I was elected just over 10 years ago, I was quite frankly horrified by what I was seeing with a pretty strong drinking, partying culture here in Parliament House. And I can recall having a conversation with my husband when I said to him, ‘Look, I’m never going to do anything to embarrass you while I’m here.’ And I made the decision that I would just not socialise. So I extracted myself from that situation and concentrated on what I was paid to do, which was my job here in Canberra. It is quite exclusive here in Canberra.
It’s not an inclusive environment for women. We work differently. We behave quite differently in parliament.
Some of that is clearly intentional, some of it is not, but the impact is that many women here do feel quite socially isolated. We aren’t included in many of the discussions that happen, whether that be in relation to matters that are being debated, in my case in the House, or whether it’s more broad discussions about policy issues, simply because we aren’t in other people’s offices socialising.
Now, I think that the men in parliament need to make sure that they are including women in those conversations. Now, is it deliberate? That’s a question that I’m not sure that I can answer, but it is quite exclusive.