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Jennifer, who has a PhD, has worked as an academic and a scholar, but now works at little of both her careers. She has published short stories in several anthologies, academic papers and book chapters, frequently on the topic of human rights. Her interests and writing are wide ranging, including cultural analysis. Jennifer has written for On Line Opinion, Suite 101 and ABC’s Drum Unleashed. Jennifer is well-known for her long-running blog No Place for Sheep: an eclectic blog that covers politics, society, satire, fiction and fun stuff.

“We didn’t know just how severe Omicron would be” says PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed on Tuesday that he and his government were “blindsided” by the virulence of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron.

This claim is referred to in most news reports as an “admission,” which implies that the government really didn’t know Omicron’s potential for mass infection, despite it being already proven in Africa, the UK, the US, Canada, and much of Europe.

“Claim” infers they did know, and chose wilful ignorance over rapid intervention. They also encouraged opening up & in the case of NSW, the abandoning of all TTIQ precautions at the same time as the highly infectious variant hit.

If the Scott government was unaware of Omicron’s potential this suggests that its members dwell in a rarefied atmosphere, untroubled by events on the rest of the planet, which is surely not a useful or desirable habitat from which to govern a country. But in truth, it is impossible to accept that Morrison and his lackeys were unaware of the infectious nature of the new COVID-19 variant. Making this outrageous claim only serves to emphasise his catastrophic incompetence and his arrogant disregard for the welfare of the country and its people.

If the Scott government was, as its leader claims, “blindsided” by Omicron’s contagious capacity it is because the Prime Minister wilfully ignored expert advice and the evidence of his own senses as the variant rampaged overseas before landing here. A highly infectious variant did not suit the government narrative of opening up, enjoying Christmas and putting the pandemic behind us in the new year.

So Morrison, aided by complicit lackeys, did his best to ignore the virus that was spoiling his vision and we now face previously unheard of infection and death rates, food shortages, vaccine shortages, booster shortages, overwhelmed hospitals, sick essential workers, a dearth of Rapid Antigen Tests, the collapse of systems set up to record and monitor infections, and the closure of businesses because people have instigated their own personal lockdowns in an attempt to avoid infection.

All this because Scott Morrison insisted on having his story, despite overwhelming evidence that it was wrong.

In fact, this is exactly what we should expect from a man who believes he was chosen by God to run this country. Morrison has incontestable faith in his own stories. He will go to every length to see them realised. He doesn’t listen to voices that might challenge the trajectory of his narrative. He deliberately failed to inform himself on the new variant, despite being surrounded by experts, because their advice did not accord with the story he wanted to tell.

And here we are.

Is there any other leader in the world who has told their country that they “didn’t know” how severely contagious Omicron could be? Is there any other leader who would plead ignorance of Omicron as an explanation for their abject failure to address it? It’s the leader’s job to know more than we do, he has at his disposal resources we can only dream of yet “ordinary” people on social media apparently knew long before the Australian government that the variant causes havoc.

At least Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was forthright enough to declare that he found the topic of COVID-19 “boring.”

“In which country did people not die? Tell me!” he responded. “Look, I didn’t come here to be bored.”

Meanwhile in Australia:

The Prime Minister said despite hundreds of deaths in the last week, that the death rate overseas was even higher.”

It’s alarming enough that the Prime Minister believes “admitting” wilful ignorance is a reasonable political strategy. What he’s actually admitting is that he lives in a bubble of protection from global events, medical and scientific research, and any information that does not coincide with the stories he tells himself which must be right, according to his reasoning, because God chose him to tell them.

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Rapid Antigen Test scandal reveals Morrison’s cruelty

On January 5 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he would make Rapid Antigen Tests freely available to concession cardholders.

This change of heart followed days of sustained criticism and soaring prices, as R.A.T.s became increasingly scarce and some retailers took advantage of the shortage to price gouge.

Australia, Morrison made clear, would not be joining other Western countries such as the UK and the U.S. in providing free tests to their populations. That would, he and his ministers claimed, lead to hoarding and wastage, and people misusing them for “social reasons”.

Like me, you might have been labouring under the misapprehension that the purpose of R.A.T.s is social, in the sense of individuals taking responsibility for the larger society in which we live. We use R.A.T.s (or would, if we could get them) to ensure we aren’t infected with COVID-19 before we go out and about, mingling with family, friends and strangers.

They are the cornerstone (or would be, if we could get them) of personal responsibility, that moral virtue urged upon us by a government itself so bereft of moral virtue and responsibility, personal and collective, that one can only howl with bitter mirth when they speak these words out loud.

No doubt many people felt some small relief when we heard the Prime Minister appear to soften his hard stance and announce that those with concession cards of one kind or another would be able to access R.A.T.s free from their pharmacy. People already financially challenged would not have to go without the vital tests, however, the working poor without concession cards are, as usual, cast into outer darkness. No free tests for you.

Morrison’s neoliberal Pentecostal prosperity ideology continues to operate from the premise that if you haven’t got enough money, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself.

However, on Monday we learned that the Government is not going to supply the R.A.T.s to pharmacies. Instead, pharmacies must source their own supply, give them without charge to those eligible and then claim the costs back from the Government via a structure that is yet to be determined.

Whether or not pharmacies are willing to do this remains to be seen. They can hardly be blamed if they don’t. Anecdotally, several people have reported on social media that their pharmacists have said they cannot supply the tests to the eligible if those tests are not supplied to them by the Government.

The possibility of free tests seems less and less likely. Indeed, it seems to be just one more Morrison announcement without substance.

It would be easy if the Federal Government simply supplied pharmacies with the tests. After all, Morrison and his ministers have access to as many as they need whenever they need them for free despite their substantial salaries and presumably they are able to extend this rare privilege to their families and close associates.

However, as we have seen repeatedly throughout this pandemic, the Federal Government operates on the premise that everything must be as difficult and complicated and slow as possible, and must require minimum outlay of public money. This is not because it endeavours to be responsible with public monies entrusted to them, but because they wish to retain as much as possible for rorts, election campaigning and military hardware. In other words, everything they can use to their own advantage and not yours.

In a move eerily echoing the priorities of dictatorships rather than democracies – on the same morning as we discovered that free tests will not be available as we thought, that many places are without adequate food supplies and that extremely ill people are being treated in hospital car parks – Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced he has committed to spending $3.5 billion on tanks, as well as assorted accessories.

That any government would refuse to make free tests available to financially disadvantaged citizens is both scandalous and bitterly cruel. That any government would announce free tests and simultaneously make it almost impossible for them to be accessed is nothing short of sadistic.

No doubt over the next days, we will hear Morrison declare that he’s offered the tests and it’s up to the pharmacies to source them and claim a refund. If they aren’t prepared to do that, he’ll say, then they’re the ones depriving people of R.A.T.s.

It writes itself, doesn’t it? We’ve heard it so many times since this pandemic began. “I don’t hold the R.A.T.s, mate” is but the next manifestation.

 

 

 

This article was originally published on Independent Australia.

 

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Who am I talking to?

Most people on the social media platform Twitter assume that those they choose to converse with are adults, but be warned, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Last week a number of users, including myself, responded to a Twitter account as if it were run by an adult and discovered we were wrong: the owner is fourteen.

Unfortunately, our response to something written by the teenager was negative and couched as robustly as if we were speaking to our peers, which should surprise no one because we thought we were. The result was an almighty backlash, as accusations of child abuse, paedophilia, and cyber bullying a child were hurled about by those who knew the account belonged to a minor, and those who, like bored monkeys, take any opportunity to hurl their excrement because they can.

My personal social media policy is not to follow minors. I would not want my fourteen-year-old child to be engaging daily with adults on a platform where all sorts of topics are discussed, language is frequently florid, many accounts are anonymous, and abuse of all kinds is rife. Call me over-protective, but I’m of the view that there are subjects and discussions for which the teenage mind is ill-prepared, and to which it should not be introduced on a public platform by anonymous adults. So I’m not about to knowingly contribute to the impact such an environment has on kids.

It was alarming to witness some adult users privilege the minor’s “right” to use the platform over their safety. This struck me as a problematic exercise of libertarianism – yes, many of us want to give every encouragement to young people who are politically engaged and enthusiastic about expressing their opinions. Is a social media platform populated by adult strangers a safe space in which to do this? I’d say not.

There’s nothing that can be done to protect minors on the Twitter platform – there is no requirement to disclose the age of the user and it is open to anyone aged thirteen and over. You can’t really tell anything about anyone from their biographies and pictures: some people disclose personal information and others don’t, and very many bio pics bear no relation to the appearance of their owner. Mine is a cartoon black sheep, for example. Many people choose anonymity for a variety of reasons, not least of which is safety, and restrictive workplace social media policies. A post arrives in your time line under the poster’s handle with no further information, and generally one responds without doing a background check. If you had to check every handle, the platform would quickly become useless.

As with all social media, there’s a truly vile stream of Twitter users who find satisfaction in trolling and bullying others. The best you can hope for is to avoid attracting their interest. Sadly, the young person at the centre of this story has now become a target for the absolute worst of this miserably disturbed group. I wonder how adults arguing for the “right” of a teenager to participate in a very rough adult forum feel about this.

Hopefully there’s a responsible adult somewhere in the teenager’s life who can protect and guide them through this experience. And perhaps some adults need to think a bit more deeply about risking a teenager’s well being for the sake of their notions of liberty.

 

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Scott Morrison renews crackdown on social media users

For the second time this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, bereft of the will and the capacity to announce anything useful, has again declared he will go after “anonymous trolls” on social media.

His cunning plan requires forcing tech giants who own the platforms to either identify the “trolls” so they can be pursued for defamation, or pay defamation costs themselves. The proposal also requires social media users to provide proof of identity before being allowed to use the platforms. You can’t sue anonymous.

This proposal is unlikely to be legislated and equally unlikely to be useful in the event it becomes law, except for the privileged few who can afford to pursue legal remedies.

It is worth remarking on as yet another performance of hypocrisy on the part of Morrison and some members of his Government. Backbencher Andrew Laming, for example, renowned for his photographs of a woman bending over at work, created dozens of Facebook accounts specifically to troll his opponents using identities other than his own.

Morrison regularly trots out the social media bogeyman, including an address he gave to a Christian convention on the Gold Coast earlier this year in which he described social media as the “work of the Devil” and a “weapon used by the evil one”.

It is remarkable how Morrison’s Pentecostal religious convictions frequently appear to dovetail with the business of his Government. His war on social media is but one example. Think of his attacks on people with reduced means in the form of Robodebt and the cashless debit card, attacks that are consistent with the Pentecostal principle that material benefits accrue to believers and deny God his due results in misfortune.

Then consider Morrison’s current efforts to pass the so-called “Religious Freedom” Bill, a 2019 Election promise and one that some in his own Party fear will undermine existing rights preventing discrimination by religious institutions. The LGBTQI community will be most affected by the Bill, which nicely fits with the Pentecostal abhorrence of homosexuality.

Not all members of the Morrison Government are followers of the Pentecostal cult – or, indeed, any religion – however, they are all committed to a neoliberal project that fundamentally corrodes society and destroys trust in its institutions. There is in Australia an unfortunate convergence of interests between Pentecostals, conservative Christians and neoliberalism that creates a substantial powerbase, enabled by supportive media.

The most powerful antidote to this cabal is social and independent media. These platforms offer “ordinary people” the opportunity to express disagreement and to challenge the edicts of the political class. They are the cyber equivalent of heckling and discomfiting politicians and their enablers in the streets.

Inevitably, the authoritarian populist regime headed by “Scomo” not only wants to silence public dissent, but it also wants to punish the dissenters. What better way to do that than threatening ruinous defamation action? After all, despite the Prime Minister advising marching women they were lucky not to be shot, we have not yet reached the stage where people protesting their government’s actions can be disappeared off the face of the Earth. And defamation action is legal.

The pre-election pearl-clutching around the “evils” of social media deflects from the major site of abuse and concealment in Australia today: the Morrison Government.

Morrison, assisted by other MPs, senior advisors and staffers, is suspected of concealing his knowledge of the alleged rape of Ms Brittany Higgins in a ministerial office just down the corridor from his own, in March 2019.

But social media is the problem.

The Morrison Government is attempting to introduce voter identity law, when voting is already compulsory and there is, according to the Australian Electoral Commission, no evidence at all of widespread voter fraud. This legislation will likely disenfranchise many groups of voters.

But social media is the problem.

Alleged rapist and former Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter had his legal fees covered by secret donors. He has not declared their contributions, which are estimated to be up to $1 million, making a mockery of the declaration of interests required of MPs.

But social media is the problem.

The Morrison Government is committed to the coercive control of millions of Australians through the imposition of the cashless debit card.

But social media is the problem.

Millions of public dollars have been commandeered by the Morrison Government to fund extensive rorts as part of its election campaigns.

But social media is the problem.

I could go on, itemising the numerous ways in which Morrison and his MPs have deceived, defrauded and abused the Australian people, but I have a word limit.

So let me finish with a link to an ever-growing list of Scott Morrison’s lies. The Prime Minister is, indisputably, a serial liar. He even appears to lie without purpose, when nothing is achieved by the lie, or when the lie compounds an earlier lie.

We are now at the stage where nothing he says can be believed, because so much of what he says has proven to be a lie. There really is little point in listening to him, because, lies.

But social media is the problem and Morrison has the solution. Praise be.

 

 

 

This article was originally published on Independent Australia.

 

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Sexual abuse survival: How one woman’s story helped heal another

*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape and sexual abuse

I went to St Michael’s Collegiate school in Hobart, at a very different time from Grace Tame. Grace’s story and in particular the references to the school have stirred memories I thought no longer had the power to move me.

I want first to acknowledge Grace’s experiences and her steadfast telling of them and have it noted here that the recounting of her story by a woman can sometimes break through the defences of those of us who have survived, and in turn free our voices.

When I was at St Michael’s, or Collegiate as we called it, the school was run by the Community of the Sisters of the Church, a group of Anglican nuns. I was sent there not because my family was particularly interested in high Anglican ideology, but because it was a school with a strong reputation for educating girls and apart from that, I needed to be got out of home and it was a boarding school. My story is also one of childhood sexual abuse, not by a teacher but my stepfather.

“If I’d known what was happening, I would have stolen you.”

We lived in the small east coast village of St Marys, where my stepfather was the local doctor. He was also a lay preacher in the Methodist church where he played the organ on Sundays. He was a much-liked, even revered figure in the community.

Many years later, in one of the confounding synchronicities life can occasionally present, I met Gwynneth, who was a nurse at the small hospital in St Mary’s when my stepfather worked there. We established that Gwynneth knew me when I was a child. She visited our house for dinner, though I do not remember these occasions.

“What was I Iike?” I asked her, as this was the period when the rapes had just begun and I have no memory of myself.

She said:

“You were quiet. Shy. If I’d known what was happening, I would have stolen you.”

I asked her: “What was he like?”

She told me:

“We thought he was a very good doctor. He let us do things nurses weren’t supposed to do. He encouraged us.”

I hated her for a moment for speaking well of him.

St Michael’s was for me a sanctuary, a refuge from a home where there was no peace to be found, no respite from fear, a house of life-threatening violence and unpredictable adult fury.

At St Michael’s I slept safely in the knowledge that I would not be disturbed either by the sounds of heavy footsteps thudding down the hallway and my mother’s screams, or my stepfather pulling back my bedcovers to slip in beside me. At the dining table at St Michael’s I was permitted to leave food I could not eat. I was allowed to like and dislike.

The only times I knew fear were when I received the fortnightly notes from my stepfather telling me which day he would visit to take me out for a drive. Then it would start again – the cold in my belly, the wakeful nights, until the visit was over and I knew there’d be respite until the next time.

It felt like happiness after it was over – the euphoric relief. I thought it was happiness and this misunderstanding distorted my perception of how things should be between people for a long time.

This situation continued for some five years. In my 15th year, something gave way in me.

I had for many months imagined how it would be to tell someone of my secret life. I knew whom I would choose. Her name was Sister Elizabeth May.

At this time the nuns wore full black habits with white wimples, we saw neither their hair nor their ankles and their waists were bound with wooden rosaries. I never found them intimidating, though I expect it would be quite difficult to intimidate a girl who knew as much as I did about the terrible things that can be done by adults.

I experienced only kindness from these women. Though they knew nothing of my story, my distress expressed itself in sleepwalking, nightmares and a complete inability to learn, though, obviously, I was not stupid. Children aren’t stupid, despite what some adults may think.

The only thing I could do with any confidence was to play the piano, which I had been learning since I was five from, confusingly, my stepfather who proved to be an excellent teacher. Sister Elizabeth May used to sit with me of an evening when I was practising. She sat near the piano, knitting black mittens for the winter. She suffered terribly from chilblains. I’m quite sure she knew something was badly awry.

One evening, I said:

“What happens if you forgive someone 70 times seven and they still do something wrong?”

She asked:

“Who are you forgiving?”

So I told her. Everything.

And was believed.

Which in itself was quite remarkable for the times – which were before these things were spoken of. Before mandatory reporting, so Elizabeth May did not have to go to the police with my story.

Instead, she went to Sister Jessica, the headmistress, a formidable figure we girls did not know well. I was called to her office. Elizabeth May came with me. I cannot remember Jessica’s questions, I remember only her gentleness and how much I wanted her to take me on her lap. She didn’t, of course, but she did stroke my hair and pray for us all.

Later, I learned that the sisters took their dilemma – and what a dilemma it was at that time, with no framework of regulations within which they could seek guidance – to the Dean of Hobart, Michael Webber. The Dean was a frequent visitor to the school; we knew him well.

Between the three of them, they formed a plan to confront my stepfather and mother – yes, my mother knew of all this from the start. But that’s another story. They decided to brief a lawyer who also attended the confrontation. I have no idea what passed between the four of them, but I do know that not one of them ever questioned the veracity of my story.

I was believed.

“I only know they loved me when I was lost and alone, and full of terror.”

On the day of the confrontation, it was decided I would be sent to spend the afternoon with one of the secular teachers who had a house in the school grounds. They wanted me safe and out of the way. I spent the day in terror. I was afraid he’d find me. I was afraid he’d kill my mother if he couldn’t find me.

I was afraid of breathing.

I can’t remember anything of that day apart from the feelings. At some point, Elizabeth May fetched me from the house and took me to see Jessica. Together they told me my stepfather had admitted the truth. I would not have to go home again, they said. I would not have to endure anymore. I remember the relief. I remember I cried because I didn’t have a home. I remember I feared he would kill my mother and my baby sisters because of what I’d done.

Many years later they told me they’d given him an ultimatum. Either he gave the nuns charge of me, or they’d report him to the police. Of course, my parents agreed to relinquish me.

In retrospect, this seems a remarkably sophisticated way to deal with a situation that was bizarre for its time – not in the sense that it didn’t happen often, because I am sure it did, but because nobody ever did much about it, especially not the churches.

I don’t know if they made the right decision or not, or even how to gauge that. I only know they loved me when I was lost and alone, and full of terror.

And so St Michael’s Collegiate School became my home – the Sisters of the Church my guardians.

In the holidays, other girls would invite me to stay with them. Nobody knew why I couldn’t go home and I invented a story of parents travelling overseas. Sometimes I didn’t want to go to friends’ homes because I couldn’t reciprocate and then the nuns would let me stay at school. They took me out with them on picnics and trips up Mount Wellington.

I had a record player, books and a lot of pianos all to myself. At night, Elizabeth May or Jessica would bring me warm milk and sit with me until I fell asleep. I was free to roam all over the school and the boarding house and I was, for brief intervals, happy.

Grace Tame, with her fierce courage and her shining spirit, freed in me these vivid remembrances, and for that, I am deeply grateful. Today, for the first time in many years I’ve cried for my Jennifer and her plight at that time in our life.

This is what we can do for one another, those of us who survive.

I believe the nuns saved my life. I believe they taught me truths I would never have known, were it not for their influence.

If I could speak to her I would tell Elizabeth May that I still play the piano. I would tell her of my granddaughter, Mabel Jane – who is the child most like me – and whose young life is full of promise and safety and love. I would tell Jessica I have learnt that our children and their children can heal us in ways we could never have anticipated.

I would tell them that though once I was without both family and home, through their love and care they gave me the chance to grow into a woman who could make for herself her own home and family, and live in profound contentment. This, I would tell them, is what you gave to me, and to Mabel Jane, and I will be grateful for this all of my days.

 

 

If you would like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep under the title of Let the healing fountain start… , and on Independent Australia.

 

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Gallows in the streets of Melbourne

On Saturday in Melbourne a motley mob of protestors gathered in the streets to protest Victoria’s new pandemic laws. In a chilling performance of intimidation, protestors carried a mock gallows through Melbourne streets complete with three nooses, while calling for the death by hanging of Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews.

The mob was compromised of anti vaxxers, QAnon believers, neo Nazis, Trump supporters, and religious zealots. What unites this disparate group is a common desire to live free of all government intervention.

Co-incidentally (or not) over the same few days Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a striking performance (even for him) of dog whistling consistently referred to Australians being sick of governments seeking to control them particularly after the last couple of years of lockdowns. His message was designed to feed the protestors’ grievances, and let them know they have his support.

Morrison has a history of decades long and intimate connection with leading Australian QAnon supporters, Tim Stewart and his wife Lynelle. The Stewarts stayed at Kirribilli House, and Mrs Stewart was employed there as a companion for Morrison’s wife, Jenny. This arrangement has now ceased, after considerable public scrutiny.

When the leader of your country harbours right wing extremists in his home, it is hardly surprising that you see gallows and nooses in your streets.

 

 

Death threats were also made against three Victorian cross benchers who are working with Labor to streamline the proposed laws.

There has been a deafening silence from almost all politicians and media across the board on this weaponisation of menace, marking yet another dark turn in Australian politics. We now live in a country where the political class conspicuously do not condemn death threats against politicians. It appears that both major parties are dependent on right wing extremists for votes, and neither party is willing to risk alienating them by condemning their behaviour.

 

 

That nobody condemns this behaviour indicates that the extremists, in and outside of federal parliament, are currently in control of the narrative. When you dare not condemn death threats and imagery because they originate from your voter base, you are compromised probably beyond redemption, and you are not in control.

 

 

Please take a moment to consider that death threats and nooses in the street are apparently so unremarkable in Australia that mainstream media and politicians, including the ALP, see no need to condemn them.

Consider as well what would ensue if anyone other than white men and their white consorts carried a gallows through Melbourne streets calling for the death by hanging of politicians.

The protests continue. On Monday night, a more substantial gallows appeared in the city, this time towed by a four-wheel drive. An effigy of Daniel Andrews was produced, and protestors attempted to hang it from the gallows noose, as they screamed “Kill Dan Andrews!” “Hang Dan Andrews” and “Freedom.”

 

 

Those of us who are both horrified and frightened by this appalling downturn are trying desperately to retain some semblance of decency and trust in our politics. We are doing this with no support and assistance from our politicians and our media. That these scenes go unremarked by both should alarm everyone. It’s almost as if this political violence and incitement has become normalised in Australia without us even noticing, and here we are.

It is shocking but sadly not surprising that Scott Morrison apparently supports death threats against a Labor Premier. The standard you walk past. But what is most profoundly shocking is that there has been no condemnation from the ALP of these threats against one of their own.

So can we assume if someone drives a mock gallows with an effigy of Morrison hanging from a noose through the streets of Canberra, there will be no repercussions? Or perhaps Peter Dutton? Anyone can do now this with impunity, we assume? Any group can gather around Parliament House shouting “Kill Scott Morrison, hang Peter Dutton” and there will be no repercussions?

Because this is where we are at now in Australia. Because these are our values.

And the fish rots from the head.

Note: Late this morning after 3 days of intense social media pressure, commentary by the msm and some politicians has started to appear.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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Education and Political Interference in the Death of Democracy

By Dr Stewart Hase

In Ray Bradbury’s 1953 book Farenheit 451, Captain Beatty states that, ‘A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it, take the shot from the weapon. Breach one man’s mind. Who knows what might be the target of the well-read man’. In this dystopian novel, Beatty is justifying the burning of books.

While Farenheit is a novel, there is a long history of book burning going back centuries.

The burning of books is intended to control knowledge, to prevent free thinking, to make sure everyone thinks the same and an affront to liberalism. Book burning is a political issue, and similarly, the 21st century equivalent is Internet Censorship, which, in a political context, has became a hot topic since the propagation of mistruths became so visible during the Trump Presidency.

There are myriad reasons politicians want to interfere with the distribution of knowledge, not least of which is to avoid scrutiny. But, the most frightening, as highlighted in Farenheit 451 and Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, is the need for complete control of ideology-what we think.

Texas has become the latest State to ban Critical Race Theory from being taught in schools, joining several others that have banned it or thinking of doing so. While Critical Race Theory was conceptualised over 40 years ago it has become a target for politicians as racial tensions have grown, arguably since the murder of George Floyd, and continue to be at flash point across America. Some states have also banned Project 1619 from being taught in schools becoming another target of revisionist conservatives.

There is little doubt that both Critical Race Theory and Project 1619 are ‘in your face’ accounts of the history of slavery and racism in the United States that started with the first slave ship arriving on the shores of Virginia in 1619. Critical Race Theory describes the social construction of racism and how it’s relationship to power, civil rights, advantage and disadvantage. What gets conservatives jumpy is that at the heart of Critical Race Theory is its attack on white supremacism. Critical Theory, in general, is a scholarly approach to research, well understood and accepted in universities around the world. It is less liked by the institutions and ideologies that are scrutinised by it because Critical Theory attempts to unearth who are the beneficiaries of the actions of others, and the institutions in which they reside, who are the disadvantaged and what are the real social, political and economic effects. Institutions are not great fans of Critical Theory because it investigates truth to power.

We should be very concerned about political interference of this type when it comes to school curricula. It is a blatant attempt by conservatives to control what people think and, if not to exactly revise history, to control and suppress it. Along with the events at Capitol Hill, the normalisation of lie telling in the media, legislation to suppress the vote, and divisiveness of American politics, and the widening gap between the haves and the have nots, we should be concerned with the threat to democracy. We may be observing the death of another republic.

And we should be concerned, as well as watchful, here in Australia about the control of knowledge and information. There is a slow but steady shift to the right in democracies across the globe. This shift reflects people’s propensity to seek simple solutions to complex problems that populist right wing politics provides, underpinned by authoritarianism-tell us what to do. Simple explanations such as, it ‘their fault’ (xenophobia and racism) make it easy for the masses to shift responsibility and to stop being curious as we are fed misinformation that helps us explain our world. We are not immune from this in Australia. It simmers just below the surface.

Stewart is a psychologist with a special interest in how people adapt and also learn. He’s written widely in these areas. He continues to consult, and annoy people who misuse power. Twitter: @stewarthase

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Morrison (inadvertently) admits he knew?

The following information was reported by Channel Nine news on the evening of Friday March 26, and has so far escaped the attention it deserves.

 

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison states in this interview that when Brittany Higgins expressed her intention to resign from the office of Michaelia Cash in January 2021, she was offered the opportunity to speak with him before her allegations of rape by a senior staffer in Parliament House were aired in the media.

“At the time just before she departed she was offered the opportunity to come and speak with me with Minister Cash,” he says.

The Higgins story broke on February 15 2021. Morrison has steadfastly denied that he knew anything about the alleged rape of Ms Higgins until that day.

Ms Higgins left Cash’s office on February 5 2021, ten days before the story broke.

Why would the Prime Minister offer to meet with Ms Higgins prior to her departure from Cash’s office, if, as he has maintained for the last two months and stated several times in Parliament, he knew nothing about the alleged rape until it was aired in the media?

Facing intense questioning on the involvement of his department and himself, Morrison instructed Secretary Phil Gaetjens to conduct an inquiry into when the PMO knew about the alleged rape, and who had been informed. This inquiry has since been halted, though Morrison did not notify Parliament of its cessation, leading the House to believe it was still underway.

Senator Cash has denied that she knew the “full details” of the allegations until Ms Higgins indicated her intention to resign at the end of January.

Why would Cash consider accompanying Ms Higgins to a proposed meeting with the Prime Minister if Cash believed Morrison knew nothing about the alleged rape and indeed, had only just found out herself?

Ms Higgins, by the way, says she was never informed of this invitation from the Prime Minister.

It’s not clear if Cash was ever informed, either.

Morrison has gone to extraordinary lengths to convince Parliament and the general public that he was ignorant of the rape allegations until the story appeared in the media on February 15. He claims his office was unaware until February 12.

In one sentence, the Prime Minister has done irrevocable damage to this narrative. He has also exposed the unreliability of all other accounts that have been tailored to support his own, accounts from ministers, senators, senior public servants and staffers.

Morrison’s one sentence has the power to bring the entire dysfunctional edifice crashing down, if the press gallery will follow it up.

If the Prime Minister didn’t know, why would he extend an offer to meet with Ms Higgins in January?

If the Prime Minister did know, he’s been lying to Parliament and the public.

Either way, he’s a liar.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Doxxing the Whistle Blower

On Monday, March 22, Peter van Onselen, working with Channel Ten News and The Project, broke a story provided to him by a whistle blower that revealed more of the culture surrounding workplace sexual activity in Parliament House, Canberra.

The story concerns a Liberal staffer masturbating on the desk of his female boss, videoing his performance and sharing it with his friends, including the whistle blower who was at one time in a relationship with him. The whistle blower claims that male sex workers were/are brought into the House for a former and a current MP. The so-called prayer room is allegedly used for sexual assignations.

Naturally, the story holds considerable interest for the public at a time when we have over the last few weeks learned of the alleged rape of Ms Brittany Higgins by a senior staffer in Parliament House; the alleged rape of a sixteen-year-old girl by Attorney General Christian Porter when he was seventeen; the sexual harassment of several other women by the same Liberal staffer, and a myriad of other sordid revelations of sexual harassment, assault, assorted sleaze and cover-ups perpetrated by Liberal MPs, Senators and staffers. The list of those involved in some way is too lengthy to unpack here, but includes such Liberal luminaries as Eric Abetz, Alan Tudge, Michaelia Cash, Linda Reynolds, Marise Payne, Andrew Laming, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as well as senior public servants and staffers in the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Finance.

Today, Saturday March 27, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Chip le Grand, currently chief reporter at The Age, late of the Australian where he worked for twenty-five years. In this piece, le Grand names van Onselen’s whistle blower.

This practice is known as “doxxing,” that is, revealing information about someone who has chosen to remain anonymous, that can lead to their identification. It’s a dangerous practice that can result in serious harassment of the doxxed individual, sometimes to the point of death threats. It entirely contravenes the ethics and practice of journalistic principles with regard to whistle blowers.

The doxxing of a Project and Channel 10 source by the SMH is a startling turn in Australian journalism. It sends a powerful signal to would-be whistle blowers that there are journalists who cannot be trusted to respect your role as a source, and the reasons for your anonymity. It is a long way from journalists’ traditional protection of their sources.

Indeed, can we be confident that such protection exists any longer in Australian mainstream media after today?

The whistle blower was not doxxed by van Onselen, but, alarmingly, by another media outlet altogether, bringing into question the capacity of well-intentioned journalists to protect their sources at all.

What does this mean for investigative programs such as Four Corners, for example? How can any journalist guarantee the safety of a source, if their colleagues are willing to dishonour the traditional commitment to protecting them?

Le Grand has attempted to argue that the whistle blower is not, in fact, a whistle blower. Let us look at the definition of whistle blower. A person who informs on a person or organization regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity, is a whistle blower. It isn’t complicated.

I don’t know if ejaculating on your female boss’s desk is illegal, but I’m going to stick my neck out here and call it as immoral. Likewise, the provision of sex workers to the Parliament House workplace for assignations in the prayer room may not be illegal, but I don’t think I’m entirely prudish to consider it immoral. What the whistle blower has done is to disclose workplace practices that are entirely unacceptable, and reveal to an appalled public yet another level of abuse in an inherently abusive culture.

That there are, apparently, no boundaries to the gratification of male desire in Parliament House, whether that desire is for sex, and/or power, demonstrates just how abusive that environment is.

In return for this disclosure to the public, in our interests, the whistle blower has today been doxxed by Chip le Grand, who has described his disclosures as a “hit job” against the government. Le Grand also does a good job of maligning the whistle blower in an attempt to discredit him.

It is not a huge stretch to speculate that le Grand and the Sydney Morning Herald under the chairmanship of former Liberal treasurer, Peter Costello, are acting in the interests of a besieged LNP government, and not the public.

Regardless of your personal opinion of the man, there can be no doubt that he acted in the public interest in taking his story, with videos and texts as proof, to van Onselen. Whatever his other motives are, and is there one among us without complex motives for much of what we do, he acted in the public interest, which is all that need concern us as citizens struggling to deal with the outrages visited upon us by a government entirely bereft of all morality.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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The damage Morrison has done to survivors is incalculable

Warning: discusses rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault.

 

It is damnably difficult to single out any aspect of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to allegations that his attorney general, Christian Porter, anally raped sixteen year-old Kate in 1988, as particularly heinous. All his responses have been appalling.

However, for mine, Morrison reached a nadir (bearing in mind the matter has not run its course, there is still plenty of opportunity for him to go lower) when he declared that Christian Porter is “an innocent man under the law.”

Morrison made this declaration while simultaneously boasting that he has not read the statement left by Kate, in which she details the offences Porter allegedly committed against her.

 

 

This sorry state of affairs will be familiar to many survivors of sexual abuse and rape, both in childhood and as adults. Many of us have known similar injustice, when our words have been ignored or denigrated, while the word of the man who assaulted us is unquestioningly accepted. To find ourselves witnessing this yet again at the highest levels of government, is a bitter and re-traumatising experience that inevitably evokes profoundly disturbing memories and emotions.

I learned early that nothing I said would be believed. Over time, I told several adults what was being done to me by my stepfather, who was a doctor. Perhaps I’m wrong and someone did believe me, however, nobody helped me. It wasn’t until I was fifteen and the rapes had been a regular occurrence for five years that I finally found someone who heard me, and took action.

I have no idea how I managed to keep on telling people. I have no idea either, how I managed to keep silent.

My matter never went to police, and so according to Prime Minister Morrison’s very personal interpretation of the law, my stepfather went to his grave “an innocent man under the law.”

Morrison aims to confuse the presumption of innocence with his declaration of innocence, and his base will more than likely unquestioningly accept this spin. Christian Porter, like any other accused person, is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He remains, and will always remain, an alleged rapist entitled to the presumption of innocence. He cannot, however, be declared innocent, particularly by those who have not even read the allegations made against him.

As far as I’m aware, a Prime Minister does not yet in this country have the power to declare accused criminals innocent or guilty.

Of course Morrison, in declaring Porter innocent, is also declaring his alleged victim Kate to be a liar, or delusional. Without reading her statement. This is not an unusual situation for victims of rape, csa, and sexual assault to find ourselves in. On top of the physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual damage we sustain through the assaults, we all too often must then face the disbelief and contempt of people unable to deal with our stories. There is the original violence done to us, and then there is the secondary violence done to us by those, like the Prime Minister, who will not listen.

Morrison has told every survivor this week that he will not listen. He’s told every survivor that we will not be heard and we will not be believed. He has told every rapist who doesn’t face court that he’s an “innocent man.” The prime Minister has done untold damage to survivors, and set us back decades as a society.

In refusing to have an inquiry into the rape allegations against Porter, and his suitability to hold high office, Morrison is giving permission to every workplace to behave in a similar fashion. Morrison is in the process of undermining all the hard-won workplace processes and procedures specifically designed to deal with situations such as this one. It is sufficient, Morrison is telling us, for the accused to say “It didn’t happen.” From then on he is an “innocent man.”

 

 

However, this has not always been Morrison’s attitude to survivors. There was a time, not long ago, that the Prime Minister told us that women “should be believed.” Watch the video below. It is extraordinary that Morrison has swung so violently to the other extreme, as a consequence of his attorney general, Christian Porter, being the subject of rape allegations.

 

 

Quite the coincidence, isn’t it?

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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What Morrison’s “exoneration” of Porter tells women

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today declared that he considers alleged rapist and federal Attorney General Christian Porter to be “an innocent man under our law.”

 

 

Christian Porter has not undergone any investigation under “our law.” Police have never interviewed him. By no stretch of the imagination can Morrison claim the Attorney General has been found to be an “innocent man” under “our law,” when the senior law maker has not engaged with the law at all on the matter of his alleged anal rape of Kate, in 1988.

NSW Police found that there was insufficient admissible evidence to pursue the case against Porter. That is, please note, admissible evidence.

Morrison claims he has not read the alleged victim’s statement. He does not know what Porter is alleged to have done, outside of a “briefing” from his staff. He claims he did not read the statement because he was not in the same place as the statement. Yes. You read that correctly. He did not read the statement because it was not in the same place as him.

 

 

Morrison has also refused to seek advice from the federal Solicitor General on the Porter matter, despite this being the obvious next step for a Prime Minister confronted with a situation such as this one.

Indeed, it appears Morrison has taken no legal advice at all (that he is willing to reveal) on how he should proceed with an allegation of violent anal rape, made against his Attorney General by a woman who took her own life. Morrison appears to be relying solely on Porter’s claim that “it never happened.”

Now, today, despite his wilful ignorance of the allegations, despite having sought no legal advice, he has declared Porter to be “an innocent man,” presumably because Porter says “it didn’t happen.” I can find no other explanation for the Prime Minister arriving at this conclusion.

 

 

What does this say to women in Australia?

  1. It says if we don’t get a complaint of rape or sexual assault to court, and the majority of us do not, the alleged rapist is an “innocent man.”
  2. It says that men who rape us will be perfectly safe if we die during the act or subsequent to it.
  3. It says that Porter’s alleged victim, Kate, must have been lying or mad.
  4. It says that any woman who is unable to get a case to court is lying.
  5. It says that men, following the example set by the Prime Minister of this country, do not need to bother acquainting themselves with our stories before they decide the alleged perpetrator is “innocent.”
  6. It says that Scott Morrison has set women back decades with his “exoneration” today of an alleged rapist, based on nothing more than the alleged rapist’s denial.
  7. It says that if Morrison exonerates Porter, he exonerates every alleged rapist who is not dealt with by the courts.
  8. It says that as of today, everything just got a whole lot more difficult and traumatic for women attempting to find justice after being raped or sexually assaulted.
  9. It tells rapists, all you have to do is say “it never happened.”
  10. It says, women, everything is stacked against you getting the criminal offence against you to court, and if you don’t, as most of us won’t, you’re a liar & your attacker is an “innocent man according to our law.”

 

 

It says, we should be very afraid of where Morrison is going with this, and note carefully who supports him.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Listen, Men: About Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, Misogyny and Exclusion

By Dr Stewart Hase

Dear fellow men,

I’m writing to you at this moment in time because of the recent media frenzy about sexual abuse in the snake pit that is Federal Parliament. However, the issues currently headlining all our various forms of media is a daily, yes daily, problem in our supposedly egalitarian, good onya mate society.

What I’d also like to say, in support of my fellow writer Dr Jennifer Wilson, is that males writing about sexual abuse (in all its forms) is about the same as asking hungry fox to provide advice on how to build a fox proof henhouse. So, a few notes from a bloke to other blokes.

The most important thing you (as a man) need to recognise is that when it comes to rape, sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, misogyny and exclusion is that you don’t understand. You don’t get it. If you get that you don’t get it, there is the possibility that we might understand, or at least as closely as we can.

One of the reasons we don’t get it is because it is not in our best interests. We’ve been taught from birth, that women are goods and chattels, second class citizens, handmaidens, someone who will serve our needs, whether it is in the house or the workplace: even the street. We get this from our families, from the major religions that teach, through text written by old men in caves, and from ourselves.

Fellow blokes, it’s about power. To be brief, there are three types of power when it comes to the sexual, physical, verbal, symbolic abuse of women.

The first type of power is exercised by those men who are socialised as above, and never come to question what they are doing. Sounds apologetic (to women who are reading this) but it is perpetuated because it is in our best interests. We are selfish. Glass ceilings, the ‘tea lady phenomenon’, assuming male superiority in all things, and ‘she was asking for it’ rather than accepting that men need to control their impulses, are just a few examples of how we exert power.

Then there are men in positions of power who think that they can get away with anything they want. Mind you, they do this with all aspects of their lives, not just with the appropriation of women. Note the word appropriation. It means ownership. They assume that it is their god (and I mean god) given right to take.

The third type of power is what I call impotent power. These are men who have appallingly low egos or sense of self. They want to take control of women, to appropriate because it makes them feel better about themselves. This is the bulk of female abusers of all types.

And to be clear, blokes, it is not just overt violent power that underpins rape, and physical and sexual assault.

One women a week, on average is murdered in Australia by her partner or former partner is murdered in Australia. One in 5 women have experienced sexual violence, 1 in 3 physical violence, and one in six women have experienced stalking since the age of 15.

It is also the subtle ways in which we (yes you) downplay women, denigrate them, portray them as less equal, diminish them, and appropriate them. And don’t just point the finger at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and friends, the Labor Party or Barnaby Joyce and his mates. It is alive and well in your local golf club, bowls club, in football clubs, on the cricket field and on all forms of social media.

Let me try an analogy to get my point about power across. Imagine getting into the ring with a really skilful boxer or martial arts exponent. It starts with a lot of shuffling around the ring, a bit of feinting, and the occasional jab to the ribs-taunting you. This results in you being exhausted in about a minute. You’re starting to feel a bit helpless because you can’t lay a hand on him. Then the big punches start. Not enough to knock you out but enough to start you bleeding, close your eyes, make your breathing difficult to catch because of broken ribs. He just keeps jabbing away. There are rest breaks between rounds, and some respite as he dances around. But he keeps on coming back. You are totally helpless and your power is completely taken away.

This doesn’t nearly cover the way in which women’s power is taken from them in rape, in sexual and physical assault and in their appropriation because, often, women’s power is taken away forever. After the boxing match, you can recuperate. Women are frequently scarred forever.

Another analogy may help. I work with a lot of returned service personnel who have PTSD and other problems. They remind me most of women who have been abused because they too have had their personal power seized from them by fear, being overwhelmed and, most of all, helpless in the face of what is happening. Their power has been stripped away.

To fix this problem needs leadership. From us blokes. It would be great if it came from our male Federal Parliamentarians but it looks like we may as well piss into a force 10 gale. So, it’s up to us.

Speak up and, better, fucking stop it!

Stewart is a psychologist with a special interest in how people adapt and also learn. He’s written widely in these areas. He continues to consult, and annoy people who misuse power. Twitter: @stewarthase

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Morrison shows us again how much he despises women

In his press conference today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about allegations pertaining to the anal rape of a child, allegedly perpetrated by one of his current cabinet ministers in 1988.

Mr Morrison replied:

“We have a rule of law in this country and it’s appropriate that these things were referred to the federal police – they have been…the police are the ones who do that, and the police have had this matter referred to them…”

Let us interrogate the Prime Minister’s statement.

The Australian Federal Police have no authority to investigate an alleged crime of sexual assault that was allegedly committed in NSW. The Prime Minister must know this. If he doesn’t, he should perhaps seek advice from his Attorney General, Christian Porter, who would certainly be aware of this.

Either mistakenly or deliberately the Prime Minister is not observing the “rule of law” in referring the allegations to the Federal Police. He should have referred them to the NSW Police. He should still refer them to the NSW Police if he is interested in respecting the rule of law and intends to continue to claim he is abiding by that rule. Morrison has done nothing by referring the matter to the AFP other than provide a smokescreen, and some breathing space for himself and the alleged rapist in his cabinet.

 

 

It does beggar belief that in the current climate, the Prime Minister would not inform himself of a fact as basic as this. Of course, it’s only about rape, a matter that so conspicuously fails to exercise his concern (he didn’t know about the alleged rape of Ms Higgins for two years, though practically everyone around him did) that one is reminded of the infamous comment by George Pell on hearing allegations of child sexual abuse by former priest, Gerald Ridsdale. It was, Pell observed, “a sad story and it isn’t of much interest to me.”

Mr Morrison went on to claim that he had conducted a “discussion” with the “individual” (cabinet minister) involved, who vehemently rejected the allegations.

No surprises there.

“At this stage,” the Prime Minister pompously concluded,” there are no matters that require my immediate attention.”

In other words the Prime Minister is prepared to accept the alleged rapist’s denial, and is satisfied with having referred the matter to a police agency that cannot do anything at all about it.

I don’t know what the rules are about the Prime Minister speaking with the alleged offender on the matter after he has referred allegations to police, let alone announcing his innocence to the country, but I’m sure somebody does.

 

 

But wait, there’s more. When asked if he had read the detailed accounts of the alleged rape written by the victim, who has since taken her life, and sent to him and other politicians by a group of her friends and colleagues, Morrison said he’d “been briefed” on their content.

In other words, the Prime Minister did not consider it worth his time to read the victim’s account of her alleged rape, and correspondence that supports her claims, but he is prepared to speak with the alleged perpetrator and accept his assurances of innocence, which he then relays to the country.

The implication that the Prime Minister accepts his denial is supported by his refusal to stand the man aside from his cabinet position while police review the matter.

Oh wait. Police will not review the matter because Morrison sent the allegations to the wrong police & has shown no interest in sending them to the right ones.

We will shortly be able to identify the alleged rapist as Morrison sends out one cabinet minister after another to face the media. Just observe who doesn’t appear.

On another note, veteran journalist Paul Bongiorno observed this morning that legal circles in Canberra are buzzing after Attorney-General Christian Porter failed to appear at the historic swearing-in of newest High Court member, Jacqueline Gleeson. Apparently the AG had appointments in Perth.

 

 

What the Prime Minister has achieved today is to send yet another message to women (in case we missed a million others) that in Australia, a perpetrator has more credibility than his victim. Not only that, a perpetrator will be listened to while his female victim will not, at least by the Prime Minister who unfortunately sets the tone. And what a tone it is.

The Prime Minister and his government, our legislators, are currently protecting an alleged rapist. Our most senior legislators are seemingly unaware of the requirements of the very laws they make, and are sworn to uphold.

 

 

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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The Morrison government is a sewer

An allegation of the brutal anal rape of a child in 1988 has been made against an un-named minister in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet.

The victim took her own life in June 2020. NSW police have confirmed that a criminal investigation into the allegation dies with the victim.

Despite their knowledge that police will not investigate because the complainant is dead, government ministers and some journalists continue to claim that the matter must be left to the police.

All of them are wrong, according to police.

 

 

Morrison said that he has referred the allegations to police.

Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, yesterday said the accused minister will not be stood aside, and that the matter should be left to police.

(It is puzzling that Birmingham is commenting on this. It would seem to be more appropriately the job of senior lawmaker Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has thus far remained silent.)

On ABC Insiders program this morning, Australian Financial Review journalist Phil Coorey repeated the government line. “This is for the coppers,” he stated, “and it should be for the coppers first and foremost.”

This seems at first blush to be wilful ignorance, gross carelessness, the peddling of misinformation, or an attempt to yet again create and control a narrative that best favours the government.

The accused minister has not come forward to defend himself against the allegations. It is not credible that anyone who is innocent would want to continue public life with accusations such as these left unaddressed, and yet, that appears to be the case.

It is also only a matter of time until the suspect is named. There appears to be no legal requirement to suppress his name, particularly as there will be no trial. He can also be named under parliamentary privilege. It is undoubtedly in the public interest for his name to be released, and were he anyone other than a Liberal cabinet minister, he would not probably not be protected by anonymity. Footballers, for example, are stood aside while allegations of sexual assault are investigated, and they are named. Not so much cabinet ministers, it appears.

It is also remarkable that the accused minister appears to be happy for his cabinet colleagues to be tainted by the rape allegations. As long as we do not know who the minister is, there are around sixteen possibilities in the cabinet. Every time a cabinet minister opens his mouth we can legitimately ask, are you the alleged child rapist? This can’t help but have a destabilising effect on the government, as its already tenuous legitimacy is further eroded by the presence of an anonymous alleged rapist in its highest ranks.

 

 

Then there is the question of national security, a subject close to the hearts of both Morrison, and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, also a cabinet member. In 2017 when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister, he had occasion to warn Christian Porter, prior to making him Attorney-General, that his drinking and his behaviours towards young women were leaving him open to the possibility of compromise, making him a security risk:

“…it is just not acceptable. And he knew that I was considering appointing him attorney general, which of course is the first law officer of the crown, and has a seat on the national security committee, so the risk of compromise is very, very real.”

By the same token, one may conclude that an anonymous cabinet minister who is accused of the brutal anal rape of a child might well be a prime target for blackmail, and is a serious security risk.

Indeed, everyone in the cabinet who is aware of and concealing the alleged rapist’s identity is a security risk, and vulnerable to exploitation.

Is this government even tenable while this matter is “left to the coppers?”

It is alarming that Morrison seems oblivious to the security dangers the situation presents. It’s even more alarming that Morrison seems entirely impervious to the immorality of protecting and hiding an alleged child rapist.

The hideous situation has come to light just days after the government spectacularly failed to cope with the alleged rape of media advisor, Brittany Higgins, in Parliament House just metres from the Prime Minister’s office.

Ms Higgins was left unconscious and half naked by her attacker on Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ couch. This could have cost Ms Higgins her life, as she was inebriated and unable to care for herself. Security guards “checked on” Ms Higgins through the night, but nobody called for medical assistance. At least thirty people, including ministers, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the Prime Minister’s Office most senior staff knew about this “serious incident,” and none of them informed the Prime Minister until two years later.

The Morrison government is a sewer. It is steeped in allegations of rape and sexual assault of the most serious and sickening kind. It is almost certain that Morrison will attempt to brazen out this latest allegation. He will not stand the minister aside, and he will continue to contend that it is a matter for police, in full knowledge that the police cannot pursue criminal charges.

The minister will not be investigated by police. He will not be exonerated. His name will not be cleared. Suspicion will linger over the heads of all male cabinet members, including Scott Morrison, Christian Porter and Peter Dutton.

We should probably assume that being suspected of the anal rape of a child does not necessarily perturb any of them.

While we know not all cabinet ministers are alleged child rapists, we do not know which one is. The Prime Minister is doing everything possible to conceal that knowledge from us.

How good is that?

 

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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“He said, she said”: How Dutton is attempting to control the narrative

One of the greatest challenges for a political commentator in recent years has been keeping track of the Morrison government’s lies and obfuscations.

These have escalated considerably in the last couple of weeks, since former media advisor Brittany Higgins revealed she had allegedly been raped in Parliament House by a senior staffer.

Since then, ministers, MPs, Senators, their advisors and staffers have devoted an inordinate amount of their taxpayer-funded time to covering their backsides about who knew what and when. According to estimates by the ABC’s 7.30 program last night, there appear to be thirty or more people with knowledge of the so-called “serious incident” in 2019, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison conspicuously excluded from the circle of knowledge.

The latest government member to speak up is Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton. Dutton is, among other things, the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police, as well having once served as a police officer in the Queensland Police sex offenders’ squad.

You need this background as context for what comes next.

In keeping with the government line that neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Prime Minister knew anything about the alleged rape before February 12 2021 and February 15 2021 respectively, Dutton claims he was only informed of the alleged crime by the AFP on February 11 2021, and only because they had been alerted that the matter was about to be revealed by the media.

AFP guidelines require that “politically sensitive” matters such as this alleged crime be reported to the Minister as soon as possible. The AFP first became aware of the allegations on April 4 2019, when informed by Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds. The AFP did not inform Minister Dutton at that time. Indeed, according to Dutton, the AFP did not inform him of this “politically sensitive” incident, despite being required to do so by their guidelines, for another two years.

One might be forgiven for risking the observation that “politically sensitive” and “politically embarrassing” might be interchangeable concepts in this instance.

Amazingly, Dutton also failed to inform the Prime Minister that the excrement was about to hit the ceiling fan, not alerting his office until 24 hours later. The PMO didn’t like to disturb Morrison over the weekend, we know weekends are sacred to him, so they didn’t inform their boss until Monday.

Dutton then went on to describe the rape allegations as a “he said, she said” affair.

Some reasons why this gratuitous comment from the Minister appears to be an attempt to influence both the AFP and the public:

  1. The AFP, who is investigating this alleged crime, is answerable to Peter Dutton. Their Minister has just signalled through the media that he considers the alleged crime to be not crime at all, but a “he said, she said” affair. In other words, Dutton is telling the AFP how to frame and deal with this alleged crime.
  2. “He said, she said” is one of the most invalidating dismissals possible of allegations of rape and sexual assault. It implies, as it is intended to, the unworthiness of a woman’s word and description of her experience. “He said, she said” intentionally minimises the experience of rape and sexual assault, and explicitly favours the narrative of the alleged perpetrator. It is appalling that a former police officer, who worked with victims, would hold and voice this opinion.
  3. The AFP has not yet questioned the alleged perpetrator. Nobody knows what “he said” because he hasn’t said it yet. Unless of course Minister Dutton has had occasion to speak with the alleged perpetrator and knows his side of the story.
  4. Dutton is also, despicably, dog whistling to the demographic that is his base & the base of the Liberal Party more generally, that women lie about being raped. It’s a “he said, she said” affair, and nobody should take it anymore seriously than that. You’re only actually raped if you’re killed as well.
  5. A woman cannot consent to sex if she is falling down drunk, as Ms Higgins claims she was, and as, apparently, both CCTV footage will confirm and the security guards involved will verify. In his “he said, she said” attempt to control the narrative, because that is exactly what he is trying to do by using this phrase, Dutton is attempting to subvert the power of this evidence, prior to the AFP investigation.

The infamous Steve Bannon, among other things a former advisor to former US President Donald Trump, liked to talk about “flooding the zone with shit.” This is the strategy of saturating the media with disinformation and misinformation, in order to bamboozle both media and the public, to the extent that nobody knows anymore what is real and what is fake.

Make no mistake the Morrison government has adopted this tactic in the Brittany Higgins situation. They are flooding our zone with shit, attempting to confuse and exhaust and gaslight, with the ultimate goal of controlling a complex narrative about power, women, sexual assault, and cover ups.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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