'Harden up!': PM roasted on Today for rally no-show

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been blasted on Nine's Today show over his response to the March 4 Justice rally in the wake of rape allegations that have rocked Parliament House.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie criticised the PM and said she was "disappointed" he failed to show his face at the protests on Monday demanding action on gendered violence. She called on the women of the Liberal Party to stand up.

"I asked the women of the Liberal Party to show some strength and get out there because you are part of this," she said.

"Stop hiding behind your men.

"Get out there. We already know you've got problems in your own party. That's been going on for years.

"I do not want to see you leaving Parliament and saying something then. Have the courage to stand up and do something, and say something now."

Ally Langdon, left, and Jacqui Lambie, right, on the Today show.
Jacqui Lambie slammed the prime minister during an appearance on the Today Show. Source: Nine Network

Ms Lambie also warned Mr Morrison's response to the protests could be his undoing.

"He will pay the price for this for a long time. This is not going away," she said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of the reasons he loses his leadership in the future.

"He should have shown courage and stood in front of those women, and their husbands, and their sons, and he should have taken it if he had to.

That is life. So harden up. Get out there and listen to what the people have to say.Senator Jacqui Lambie

Ms Lambie added Mr Morrison "showed no courage" during the rally,

Former opposition leader Bill Shorten also came out swinging against the prime minister after Monday's rally.

"It was a big, powerful moment outside of Parliament and around the country. I attended for a while. I think Mr Morrison pulled the wrong rein yesterday," he told Today.

"Sometimes when you're a leader you have to front up even if you don't think they will be giving you a bunch of flowers.

"What the people were saying yesterday, and the men supporters, is they've had enough talking about the same problems decade in, decade out.

"He should have turned up, sometimes being a leader means you turn up even if you're not universally loved ... women want to feel heard and he missed a golden opportunity to help that process."

Ministers defend Scott Morrison's no-show

Senior ministers have defended Mr Morrison's decision not to attend the March 4 Justice outside Parliament House. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was unfortunate organisers rejected a private meeting with the PM.

He also defended his own decision not to attend the march.

Protesters hold up signs during the Women's March 4 Justice in Canberra.
Prostesters during the March 4 Justice rally in Canberra. Source: AAP

"Well, I didn't go to the march because the prime minister offered a meeting to the leaders of that march and they turned him down, and I think that was unfortunate," he said on Tuesday.

"But I think yesterday was a powerful moment outside the parliament.

"Attention was brought to a very important issue, an issue that we take very seriously, an issue that we're acting on, namely domestic violence, sexual violence against women.

"We must do better, we will do better as a nation in tackling this scourge."

Australia's minister for women has also defended skipping the march, along with the prime minister's no-show.

'I don't normally attend marches': Marise Payne

Marise Payne said the "optics" of potentially being booed by the crowd played no part in her decision and the offer for a meeting still stood.

"Throughout the year we meet hundreds and hundreds of people," she told the ABC on Monday night.

"I don't normally attend marches. The prime minister does not normally attend marches.

"But we are very, very willing to engage on the issues."

Minister for Women Marise Payne.
Minister for Women Marise Payne defended her decision to not attend the rally. Source: AAP

The minister has committed to "take up" demands raised as part of the rally's petition including an investigation into gendered violence and the full implementation of recommendations from a respect at work report.

The prime minister described the march as a "triumph of democracy".

"Not far from here such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country," he told parliament.

Liberal MPs acknowledged more needed to be done to stamp out workplace sexual harassment.

"I refuse to accept that an acceptable response to all of this is to suck it up, toughen up, move on," West Australian Liberal MP Celia Hammond said.

with AAP

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