Even before Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame stood up to speak at the National Press Club today, I found myself shaking. Not in excitement at what these amazing young women might say, not in anticipation of any criticism or suggestions they might make, not because of any particular personal memory – my mind was blank, the feeling was visceral.
As Ms Higgins spoke, my breathing became more ragged. The tears that had been welling up in my eyes overflowed. Ms Tame took the floor and the tears kept coming accompanied by the occasional sob.
I wanted to listen to them but found I wasn’t actually paying attention to their words. I, along with the rest of the country, already knew the most intimate details of their trauma. I knew how both of these young women had been let down. I knew the attempts to silence them and to then use them as political pawns.
And I cried.
I cried because their experiences should never have happened – they should have been safe.
I cried for all the women and children who should have been safe.
I cried in anger and frustration at our failure to make them safe – to prevent the dehumanising harm that endemic violence causes.
I cried that power is wasted on those whose only aim is to stay in power by whatever means it takes.
I cried with pride.
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“Human beings are social beings, who need to be able to rely on each other. That requires trust, and trust requires truth-telling.” (Quassim Cassam).
Grace Tame looks daggers as the PM fakes cordiality and avuncular affability for the camera. A black belt in subterfuge, deception and betrayal, ScoMo™ has also mastered the dark political art of baring his top teeth whilst feigning conviviality, positively radiating goodwill and patent insincerity. His office invites 2022 finalists for Australian of the Year for a cup of tea and photo opportunity at The Lodge, his Canberra pad – on occasions when his main place of residence Kirribilli doesn’t suit.
It also sets ScoMo™ up to pretend to Brisbane 4BC, later, that Ms Tame’s an ingrate who’s abused his hospitality whilst he and Jen have invited her into their own home. A farrago of lies of course. Passive-aggressive and patronising, he diminishes and demeans her.
“Grace is a passionate person who’s raised important issues. She’s had a terrible life ordeal, you know, things happen to her, her ordeals, the abuse. It’s just awful.”
Back at the Lodge, Morrison’s toothy rictus evokes the look he had for press gallery cameras just before he knifed Malcolm Turnbull in August 2018, declaring“this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him.”
With no policy achievements and a catastrophic failure to protect us from the pandemic, The Coalition knows the election campaign must be a horse race between ScoMo™ and Albo. Of course, as Paul Bongiorno warns, the Coalition may hold the half senate election in May as it is obliged to. Leave the lower house until September. Punt on the pandemic receding. But odds are long.
For now, it’s character. Whom do you prefer? And therein lies the problem. As Laura Tingle implies, whilst Murdoch’s claque is busy with the myth that we don’t know who Albo is, Faux-Mo’s problem, as a public figure made entirely of smirk and mirrors, is that we do know who he is.
“… other unfortunate handshaking incidents during the bushfires; the excruciating moment when banking royal commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne refused to be part of Josh Frydenberg’s photo opportunity by shaking hands and smiling with him; the widely circulated photo of Scott Morrison looking at his phone in the Parliament, having turned his back on Labor’s Tanya Plibersek as she addressed him across the chamber.”
There are many others. It’s Cobargo 2.0. Cue the NSW south coast, destroyed by freak bushfire fanned by his government’s policies of climate change denial. Local mother, Zoey asks questions only to have the PM turn his back and walk away from her in early January 2020.
“I have lost everything I own,” Zoey says in a social media post, with footage of the destruction. “My house is burnt to the ground and the prime minister turned his back on me.”
Given his government treats women as second-class citizens and worse, Ms Tame is in no frame of mind to be called into Morrison’s shonky photo-op. Be compromised. She’s brave. On cue, boys’ club commentators and big swinging dick club apologists, rush to attack her display of integrity.
“Sourpuss” sneers Miranda Devine. The News Limited flack, currently based in New York, accuses “Graceless” Tame of “ignorance, petulance” and “churlishness”. And a great deal more.
Morrison is “a leader of a middle power”, Devine ventures, as well as “our elected representative” who is owed respect for his high office alone, a gibe based on a lie about how we choose our PM, whilst she claims a former Australian of the Year (AOTY) is just an ambassador for a specific cause.
The “historic” Lodge also is defiled in Devine’s view. Sacrilege? Clearly, in the next phase of Murdoch’s Americanisation of our politics, it will be sacred. Our White House. A sacred shrine.
Devine’s rant in The Daily Telegraph, also trashes AOTY in a swinging denunciation, a hatchet job worthy of a PMO in full campaign mode. She dog-whistles culture warriors and the hard right.
“The AOTY is rarely representative of the Australian people but instead caters to a tiny base of Twitter brokens obsessed with prosecuting boutique ideological issues borrowed from overseas, usually to do with identity politics, “existential” climate alarm, the evil patriarchy, “toxic masculinity” and “systemic” racism.
Even if the AOTY were to start off as a normal person, by the end of their year in the spotlight they will have been thoroughly shaped into a left-wing activist by the media.”
“Ungracious”, Professor Peter Van Onselen also puns on her name, “rude” and “childish”. James McGrath, dropped in 2008 from Team BoJo for his comments in The Spectator calling African-Caribbean immigrants, “picaninnies” weighs in with “partisan, political and childish.”
There’s much more in this vein but a wave of approval far outweighs the sexist carping and character assassination, rejects Devine’s grotesque exaltation of our least trustworthy PM into an iconic national leader. Devine claims that to snub ScoMo is to insult the Australian people.
Most observers applaud Tame’s integrity. And how would Murdoch’s partisan hacks know what integrity looks like? ScoMo represents everything Ms Tame opposes. Such a pile-on, does, however, suggest a PMO aware that Tame is a major threat to their campaign to re-elect Morrison. A shonky product, which never really passed the sniff test, now smells well past its use-by date.
Perhaps Tame recalls ScoMo™’s office leaking against Brittany Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. Or Chief of Staff John Kunkel’s “review” that found he was “not in a position to make a finding that the alleged activity took place”. (Sue Gray, take note for your Boris’ knees-up report.)
A helpless young woman is allegedly raped near his office, but the PM doesn’t know, let alone take any responsibility. God forefend he owes any duty of care. Or honesty.
But Morrison’s lies are world-renowned, largely thanks to Emmanuel Macron, and, for him, everything is someone else’s responsibility.
Almost. He’s a dab hand at captain’s calls and gratuitous cruelty. His appointing Amanda Stoker as Marise Payne’s underling, assistant Minister for Women to an invisible Minister for Women looks like an act of sadistic revenge.
The Queensland senator supported a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors, such as Ms Tame.
Or is it his failure to provide a safe workplace? Tame may have had in mind, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins’ finding that sexual harassment and assault were so pervasive in Parliament with its toxic workplace culture that, “women told us they felt ‘lucky’ if they had not directly experienced sexual harassment and assault.”
Who’d want to shake the hand of a PM who pats women on the head and tells the nation“we are dealing with this as no other government has done before”?
“Saying “she’s had a terrible life” is the most condescending, ignorant & utterly disempowering comment to make about Grace Tame.
Grace’s whole message is that as survivors, we are not defined by our experiences of sexual violence,” tweets Nina Funnell who worked with Grace Tame on her original campaign #LetHerSpeak,
ScoMo’s government’s record is of evasion, inaction, lies and leaking against victims and their families. Contempt is only part of its orchestrated disempowerment of women.
Dealing with? Jenkins, in a separate process, recommends imposing a duty of care on employers to stamp out sexual harassment – only to have this rejected by the Morrison government.
Senator Jenny McAllister reminds us that, in 2013, Tony Abbott appointed himself Minister for Women. Eight years later, the contempt continues. ScoMo says women who march on parliament to publicly call for justice, equality and safety are lucky not to be shot. He snubs them anyway.
“This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,”Morrison says to boos, jeers and looks of total incredulity.
Why should Ms Tame, a passionate advocate for victims of sexual violence compromise everything she stands for by being a prop in the PM’s propaganda photo? Even in his words to those invited to the Lodge, ScoMo acknowledges Tame’s engagement to her fiancé, Max Heerey, not her work.
As with his struggle to understand that rape is a crime, ScoMo might need his Jen to clarify his slight – on all women. He’ll have plenty of time after May. Or September, should he take the punt.
Labor’s Jenny McAllister does acknowledge Grace Tame’s work, “together with other survivor advocates, she has driven a lasting national conversation about the treatment of women, and the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence against women and children.”
It’s the eve of Invasion Day or ‘Straya Day as Morrison’s Ocker avatar outside The Lodge would have it. ScoMo’s™ moved on, prompted by focus groups. Sixty per cent of Australians support a change of date, according to a Guardian Essential Poll, taken a few days ago. Meanwhile, his commentary shifts to that of some didactic voiceover to a whitewashing of war and dispossession.
“A story,”he pens for Nine’s claque, mustering his typical fog of abstraction, cluttered with buzzwords and double-speak, “of strength and resilience that spans 65,000 years, of a continent that we love and contend with, and of a free and fair people who live in relative harmony.”
“Remarkable” would have been better than “relative”. And speaking of relatives, Morrison’s great-great-aunt, utopian socialist, poet and former Paraguayan commune member (in 1896), Mary Gilmore, a Dame who wrote for a communist newspaper, would turn in her grave.
Yet only his pet rag, The Daily Telegraph, runs the line that “the arrival in Australia of the First Fleet in 1788 was the initial step towards multiculturalism.” Shades of Tony Abbott’s defining moment.
Grace Tame’s “side-eye” defines our times. Why collude in a photo-op to normalise our criminally, negligent MPs with their hands in the till or doing favours for rich mates? Why approve of skiving off to Hawaii, padding travel allowances or taking a few days off to watch the cricket. Sam Maiden reports Tim Wilson Liberal MP Tim Wilson leaves Victoria for 95 nights, charging taxpayers $37k.
A vibrant liberal democracy does not normalise corruption while it disenfranchises women, the aged, the poor and first nations. It is not a regime of coercive control by old white men that opposes constitutional recognition of first peoples and rejects The Uluru Statement from the Heart.
A voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution is not only long overdue, it would also enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. Instead, ScoMo™ & Co. come up with a co-design report. What does it do? It sets up further consultations to establish regional and local voices.
“The only thing the government has managed to achieve is more delays and more processes. What the government is proposing gives the Voice no security. They even banned their co-design committee from speaking about constitutional recognition,” Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney calls out the time-wasting duplicity inherent in the process.
Why help normalise a clown? The PM’s “vibrant liberal democracy” allows Clive Palmer to boast he’ll outspend his $93m last election, lying about Labor’s policies. Paul Bongiorno reports Labor strategists who call out Australia’s Clown Prince of Politics for what he is – a way of extending the Liberals’ media campaign budget, which, scandalously, remains uncapped.
“He’s a Liberal and will shovel votes back to them at the end of the day.”
“…the government has done nothing to contain the obscenity of a billionaire being able to distort the democratic political contest in such a blatant way.”
Australia’s reputation for corruption is at its lowest level since ratings began in 1995, reports Transparency International. Morrison’s Covid Commission is a sterling example. A mob assembled by the PM, ostensibly for Covid crisis management turns out to be a gas industry support group.
The scandal of our RATs instant millionaires is another.
Pandemic rages, with at least ninety-eight deaths, Friday, as a government, “getting out of peoples’ lives,” stops sitting on its hands only to point the finger of blame.
Omicron spreads to more than 700 aged-care homes, Rachel Withers reports for The Monthly. Staff struggle to cope in over half of all facilities in NSW. A grieving daughter tells SBS News that her father died of COVID-19 alone in his locked-down aged-care home, while waiting for an overdue booster shot, on the day after Aged Care Minister Colbeck takes three days off to watch a cricket game. Morrison defends Colbeck by telling us we don’t know how hard the Minister works.
Lives have been lost but Colbeck will “take this on the chin,” he adds obliquely. Accountability is not part of his vocabulary. An incompetent spared, ScoMo hopes is a future ally; bound to him in gratitude.
Students will return to school so parents can get back to work. Teachers are put at risk and their value impugned by being seen solely as babysitters in a post-industrial society. And expendable. Vulnerable retired teachers and inexperienced graduates are said to be ready to fill the gaps.
It’s an era of personal responsibility, ScoMo and Perrottet claim. But just try to buy a RAT. Unless you happen to be Motion One, a firm run out of a two-roomed apartment in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay where Pilates franchise CEO, Austyn Campbell secures a $26 million contract to import RATs.
She flogs them online for $12.50. Identical tests are purchased by importers and sold to Australian retailers for as little as $5 per unit.
A former Liberal Party “digital strategist”, Campbell runs a communications firm, Agenda C, with Parnell Palme McGuiness, another lucky punter who’s also done work for the Liberal Party.
Also doing nicely is Julie Bishop’s beau, David Panton, formerly an all-night chemist in Mornington, Victoria, who with his daughters runs Pantonic, a pharmaceutical supply company. Tests start at $11.
Will it be a RAT-led economic recovery? An overvalued stock market totters, tech stocks shedding value first – Barnaby fan, Georgina Hope Rinehart gets a gong for services to mining, community and sport, just before she’s declared an Olympic sponsor.
Hang on. Help is on its way from BoJo.
So touching to discover that the mother country still loves her delinquent ex-colony. Or not so ex.
Thank God, Queen and her palace that John Kerr, her GG could keep the con in our constitutional monarchy as we were weaning ourselves off the breast of empire, onto a neo-colonial formula.
Our co-dependence helps us feel relaxed and comfortable about the capitulation of national sovereignty that is AUKUS, a pact yet to be defined, but which has a very colonial nostalgia vibe.
Not everyone loves Kerr. A ”rorty old, farting Falstaff …” an elderly lizard” is Patrick White’s vivid impressions of the Governor-General, a respected jurist and former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, who invoked his “reserve powers” to dismiss Whitlam’s Labor government in 1975, to the immense good fortune of Liberal Malcolm Fraser, a Western Districts grazier. How we miss such giants.
Mal is the last farmer to become Prime Minister, something the Nats have never got over and the only PM to visit to a seedy Memphis hotel, only to lose his trousers – just one leg of which, could be pressed into service as a shroud for his chief legacy, his treasurer. John Winston Howard, monarchist, devout Neoliberal and US lickspittle, who did so much to dash the hopes of voters who sought enlightened, progressive, federal policies which might heal division, promote equality and independence.
As for the AUKUS submarine plan, it’s a fiasco. Eight nuclear subs we cannot crew, or fuel, which need a whole new industry to maintain, with a price tag of at least possibly $170 billion, allowing for inflation, are thrust upon us much to Macron’s chagrin, or emmerdement, a word our prissy press pretend is “piss off” but any Frenchman will tell you means shat upon.
Macron hates our PM for lying to him that the sub deal was real until one day before it wasn’t. It’s a breach of good faith which will set back our trade with the EU circus, of which La Belle France is 2022’s ringmaster. Carbon tariffs could be slapped on our exports. Also, we alienate another power with a presence in the Pacific.
In the meantime, we may have to retire the Collins class subs which will be rust buckets well before our “new” nuclear submarines are ready in the early 2040s. By then, crewless subs and drones will have superseded anything AUKUS hawks us.
But all is not lost. Diplomatic genius, carbon tariff expert and Joke PM, Tony Abbott has been seconded to the BOT, Board of Trade, an outfit long dead in the water until revived by Teresa May as something she could announce that might offset the stench of a hard Brexit.
Tony’s bound to come up with something. Always does. Even if it’s only shirt-fronting Macron.
His work is cut out for him. Career liar, Boris Johnson brags that:
“… our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article on climate change which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to the Paris Agreement and achieving its goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.”
Tony’s carbon tax expertise will add a bit of finesse to the UK Australia Free Trade Deal virtually inked last month. It’s worthless according to Moody’s. Our beef and veal are more likely to go to more accessible markets which offer higher prices. As Moody’s puts it:
“Australian exporters garner higher prices for their beef products in countries like South Korea, Japan and the US. Also, Australian beef exports recently dipped because of drought conditions. Such conditions are expected to occur more regularly in the future and could restrict exports.”
Glen Dyer and Bernard Keane note that the Coalition refuses to allow the Productivity Commission or any other objective body to analyse the agreement because the benefits are minuscule. Even these dwindle in the light of the extra paperwork required to meet bureaucratic country-of-origin requirements for accessing the deal.
“Given the trivial economic impact of the UK-Australia free trade agreement, we won’t be updating our growth forecasts for the UK economy,” Moody’s conclude.
But it’s worse than nothing. Boris gets rolled. Barnaby Joyce’s carve-out means Morrison won’t have a bar of any deal that breathes a word about net-zero.
Australia’s negotiators demand that temperature targets have no part in the trade deal. When the Brits insist that The Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees at least gets a mention, that’s all it gets and only over Morrison government objections.
But who’s going to notice the cave-in when the party’s all agog at revelations that Boris has lied about at least eleven parties that broke Covid isolation rules?
Party piece of party gate is surely BoJo’s glorious anniversary of his own birth, alas, another mental blankety-blank which he either can’t recall or, like fellow amateur casuist, ScoMo, argue wasn’t a party at all.
Boris’ colleagues are a riot of goodwill, a British ten-minute effusion of camaraderie, a happy birthday dirge and a cake with a Sue Gray file in it.
BoJo’s birthday party that his (fairly) newly-wed, a May bride, organised for him is the latest episode of Carrie On Upstairs, a fitting sequel to the mystery of who paid for the 840 pound a roll golden wallpaper in the refurbishing of Boris and Carrie’s flat over number eleven Downing Street, traditionally reserved for the chancellor of the exchequer except when Boris needs it for himself, his partner and growing family.
If we are conned on trade and it looks as if we’re roped into buying obsolete subs we won’t have any time for our war on Beijing, Keane suggests we just tell China to hold off for a couple of decades while we get our nuclear underwater shit together. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s not clear which of our neo-colonial masters will actually supply the ships. Morrison loves secrecy as much as indecision. DFAT tells us that by 2020’s end, Australian investments in the US totalled $864 billion – almost as much as the Great Satan – as America is revered in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan whose peoples it has liberated, with our assistance – the USA has invested in the Land of Oz while our investment in the UK was $615 billion – and the Old Dart has $737.6 billion invested here.
All of this is a prelude to hope. Amidst the amazing Grace Tame’s refusal to grin and bear the PM’s charm offensive, a perfunctory line congratulating her on her engagement rather than her work as Australian of the Year, the shortage of RATs and ScoMo™ & Co’s abandonment of all pretence at protecting us from Omicron, the arrival, Friday, of UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, aboard a Global Britain private Airbus jet is a cunningly orchestrated stunt that gets BoJos rival out of his hair while providing audio-visual proof of ScoMo and Cos trade deals.
True, Little Britain’s Labour Party is outraged at the A$1 million price ticket but wait until they discover that the Free Trade Deal with the land Downunder is just another bit of window dressing.
Hawk Talk is also a big part of Truss’ mission. Eager to be Boris’ replacement and one of our neo-colonial mistress’ Britannia’s debauched ruling elite, Truss pops in to warn us that the Chinese Panda is plotting with the Russian Bear to blow us all up, a warning that Paul Keating calls demented.
Truss attacked Dan Tehan last year, because she felt slighted but now, she is practically one of us after being made honorary Ocker of the Year, last year by The Australia Day Foundation.
The dodgy Foundation is a cabal of climate deniers, mining shills and lobbyists with links to the ultra-right Policy Exchange, a group affiliated with those who spread disinformation on climate change and covid.
Many see Liz as Little Britain’s next Tory PM, if only party animal and pants-man, Boris Johnson would admit the carnival is over. Or Sue Gray busts him for breaking his own social distancing rules by holding parties. Seriously.
Her man bag, Ben Wallace, is a Boris-follower, too, over-promoted for his loyalty to Defence Secretary.
Ben and Liz are AUKUS hawks who talk up a Blairite WMD-type case for declaring war on Russia, just because America wants them to, a scenario, the invisible Marise Payne and Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton find incredibly compelling and not just as an election campaign stunt.
All is well in the Land of Oz, even “a smoking ruin” of democracy as Guy Rundle praises us. Deputy PM and MP for Santos, Barnaby Joyce tells ABC RN Breakfast’s Patricia Karvelas that “people aren’t dying” in the Lucky Country of Covid. Rats are wrecking his government’s superbly orchestrated pandemic testing kit rollout by hoarding their RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) – or flogging them at prices to rival the can-do capitalism of professional gougers and your local Chemist Warehouse portal.
Finally, Labor’s leader responds to Andrew Probyn asking who he is:
“My first campaign, I was 12 years old,” Albo tells the Press Club. “We organised a rent strike. We took petitions around to everyone. That was my experience of that. That drove me. That was my first political campaign. And, by the way, we won.”
“Just ‘pushing through’ this pandemic is not enough,” he argues. “We need to learn from it, we need to use what the last two years have taught us to build a better future.”
We need “a government that steps up to its responsibilities and fulfils its most fundamental roles: to protect our people, to act as a force for good, and to change people’s lives for the better.”
No wonder Morrison’s running scared. But pumping social media with Clive$’ lies about Labor’s failings is unlikely to cut it when your record reeks of corruption, ineptitude, dud deals and untrustworthiness. The worst PM of the century can’t even show some grace under friendly fire at a reception for Australian of the Year, a miserable morning tea, brightened only by a bevy of nominees for awards, any one of which is likely to show up his own inadequacies as a man and as a leader.
To pick a fight with Grace Tame, moreover, and to go on radio, later, to belittle her, may cost Morrison any last skerrick of credibility. His pot-shot at Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021 is by extension an attack on all women and every woman’s right to expect a government that offers equality, justice and safety for all Australians, instead of a racket run to benefit a privileged few.
Given his lies, his stunts, his broken promises, his empty promises, his protection of incompetent ministers and worse, together with his government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, his pot-shot at Ms Tame maybe his coup de grace.
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In this third and final excerpt of her treatise, Tess Lawrence takes no prisoners but leaves no woman behind. In the face of the Mandemic, she calls for women – and the world – and politicians to all woman up. (Please also see Part 1 and Part 2).
Women have long lived with what I call the Mandemic virus.
Like Coronavirus, it has various global variants and mutations and as burgeoning statistics attest, can cause physical and psychological injury – and prove fatal.
Unlike Coronavirus, there is no Mandemic vaccine.
Ironically and catastrophically, Coronavirus has formed an antigenic shift with the Mandemic virus, igniting sporadic breakouts of increased ‘domestic’ violence, mostly by men, towards women, children and their families in general.
Women have become the punching bags of the world. As well as the perennial sexcuse ‘she made me do it’ chuck in another one. Blame Covid-19.
I killed her. I blame her and Covid. They made me do it
Blame Coronavirus and everything and anything for beating her up, for knifing her, for running over her with the car, for glassing her, for kicking her in the stomach while she’s carrying a baby, for breaking her arm, for strangling her, for pouring petrol on her, for throwing acid on her face, for gaslighting her, for beheading her, for drowning her, for stoning her, for starving her, for breaking her spirit, for drugging her, for killing her children, for setting her and the children alight in a car, for throwing her/your child off a bridge, for raping her, for gang raping her, for killing her by grief, for not allowing her to vote, to dance, to sing, to love, to lust, for harassing her, for demeaning her, for sodomising her with implements, for torturing her, for keeping her uneducated, unfed, unhealthy, poor, for selling her into sexual slavery, for not letting her vote or stand for public office, for killing her with an axe, for killing her with a gun, for killing her with a Kalashnikov, a rapid fire assault rifle, for killing her with barrel bombs, cluster munitions, landmines, chlorine and lewisite, for mutilating her, for slicing off her clitoris, for killing her by humiliation, for ridiculing her, by rumours, for degrading her in public, for killing her by stealth, for killing her dreams, for killing her hope, for killing her aspirations, for stealing her dreams, for slut-shaming her, for killing her with unkindness, for sobbing like a girl, for weaponising sex abuse, by killing her with political psycho violence, for killing her with coercive control.
To all the above I have been privy. As a journalist, as an advocate, as a sister to all the women and girls and girl babies above. Some of the above I have experienced.
She. We. I. Have nowhere to hide.
Govt in-house inquiries into rape and sex abuse, dead loss
The industrial strength parliamentary allegations of rape and sexual harassment have resulted in a plethora of various inquiries, reports and navel upskirting, making international headlines and deadlines.
The community has to endure the nonsensical and irritating propensity of time-wasting of so-called ‘independent’ in-house investigations, often led by party flunkies, former or current staffers. They are a dead loss.
They are meaningless and invariably have happy endings for the accused. Nothing to see here, nothing to hear here, nothing to say. The government is simply regurgitating its own vomit.
Morrison’s cos, John Kunkel, an émigré from Rio Tinto that used sacred Juukan Caves for target practice
They are an insult to our intelligence and to justice. Most of all they are an insult to those who are courageous enough to speak their truth.
Take the facile Kunkel Report. It should be read with more than a grain of Epsom salts.
Dr John Kunkel is Morrison’s chief of staff and general advisory factotum. A proud émigré from Rio Tinto, the blow up doll of the mining industry who used the indigenous sacred caves of Juukan for target practice.
See what I mean? Goodness me, he might as well have been seconded to the Prime Minister by Rio Tinto.
It was Dr Kunkel who was charged with the onerous task of investigating the black ops sleazebags who were spreading false rumours about David Sharaz, partner of Brittany Higgins – his own colleagues in his own office, mind you. As if.
The Battle of Great Brittany in Manberra
Inspired by Grace Tame’s courage and example, on February 14, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who worked for then Minister for Defence Industry, the hapless and some say hopeless, Linda Reynolds, revealed she had allegedly been raped by a colleague on a sofa in the Minister’s office in March, 2019.
The allegation stunned an already disgusted public, especially in learning how reaching out to her political peers left Higgins feeling threatened and isolated.
Headlines ricocheted around the world about this latest in a string of allegations and loud rumour that still swirl about Canberra, better named Manberra.
The usual platitudes of faux concern slid out of Morrison’s mouth, along with the pro forma denial of all knowledge of any such thing.
Il Duce Dutton Minister for Home Affairs and Au Pairs reduce Higgins’ claim to “He said, she said.” Really?
Add to this nothingness the repugnant, snide remarks by the ever plotting prime minister-in-waiting Peter Dutton, still smarting from Morrison shrewdly out manoeuvering him for the top job in the Turnbull coup.
Well no. Not really. It turns out that Il Duce Dutton was being less than honest with the Australian people he professes to serve. Further, he has been more than duplicitous and misrepresented the facts about his knowledge of the Higgins allegations and his contact with his nemesis, Prime Minister Morrison – his office and minions.
An appalling Home Affairs Minister, Il Duce is now busy making an even greater mess of his current Defence portfolio than his predecessor, Marise Payne, whom Morrison has pathetically crowned the Prime Minister for Women in yet another forensic red flag of his disassociation to women and dismissal of the physical and psycho political sexual assault crisis in our Parliament that now warrants a Royal Commission.
Moreover, this crisis continues to compromise our national security and confirms that Dutton has lost control of this aspect of both portfolios. The stereotyping of cherchez la femme has obscured the brutal reality of cherchez l’homme.
Security Alert! If Putin has video of Trump peeing on prostitutes, what does he have on Aussie politicians?
If Vladimir Putin really has footage of Donald Trump peeing on prostitutes (hope they got paid extra, not for the peeing but because it was the Donald) then imagine what filth he has on Australian ministers and parliamentarians in general.
Despite serious allegations made by a number of women employed by the government, most politicians, including females, failed to make any definitive statements.
They displayed the political cowardice for which Australia has become synonymous, whether the discussion is about submarines, asylum seekers, voting at the United Nations, the judicial system, the workplace, the home, wage parity, aged are, superannuation, employment opportunity, welfare, housing, gender equality, Indigenous and other human rights, religious persecution, abortion, climate change or change of life. By any measure women get a bum deal.
But Australia has been blessed with a singular tribe of mostly young, fearless warrior women who have emerged from the shadows of autocratic abusive male dominance to stand defiantly in front of their accusers and their fellow Australians to call out and denounce their abusers and the systemic culture of toxic masculinity that protects and incubate them, including within corrupt political and institutional spheres.
Grace refuses to tame the shrew
Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year, left the nation in awe with her profoundly eloquent, inspiring and moving acceptance speech. It shamed those of us who could have done more and didn’t. Including female politicians.
No more shaming or taming of the shrew within!
The end of her courageous speech when she talks of her serial rapist teacher’s command to be quiet, still echoes in my head and turns my gut:
“I remember him saying, ‘Don’t make a sound… Well, hear me now! Using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced. Let’s make some noise, Australia!”
Grace Tame’s Australian of the Year speech… shamed those of us who could have done more and didn’t. Including female politicians (Image from abc.net.au)
Tame’s speech prompts ScoMo’s ‘Felt good to get that out’ remark as if he was speaking about a fart
The first publicly known survivor of child sexual abuse to win the award, as well as the first Tasmanian recipient (she earlier won Tasmanian of the Year) Tame was also responsible for changing Tasmania’s archaic gag laws to enable victims/survivors to identify themselves if they so wished.
And what did our Prime Minister say to Tame after her compelling speech?
‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out!’
Image from pedestrian.tv
This is our Prime Minister speaking for gawd’s sake. As if he were talking about a fart. His repugnant and crass response again reflects a patronising pathology. Either he just doesn’t get it, or he just doesn’t care. Or both.
Women force fed manburger with the lot
It is apparent that our political system is geared to protect the guilty from all sides of the political spectra. The Westminster system was constructed by men, for men and remains mostly comprised of men to this day.
This inequity is reflected in all tiers of our society and the body politic, women are force fed the manburger with the lot.
Lacklustre leaders and governments without vision like Scott Morrison and the LNP compound the problem. The Labor Party and the Greens are not without sin. The world has a glut of such men.
Of course, Australia is not on its Pat Malone with any of this but given our track record we are implicit and complicit in the decrepit legacy world order that subjugates women through coercive control, menace and mendacity. We need a new model of government and governance.
Women getting the short end of the dick
If it is correct that 80 per cent of the world is ruled by men, then at 20 per cent women are surely getting the short end of the dick.
Don’t be misled by inane Coalition propaganda that it is genuinely concerned about the plight of women and girls in this country or any other.
We openly trade, consort, cavort and play sport with regimes that treat girls and women as chattels ultimately owned and enslaved by the male dominated state.
We do so because we share strands of the same intellectual and societal DNA as these foul regimes.
Execution of adulterous Saudi Arabian women related to execution of Hannah Clarke and her three children
The stoning to death of an adulterous woman in Saudi Arabia is unquestionably related to the horrific murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah 6, Laianah 4, and Trey 3, burned alive by Hannah’s estranged husband Rowan Baxter, who poured petrol on his family and set them alight while they were in their car in Brisbane, February last year.
Ultimately, they were both executions engineered by the state. By defaullt. By intent.
“For a lot of people [coercive control] sounds like second-grade abuse, a lower form of abuse that wouldn’t be so hard to recover from. What the model of coercive control shows, is that where that is present, you are actually looking at a situation of entrapment, not just abuse.”
The psychological trap and the threat of violence for non-compliance is often enough to keep victims in a state of fear. In the case of Hannah Clarke, Baxter would change his routine randomly to keep her guessing his movements.”
Morrison’s – and the Coalition’s continual sometimes subliminal attempts to coercively control women – ultimately relegates us to instruments and possessions of the state, do they not? They are the same and similar tactics deployed by the likes of the Taliban, Islamic State, Boko Haram, cults, established religions and various pop up terrorist groups.
American Evan Stark’s book ‘Coercive Control – How men entrap women in personal life’ first published 14 years ago, nails the similarities between terrorism, hostage taking and coercive control.
I add the sexual grooming tactics of predators and the more blunt force tactics like cyber terrorism, spiking drinks and raping women whilst they are drunk or unconscious. Or dead.
I’m also adding government, fiscal, political and institutional coercive control of women. Dammit, chuck in manburger with the lot!
Australia slave to Granny England and Uncle Sam and any fossil that precedes the word ‘fuels’
In Australian politics we continue to follow whilst others lead. Latterly, there are no saints and few heroes. We boldly go only where others have already trod and that includes banal intellectual wastelands and fallow paddocks.
We don’t stand on the shoulders of our own giants, Instead we genuflect to the United States, party donors, benefactors, sponsors and any fossil that precedes the word ‘fuels.’ We buy, sell and trade policies and principles on the toss of a dollar.
Since white settlement, we have never stopped tugging at the mullet that grows like a razorback hog’s down what remains of our political backbone, to ingratiate ourselves with Granny England, Uncle Sam or the carpet baggery of home grown and imported marauding mining companies.
Today Morrison is at the helm of this fetid heap of poisonous tailings.
His benign demeanour is dangerous. Consider the company he keeps. I’m not talking only about his QAnon mate, Tim Stewart or indeed Brian Houston but rather those who comprise and compromise his government.
Red-faced wombat Barnaby, eats beetroot and leaves
For a start there’s the red-faced wombat, deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, so called because he eats beetroot and leaves.
Barnaby’s philandering Joyce stick had already once caused him to be stripped of the position and cost him a marriage as well as inspiring then PM Turnbull’s ministerial ‘bonk ban’ on having sex with staff.
Even though Morrison is said to loathe Joyce and claims he cannot interfere in National Party internal politics, he could have and should have in this instance, given the squalid, hypocrisy of Joyce’s past and the (strenuously denied) allegations of sexual harassment by Catherine Marriott.
Regional as well as National Party women have deplored Joyce’s return, including former federal and state president, Christine Ferguson. The Nationals are no different to others when it comes to the disregard and disrespect for the safety and well being of women and girls.
Not only did an in house investigation into the allegations against Joyce predictably prove inconclusive but now there are circumstances concerning the man who headed up that investigation that warrants a truly independent investigation into Marriott’s allegations that will be seen to be fair to both parties.
It was discovered that Ross Cadell, the Nationals’ NSW State Director who oversaw the Joyce inquiry had been the subject of an apprehended domestic violence order by police in 2014 on behalf of Cadell’s former wife, that had later been withdrawn.
Women have had enough of sexcuses
Morrison’s pimping of obnoxious behaviour has been debated on social and anti-social multimedia platforms, mainstream and upstream media alike, in the court of public opinion and in national protest marches led by angry women who have had enough of sexcuses; me included.
Enough is more than enough. We have reached a stage when the coalition’s response to serial allegations of rape and other forms of sexual abuse and intimidation, harassment, covert and overt violence both within and close to parliament’s portals, are met by SloMo and his bovver boys and girls with indifference and diffidence.
The Liberal and National parties are mired in sewage of their own making; muck expunged from a body politic riddled with parasites feeding on their egos.
Too harsh? I’m not finished.
The reflux of the allegations by a now dead woman of rape against former Attorney-General Christian Porter and the allegation by Brittany Higgins that she was raped by a former parliamentary staff member have forever severed the larynx of the LNP circa Scott Morrison.
The facile and arrogant notion held by Morrison and Porter that he could remain Attorney General after his inane press conference when he outed himself, is again another red flag on the coercive control map.
So too is Porter’s arrogant presumption that anonymous monies poured into a Blind Trust is yesterday’s news, now that he has stood down as Industry Minister. Porter has long forfeited his right to represent Australia and the good folk of Pearce.
Christian Porter is the Minister for Christian Porter. Even in this porterfolio he has proven his deceit
Christian Porter is the Minister for Christian Porter. Even in this porterfolio, time and again he has shown his propensity for deceit. This ghastly man, who presumed he would one day be Prime Minister has been the architect of his own demise.
When Morrison goes down, and go down he will, the Porter scandal will indisputably be writ large on his political epitaph.
We live in an era of big dick politics and big dick politicians. Hard men with hard-ons all the time, seemingly. Pun intended, there is more to come this side of the federal election.
Australia is a cause without a rebel
Time and again, claims of sexual harassment and cover-ups, the general fobbing off of women and the largely uncensured snide remarks and insult directed towards women for decades by members of both houses of parliament have brought the coalition into particular disrepute on this day. And for sure, some of the insult has been by women in the House.
Who can forget histrionic UteGirl, Michaelia Cash, the political scraps pecker who somehow reminds me of a gallus gallus domesticus (although that is probably unfair to your average chook) threatening to name “every young woman” in Bill Shorten’s office during a tit for tat Senates Estimates hearing?
This noxious bile spat from the mouth of a former Minister for Women! Now this political mercenary is the first law officer in the land. Just what is it about the likes of George Brandis, Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash that vaguely warrants their appointment to Attorney General?
Australia has become a cause without a rebel.
Women are political roadkill
Instead of railing against bigotry and bigots, the Prime Minister has led the Charge of the White Brigade. I’ve touched on only a few of the many worthy examples of proof
For too long in Australian politics, women have been perceived as roadkill. Politically, a bit on the side.
It is as if we should be grateful for extra housekeeping money – if we’re good girls and don’t march or make a noise!
Women around the world live under a mandemic yoke. We need to woman up
We don’t need to wait for the results of a Morrison Rorschach test. He has a list of priors that are sourced well before he was elected PM. He has a modus operandi when dealing with problems – largely ignores them.
The global reality for women is that the design of all governments and regimes, fractured, rogue or otherwise practice coercive control of women, as do institutions and society in general, where it is so often culturally enshrined.
Our world remains a patriarchal collective, like it or no. Even the spoils of war, the looting and the mooting of a new world order really refers to male power, military and political supremacy. Let’s not kid ourselves that the notion embraces gender equality on any level. Millions of women are enslaven to men and their governments and governance.
None of this is so called feminist rhetoric, or the spoutings of any womanifesto. This is the reality for women and girls. The societal dominant and dominating gender is male. It is men who hold the greater power.
Australia and the rest of the world needs to forensically analyse what is left of our degraded democracies and all other forms of regimes infected with the Mandemic virus.
Some of us must step up and take responsibility for not making enough noise, as Grace Tame urges us to do.
We have to fight against an elitism and the corporatisation of what must be a new kind of emancipation. We need to see more so-called ordinary women and indigenous women attend summits and contribute to reports; women who are not always renowned corporate game changers, but women who are mostly voiceless. We need to seek them out, we need to hear their voices. We need to learn from them.
I want to hear from potential Hannah Clarkes and not just hold a wake around their funeral pyre.
Women – and the wonderful men who love us and support us – need to lock this in. To lock our arms around one another. Leave no woman behind. Politicians throughout the world need to acknowledge the wars on women.
Women, myself included, need to woman up.
Please Note: If you need any support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone.
Who knew what? In many cases of sexual assault in politics, events take place behind bolted doors, the perpetrator and victim bound by ties of power, seediness and suppression. The victim is left with an odious and onerous task: to report the event. The risks can be considerable. Careers can be ruined. Retaliation from the political tribe can be remorseless.
Parliaments present a paradox. Encrusted with surveillance, crawling with security, safety would surely be guaranteed for all who work within their walls. But the environment of power, ambition and conspiracy lends itself to hierarchies, asymmetries, and inequalities. Politicians find themselves with access to budgets, forums and staffers. There are receptions and meetings to attend, liquor to consume in abundance, deceptions to cultivate. The risk of wandering hands is ever present.
The staffers, in turn, are mindful of their careers, insecure about their futures to the point of neuroses. They are expected to be unconditionally loyal to politician and party. Nikki Savva, herself a former staffer turned scribe, remembers the time: “The hours were long, the demands never-ending, the stress phenomenal and the fear of stuffing up overwhelming.” The staffer is permanently vulnerable and precariously positioned. Reasons for terminating employment are broad and susceptible to abuse. The parliamentarian can, for instance, do so for having “lost trust or confidence in the employee.” When politicians become arbiters of trust, the condition of the absurd has been affirmed.
Maria Maley, an academic from the Australian National University, busies herself with the sordid business of researching political staff. Over the Australian summer, she interviewed eight former political staffers about their time spent in the offices of ministers and electorate offices at both state and federal level. Her findings were not earth shattering. Staffers were bullied, subject to sexual harassment by colleagues and bosses. “It is hard to know how common this is,” Maley suggests, “as the world they inhabit is secretive.” She is being unnecessarily coy.
On March 23, 2019, Brittany Higgins, a Liberal Party staffer, was allegedly raped in the offices of Australia’s Defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds. Having initially contacted police, she felt a deep reluctance to press matters further. An election was about to be called. A month ago, Higgins resigned her political job and recommenced the complaints process with the police.
Both the Defence Minister and then chief of staff Fiona Brown were told by Higgins about the incident. Both expressed shock and promised to support the staffer if she decided to take the matter up with the police. In a manner excised of empathy, Reynolds had decided at the time that it was appropriate to hold a meeting with Higgins at the same venue the attack is claimed to have taken place.
The political machine is coming into full play to stifle. Apologies have come from the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister. “At the time, I truly believed that I and my chief of staff were doing everything we could to support that young woman who I had responsibility for,” explained Senator Reynolds to her colleagues in the chamber. Her intention and aim at the time had been “to empower Brittany and let herself determine the course of her own situation, not by me, not by my staff, not by the government as a whole, but by Brittany.” A true philosophe, is the minister.
Morrison did not do much better. On the morning of February 16, he showed striking emotional immaturity in employing an advertising gimmick. He had, he told journalists, spoken to his wife the previous day. “She said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ Jenny has a way of clarifying things.” Evidently, things were rather cloudy for the prime minister prior to Monday.
Image from pedestrian.tv
The tenor of these apologies is tactical. Assault can be managed. Assault can be contained within a bureaucratic compass. And there was the issue of privacy, a weapon often used against the victim to muzzle matters and preserve the status quo. We kept quiet to help her and observe protocol.
Reviews into the complaints processes of Parliament House and the Liberal Party have been promised by Morrison. Much of this is due to ascertaining, or not, as the case often is, the scope of responsibility and prospects for reform. Reviews should be fiercely independent but the Morrison government is taking few risks, despite having conceded to the opposition that a third, independent inquiry should also be initiated. In one line of inquiry, the Liberal Party will be investigating itself, with West Australian MP and former vice-chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Celia Hammond steering matters.
With a former, overly remunerated university vice-chancellor managing the show, putative efficacy is all but guaranteed to fail. Hammond’s conservative Catholicism is also well known, and her views on sex Victorian in reservation.
Complaints regarding staff safety are currently made through the Department of Finance. There is no standalone body to perform that task. Various female members of parliament not affiliated with the major parties have decided that this be redressed. One is Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance. “I don’t think sitting within the Department of Finance with a minister still in government of the day is really going to provide that level of confidence.” As for Labor, Anthony Albanese has voiced support for “an arm’s length, independent body that is able to investigate and provide support to anyone in this building who has an issue with their safety.”
The looming question remains: Who knew what and when? Morrison is adamant that blissful ignorance reigned till the story broke, going so far as to publicly rebuke Reynolds for having not told him about the allegations. When asked in parliament by the opposition leader Albanese as to whether it was acceptable that the Defence Minister had kept the matter quiet for two years, Morrison was sharply insistent. “It’s not and it shouldn’t happen again.”
The whole matter is smelly enough to be drawing out the sceptics. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found it “inconceivable that [the matter] wasn’t well known to at least key members of the prime minister’s staff.” Higgins also has an account that rather holes the narrative, claiming that one of Morrison’s senior advisers had called her some months ago to see how she was coping. At least another member of the prime minister’s staff was also charged with handling her complaint. A pattern, distressing and invidious, is rapidly emerging.
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And to think that Morrison knew all about it. Well, to be more precise, both the Liberal and National parties knew of this rape before the 2019 election. In fact, right in the middle of the campaign.
Had it been disclosed at the time, it might have made the difference between winning and losing for Labor.
Shades of John Howard and children overboard again, but more important, however, this time is just who decided to do a hush job. You might recall his very Christian reaction when he became Prime Minister, but when a young woman was allegedly raped, he decided to cover up.
According to the victim, staffer Brittany Higgins, her rape took place in Defence Minister Lynda Reynolds’s office on 19 April after a Friday night drinking session.
The election was held on 18 May.
The damage that such an act would have done to the conservatives – both Liberal and National – during an election campaign would be immeasurable. So what did they decide to do?
Well, on the surface, at least it looks as though they decided to double up on her pain.
The poor girl involved says she didn’t make a formal complaint because she wanted to hang onto her job and not do any harm to the reputation of the Liberal Party. What reputation one might ask?
A follow-up meeting was held inside the same office; the offence is alleged to have taken place a decision the Government concedes is “regretted.”
What moronic individual made such an inhumane decision knowing that it would almost certainly do further harm. Was it intended to?
The issue of the toxic treatment of women inside Parliament House and men’s behaviour within the Liberal and National parties yet again raises its ugly head. Remember Barnaby Joyce and the affair that led to his marriage’s breakup. Remember the Attorney-General Christian Porter kissing in a Canberra pub.
“… a man working for then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds took a 24-year-old female media staffer into Parliament House after a Friday night drinking session in March 2019 and allegedly raped her inside the defence industry minister’s office.”
On the Ministers, couch to be exact.
She should hang a sign on her door. “No defence here.”
Her story follows many other women known and unknown who have experienced similar situations.
The junior staffer was very new to her job – just four weeks, in fact – before this horrendous experience occurred. She then had to endure the decision between making a formal complaint or keeping her career.
After it was made perfectly clear that she might lose her job, she was shunted into Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office before Ms Higgins resigned.
A statement from a member of the Prime Minister’s Office said the reports about the incident were “deeply distressing.”
“At all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins as to how she wished to proceed, and to support and respect her decisions.
Throughout the entire process the overriding concern for Government was to support Ms Higgins’ welfare in whatever way possible.”
It sounds like they were falling over backwards to help her make the right moves to their advantage.
Brittany Higgins and Scott Morrison (Image from huffingtonpost.com.au – Photos from Channel 10 and Getty Images)
But after all this time, even after being denied access to video footage of the two’s movements, Ms Higgins has decided to ask the AFP to investigate. The why of that is another question. Given their record of investigating this Government, I wouldn’t say I like her chances.
Come Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister in a solemn mood to fit the occasion, fronts the media with apologises for everything under the sun. He had discussed the matter with his wife overnight and now looks at it from the point of view of what if it were his children.
In what universe does a man need to be told by his wife to take a rape allegation seriously?
His first defence was that he never knew, no one had told him anything. I found this to be wholly implausible, and secondly, that it was all a disgrace and he would move Heaven and earth to right everything. But as I said initially, I contend that the Prime Minister knew about it and wanted it covered up.
Of course, “not knowing anything” gave him the excuse to repair matters. Had he known, would not he have the obvious question; “Why didn’t you do something then?”