‘Don’t let them see you cry’: Kerry Chikarovski for Womens Agenda

Kerry Chikarovski writing for Womens Agenda – Don’t let them see you cry’: How Kerry Chikarovski rose above the bullies

“On the day I lost the leadership of the NSW Liberal party in 2002, my mother reminded me of the advice she had given me during the tough times in Parliament  – ‘don’t let them see you cry’.

Fortunately, this was a skill I had mastered during my 12 years on Macquarie Street. I have no doubt people see the name-calling and mud-slinging that takes place in the chamber and think politics is rife with bullying. What they don’t know is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I would say it reached a pinnacle when a member of the Opposition yelled at me to ‘get yourself a facelift!’ one day when I was speaking.  A childish insult unbecoming of a person entrusted by their constituents to represent them in the parliament – but at least made publicly so that when I called him out on it there were consequences. It’s what goes on outside of the public eye that really cuts you to the core.

I remember one particularly vicious press conference where I was attacked on all fronts, with behaviour bordering on verbal abuse.  The experience drove my press secretary to tears and left me shaken and with a sense of disbelief that grown, professional adults could resort to behaviour reminiscent of a schoolyard mob.

I later found out from a friendly journalist that the other journalists had been plotting in the common room to make me cry so that they could report in the news that I wasn’t coping with the leadership. Needless to say they weren’t happy that I’d kept it together.  I once again thanked my mother for her sound advice.”

This article first appeared via Women’s Agenda. Read the full article here