‘Are you really going to talk over me?’
An incredulous Federal MP has slammed a Liberal senator for talking over her during a discussion about the women's March 4 Justice.
Jagajaga Labor MP Kate Thwaites appeared on an ABC panel with Western Australia Liberal senator Ben Small today to discuss yesterday's march calling for equality and action on gendered violence, ahead of Question Time.
Senator Small was asked what he thought of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's controversial comments that protesters would have been "met with bullets" in other places.
"I think it reflects the fact we can have disagreements in our democracy about any issue an Australian to have a right to protest peacefully," he told reporter Jade Macmillan, adding that the government had instituted a number of inquiries to get to the root cause of the issues.
Macmillan asked Ms Thwaites whether criticism of the Prime Minister had been too harsh.
"No," the Victorian MP answered. "The Prime Minister could just not be further from what is going on in this country.
"I was out at that march, as well as a lot of other Labor figures and some government figures were as well. The power, the anger, the feeling that people's voices aren't being heard. That is what the PM is not acknowledging."
However, her answer was interrupted by Senator Small, who tried to make the point that the PM had invited protest organisers to a meeting.
A frustrated Ms Thwaites hit back: "Are you really going to talk over me on this issue?
"Ben, we're talking about respect for women in the workplace, are you going to talk over me?"
When Senator Small kept talking, she said: "I will let you keep going then."
Ms Thwaites later tweeted the exchange, saying: "I went on ABC tv to talk about why the #March4Justice was so important and Morrison Government Senator Ben Small decided to talk over me. It's so distressing just how much this Government doesn't get it. #auspol #mansplained".
Host Macmillan got the discussion back on track, saying: "I think you should finish your answer Kate".
"Sorry, I have lost my train of thought a bit because I got talked over," Ms Thwaites said.
"The Prime Minister does not get it. He does not understand what is happening with women in this place and in this country."
She encouraged Mr Morrison and all government members to rethink whether his response had been appropriate.
Ms Thwaites was also asked what it was like to return to parliament after recently having a child.
"It is a tough time to be coming back," she said. "As you say, I have got a three-month-old and that is wonderful and it's really important to me that I am here, that women like me are here because, you know, this debate needs to have our voice in it.
"But I think it is a difficult time for everyone in this building and necessarily so because we do need to have these difficult conversations and we do need to get change.
"So I'm very glad I am here for part of that. I'm certainly doing everything I can to drive the change that we need."
Ms Thwaites was also asked about a private Facebook group for Labor staffers who have made allegations about male colleagues.
She said she hadn't witnessed or experienced unacceptable behaviour.
Asked whether the Labor leadership was doing enough to look into the claims, Ms Thwaites said many of the comments were anonymous.
"If people want to bring forward allegations … I know all of my colleagues have said they open to hearing that," she said.
She said there were a number of processes including through the Labor Party or through parliament to lodge complaints.
"We don't want to and can't force people to put their name to something to have to come forward," she said.
"It is really important that we respect them and the way they want to deal with this. Is it acceptable behaviour? Of course not.
"And I want all of these women to know as a Labor female MP in this place, I see you, I hear you, I believe you, we have got to fix this."
Originally published as 'Are you really going to talk over me?'