Calling out the left's double standards

30 Nov 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (19:34): Today I am wearing my grandmother's callisthenics medal, as I often do because it reminds me of her and of my links to my local community, which began 100 years ago this year. My grandmother was born and raised in Lower Mitcham in the heart of my electorate of Boothby. Her parents, my great-grandparents, settled in Claire Street in their modest war service home in 1920 after my great-grandfather finally made it home from World War I, having seen action at Pozieres and at Bullecourt, where he was taken prisoner of war. They lived humble lives, guided by their Christian faith and service to our local community. They established the Colonel Light Gardens Baptist church. My grandmother and great-grandmother both taught at Colonel Light Gardens Primary School, and my father and uncle attended local schools and were active volunteers. My dad was a St John's Ambulance cadet.

I was therefore incredibly proud to be able to continue this history of community service in our local area when I was elected as the member for Boothby in 2016. It is one of the key reasons that I nominated for the seat. I also put up my hand to make a contribution on a range of issues like road and rail infrastructure, foreign interference and investment, endometriosis, stillbirth and the arts. As a lifelong Liberal, I put up my hand to do my part to uphold the principles of the Liberal Party and ensure that Australia remains the safe, strong and stable democracy that guarantees the hard-won freedoms that people like my great-grandfather were willing to sacrifice their lives to defend.

However, there are a range of things I did not put up my hand for as a member of parliament. I did not put up my hand for ABC Radio's Peter Goers to criticise my smile and the clothes I wear. I did not put up my hand so that former journalist Mike Carlton could suggest that I should be strangled. I did not put up my hand to have GetUp, Labor and the unions plant their male followers at my street corner listening posts to intimidate me, let alone to scream at me. I did not put up my hand so I could be the sole candidate heckled, mocked and shouted down by GetUp, Labor and union members at community meetings. I did not put up my hand so my election posters could be defaced with the words 'skank' and 'blow and go', suggesting I was a prostitute who charged $60 an hour. And I certainly did not put up my hand to be stalked by a creepy old man who regularly appeared with GetUp and who did not stop until the South Australian police charged him with stalking me, despite requests from me and the AFP that he stop his terrifying behaviour

None of these things happened during my first election. They happened during my second election because of the combined efforts of GetUp, the Labor Party and the unions, whose vicious campaign against me encouraged the behaviour, perpetrated almost exclusively by men, that I have just described. We now know, thanks to the questions put to GetUp by my colleagues the member for Barker and Senator Abetz in the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, that GetUp train their volunteers in the practice of bird-dogging. In short, this tactic seeks to hunt down and harass a candidate, getting to know their routines and turning up uninvited and unexpected at every opportunity to intimidate them. This is exactly what GetUp did to me in conjunction with the stalker, the Labor Party and the unions. Notably, the head of GetUp, Paul Oosting, refused to rule out using these tactics again. So other women, other candidates like me, can expect that they too will be harassed, intimidated and made to feel unsafe in their workplace. Given the Labor Party and the unions have not distanced themselves from the tactics of their good friends at GetUp, they clearly condone these tactics too.

Ironically, GetUp, Labor and the unions all claim to oppose sexism and misogyny and to support women's workplace safety, yet it appears they only do so for women on their side of politics, as Senator Penny Wong recently demonstrated when she claimed there was no coordinated sexist campaign against me at the last election. GetUp, Labor and the unions can pretend that their tactics did not cause the behaviour that occurred in Boothby in 2019, but the facts, like their disgraceful behaviour and their actions, speak for themselves.