'You can't do this': Former MP reveals PM's 'angry' phone call

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

A former female Liberal MP has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of controlling and manipulative behaviour which she says forced her out of the party and parliament. 

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.

She has since left politics citing the toxic boy's club culture of parliament and the "menacing" behaviour of the prime minister and her former colleagues.

Former Liberal MP Julia Banks has accused Scott Morrison of gaslighting her and lying to the media. Source: Getty
Former Liberal MP Julia Banks has accused Scott Morrison of gaslighting her and lying to the media. Source: Getty

In a much anticipated interview on Monday night on the ABC's 7:30 program, Ms Banks recounted how Mr Morrison phoned her to urge her not to announce she was leaving politics after his ascension to the top job.

"Julia, you can't do this. You can't do this statement now," she says he told her. 

When Ms Banks insisted, Mr Morrison allegedly grew frustrated and tried to bribe her with the suggestion he would give her a position in the ministry eventually. 

"He was getting really angry with me," Ms Banks told the program. 

"He was getting really frustrated because I just wasn't taking any of his offers," she said, saying he grew increasingly stroppy.

"He said: 'Julia, I am the prime minister'." 

She agreed to wait for 24 hours before making her announcement public, which Ms Banks said "was my first mistake".

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She alleges that she later learned the prime minister's office quickly began working to background against her, in order to paint her as emotionally unstable. 

"I was told afterwards that the PMO's Office, the prime minister's office for which Morrison is accountable, were backgrounding the press and others, certainly within the party, that I had had a complete sort of emotional breakdown, [that] I had not coped with the [Malcolm Turnbull] coup."

The former corporate lawyer accused the prime minister of gaslighting her and said Mr Morrison tried to portray her in the media and party room as a "weak petal".

"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 said.

It's not the first time the prime minister's office has faced such accusations. During the fallout from the alleged rape of Brittney Higgins, Network Ten political editor Peter Van Onselen accused Mr Morrison's office of backgrounding against the victim and her partner.

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

The spokesperson said the prime minister rejected the claims about the nature of the conversations revealed by Ms Banks.

Ms Banks has written a memoir titled Power Play: Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys' Clubs in which she also alleged she was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance at work by a coalition government cabinet minister.

In reaction to the interview, many on social media applauded the former Liberal MP for speaking out.

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