A lone figure stayed to hear her speak — former frontbencher Craig Laundy.
Ms Banks eviscerated the “reactionary right-wing” plotters who had engineered Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall.
“Their actions were undeniably for themselves. For their position in the party. Their power. Their personal ambition. Not for the Australian people we represent,” she said.
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Those words must have resonated with Mr Laundy, a loyal ally and friend of Mr Turnbull who walked beside the former prime minister as he strode to his last party room meeting as leader in August.
Mr Laundy has been more reserved than Ms Banks in his public criticism of Mr Turnbull’s knifing, but it clearly stung.
“He’s an amazing man, and the honour to get to not only know him but become a good mate of his, is a plus that I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life,” Mr Laundy told Four Corners in the immediate aftermath.
“It’s sad. It’s emotional. As someone who has been a staunch supporter, protector and friend, it’s bloody tough.”
After her dramatic speech to parliament, Ms Banks joined the crossbench. Mr Laundy is now expected to quit politics altogether.
An announcement on his future is “imminent”.
Mr Laundy reportedly made up his mind a while ago and told Scott Morrison of his decision to leave.
But the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age report the Prime Minister has kept the news secret while searching for a “star” candidate to replace Mr Laundy in his NSW seat of Reid.
The Liberals hold Reid by 4.7 per cent and fear they could lose it at the election unless Mr Laundy is replaced with a high-profile candidate.
Mr Morrison approached Nick Kaldas, the former NSW Police deputy commissioner, to contest the seat, but The Australian reports Mr Kaldas rejected that offer at a meeting on Friday.
The Prime Minister brushed off questions about Mr Laundy’s future when he spoke to reporters in Melbourne this morning.
“When we’re in a position to make announcements about that matter, then we will,” he said.
Other Liberals have been more vocal in recent days, albeit anonymously, taking issue with the time it has taken Mr Laundy to make his decision.
The election is about two months away, and Mr Laundy has done little groundwork to prepare for it. Meanwhile, Labor’s candidate for Reid, Sam Crosby, has been campaigning in the electorate for a year.
“There is little doubt that if he stands we could win. The problem is he’s just being such a dick about it,” one disgruntled MP told The Australian.
“He just won’t say what he’s doing. It puts the party in an impossible position. If he doesn’t stand, there’s no hope.”
Another MP vented to the Herald, saying Mr Laundy “can’t even return a phone call”.
If Mr Laundy does leave politics, we will have to cross another face off this group photo of Mr Turnbull’s ministry immediately after the 2016 election.
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The government has already been rocked by a series of high-profile resignations in recent months, with Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O’Dwyer, Steven Ciobo, Michael Keenan and Nigel Scullion all revealing they will quit at the election.
Mr Pyne and Mr Ciobo announced their intentions less than two weeks ago.
“It’s time to retire while people are asking me to stay, rather than continue and end up later with people telling me to go,” Mr Pyne said.
Mr Ciobo spent several years as trade minister, which meant he was almost always away from home. He described politics as “anti-family”.
“Federal politics is anti-family, full stop. Don’t let anyone ever pretend otherwise,” he said.
“You often see family breakdown that happens in federal politics. There would be a lot of other professions in which it would be the same.”
Should Mr Laundy join the list of resignees, it could cost the government a crucial seat.
— with AAP