Dutton “not aware” of bullying as Gichuhi prepares to name and shame

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says he is unaware of any his supporters bullying or intimidating colleagues during last month’s bitter Liberal leadership coup.

Sep 04, 2018, updated Sep 04, 2018
Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

South Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi, who says she was subjected to such behaviour during the party’s leadership woes, plans to name and shame the offenders next week.

Gichuhi, who was recruited from the crossbench earlier in the year, has vowed to reveal details of what happened under parliamentary privilege.

She says Liberal colleagues pressured her during the bitter leadership spill which resulted in Malcolm Turnbull losing his job.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison ultimately won a partyroom ballot against Dutton.

“I think in these times you get robust conversations between people,” Dutton told Network Seven today.

“I am not aware of any facts where people have done that, as I say, I wouldn’t condone it.”

Gichuhi has revealed she was asked if Turnbull was the right man to lead the coalition to the next election – two months before the plot became public.

“For that question to arise then, something was already happening I guess,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

The question came during her preselection process, which led to her being relegated to the unwinnable fourth position on the Liberals’ SA ticket for the next election.

Gichuhi is calling for the Liberals to adopt a formal dispute resolution structure, describing the current process as a pure “kangaroo court”.

It comes after Victorian MP Julia Banks announced she wouldn’t recontest her seat, blaming bullying and intimidation from fellow Liberals.

Gichuhi said her colleagues had been intimidated, including threats to influence preselections over voting intention in the leadership ballots.

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“I had senators and ministers in tears, that’s how bad it was. One of my colleagues was in tears the whole day,” the SA senator said.

Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer said male and female colleagues had told her they were mistreated during the leadership storm.

“It is clear to me that people were subject to threats and intimidation and bullying,” O’Dwyer told the ABC.

“I certainly don’t think at any level we can accept intimidation or bullying in any workplace and that includes the Australian parliament.”

She said she was “disgusted” by suggestions Banks should toughen up after going public with bullying claims.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said she didn’t hear O’Dwyer calling out her Liberal colleagues for going after Julia Gillard, but said she was delighted the minister was now prepared to confront bullying.

Plibersek said there appeared to be quite different cultures among women in the Liberal and Labor parties, pointing out the Opposition had almost 50 per cent women in parliament.

“I’m not sure whether it’s because there are more women we have less of this toxic culture, or because we have less of the toxic culture, we’ve got more women,” she told ABC radio.


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