Ive really struggled: Federal Liberal MP reveals personal grief as motivation for changing course on quotas – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: March 31, 2021 at 4:04 am

Events culminated this week when a Coalition staffer was sacked after videos of him masturbating on the desk of his then-boss, a federal female Liberal MP, were leaked to the media.

Ms Wicks said the culture drastically needed changing and endorsed a speech by Labor MP Madeleine King, who earlier told the House that if the Federal Parliament could change its culture it could help bring the systemic abuse of women and domestic violence to an end.

Ms Wicks said the last five weeks had forced her to confront experiences that had been deeply buried.

One of the things I recognised during that week as I really grappled with this, was a recognition that certainly in my own life, I had seen so many instances of when I raised a problem and said something was not OK, too often I became the problem I was made to be the problem, she said.

And I dont think Im alone in this and when you have instance after instance of that you almost come to agree with the lie that silence keeps you safe.

But silence doesnt keep us safe so its an important moment to be having this conversation to break that silence so we can actually look at what changes we need to make in order to not only end the cycle but reverse it.

I realised that my own voice had been silenced as a result of what I had experienced, and my determination since that moment is that my voice will not be silenced, and I will use all those experiences to do what I am able, serving in this Parliament to help create change for good, change in the Liberal Party, change in our parliament, change in our workplaces, change in our communities and change in our homes around the nation.

Ms Wicks said this was also the reason for her change of heart on the Liberal Party adopting quotas, which she and a growing number of female MPs as well as the Prime Minister are now publicly endorsing despite the partys long-held opposition to affirmative action measures first adopted by Labor in 1994.

Ms Wicks is a member of Mr Morrisons inner circle and says she has shared some of her personal history with the Prime Minister, as well as her thoughts on how the government can be better responding to the issue.

She says introducing quotas is one step.

If we havent got it right over 20 years its probably time to shift the conversation and look at quotas and merit-based selection, Mrs Wicks said.

I think we can do it, I think we should do it quickly and I think we should do it in time for the next federal election.

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Asked if Liberals were staging an about-turn on the issue as a way of providing the Prime Minister with a way out of the scandal engulfing the government ever since Ms Higgins came forward with her claims, Ms Wicks said backing quotas was a positive and first step, but also a big for step for the Liberal Party.

Ms Wicks said the Prime Minister was genuine about trying to change the culture and the treatment of women but that it couldnt be fixed quickly or by Parliament alone.

Its going to be a long conversation but I think its a conversation the Prime Minister is having, will have and will continue to have, hes determined to keep listening and learning, she said.

Asked why the Prime Minister had faced such fierce criticism for his response, Mrs Wicks said the issue was not easy to navigate for any leader.

Its incredibly hard to get right because its incredibly confronting because as a leader you have to hold the pain of a nation, thats really hard to do but I think he is genuinely listening and learning.

Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.

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Ive really struggled: Federal Liberal MP reveals personal grief as motivation for changing course on quotas - Sydney Morning Herald

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