Yet again many of us are asking ourselves, is Prime Minister Scott Morrison thoroughly ill-intentioned, or merely driven by blindly arrogant stupidity and incompetence?
That we are forced to ask this question almost daily is in itself a serious indictment of the man, regardless of the answer.
Of course, he could quite easily be both.
Many of us who heard Morrison’s apology to Brittany Higgins in Parliament earlier this week were alarmed when he named the alleged victim of an alleged rape which is due to go to trial in June.
The PM’s apology has been described by a leading defence barrister as without foundation, as the allegations have not yet been tested. There is now considerable doubt that, as a consequence of Morrison’s apology, a jury can be struck in the ACT where the trial is due to be held.
Scott Morrison has interfered with the progress of a criminal trial while ostensibly apologising to the alleged victim who is seeking justice through that legal process. He has imperilled Ms Higgins one chance to seek justice, under the guise of publicly declaring his regret for her situation. And he has done it all under parliamentary privilege. Incompetence?
In the ACT the charge cannot be heard in a judge-alone trial, but must be heard before a jury. The accused’s lawyers are now seeking a stay on the criminal proceedings, on the grounds that Morrison has prejudiced their client’s case. If they are successful the trial could be delayed, or aborted indefinitely.
An arrogant, stupid and unfortunate mistake made by an incompetent politician?
Or a calculated, self-interested outcome in the guise of a message of concern and regret?
That Morrison was unaware of the possible consequences of naming Ms Higgins in his speech is not a credible explanation. He has frequently, in parliament, declined to comment on certain situations because they are before the courts, so we know he is conscious of the sub judice prohibition and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. It’s also barely credible that those involved in the preparation of the speech were unaware of its potential to derail the trial.
Nobody knows what the trial might reveal. What we do know is that none of it will be good for Morrison. His stated knowledge of the alleged rape of Ms Higgins remains contested. Accusations of a cover-up by senior advisors and government ministers remain alive. The recent revelation of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s text to Ms Higgins in which he describes Scott as a liar and a hypocrite, again brings into question the veracity of the PM’s account of when he was told of the alleged rape.
There are many reasons to argue that the sabotaging of the June trial is advantageous to the Prime Minister, not least because it will bring his questionable role in the events back into public focus, whether they are relevant to the trial or not.
It’s time to stop explaining Morrison’s actions as merely “incompetent.” The “incompetence” excuse serves only to conceal the depth of his self-interest, and the lengths to which he will go to protect himself and further his own concerns. He is a thoroughly ill-intentioned man with enormous power, who will do anything he needs to do to retain that power.
“Incompetent” comes nowhere near describing the dark heart of this man, indeed, that descriptor only works to soften and humanise his psychopathy. He is at heart dangerously ill-intentioned. He may well be incompetent with it, but to underestimate his potential for destruction by dismissing it as incompetence is foolish.
His efforts to sabotage this rape trial should alarm all women, and the men who are our allies. We are nothing to this man. His contempt for us is so boundless that he will even use an apology to derail the possibility of justice, because it’s in his interests to do so.
It’s transactional, stupid.
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