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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