The Australian Labor Party

12 Aug 2021 speech

Ms FLINT (BoothbyGovernment Whip) (16:56): Almost exactly one month ago, I formally wrote to the Leader of the Opposition regarding the dangerous and abusive behaviour of Jordan Shanks, known as friendlyjordies. In my letter, I drew the Leader of the Opposition's attention to my speech of 23 June to this place that was directly addressed to him on this topic.

The silence in response to me has been deafening.

I remind the Leader of the Opposition that he said, in response to my speech to this place of 16 March, he would act when matters concerning dangerous or abusive or intimidating behaviour were drawn to his attention. The Leader of the Opposition told the media,

"I call out inappropriate behaviour any time I am asked."

Well, I say to the Leader of the Opposition: I have asked several times, and I am still waiting.

I'm still waiting for him to condemn the following comments and to ensure that Labor cuts all ties with Jordan Shanks, otherwise known as friendlyjordies, who has depicted Leigh Sales as a rat, Lisa Wilkinson as a monkey, Gina Rinehart as a pig, Deb Frecklington as a cockroach and has called Julie Bishop the most evil-looking woman on the planet. He has stated that if Gladys Berejiklian were in the animal kingdom she would be a penis snake, and he called me a whiny little B-I-T-C-H and one of the lowest forms of life there is.

Today I'm once again calling on the Leader of the Opposition to do what he said he would do and call this behaviour out. However, I won't hold my breath, and there is good reason why not. The Leader of the Opposition and those opposite claim to be the great champions of women. They're constantly bragging about their affirmative action policies, about their compulsory quotas that require 40 per cent of all winnable Labor seats to be held by women. Yet we have recently seen several extremely well-qualified Labor women overlooked for safe seat pre-selection in favour of men—and this has happened under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition.

In the Victorian federal seat of Hawke, not one but two local women were overlooked in favour of a man. Labor women were so outraged by this decision they publicly vented their anger on social media, under the name of 'Hands Off Our AA'—meaning 'Hands Off Our Affirmative Action'—saying:

"It is disheartening that our party would overwhelmingly rather support the boys club, parachuting a male candidate into a safe seat, than elevating local women who have been an equally fantastic asset to the party for years."

In my home state of South Australia we saw another bright young woman, Alice Dawkins, defeated in preselection by another middle-aged man, Matt Burnell, for the very safe seat of Spence. Ms Dawkins has said of the Spence preselection:

"… the party quite obviously requires a woman preselected in Spence to meet its own national targets for gender parity in public office positions …"

"To call this process a free and fair ballot does a disservice to democracy."

"… there was voter intimidation, there was febrile misinformation and disinformation which remains uncorrected by its perpetrators and participants [and] there were massive information and access asymmetries between me and my opponent."

…   …   …

"Affirmative action isn't just a metric for powerbrokers to obfuscate and manipulate, it's meant to be a serious commitment to achieving gender parity … there is a deficit to be fixed. I have done my part."

"I call on the senior women and men in the party now to step up: you have the responsibility, and the power, to ensure change."

I commend Ms Dawkins for her fearless courage in what was a brutal run-in with the nastiest elements of the Labor factional machine, and I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition will do the same? Will he and his colleagues step up, as Ms Dawkins has implored? Will he and his colleagues take on the boy's club as 'Hands Off our AA' have asked them to? Will he and his colleagues finally respect my request and cut all ties to the misogynistic internet troll and foul-mouthed bully Jordan Shanks and his crew at the friendlyjordies?

If they do not do this, the next time you hear them making claims against men or women on this side of the chamber, you can say to yourself, 'We cannot trust Labor, we cannot trust the Leader of the Opposition, because they never do what they say they will do.'