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Former MP Julia Banks Alleges Incident Of Sexual Misconduct, Adding Scott Morrison Fostered “Menacing” Government

The politician claims the PM attempted to portray her as everything from the "weak, over-emotional woman, to the bully bitch."

Months after Brittany Higgins’ allegation of rape in Parliament House, which called for an investigation into sexual misconduct in Australia’s political culture, former Liberal MP-turned-Independent Julia Banks has alleged she faced an unwanted sexual advance from an unnamed cabinet minister while former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball was in government.

Appearing for an exclusive interview with ABC 7:30’s Laura Tingle this week, Banks likened the culture she experienced prior to her departure from the Liberal Party in 2018 to that of “Mad Men”, adding that such behaviour is likely happening “every single day in Parliament House.” 

The interview coincides with Banks’ book release this week, Power Play, where she details the alleged incident which reportedly occurred during an evening when all Coalition MPs were gathered in Turnball’s wing, with extracts published in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.  

“I was sitting on a couch talking to another MP,” she revealed during her 7.30 interview. “And then a cabinet minister sat on my right, and he sort of did that flippant ‘how are you’, and then he put his hand on my knee and ran it up my leg, on the upper part of my leg.” 

Banks adds she “momentarily froze” and walked away from the situation and later told another female MP that the man had “made a move”. 

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied any knowledge of the alleged incident. 

“The Prime Minister is not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment Ms Banks faced. Any such behaviour is completely inappropriate,” the statement read, per ABC

“Everyone has a right to feel safe in their workplace, and the work currently underway by Kate Jenkins will continue to improve Parliament’s workplace culture.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

Despite coming forward with the allegation, Banks has asserted that she will not be making a statement or submission to the ongoing review into parliamentary workplace culture triggered by Higgins’ allegation, stating she simply does not “trust the process.” 

“I am not the only woman who does not trust the process,” she said. “Because at the end of the process, because at the end of the day, that report is submitted to the government. It will be submitted to [Scott] Morrison.” 

Banks adds that she was later told by others within Morrison’s office that there had been incidents of “backgrounding” against her—a practice where journalists are briefed with information that the source, including from a political office, does not want attributed to them, per ABC News.

Higgins has also previously alleged that she, her partner and family were victims of backgrounding at the hands of the Morrison government, telling The Project in March 2021 that “this was being done by staff within the Prime Minister’s media team”.

Further, Banks says Morrison attempted to undermine her, portraying her as a “weak petal” who had not coped well with the leadership spill that occurred prior to her departure from the Liberal Party. 

“Based on my experience of backgrounding and leaks and confidentiality getting out, my view is I have said all I need to say in the book. And that was the most appropriate way for me to give that submission,” she said. 

The former MP adds that she felt Morrison wanted her “silenced,” telling 7:30, “he [Morrison] wanted me out of the Parliament, I mean, he wanted me out of the country.” 

“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,” she said. 

“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.”  

The politician further alleges that Morrison was like a “menacing controlling wallpaper” during her time in the Liberal Party.

“I thought if I’m to exit this parliament, I’ll exit on my own terms and under my own story and not on their terms, so I announced that I was going to become an Independent.

“It was the three months of Morrison’s leadership that… was definitely the most gut-wrenching, distressing period of my entire career.”

Following Banks’ allegations, many female politicians spoke out in support. 

“No one deserves the kind of treatment Julia Banks got from Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party,” said Tanya Plibersek. “In speaking out, @juliahbanks has shown tremendous bravery.” 

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit  

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