Boothby MP Nicolle Flint will quit federal politics, after just two terms in the House of Representatives.

Nicolle Flint has no shortage of controversial views. As a columnist for The Advertiser, Flint defended jumps racing and the live export trade, praised ‘border protection’ policies and advocated nuclear power. In parliament, she used her first speech to condemn “the modern day scourge of environmental and animal activism.”

It was no surprise, then, that Flint’s views drew the ire of progressives.

Ahead of the 2019 election, a representative of activist group GetUp! described Flint as South Australia’s “most backwards politician” and claimed she was “standing in the way of action on climate and a whole raft of other progressive policy issues.” The organisation campaigned strongly against Flint, but to no avail.

Some went too far. Flint’s office was egged and vandalised with offensive graffiti. She was stalked and harassed. During a Q&A episode featuring Flint, former Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton tweeted “How does [Jimmy Barnes] not leap from his seat and strangle the Liberal shill on his right?”

These offensive, misogynistic attacks, which incited violence and vitriol, were unjustifiable. They went beyond mere criticism, smearing Flint in a manner reserved almost exclusively for women in our toxic political environment. I disagree with many of the political views expressed by Nicolle Flint over the years, but nevertheless, I respect her right to express them without fear of harassment.

It would be dishonest, of course, to imply that sexism pervades only one side of politics. After Prime Minister Scott Morrison could only generate empathy for Brittany Higgins, the victim of an alleged rape in a ministerial office, by seeing it through the lens of being a father of daughters, it would be no surprise if Nicolle Flint felt uncomfortable in the Liberal Party.

However, Flint’s reasons for quitting politics are still a mystery.

Flint will remain in the House of Representatives until the end of her term, but will not contest the seat of Boothby at the next election. In 2016, she became the first woman elected to represent Boothby, winning 54% of the two-party-preferred vote. Three years later, Flint survived a swing against her to retain the seat. On 26 February, Flint revealed that she would not re-nominate for the seat at the upcoming election.