Amidst the explosive revelations made by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and now allegations of a historic rape made by a current member of cabinet, South Australian Liberal MP Nicolle Flint announced she would not seek re-election.
In its timing, the announcement appeared motivated by mounting evidence of misogyny in parliament, and in the Liberal party room in particular. Flint is one of 11 female members of the party room, alongside 32 men.
The decision was made public in an email to Flint’s constituents. She has declined requests for comment from major newspapers.
Her fellow SA MP, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, faced cameras on her behalf on Saturday. “Her one message,” Birmingham said, “is that people understand her desire to see political engagement occur in a safe and respectful way.”
Flint has previously spoken out against – and seemed to be personally affected by – personal attacks against her during the last election campaign. She singled out GetUp and the practice of ‘bird-dogging,’ in which activists follow politicians in order to record their answers to tough questions at unexpected moments. The MP had previously topped a GetUp poll of “hard-right” South Australian MPs who should be targeted at the election.
Flint also said that her office has been repeatedly spray-painted with degrading misogynistic graffiti. She also posted a video on Twitter in which she wore a garbage bag “to match [the] rubbish views” of commentators unnecessarily calling attention to her clothing.
In 2019, she was followed by a stalker for five months. GetUp denied any affiliation with the man, who received a stalking caution from SA police. Given the next federal election is expected to be held later this year, it is entirely understandable Flint would want to avoid going through the same thing.
Flint’s departure is a timely reminder that while sexism clearly runs rampant in the private school-educated boys’ clubs frequented by the likes of Christian Porter, it is also an issue everywhere, and one that goes well beyond party political lines.