FFS! RISE UP AUSTALIA ... yes, that's a bold statement and yes, it's intended to catch your attention.

WTF, FFS, OMFG, RUFK ... these highly emotive statements are in so many of the messages I continue to receive from colleagues, clients and across all program iteractions since last week's Capital Hill fiasco. Seems if you're not rising up in disgust, you're not paying attention to what just happened in our country's 'leadership space' last week. 

A clear consensus has emerged. We can no longer ignore the deplorables.  We have to stop voting in these mostly male, 1950’s thinking, far-right factional fwits.  The world has moved on. Most of Australia has moved on.  The majority of women voters have certainly moved on from accepting such male egotistical, gender biased, MDBTY antics; in their personal lives and in their careers. It’s just not on; not acceptable.

I’ve lost count of the number of times our elected LNP pollies told us that it’s just a group of small ‘d’ defectors; just a tiny minority mob sniping in the shadows;  a few boys behaving badly on the back bench. Well, it seems this mob have more self-interested, self-preserving mates right across cabinet, than opposing ethically-minded colleagues at this point in time.

With my strong passion for all things leadership, my reputation for delivering straight-shooting presentations, and my unapologetic advocacy for gender equality [yes, my other favourite F word]; I can’t ignore or accept this current status quo. I can’t stay quiet and do nothing. And I won’t.


In my writings and talks, I often refer to organisational or community group  ‘old boys club’ mentality as the BBB club – Boys Behaving Badly.  I call them ‘boys’ because they don’t deserve the title of ‘men’.  Their behaviour is like school yard bullying and yesteryear footballer ‘biffo’ mentality;  like jostling for prime position by using dirty tactics to kill off the enemy. There's a concerning lack of maturity here; especially crucial emotional intelligence competencies.

These blokes are not standout ‘men among men’ … they are insecure, revengeful boys.  Frankly, in my humble opinion, there’s not a genuine leader amongst them. Clearly, I’m not the only one with that opinion.

 Is there no L for Leadership in poLitics?

In televised interviews this week, Barnaby Joyce MP – disgraced X-Deputy Leader of this government told Australian viewers that this type of behaviour is 'just how it is’ … ‘it’s politics’ … ‘everyone’s there for the same egotistical, self-interest ambition … most are narcissistic’ and that tactical fights [read: knifing each other in the back] for self-preservation reasons is ‘the nature of the beast’.  He further stated: ‘there is no trust … no one trusts anyone else – you just can’t’. So, seems we have a Parliament House full of fwits!  Of course, Barnaby has had first-hand experience in constantly having to watch his back, and some would say for good reason.  That aside …

We teach our young boys at home to be more respectful, to be ‘good sports’, team-players, and win on merit, talent, skills and hard work; not dirty tactics.  We teach our children in the school yards that bullying is unacceptable.  We are teaching our teenagers about the dire consequences cyber-bullying can have on others and how wrong it is. We are encouraging our young couples to share household and parenting responsibilities, and that gender doesn’t dictate home responsibilities. We are encouraging our boards and companies to be more proactive towards gender balance at decision making- tables. Aren’t we?  Well then …

 Are we just supposed to accept that today's society behaviour rules, don't apply to politicians?

I think NOT.  I think it is time to call LOUDLY for game-changing action. For REAL leadership. Let’s not keep regurgitating or just tutt-tutting the entrenched problem.  We don’t have to accept this. Let’s focus on the creating and developing solutions to this farce. 

VOTE them out!  Instead of giving up, accepting poor choices, or donkey-voting … let’s take more responsibility for the way each of us vote.  Take a stronger stand and more active involvement in encouraging people with the right character, competence and community commitment to represent us … rather than leave that to factional pre-selectors. Clearly, that process is not working.  

And there's another glaringly obvious isssue ...

 The Gender Card … yes, I’m pulling that out for good reason.

Australia is unbelievably ranked 50th in the world for female representation, with just 18 of the ruling LNP party's 84 MPs and senators, being women [and falling daily at the moment].  That makes no sense. There is no logical reason other than entrenched gender bias and allegedly, lots of LNP male eye-rolling whenever it is brought up.

Who could blame Julie Bishop MP for stepping away from our nation’s leadership team at this time, and very likely away from parliament in the near future. One of LNPs best performers; IQ and EQ intelligent, articulate, and highly regarded globally; Julie asked colleagues to choose her as their leader, because she knew politically it was the most credible chance their party had to stay in power. Meritoriously, she was the best option by a long shot. But, the BBB club just didn’t get that.  What waste of a talented female political leader role-model. Presumably they saw:

  1. A woman [out of her 'naturally intended' place – lacking an apron perhaps?], and …
  2. An outsider - not one of the far right, rough and tumble BBB club, so she’d likely not promote any of that sort into a cabinet she leads. Damn right, she wouldn’t have! 

Since then, several other women in the party have spoken out about being bullied and intimidated by the BBB club in last week’s appalling chain of events.  Liberal MP Julia Banks has also announced she won’t run in the next election; describing these same behaviours as ‘the last straw’.  

It's time for strong, emotionally intelligent, passionate, socially responsible women to lead much needed change in our political arena.  

Like Catherine Fox outlines in her latest book: ‘Stop Fixing Women’; women are ready, capable and willing to brave [read: take on] the BBB club, but it’s the system that holds many back from getting the opportunities, or from progressing to leadership roles once they are walking the tightrope in the circus tent.

Let's be frank, our political system with its party factions and fiercely personal attacks, and all the other BBB power-play crap that goes on,  was built, established and normalised by men, for the benefit of men [who seem to like to play that way]. One male MP was recently quoted saying: ‘you have to roll with the punches … it’s a rough and tumble game’.  Actually, NO! Australian voters need to demand that the game changes. 

Our ElevateHER – Leadership Circles online discussion has been a buzz with comments over the past week.  The question was asked: Has anyone ever considered running for government – Local Council, State or Federal? Lots of comments ensued, with the general consensus of ‘NO’, and what holds them back, being:

  •  not enough good role-models out there [media focuses more the ‘nutters’ than the good ones]
  •  good ones leave or get ousted because of BBB club systems and tactics [not how women want to lead]
  •  don’t want to feel trapped by party rules or blanket approach inflexibility [won’t be put in a box]
  •  couldn’t stand the character assassination by media and vindictive behaviour from opposing political bullies [won’t put family through that]

This is a frustratingly sad situation. As founder of ElevateHER, my mission is to help women to step up, stand out, speak up, and lead much needed change.  But, many succumb to the well-known quote:

We cannot be what we cannot see

Surely this whole sorry mess in parliament house will be the catalyst for wholesale change in Australian politics. I believe it can be. Look at the major changes that both Canada and New Zealand’s young, fresh, progressive Prime Ministers have brought to their parliament. It CAN be done.

We need better options, so the old BBB club is ousted to make way for new thinking. A new chapter of hope, innovation, diversity and inclusion. Working together for the greater good, not self-interest good. It seems many need a lesson in what public service at that level is meant to be - servant leadership [more on that in a previous blog].

Contrary to the well-worn quote above,  I believe that we CAN be what we haven’t yet seen … someone has to be the first to step forward, with something new, with some solutions that will bring about the first wave of positive change.  

Rise UP, Austalia.

BE part of the change.


Written by Jilinda Lee - recognised leadership coach and mentor for leaders and managers, the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and champion partner of the Lean In global movement – encouraging and enabling more women to step up into lead roles.

Founder and Managing Director of Vital Leaders, Jilinda is a passionate presenter, thought-leading commentator, and writer on all things leadership related. 

Vital Leaders mission is to develop more dynamic, authentic, and emotionally intelligent, engaging leaders. 

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