‘Are you serious?’: Shock at Women's March answer
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has shocked a TV panel after saying he didn't have 10 minutes to listen to protesters in Canberra who aim to highlight violence and sexual misconduct against women.
Mr McCormack said he "already (had) commitments" when asked if he would attend the Women's March 4 Justice, which will take place when federal parliament resumes on Monday.
Protesters are set to descend on Parliament House as part of nationwide rallies over violence against women.
"I believe if you make commitments, then you should stick to those. But I appreciate that this is an important issue," Mr McCormack told the ABC's Insiders.
"Are you seriously saying you won't have ten minutes to go and listen to the women who are coming to Canberra?" host David Speers asked.
"No, I've got meetings all day," Mr McCormack said.
The Women's March 4 Justice is expected to have more than 4000 people converge on Parliament House on Monday in a protest inspired by a woman's Twitter post.
Janine Hendry, a Melbourne academic, designer, entrepreneur and single mum, asked Twitter whether it would be possible to form a ring of people around Parliament House as a silent protest from "extremely disgruntled women".
Parliament has been rocked by allegations of sexual assault, after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins that she was raped by a colleague in Linda Reynolds' parliamentary office in 2019 have sparked outrage.
Attorney-General Christian Porter was also accused of raping a 16-year old in 1988, when he was 17, an allegation he emphatically denied.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not attend the marches but would welcome a delegation of protesters to meet him privately in his office.
"I haven't had a habit of going to any marches when they've come to Canberra because as Prime Minister, when you're in Canberra, it's a very busy day," Mr Morrison said on Sunday.
"I'll meet them privately in my office and I'll listen carefully to what they're coming to say."
It comes after Nine newspapers reported Minister for Women Marise Payne would not meet the protesters in person, and instead only receive their petition via correspondence.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will be attending the march alongside a group of Labor MPs, and accused the government of "snubbing" a grassroots movement.
"It is important that we listen to what the community saying that was submissions that grace time the Australian of the Year said at the National Press Club," he told Sky News.
"We do have a scourge of violence against women, and against children. We need to listen to what people are saying and tomorrow's an opportunity to do that."
Originally published as 'Are you serious?': Shock at answer