Mr Laming’s social media response to his own apology was accompanied by several laughing emojis – which he claimed were accidently posted by his phone when he put it in his pocket, news.com.au reported.
Queensland Labor MP Kim Richards has since come forward claiming Mr Laming ‘weaponised social media to attack women’, news.com.au reported.
‘It’s just been constant. I blocked him years ago for my own mental health,’ she said.
Screen grabs of Mr Laming’s now-deleted Facebook post in which he laughed off the apology he made to Alix Russo and Sheena Hewlett in parliament
‘The character assassination, the personal nature of the way he’s posting, is harassing and bullying by its very existence.’
Ms Richards said locals in Redlands have been left ‘fearful’ of Mr Laming due to his conduct online.
A spokesman for Mr Laming rejected claims about the MP’s online behaviour as his social media accounts post about political issues in the electorate.
It comes just days after the Australian government was rocked by another sex scandal – this time after a whistleblower leaked videos and pictures of government employees flashing and performing lewd sex acts inside parliament.
In one video, filmed in 2018 and leaked by a whistleblower named only as Tom, a male aide can be seen performing a sex act on a female colleague’s desk.
Mr Laming has been accused of ‘trolling’ women on social media and has been ordered to complete an awareness course
Tom said staffers established a Facebook Messenger board where explicit content could be shared, and that he had seen so much of it he had ‘become immune’.
He also alleged that staff regularly have sex in a prayer room at Parliament House in Canberra, and that sex workers are frequently brought into the building ‘for the pleasure of coalition MPs’.
It comes after Brittany Higgins, a former staffer of the ruling Liberal Party, claimed she was raped by a senior colleague in parliament in 2019 but felt pressured not to report the incident to police
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was already under pressure over his handling of the Higgins case, said on Tuesday that he was ‘shocked and disgusted’ by the latest revelations and added that ‘we have to get our house in order’.
It comes just days after the Australian government was rocked by another sex scandal – this time after a whistleblower leaked videos and pictures of government employees flashing and performing lewd sex acts inside parliament (pictured)
The aide featured in the solo sex act video has since been fired, but there was further outrage after assistant minister Michelle Landry said she ‘felt bad’ for him.
Referring to him as a ‘young fellow’, she added that he ‘loved the place’ before conceding that his behaviour had been ‘unacceptable’.
Whistleblower Tom said there was a ‘culture of men thinking that they can do whatever they want’ in parliament, and while he did not think the staffers had broken any laws he added: ‘Morally, they are bankrupt’.
Minister for Women Marise Payne said the revelations were ‘beyond disappointing’ and highlighted the need for a government-ordered inquiry into parliament’s workplace culture.
Cabinet minister Karen Andrews said she had had an ‘absolute gutful’ of sexism in politics and her ‘conscience will no longer allow me to remain quiet’.
She told reporters in Canberra that the ruling Liberal Party should consider gender quotas for its political representatives.
The fresh sexism revelations on Tuesday prompted Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe to disclose alleged sexual harassment by four male politicians since she took office just six months ago.
A video also shows a male staffer performing a solo sex act on a female MP’s desk, in what Prime Minister Scott Morrison branded ‘disgusting’ behaviour
Thorpe, a representative for the Greens party, told the Canberra Times the ‘brazen’ harassment had included ‘suggestive’ remarks and unwanted touching.
‘These are men that write our laws – men that should know better,’ she tweeted. ‘What they’ve done is violating behaviour. It’s physical. It’s sexualising, objectifying behaviour – it makes me feel physically sick.’
Australia’s parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a ‘toxic’ workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual assault of women – particularly in the ruling coalition.
Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleged publicly last month that she had been raped by a colleague in a minister’s parliamentary office in 2019.
And earlier this month, Attorney-General Christian Porter vigorously denied swirling accusations he had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when they were both students.
The controversies have placed growing pressure on the prime minister, who critics say has fumbled the government’s response.
The whistleblower, identified only as Tom, also alleged that a prayer room in parliament is frequently used for sex with sex workers brought into the building
Morrison grew emotional at a press conference in Canberra on Tuesday when talking about the importance of his wife, mother and daughters, also saying women had endured a ‘very traumatic’ month.
‘These events have triggered, right across this building and indeed right across the country, women who have put up with this rubbish and this crap for their entire lives, as their mothers did, as their grandmothers did,’ he said.
Tens of thousands of women this month joined ‘#March4Justice’ rallies to protest sexual violence and gender inequality, calling for systemic change in politics and wider Australian society.
The opposition Labor party, which already has gender quotas in place, has not been immune from similar allegations. A Facebook group of female workers recently detailed alleged sexual harassment by male colleagues and politicians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, already under pressure over his handling of rape allegations against his attorney general, called the latest revelations ‘disgusting’