THE debate about women and their standing in the federal Liberal party has flared again early in the new year, with Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson weighing in last week through national print and television outlets.
The low number of Liberal women in federal Parliament (they hold only 20 of the 68 seats in both houses) has been highlighted in recent months, and several female Liberal MPs have spoken out about being bullied, including during the leadership spill.
Ms Henderson has previously denied that she was bullied or threatened and said so again in a front page article in The Australian, also claiming that the Liberals could be proud of their record on women.
She explained her stance further on Channel 10 program The Project.
“I can only speak about my own experience… my experience with the Liberal Party has been incredibly positive. I do not accept these claims,” she said.
“In the political process, when you are lobbying or being lobbied for votes, that does not constitute bullying.”
Ms Henderson has previously said she is opposed to quotas to increase the number of female MPs (unlike Labor), but equivocated when pressed on the subject by The Project host Waleed Aly.
“Well, I don’t like quotas per se but I will say this – if we can’t increase the number of women in the Liberal Party, then I do think we need to look at some more robust measures. That could be a form of quota, that could also be looking at different sorts of measures.”
She said because of “magnificent women” such as Kelly O’Dwyer, Marise Payne and Julie Bishop, “I feel like we have 75 percent women in our party”.
In a series of tweets, Opposition deputy leader Tanya Plibersek dismissed Ms Henderson’s stance.
“Labor has more than double the number of women the Liberals have in the Parliament and about twice the number of women on our front bench – that speaks for itself.
“Over the last five years, all Scott Morrison and the Liberals have done is deliver policies that disadvantage women.”