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Come outside and talk: PM's meeting offer rejected ahead of gender justice protests


Organisers of a rally seeking justice for women have rejected an offer from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet behind closed doors, instead urging him to come out and listen.

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Women’s March4Justice founder Janine Hendry said with more than 100,000 women expected to march in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane a meeting with just three women was not enough.

“We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the government to cross the threshold and come to us,” she said.

“We will not be meeting behind closed doors.”

Hendry came face-to-face with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack inside Parliament House Monday morning.

“You have been looking at this for years,” she told McCormack.

“The women of Australia want some action. We are drawing a line in the sand right here, right now.”

The rallies are being held across Australia to protest the unacceptable treatment of women in the workplace and the community and the right of women to feel safe.

“Wherever I go, I’m stopped by women, by girls, by men as well, saying that they’ve just had enough,” Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek told reporters.

She was one of many opposition politicians to front the media calling for change in their own party and within the parliament.

“I’m very concerned, too, that despite all of the efforts that have been made by so many people over so many years change is too slow,” Plibersek said.

Finance Minister Senator Simon Birmingham said he expected members of the government would attend the rally but said “proper discussions” would be best.

“I would encourage the rally organisers to reconsider their refusal to meet with the prime minister,” he told ABC radio.

The march comes as the Morrison government is under a cloud over the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer by a colleague and rape allegations dating back to 1988 levelled at a federal minister, which he strongly denies.

“Enough is enough. This is a national reckoning,” organiser Renee Carr said.

“Women and girls around the country are completely grief-stricken by the federal government’s failure to respond to this crisis, and intervene in the systems that enable gendered violence across our communities.”

The prime minister’s office invited up to four march delegates to meet with him and Minister for Women Marise Payne after the rally.

Senator Payne, who does not intend to be at the demonstration, also offered a separate meeting.

But organisers want Morrison to attend the rally in person.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend more than 40 marches around the country, which coincides with the first day of a fortnight of parliamentary sittings in Canberra.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will attend the gathering outside parliament.

Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of Channel 10’s The Project, will speak at the Canberra event and deliver a message from Brittany Higgins, who spoke out about her alleged rape at Parliament House in 2019.

“We are women and women have had enough with not being heard,” Wilkinson said.

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