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Menacing, controlling: Former Lib MP's stunning accusations against Morrison

Politics

Scott Morrison has been accused of menacing and controlling behaviour that drove a female MP out of parliament.

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Julia Banks quit the Liberal Party after the leadership coup against Malcolm Turnbull in late 2018, sitting as an independent until an election the following year.

Banks blames the prime minister’s behaviour for her decision to quit the party and leave politics.

The former corporate lawyer said Morrison tried to portray her as a “weak petal” who had not coped with the mental strain of the leadership spill.

When the prime minister gave a press conference and took questions about Banks’ decision not to recontest the next election, he responded by expressing concern for her welfare.

“He wanted me silenced, he wanted me to be quiet, he wanted me out of the parliament, I mean, he wanted me out of the country,” she told the ABC.

“I felt at that time, I thought, I’m challenging him and that was his response. His response was to drag me through this sort of sexist spectrum.

“A narrative that I was this weak, over-emotional woman, to the bully bitch. That narrative was played all the way through that three months.”

Banks says she was also told the prime minister’s office was “backgrounding” against her, giving off-the-record briefings about her to journalists.

A spokesman for the prime minister said Morrison was disappointed Banks quit the party and had several conversations with her to understand what she was going through and what support was available.

“That included support for personal leave so she could take the time to recover from the upset many people suffered during that period,” the spokesman told AAP.

“The prime minister absolutely rejects claims about the nature of those conversations.”

Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher said allegations of backgrounding and condescending language indicated a pattern of behaviour.

“I have no reason to disbelieve what Julia Banks has outlined,” Senator Gallagher told ABC radio.

“It’s a pretty distressing story, I’d have to say, and it’s no wonder she left.”

Banks also alleged she was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance at work by a coalition government cabinet minister.

“The prime minister is not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment Ms Banks faced. Any such behaviour is completely inappropriate,” his spokesman said.

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