Ann Sudmalis has used parliamentary privilege to blast a state Liberal MP, Gareth Ward, accusing him of “bullying, betrayal and backstabbing” and flexing “his vengeance on strong Liberal women”.
The member for Gilmore, flanked by fellow Liberal Jane Prentice, who lost her preselection earlier this year, used the adjournment debate on Monday night to name names, having confirmed earlier on Monday that she would exit politics at the next federal election rather than seeking preselection for her marginal seat.
In confirming her intentions on Monday, the NSW Liberal MP pointed the finger at unnamed figures in the New South Wales division of the Liberal party for driving her out of politics.
She noted during her contribution, by way of preamble, that “politics is place where if you do not have great resilience, the actions of others can impact on your mental health”.
In a scarifying takedown, Sudmalis declared Ward had engaged in plotting “and manipulation of both people and numbers” in a pattern of behaviour that included leaking, branch-stacking and rolling her federal electoral conference – actions that had ultimately made her local position “untenable”.
“Bullying, betrayal and backstabbing have been the hallmarks of one of my state Liberal colleagues, Gareth Ward, over the past six and a half years,” she said.
Sudmalis told the chamber more recently Ward had “approached friends asking me to nominate my retirement date and then he’d call off his people”.
“This is not the first time Gareth has flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women,” she said. “He doesn’t just get even, he annihilates anyone who opposes him.
“Was I doing a lousy job? No. Only if you ask the local Labor members and even some of them saying I’m doing an OK job.
“Was it because they thought I’d lose the next election? Hardly, when I had the confidence of the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the current prime minister Scott Morrison, openly stating on national television their support for me.
“This was all about Gareth’s narcissistic revenge planned and plotted. I have decided enough is enough.
“The whole scenario is pathetic.
“Who was this about? Certainly not the people who elected me. It was about ego driven ambition, bullying and betrayal – and my local position is completely untenable.”
Sudmalis said her decision not to seek preselection had nothing to do with Scott Morrison taking the Liberal party leadership, but entirely to do with internecine conflict at the local level, and a lack of support from the state division.
She said she wanted to hold back from making a public declaration about her intentions until after the Wentworth byelection triggered by Malcolm Turnbull’s departure from politics, but “unfortunately that is now not possible”.
Sudmalis said she would continue to work on behalf of her constituents until she left the parliament, and she said she would not be “distracted” by “boys who should know better, men who know better and do nothing, or women who are manipulated by false information”.
Ann Sudmalis uses parliamentary privilege to accuse NSW Liberal MP Gareth Ward of "bullying, betrayal and backstabbing".
— Matthew Doran (@MattDoran91) September 17, 2018
She began her contribution by referencing mental health and the imperative of asking people whether or not they were OK. She said politicians were rarely asked if they were OK.
“I would ask here that those who feel inspired to be spiteful, angry, insulting and gutless because they are using their keyboards – have a think before pressing the send button. How would you feel if you received the email you are about to send?
“In the end I will always ask if people are they OK and I will mean it and I will do everything I can to help them.
“Some of my friends will ask me if I am OK, and the answer is absolutely yes. I’ve had five years working for others in the capacity as a federal member.
“It has been a privilege and I thank you.”