Inside the secret WhatsApp group where fed-up Coalition women complain about the misogynistic behaviour of their male colleagues – including judging women in bikinis
- Female politicians in the federal government have a secret WhatsApp group
- Group is used by Liberal and National politicians to discuss gender equality
- One complained she overheard male colleagues judging women in bikinis
- The group was revealed in a Four Corners documentary about sexism
Female politicians in the federal government have a secret WhatsApp group where they complain about sexism in Parliament, a Four Corners documentary has revealed.
The group is used by Liberal and National MPs and senators to discuss gender equality and share experiences of unacceptable behaviour by male colleagues.
In one message aired on the ABC show last night, a politician complained she overheard male colleagues judging women in bikinis during a party room meeting.
Female politicians in the federal government have a secret WhatsApp group where they complain about sexism in Parliament, a Four Corners documentary has revealed. Pictured: A mock-up a message sent to the group by one woman
The Four Corners show interviewed female politicians from both sides of politics about their experiences. Pictured: The House of Representatives
‘It is past time for us to get organised and collectively stand up. After listening in party room… to bikini judging commentary, enough is enough,’ the message read.
Another woman said that male Liberal members were guilty of ‘puerile back-stabbing’ and wanted to take women’s jobs.
‘We, each of us inspire young women to aim for leadership, how do we continue to do this in the face of puerile back-stabbing from male party members whose sole aim is to count numbers and take our place? This leads to huge party discontent and loss of loyal liberals who feel terribly betrayed,’ the woman wrote.
The messages appeared on a Four Corners exposé on sexism in Parliament House which also exposed Population Minister Alan Tudge’s secret affair with a glamorous female staff member.
The show interviewed female politicians from both sides of politics about their experiences.
Labor Senator Kristina Keneally said several men tried to ‘have a crack at her’ at the 2017 mid-winter ball even though she was married.
She said: ‘I’ve been in politics a long time and sexism, unfortunately, has been a feature of it for all that period. I just think it’s quite regrettable that younger women and people who are in a more vulnerable position are still experiencing sexist overtures or sexual harassment, quite frankly.’
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said federal politics is ‘a man’s world that we still haven’t cracked open.’
In a press conference on Tuesday to announce the extension of the boosted JobSeeker payment, minister for families and social services Anne Ruston was asked if she has experienced sexism.
She replied: ‘I can only reflect on my own experience… and I have to say I have always felt wholly supported while I have been here.
‘I have been here since 2012, and since becoming a member of the cabinet, there is nobody who has provided me more support and shown greater respect towards me as an individual than the Prime Minister.’
An emotional Scott Morrison answered questions about the Four Corners show on Tuesday and said male politicians having affairs in Canberra while their wives are at home ‘breaks my heart’.
Mr Morrison, an evangelical Christian who has been with wife Jenny (pictured together) since they were teenagers, said the break up of families distressed him
An emotional Scott Morrison (pictured on Tuesday) said male politicians having affairs in Canberra while their wives are at home ‘breaks my heart’
Asked if he would take any disciplinary action against ministers who had affairs, Mr Morrison said the events happened before he was made prime minister and his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull dealt with them by banning ministers from sleeping with staff.
He said no ministers have broken the updated code of conduct and no investigation would be launched.
Mr Morrison, an evangelical Christian who has been with wife Jenny since they were teenagers, said the break-up of families distressed him.
‘There is no greater thing that breaks my heart than the breakdown of a family. It breaks my heart. And frankly, that’s the thing that bothers me most,’ he said.
‘There are a number of families that have been broken, and there are some people who are really hurting over this.
‘And I know the people involved in these issues are working really hard to try and restore what has been terribly lost.
‘And we’ve got a job to do to ensure we do everything we can keep families together, and we all have personal responsibilities in that regard.’
Asked if the ministers’ conduct passes the ‘pub test’ of public opinion, Mr Morrison said: ‘I think Australians understand more about human frailty than perhaps you are giving them credit.’
He said nothing non-consensual happened and that family break-ups ‘happen in Australia’.
‘People do things and they regret them, they do damage to their lives and the lives of many others, and I know there would be deep regrets about that.
‘I think Australians understand human frailty, and I think they understand the people who work in this place are just as human as anyone else and subject to the same vulnerabilities and frailties as anyone,’ he said.
Mr Morrison was asked in Question Time by Greens leader Adam Bandt if he would investigate and temporarily stand down the ministers involved in the Four Corners show.
He replied: ‘The matters that were the subject of last night’s report were matters that arose several years ago. It predated my time as Prime Minister and these matters were addressed by the then Prime Minister Turnbull.’
Population Minister Alan Tudge had an affair in 2017 with former Coalition media adviser Rachelle Miller. The two are pictured together at the mid-winter ball in 2017