By Tess Lawrence
Tess Lawrence is not known for holding back when holding forth. In this first excerpt from a longer treatise she calls out Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accusing him of both implicit and complicit coercive control over women in Australia, including female cabinet ministers as well as complainants of alleged rape and other forms of sexual assault and harassment.
Content warning: This article discusses rape and institutional political psychosexual violence.
Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has burgeoned into a political psychopath.
His flaccid leadership and the gross logistical incompetence he’s displayed whilst mismanaging the accumulation, distribution and access to coronavirus vaccines for the comparatively small population who inhabit our vast continent are just two reasons why his tenure is doomed.
There are other crises that warrant immediate attention despite his continuing attempts to suffocate public debate. One of them is Morrison’s ‘woman problem.’ His misogyny and contempt for women have long been stripped bare. They are self-evident; two-faced on the one coin.
The government’s shrewd appropriation of last week’s National Summit on Women’s Safety was an indictment of the continuing irrelevance of the Liberal National Party when it comes to self-examination and institutional reform.
The lack of public advocacy by LNP female cabinet ministers and their appalling political subservience to the ‘father’ of the nation is galling, when it comes down to cleansing Parliament of its sleaze and sleazebags and rehabilitating the House of ill-repute it has become.
So is this. Mere days before the summit, Morrison and his desultory flunkies turfed most of the recommendations made by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins for the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Today the Morrison Government voted against 49 of the 55 recommendations made in the landmark Respect@Work report by @Kate_Jenkins_ .
These reforms would have had a real long term impact on the lives of all Australian women ensuring safer and more equitable workplaces. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/4DQIrm3xtw
— Brittany Higgins (@BrittHiggins_) September 2, 2021
Many good and wonderful women attended the summit and participated in good faith. Many more should have been there. The paltry 48 hours assigned to the summit was cruel insult. As was Morrison’s keynote address. He is a study in hypocrisy.
His twinkling eyes belie a smarmy paternalism. We have watched him slither from autocrat minister to prime minister, snatching the wattle crown with stealth from more politically agile expectants after the Turnbull spillage.
Morrison’s coercive control stem from Christian Sharia
Afghanistan’s Taliban are shameless in their overt control over women, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s insidious coercive control of women stems from a fundamentalist white man’s version of Christian sharia that deems women, like animals, are mere chattels owned by men and the state.
Of course, all regimes and governments exercise greater coercive control over women than men. Institutional bullying of women in particular is endemic in the construct of rule and religion. Democracy and the Westminster System alike are founded on the coercive control of women, are they not? In the West we learn how heroic women died in the fight for suffrage. They did us proud. My generation has betrayed them. How so?
Elsewhere and everywhere millions of faceless, nameless women continue to die from the catastrophic realities of simply being born female; remaining third class humans within their family household, the notion of voting or standing for any kind of parliament or public office not even a secret fantasy. We all have a shared history, a shared humanity, a shared inhumanity.
What is our Prime Minister doing about it in our own backyard? Bugger all.
We know enough of Morrison’s past and present to call out his patriarchal authoritarianism.
He is publicly steeped in evangelical, biblical primitivism and the subversive, oppressive white tribalism that fuels racial and male gender supremacy.
The latter marches alongside the latent new dawn of pan aryanism now insinuating its emergence from the darker marginalia of history into the stark daylight of global reality; the memento mori of those black and white Pathe’ newsreels replaced and repurposed with full blown glorious technicolour that capture scenes of terrorism, murder and butchery most foul.
Yet blood shed by all nations is as the same crimson shared on humanity’s own Pantone colour chart, regardless of gender.
Morrison’s laying of hands one thing – what of that other kind of laying on of hands?
Morrison may indeed possess healing powers when it comes to his religious laying on of hands upon unwitting constituents enduring hardship.
But it is his failure to adequately address allegations of the unwanted laying on of multiple hands of another kind by male parliamentary predators within the Liberal Party that renders him liable to being described a facilitator and enabler of such creeps; at the least, a bystander.
Then there’s the many allegations of historical and contemporary rape made against other politicians and staff – not all members of the Coalition either.
Morrison’s remit is Parliament and Australia entire; whether polity or populi. Time and again he has manhandled these allegations. He has weaponized them. He has turned that rapid fire assault rifle on the accusers themselves, forever trying to suppress their speech and control the public and political narrative.
His tolerance of what may yet prove to constitute criminal behaviour is disturbing.
Remember how he contemptuously nominated his bestie Brian Houston to be in Australia’s entourage and a guest at President Donald Trump’s White House state dinner?
Houston, we have a problem!
But hey, with Pastor Brian Houston, we had a problem.
Royal Commission cited Houston over father’s sex abuse.
The New Zealand-born founder of global behemoth Hillsong Church, Houston, Morrison’s religious guru and mentor was cited by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for failing to inform police that his own father, Pastor Frank, was a self-confessed child abuser.
That failure dogs the son of the paedophile preacher man to this day. It dogs Morrison too.
Sources say Oz big bizzo threatened boycott White House dinner if Houston attended
It was Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama who broke the story about Morrison’s failed attempt to secure Houston an invite to Pennsylvania Avenue. And yet before Salama’s scoop, there was loud rumour in diplomatic circles that Trump had given Morrison and Houston the finger.
Now I have learned from former White House insiders that they were not the only ones who didn’t want this episode in the life of Brian to cause political fission. I was told that powerful Australian business interests didn’t want a bar of Houston either.
Of course, Houston had visited Trump’s White House before and after Morrison’s visit but the intervention by some from big bizzo was uncompromising. Some were said to have threatened to boycott the state dinner if Houston attended.
I quote one member of the group who asked not to be identified:
“We don’t want to be in the same room as Houston, whether it’s the White House or the Lodge – let alone sit at the same table with him.”
Further, I was told by a former White House staffer that some of those White House dissidents are also amongst the group of business powerbrokers that recently approached former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene in the lack of vaccines debacle in Australia.
White House rebuff kick in the goolies for Morrison
The fact that even pussy grabbing Trump knocked back the megachurch’s Pastor Houston in this instance was a kick in the goolies for the embarrassed and embarrassing Morrison.
He’d tried in vain to keep a lid on the fact that Houston’s name was on his intimate dance card, once even preposterously asserting that to do so would constitute a threat to national security.
Morrison and Houston were both humiliated by the knockback. I understand our US Ambassador Joe Hockey sided with the business power brokers. Surprise, surprise. Australia now has to endure the historical ignominy of inviting Houston to represent Australia in the first place over arguably worthier invitees.
But wait, there’s more, in less than a fortnight, SloMo is off to the White House again to attend the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Leaders Summit. President Joe Biden will be doing his darndest to get some sense out of Morrison on the subjects of Covid 19, climate change, cyberspace and oh, yeah, something about a free and open Indo-Pacific. Did someone mention China? No mention of the increasing violence towards women or the disintegration of Afghanistan and particularly the plight of women.
But out of earshot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Morrison will be discussing the implications of the Houston fracas.
Houston episode forensic insight into ScoMo’s psyche
The point is, this White House-Houston episode gives us important psycho-forensic insight into Morrison’s tolerance laissez-faire attitude and mindset about the proliferation and subject of sex abuse in general.
It exposes a worrying personal and political diffidence towards the many historical and contemporary allegations of rape, sexual harassment, insult, abuse and violence made by women – and directed at women within and beyond parliamentary precincts.
It shows too, how Morrison puts his mates first and Australia second. He does this time and again.
Note: Here we must also cite the Coalition’s failure to implement critical aspects of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, specifically the Redress Scheme.
Does Scott Morrison really treat men against whom allegations have been made differently to their alleged victims? Yes. His biases favour males in general and they include alleged male perpetrators.
The siring of daughters has clearly done little to prompt him to be either friend, mentor, protector or prime minister for womankind. We are the last among equals and our Indigenous sisters are the least among the last.
The barbarians at the Holgate
Consider the outrageous bullying and egregious cowardly attack under the protection of parliamentary privilege upon then Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate, by Scott Morrison.
On the morning of October 22, last year, Ms Holgate appeared before Senate Estimates where it was revealed Australia Post had gifted $3000 Cartier watches to four employees, as a bonus for (it has since been revealed ) securing contracts worth several hundred millions of dollars.
In feverish delight, Morrison seized the opportunity to put the boot in to Holgate in Parliament, once again displaying his capacity for demeaning women, going so far as to cast aside common sense let alone natural justice and the law:
“She has been instructed to stand aside, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.”
It was a repugnant abuse of power and parliamentary privilege by a Prime Minister who is accustomed to maintaining a political harem of proudly compliant female ministers who lack the moral and political fortitude as individuals or even as a group, to seriously denounce and indict allegations of bullying and sexual abuse within their own party, even within their own cabinet.
Morrison’s notorious corporate slut-shaming and bullying of Holgate is forever documented in hansard and the ugly saga of the barbarians at the Holgate is far from over. Holgate recently received a $1million payout from Australia Post.
Morrison’s outrageous presumption of the woman’s guilt was out of order, given he did not have the facts at sleight of hand. It was an act of political psycho-violence against Holgate; part of a behavioural pattern, coercive control.
He bloody well knew that Australia Post had a history of dishing out opulent bonuses, including those made to Holgate’s male predecessor Ahmed Fahour.
Mathias Cormann, Onan the Invisible v CEO Holgate
Revelling in his power and toxic masculinity, Morrison proceeded to demean and vilify Holgate in the people’s house. In our name. Not only was he her accuser but also the jury and sentencing judge.
But there had been a long-time plan afoot. Months earlier, he’d sent in his bovver boy Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to politically stalk and undermine Holgate.
Go-fetch-her-Fletcher was only part of it.
There was the sneaky skullduggery of Onan the Invincible, former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, he who was the regurgitator in 2014 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s offensive “economic girlie man” slur. How is it okay for a minister to use the word ‘girlie’ as an insult?
The Government needn’t have bothered paying for actors for this ‘play like a girl’ ad – it simply should have featured Mathias Cormann and his ‘girlie man ’insult. After all, there’s no copyright on sexism:
Together with certain members of Australia Post’s Board and Executive, the blokes plotted to get rid of Holgate, who’d dug in her high heels, to keep Australia Post intact, despite being subjected to industrial strength gaslighting, undermining, mudslinging and character assassination.
She was steadfastly opposed to any Coalition privatisation or divestiture of Australia Post, as had been conveniently recommended in a Boston Consulting Group report.
It just so happened that Boston Consulting’s report happily coincided with the LNP’s intent to sell off AP and sell out Australia’s iconic mail delivery service.
Holgate’s apparent largesse provided Morrison with the perfect sexcuse. The perfidious plan to flay Holgate in public was detonated by the Primed Minister.
The Magna Cartier ‘scandal ’ provided him with cover for political thuggery. Or so he thought.
Parliamentary privilege – the politician’s condom and ScoMo’s soiled French letter to Ms Holgate.
There is nothing that I can find to compare with the circumstances and sly subtext of Morrison’s deplorable abuse of privilege – and personal attack on Holgate.
It was malevolent character assassination writ large. She was a soft target. She wasn’t there to defend herself. It was a political mugging and seemingly entertained much of the hypocritical rabble in the well named Lower House. It was below the bikini line for sure and symptomatic of the toxic boys club that is our Parliament.
Wearing the politician’s protective condom of parliamentary privilege, Morrison had Holgate by the short and curlies. But it was a soiled French letter that again contained more forensic evidence of his appalling attitude towards women – and the CEO of Australia Post in particular.
Look at his body language in Parliament as he goes in for the Holgate kill. He’s enjoying it big time. He’s getting off on it. No question.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison – and his government – is guilty of exercising coercive control not only over Australian women, but also those women and children seeking asylum, and refugees seeking a new life in Australia.
The popularity and proliferation of coercive control runs rampant across all societal strata: such is the level of physical and mental sexual violence towards women and girls in Australia, that it may as well be declared a national sport.
It is dangerously close to being described as a bonding mechanism for some males, given vituperative social media posts. For some males it is not a badge of dishonour but rather a campaign medal.
A war on a particular woman so often evolves into a war on all women.
If the sport was granted Olympic status, given our prolific expertise in domestic violence, we would probably win gold, silver, bronze and be runners up as well. This is the ugly reality for so many women in Australia. I know it to be true for my sisters everywhere.
Don’t just take my word for it. Let’s have a shufti at last year’s Parliamentary Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence and check out what it recorded about coercive control.
4.7: The concept of coercive control was developed by Professor Evan Stark, a sociologist and forensic social worker, who defined it as a ‘pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control’ a person, ‘as well as to frighten them or hurt them physically’. Professor Stark describes coercive control as a ‘liberty crime’, and it has also been described as ‘intimate terrorism’.
4.8: Submitters to the inquiry characterised coercive control in various terms, but a common theme in evidence was that coercive control is not incident based, but instead involves a pattern of behaviour.
I rest my case. And for the time being, I rest my heart.
Please Note: If you need any support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone.
© Tess Lawrence
Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.
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