Liberal MPs who chose to resign after August’s leadership spill have sought to leave their mark on the party on the way out. In a late-night speech to a near-empty House of Representatives on Wednesday, outgoing member for the Victorian seat of Chisholm, Julia Banks, condemned “a culture of appalling behaviour” that prompted her to resign. Banks called for formal gender quotas to address the Liberal Party’s dearth of female representation in federal parliament, saying “it's really simple if you only have a man running and you can't find a woman. Find one.” Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Lucy Gichuhi resolved not to make further public comment about allegations of bullying and intimidation during the spill, with Reynolds saying she would not be “cheapening it through theatrical politics here in Question Time”.
Meanwhile, Fairfax reports that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been urging colleagues to refer Dutton to the High Court over questions regarding his constitutional eligibility to sit in parliament. Turnbull admitted to lobbying prime minister Scott Morrison and others, writing on Twitter that Dutton “should be referred to the High Court, as [former deputy prime minister] Barnaby [Joyce] was, to clarify the matter”.
The war of words between home affairs minister Peter Dutton and former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has intensified, with prime minister Scott Morrison standing by Dutton’s description of Quaedvlieg having “groomed a girl 30 years younger than himself”. Writing on Twitter, Quaedvlieg said he “personally expressed my dissatisfaction to the PM” over Dutton’s comments, but that Morrison ignored him. “Talk to anyone in the community and put together the words ‘groomed’ and ‘girl’ and see where their mind goes, let alone an ex-police officer,” Quaedvlieg said. Quaedvlieg also said he complained about Dutton’s remarks to House of Representatives speaker Tony Smith. Speaking on Wednesday, Morrison denied that Dutton had implied Quaedvlieg was a child molester, saying “he has not done that at all”.
Sydney shock jock Alan Jones and radio stations 2GB and 4BC have been ordered to pay $3.75 million for defaming a family of Queensland graziers. In a series of broadcasts after the 2011 Grantham floods, Jones accused the Wagner family of corruption, illegal construction and trying to cover up the deaths of 12 people after the wall of a quarry owned by the family collapsed. In a 253-page judgement, Supreme Court of Queensland Justice Peter Flanagan cited Jones’ “intrinsically vicious and spiteful wording” as evidence he “was motivated by a desire to injure the plaintiffs’ reputation”. The decision marks Jones’ 19th defamation loss.
And a byelection to elect a replacement for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been scheduled for October 20. Traditionally a safe Liberal seat, the affluent eastern Sydney electorate is already the target of a concerted campaign by Labor candidate Tim Murray. The Liberal preselection for the seat has been marked by high-profile candidates bowing out of contention, with City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster and marriage equality campaigner Andrew Bragg both withdrawing from the race. Independent City of Sydney councillor and former Australian Medical Association president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, could threaten the Liberals’ hold on the seat if she contests.