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Students challenge Bishop on big issues

Imparting wisdom: Australia’s longest-serving female politician speaks to MacKillop students for International Women’s Day. Pic: PETER GLEESONTHE Speaker of the House of Representatives visited Port Macquarie on Friday for International Women’s Day, and was given a grilling by MacKillop College students.

The Member for Mackellar Bronwyn Bishop fielded questions on ambition, inequality and identity but perhaps the curliest one involved the F-word.

“No, I don’t consider myself a feminist,” the MP said.

“I consider myself an individual Australian.”

She would not be drawn on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s call for a national summit on domestic violence involving more voices of people who’ve experienced it first-hand, or those who help them.

“I think the Prime Minister having come out so strongly as he did, and supported by the Leader of the Opposition, to make it a non-political issue is the way it should be.”

“Therefore the government will take the lead and the policies will flow.”

On January 29, the Prime Minister announced an advisory panel on violence against women. Rosie Batty is the only person with lived experience of domestic violence on the panel – the Australian of the Year last week called for a crisis forum involving survivors, police, social workers, advocates and politicians.

“I would have thought Rosie Batty’s voice was the absolute best voice to have,” Mrs Bishop said when asked if the presence of one survivor on the advisory panel was insufficient.

The Speaker of the House then said more female voices would become involved with the panel.

“I can assure you there will be many more voices,” she said as she pointed toward her chest.

Domestic violence could be defeated, the senior politician said, “but only if men truly take ownership of the problem”.

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