As if this government’s 8-year run of corruption, ongoing stuff-ups and persistently bad governance weren’t enough, now we have women being raped in the Defence Minister’s office. On her sofa, no less.
I find myself pausing as I write. I feel ashamed of my country. Well, not so much my country but on those who run it.
Our country’s prime minister asks us to believe that he knew nothing for two years about a rape that took place 50 meters from his office, no less. He turns to his wife for her sage advice. She tells him; Ask yourself, “what if it were our girls.” After consideration, he finds he has empathy for the victim.
He might have asked himself the same question. What if it were him? I imagine the pain would be similar. Do you want me to be more graphic?
That he even needed to confide in his wife is sad in itself that he required some explanation of a women’s fear of a man’s physical power over a woman is pitiful. The fragility of his character has been exposed to the world.
But still, he knows nothing. I see the emptiness of truth in the words that flow guiltily from his mouth.
He knew nothing is considered nigh on impossible by many of those experienced in government machinations. Misleading the parliament is a grave offence – even former Prime Ministers have expressed a view of disbelief at the Prime Minister’s response.
Former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd had a word to say.
“It doesn’t ring true that when you have a case of such gravity involving this young woman who is alleging rape in a ministerial office, that this wouldn’t have immediately been informed or provided as a report to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.”
And Julia Gillard said she was “horrified both by the incident and the aftermath.”
Another former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull was adamant that it would be “inconceivable” that Mr Morrison knew nothing of the alleged incident.
Even Peta Credlin, former Chief of Staff to Tony Abbott was on the attack, telling 2GB this week that Mr Morrison’s timeline “doesn’t stack up”.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said that a series of text messages contradicted Mr Morrison’s claim that his office knew nothing of Brittany Higgins’ claims until it was contacted by a journalist last Friday.
But back to the story and what we know so far. It seems to me that there are two stories in this remarkable event. Both are independent of the other and require the attention each independently deserves.
One is about political trust, accountability, transparency, compassion and fairness.
The first concerns the rape of a young woman, and the second is about why the government and the Prime Minister covered it up.
Morrison said that he and his staff knew nothing about the Higgins allegations of rape throughout the week. Well, until Friday 12 February.
This is patently untrue, unless Fiona Brown, Reynolds’ chief of staff, who now works for Morrison and was the first person Brittany Higgins told of her ordeal.
As is the case in matters of scandal, the evidence tends to linger before it lands. Such is the case with the revelation late last week that:
“… explosive text messages have cast serious doubt over the Prime Minister’s account of when he first learned of the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer at Parliament House.”
An example of this is the story in Saturday’s Australian.
A second woman has come forward to allege she was sexually assaulted late last year by the same former Morrison government adviser accused of raping his female colleague in Parliament House.
Since the scandal broke, the Prime Minister has invoked the “I know nothing” defence.” At a doorstop press conference on Friday, Morrison repeatedly claimed he knew nothing of this heinous crime and repeatedly tried to shift attention onto the victim’s welfare for the purpose of moving it from himself.
Over and over, he has claimed that his office was unaware of any claims that his office knew about Brittany Higgins’s insistence that a colleague had raped her until a week ago.
He dismisses claims that he had any personal knowledge of the event until he was told last Monday. Yet all of these attempts at denialism fly in the face of a text message that suggests his office was told within a fortnight of the alleged incident. “If there was anything different here, I would like to know,” he said.
Yet again, he denied misleading the public and said his version of events was based on advice from his office. “I have asked the secretary of my department to actually test that advice,” came his response.
The facts suggest that its harder to find people in the parliament who didn’t know than those who did.
The texts are of an exchange between Ms Higgins and a fellow Liberal staffer and came to life on Friday.
The Liberal staffer in the message said they had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison’s staff:
“Spoke to the PMO. He was mortified to hear about it and how things have been handled,” he said.
“He’s going to discuss with COS – no one else. I flagged the need for councillor (sic) and desire to be closer to home during the election.”
(PMO refers to Mr Morrison’s office, and COS is shorthand for Chief of Staff).
Last Friday, the Prime Minister edged his way toward the truth, saying that the texts would be “within the scope” of a review of the response to Ms Higgins’ allegations by Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Philip Gaetjens.
And guess who will conduct the review? None other than Mr Gaetjens himself. Yes, the same man who ran the internal enquiry into the Sports Rorts Affair and found that the Prime Minister had nothing to answer for.
So nothing will come of it.
There is much water to flow under the bridge of this scandal.
In my previous post on this scandal, I wasn’t backwards calling the Prime Minister a liar. I don’t detract from that; in fact, events since would seem to confirm my statement to be correct.
My thought for the day
A man who has mastered the art of manliness embodies many, if not all, of these manly characteristics:
- He looks out for and is loyal to his friends and family. Does the right thing, even when it’s not convenient. He is proficient in the manly arts. Treats women with respect and honour.
- Serves and gives back to his community. Sacrifices for the good of others. Works hard and seldom complains.
- Exhibits both great courage and tender compassion. He has a confident demeanour but isn’t a pompous twit. Is witty without succumbing to sarcasm. Embraces instead of shirking responsibility.
Is that a man you know?
(Paraphrased from The Art of Manliness)
At some time in the human narrative… in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you.
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