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The ugly side of politics

One of the promises made by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was that he would clean up the Parliament and make it more trustworthy. Events of the past fortnight suggest that he has so far failed abysmally. Is it his fault? No, it is not.

Well, whose then?

Firstly, it is the fault of the system and its rules. The failure to obey them is mainly the failure of men to grow up. Some of us have no control over what are, to some, men’s daily predilections: that of womanising. But some seem to have no control over that either. Sex is like a drug to some men who have trouble keeping their zippers done up.

Some seem to think flirting or an affair when away from home is a substitute, but some men become more lustful than others, forgetting that it isn’t on if it isn’t consensual. Some beautiful women are in the Houses of Parliament, but that is their luck, not the MPs.

Is it an excuse? No, it’s not. Whoever wrote the rules had better take another look and consider the examples of other organisations. Thank goodness Parliament only meets periodically, or you can imagine the problems.

We all toy with the idea of changing the world but never consider changing ourselves.

I’m not trying to be flippant here because this problem has become an unbearable and often heartbreaking problem. Especially when politics are intertwined.

Such was the case when the Liberals thought they could take the head of Finance Minister Katy Gallagher over the suggestion she had known weeks before about the Brittany Higgins allegations and had encouraged the complaint.

The ugly side of politics was about to rear its head again.

The mud-slinging began on the weekend of June 10, and debate in the House of Representatives and Senate question times over three days, amounting to nothing.

The Liberal Party had set out to prove that Gallagher had misled the Senate. They failed to prove their case, and all the old anti-women accusations came back to haunt them. The further it went, the deeper the mud became, and for the dignity of the House, Peter Dutton should have backed off. Foolishly he didn’t; Lidia Thorpe fearlessly spoke her mind in the Senate, and all hell broke loose.

Then on Wednesday, Senator Thorpe used parliamentary privilege to constantly interrupt Victorian Senator (while speaking about the Higgins accusations of all things) David Van to allege that he had sexually assaulted her in a stairwell at Parliament House. He, of course, denied the charge. She later withdrew under Senate rules but returned later to hone in on her indictment, giving Senator Van a decent tongue-lashing.

Not long after, former Senator Amanda Stoker calls Dutton to tell him that the same Senator Van had “inappropriately touched” her at a social function in 2020. It was then he made the decision to expel Van from the federal Liberal party room.

Dutton said another person had complained about the Senator, but he couldn’t disclose any details. Sounds rather convenient, but let’s move on.

Then Senator Van decides that he will sit as an independent now that he, as a consequence of those events mentioned earlier, had been dismissed from the party.

On the Sunday following all this Liberal Party head-hunting and shame, National Party Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie appears on ABC Insiders to tell David Speers what a wonderful thing it is to have such a strong and concerned leader.

“We know that both the Labor party, One Nation, the Greens, the Liberal party, all political parties have faced these type of internal challenges over the recent past and for a leader to be so decisive, I think was a testament to his strength of feeling around these matters, though.”

I think there was a lot of cheers silently across parliamentary offices with such decisive action being taken by a leader.”

Memories of how decisively brutish Mr Dutton had been in his former portfolios and his capriciousness in never displaying empathy toward others came to mind.

That wasn’t all. Bridget also indicated during the interview that people in her electorate had come forward and highlighted instances of sexual harassment or abuse, but she always kept them confidential.

Now, isn’t that what they were accusing Gallagher of?

On Tuesday, June 20, the Prime Minister suggested that the newspapers that published the original text messages in the Brittany Higgins case may have broken the law.

The Opposition Leader, his party and the gutter media had set out to take Gallagher’s head, but instead, they lost one of their own. In doing so, they had once again displayed that when it comes to women, the Liberal Party is nothing but a bunch of conservative middle-aged males who have an incubus attitude toward women.

I’m sure all parties would have found it restorative when the Prime Minister announced his intention to cleanse the Parliament of its Abbott/Morrison disregard for rules and conventions.

I even naively thought that the Liberal and National parties would take to heart their May 21, 2022, defeat and reform. After all, the Opposition leader had indicated his desire to become softer and more gentle.

However, I recall Dutton saying nothing was wrong with Liberal philosophy, manners and culture. And so, life goes on in the Liberal Party room. Nothing has changed. Nothing will. If he isn’t some “extreme right-wing person,” what is he, and who does he represent?

Here is an example of a promise too hard to keep:

Question Time continues to be the bear pit it has always been. It is devoid of wit, humour, words of intelligence and those with the eloquence and debating skills to give them meaning. Mainly it embraces maleness that believes in conflict as a means of political supremacy over and above the pursuit of excellence in an argument.

It certainly is one of the ugly sides of politics.

My thought for the day

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is the truth that enables human progress.


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  1. New England Cocky

    I am waiting for the female revolution to consume the LIARBRAL$ AND NOtional$ for their two faced disinterest in representing the best interest of Australian voters.
    Here in New England, Beetrooter holds the political sinecure with the ladies of Tamworth NSW seeming to prefer their men to be adulterous, alcoholic, bigoted, capricious, sexually harassing misogynists and so provide the votes that elect such men.
    Or possibly the long standing custom of men voting for their wives on election day survives because the ladies are confined to the kitchen, bare foot, pregnant and waiting for their ”men” to return home from a long night at the pub ….. and possibly elsewhere.
    Long may Boofhead Duddo remain the Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition so that the thinking LABOR people can regain control of the Australian government from PwC and all the other foreign owned multinational corporations to whom the COALition sold out Australia. Treason??

  2. Terence Mills

    Thanks John.

    Two things occur:

    the first is that at the time of the supposed misleading parliament allegations against Katy Gallagher the ALP were in opposition and Gallagher was not a minister so ministerial standards, as far as they go, would not even apply to her. So while a minister may be called upon to step down for misleading the parliament and breaching ministerial standards a non-minister is only required, at best, to correct the Hansard if there has been an omission or a misleading statement : it’s a non-issue !

    The second is the unusual case of Senator David Van, a Victorian senator who had thus far managed to hide his talent from public scrutiny and now surfaces as, it seems, an alleged purve. Evidently three people have so far alleged that he preyed upon them. One says she was assaulted and stalked within the parliamentary corridors, another said that he had pinched her bottom (twice) at a function and the third is shrouded in mystery, we don’t even know who he or she is or what was or wasn’t done to their bottom or other parts of their anatomy.

    In my simple mind I rely on the rule of law to address theses matters. I see at least two alleged assaults and expect that the complainants would refer these matters to the appropriate authorities (the AFP) to be investigated and if appropriate, prosecuted through our justice system : that’s how the system works. But no, the complainants refuse to report the alleged assaults to the police – perhaps they consider them to trivial to warrant a police investigation , so where do we go from here ?

    Van says that he has not been provided with natural justice – that he has been accused and sentenced by his party leader (Constable Dutton) and by the media but not by the police and he has not had the opportunity to defend himself in a formal tribunal of justice, a court of law – what are we to make of this ?

    So what is left for senator Van , perhaps his own program on Sky-after-Dark ?

    Thank you for your insights, John.

  3. Harry Lime

    Truth and humility are foreign concepts to the void that is Dutton,he is still the bone headed cop with neither heart nor brain.Only the uniform is missing.

  4. leefe


    You “expect” that victims of sexual abuse and/or assault will go to the police. Where have you been during … well, most of history? Are you totally blind to what happens in the vast majority of such cases when they are reported? Police fail to investigate, they support the perpetrators (quite often they are the perpetrators – look at the figures of domestic and sexual violence amongst police), they blame the victims, they all too often actively do whatever it takes to avoid bringing perpetrators to account and even enable them.
    But, oh yeah, a “real” victim would go to the police … thermonuclear eye roll
    Wake up and join the real world.

  5. Douglas Pritchard

    The boss of Tibet( living in exile) spoke at the press club this week, and from a media perspective it did not happen.
    However he delivered a collection of words that you may expect from the Dalai Lama.
    It came from lips that did not radiate war, and conflict and toxic maleness.
    Tibet is in a delicate location, and needs to get on with its neighbours so peace is essential for the folk living there.
    Its a message that delivers more to the population at large, than the few who benefit from conflict.
    Totally unlike our parliament and the the folk who work there.
    They are not individuals that win high regard, or we admire, so we resort to shame.
    We really should look outside the box, but I dont see too many ambassidors for peace and harmony.
    Well spoken Mr Tibet.

  6. Pete Petrass

    So Dutton rolls out McKenzie to tell everyone what a decisive protector of women he is, expecting us all to just forget his treatment of Brittany Higgins. I recall at the time he famously noted it was “he said, she said”, and that he was one of many who knew nothing of the alleged rape until after it became public, after which he and the many did nothing.
    And McKenzie apparently knew of either Thorpe or Stoker’s incidents 2 years prior and chose to do nothing.
    IMO the whole thing with Van was just a stunt at a time when they were gunning for Gallagher’s head. It was also convenient that Thorpe chose to make her allegations under parliamentary privilege, refused to go to the police, Stoker also refused to go to the police, and the third allegations remains mysteriously anonymous.

  7. Terence Mills


    You seem to be taking this very personally. All I am doing is posing questions to stimulate discussion and objective comment.

    On the one hand the alleged ‘victims’ are seeking justice and the alleged ‘perpetrator’ is also seeking justice and neither are getting it. So the system has failed both parties : I repeat my question ‘what are we to make of this’ ?

    Your analysis is that the legal system is broken and that the police are less than competent and are possibly corrupt. This thesis needs to be subjected to critical analysis. Because if you are right then the system is not working as it should and we need to remedy that.

  8. leefe

    “Your analysis is that the legal system is broken and that the police are less than competent and are possibly corrupt. This thesis needs to be subjected to critical analysis. Because if you are right then the system is not working as it should and we need to remedy that.”

    It has been. Frequently. I would suggest you find the results of such studies; not the bullshit promulgated by MRAs and similar, but the actual academic research into sexual abuse, sexual violence, gender–based violence, intimate-partner violence and institutional responses thereto.

    “You seem to be taking this very personally.”

    Pretty well anyone who has been there takes it personally, and most women and AFAB people have been there. I wrote this some years ago, in response to an equally clueless comment by another bloke:

    Personal context.
    This story is called “I Was Lucky”

    I was lucky because the men who raped me didn’t, despite my expectations, kill me.
    . . . because the first people I reported to after being raped believed me.
    . . . because they contacted the police immediately.
    . . . because the police believed me.
    . . . because my rapists were caught.
    . . . because they were charged.
    . . . because they were committed to trial.
    . . . because they were convicted.
    . . . because they were all imprisoned and thus, for a while at least, couldn’t attack anyone else, which vindicated my insistence on going through that process.
    . . . because I have survived to this day.

    Now, just think about that. I was terrorised, assaulted, pack-raped, and I can stand here and say “I was lucky”.
    I have endured decades of nightmares and panic attacks, years of counselling but, yes, I was lucky.
    Not lucky because it happened, but lucky because of how the aftermath played out.

    I. Was. Lucky. And how fucked-up a world do we live in when I can say that? *

    And that was just one incident. And I am a very, very, very long way from being the only person who has experienced more than one.
    Do you know how many succesful prosecutions there are for such cases? It works out to about three per hundred. Not per hundred actual assaults, but per three hundred reports. At best, three out of every hundred officially accused rapists are convicted. Studies have found that demonstrably false accusation are, at the most, the same as for any other crime – between 1-3%. So the remaining >90% are cases where investigations or trials did not result in convictions but the accused were, probably guilty (in a non-legal sense).

    You don’t live in that world, so it’s easy for you to treat it all as a theoretical debate. It isn’t theoretical for those who live it, and that’s most people who aren’t blokes (plus some who are, but that’s another part of the debate).

    Also, for the record, if I was asked by a victim whether they should report I would not encourage it and, indeed, probably discourage it, because I’ve seen how hard it is to get a result and I know just how harrowing that process is even when you do.

    It is personal. It should be personal for everyone who has been, who might be, or knows anyone who might be a victim.

  9. Max Gross

    The LP is incapable of changing itself for the better. These days it is a party of hopeless nihilists. They lie, they obstruct, they waste everybody’s time and they just don’t give a shit about the consequences or harm done. Nihilists!

  10. Terence Mills


    You make assumptions.

    I was sexually abused as a young boy by an older man, it was a one-off assault, the police did investigate but were unable to identify the offender – he did a runner.

    I’m sorry for your experiences.

  11. Geoff Andrews

    I wonder what the maximum penalty for a pinched bottom, technically an assault, would be. Jail? Anything less is more likely to add to the perpetrator’s ego and standing among his similarly disposed mates while a slapped face would expose the victim to an even more serious assault charge!
    It’s ironic that an ad entitled, “Meet a Lady to be Pleased” should be planted in the comments section of this posting. Someone with a misplaced sense of humour?

  12. leefe


    I don’t want your sympathy – I want you to stop treating this sort of problem as an intellectual exercise, educate yourself as to its prevalence and its outcomes, to do something that makes a diifference for the victims and puts the responsibility squarely where it belongs: on the perpetrators. Listen to the viictims. Listen to all of them and learn. Don’t look for reasons that the perpetrators aren’t guilty. Don’t look for faults in the behaviour of the victims. There’s no one single correct way to respond to traumatic events, so there will always be things about how the victim behaves that don’t fit your preferences. (And this is why I’ve gotten so roused up. “Why not go to the police?” is such a stupid, facile, ignorant question particularly when we have the Higgins/Lehrmann incident still there in the media. Look at how the AFP have handled the case, look at how Higgins has been treated. That’s one classic example of why victims so rarely do make formal complaints, because they see this sort of treament dished out all the time.)

    You were there once, as a child – so, when you were at your most vulnerable. That sucks. No-one, ever, anywhere, should have to experience that. But take that incident and extend the vulnerability, the likelihood of its happening, through your whole life. That is what it is in our society to not be a straight cis bloke.
    Consider how the complainants in high-profile cases are treated in the media. That is what the victims in relatively obscure cases experience from society in general and, more particularly, from friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues and those who are supposed to be helping them – police and the legal system.

    This isn’t about you, or me, or Lidia Thorpe. It’s about a problem that is endemic in our society and its institutions and shows no signs of actually improving, mostly because the system and those who benefit from the way it works don’t want change.

  13. BJ

    The LNP ARE the ugly side of politics, they just copy the US Republican parties policies and methods and watch them implode.

  14. Michael Taylor

    I didn’t know that, Terry. That’s sad to hear.

  15. Michael Taylor

    Same with you, leefe. Truly horrid.

  16. Geoff Andrews

    leefe I thought your response at 1.14pm Saturday to Terence’s opening comment to be particularly harsh & insulting. The thrust of Terence’s comment was that neither Senator Van nor the women whose bottoms he is alleged to have pinched has received justice because the women chose not to go down that path because. he hypothesised, the women felt it was too trivial, a reasonable assumption, Your response was to suggest, in effect, that he had been living under a rock all his life and doesn’t he know how corrupt and/or inefficient and disbelieving the police are when it comes to rape. Fortunately, these shortcomings of the police were not apparent when your own horrifying ordeal occurred: everyone believed you, the police believed you, tthe police were probably informed soon after the assault so there may have been evidence that time would have normally erased. Perpetuating an urban myth that the police don’t take allegations of sexual assault seriously only discourages women who HAVE been assaulted from making a complaint, thereby proving the myth.

  17. GL

    Simon Crean has died.

  18. wam

    Albo needs to expose the exploits of the LNP and their supporting bandit, with gusto on sky, 7, 9, 10 and SBS(remind everyone about the 14 years of no price on carbon). ps I am lucky enough to be married to a woman of intellectual humility and she was the best principal any teacher could wish for. But such skills are as scarce as hen’s teeth, making your piece a very warming giggle. I love your thought with ideas that prevent truth? The way to progress is through honesty and that comes from being true to yourself.

  19. totaram

    Since we are on the subject of the ugly side of politics, can someone give us the stats on how many times the present government has used the ploy “We vote that the member no longer be heard” compared t how many times the previous government used it. Numbers speak.

  20. leefe

    Geoff Andrews:

    This is my last comment on this article. I n eed a break from this topic for a while.

    It is not an urban myth. Nice way to discount everything I’ve been saying.
    Go and read the studies, including reports from within various police forces. Go and listen to the victims. I spend a lot of time in online communities that discuss these issues and events of this nature. 99% of the comments support the contention that my experience was an anomaly; that it was positive – in so far as such things can be – only because certain factors aligned in my favour, not the least of which being that the perpetrators were a group well known to the local coppers for such behaviour, all previous victims who reported being terrorised by those blokes and their families into withdrawing charges. But if not for that? If not for one prior victim being related to a senior police officer … well, who knows how it would have gone down.

    Do the research before dismissing what I – and the vast majority of other survivors – say. Your not wanting it to be true doesn’t stop it being true.

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