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The week that will never go away

Note: The bulk of this piece was written before the announcement that the Cabinet Minister accused of the rape of a young girl would out himself.

1 The problem with Insiders is that it is so dammed inconclusive. What do I mean? Well, in its allotted hour, it discusses a lot but concludes little.

Take last Sunday for example. If the word “concludes” means to “bring to an end” or “reach a conclusion”, the show fails miserably. A lot was discussed, principally in general terms, but little of it had a “So where do you think that leaves the government now, Phil?” question to it.

It looked as though they had dragged three people off the street to discuss things they had little opinion about, and it showed through.

Despite the seriousness of the points in question, I was staggered by the casualness with which the journalists answered/discussed the issues at hand.

It went like this, if you take my point: “It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant, or did he really mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant?”

Yes, it was all mumble jumble, a waffle of repetitive stuff that was already on the table and required some conclusion.

And whilst David Speers is a good interviewer, his greater need to entrap his guest on some mundane point every week I find stomach-churning.

In this case, the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, wouldn’t be moved on whether the Cabinet Minister alleged to have raped a young girl should have his name revealed. It’s the Prime Ministers decision, he repeated ad nauseam until Speers accepted his answer.

It was apparent that Scott Morrison could: a) leave it with the police, b) allow the person to come out of his own accord, c) allow it to be leaked or revealed under Parliamentary Privilege, or d) release it himself.

As it turned out, he elected to go with the first choice, which of course, should leave every cabinet minister hopping mad while the eyes of the world are upon any 16 of them.

It was a display of illogical leadership by Morrison based on his passionate belief that his Minister was telling the truth. In this case, it required more than just a bit of blind passion – some even-handedness.

The voting public and the government must now satisfy themselves that it is perfectly alright to have an alleged rapist within government ranks.

Notwithstanding all of that, the accused must also be afforded a presumption of innocence.

Of course, if you lived inside the Canberra bubble – as most political journalists do – then you would probably, as would the politicians, know who this person is.

It wouldn’t surprise if many people had already determined that they couldn’t vote for a rapist in their party, alleged or not.

Inevitably, it will go public. It could be published in some corner of the internet where Australia’s defamation laws don’t reach. Or a member of a State or Federal Parliament will name him under Parliamentary Privilege.

However, when his name is revealed, it might become apparent just why Morrison had not made the person known in the first place.

It came as no surprise when Christian Porter fronted the media.

And it is here that to give this piece some relevance; I need to say that it was announced late on Tuesday that the Minister involved would give his side of the story on Wednesday.

Before I begin, please compare these two statements by the Prime Minister.

“I had a discussion with the individual, who as I said absolutely rejects these allegations – and so after having spoken to the commissioner and the deputy secretary of my department, there are no matters that require my immediate attention.”

“I have listened to Brittany. Jenny and I spoke last night, and 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?’

So, the Prime Minister has admitted that he hasn’t read the statement of the young woman who later committed suicide but completely accepts what his Minister has told him. In doing so, he rejects out of hand whatever the girl said. That is a very dismissive way to treat her.

Australian of the Year Grace Tame in an address to the National Press Club on Tuesday, gave an unforgettable speech on sexual harassment. I will be eternally grateful.

 

 

At question time, when asked about the performance of the Prime Minister, she was less than enthusiastic. Who can blame her when he makes such contradictory statements? Particularly, as in 2019, he said that victims of rape should come forward with the view that they would be believed.

Her putting down of Scott Morrison’s remark about his consultation with his wife Jenny was classical.

“You shouldn’t need to have children to have a conscience.”

It was a speech that will be long remembered by those fortunate enough to remember it.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that:

“Mr Albanese warned the PM the scandal “won’t go away”, and directly attacked him by pointing out the “stark contrast” between Mr Morrison’s insistence the Minister in question is entitled to be presumed innocent, and a 2019 clip of him saying all rape victims should be believed.”

It came as no surprise when a teary Christian Porter fronted the cameras in Western Australia.

He remembered nothing. It was a Morrison defence. He repeatedly said, “It just didn’t happen,” as if he was trying to convince himself.

He was in complete denial, and one had to wonder if it was on this basis that the Prime Minister accepted he was telling the truth. Personally, I would need more than he presented.

He was unaware of any of the allegations until very recently. He followed all the accepted ruled of denial. He couldn’t talk about the allegations because nothing happened.

He will take a short break for the sake of his mental health. No, he will not resign. His character has been tested beyond belief. I know nothing. Nothing sexual happened.

I found it astonishing that neither the Prime Minister nor the Attorney General had read the dossier. I struggled to believe Porter that he remembered specific points but not others.

All it did for me, and I suppose for many others, was to reassert that Scott Morrison needs to have an independent and open inquiry. It is the only valid path to take. Sure, it wouldn’t/couldn’t resolve all the issues, but at least it might fix some loose ends (like the behaviour of men in our parliament).

The events of this week will never go away. To quote Kaye Lee:

“We make haste slowly.

But we cannot give up.”

Now back to Insiders.

The panel included Rosie Lewis, Lanai Scarr and Phil Corey. Whilst I agree with having every possible representation in journalism, they should limit it to those who can make a point without any waffle. (Apologies to Phil). And, of course, those who have a forceful television personality. These days all they seem to do is agree with each other.

This government, of course, stuffs up so much that it makes it nigh on impossible to cover it all in an hour, and in this instance, the allegation of rape against an unknown cabinet minster was allowed so much time that other important subjects barely got a mention.

But they did Craig Kelly (will the Nationals pursue him?) and his sidekick Frank Sumbo, procedures against sexual harassment, the presumption of innocence, the government’s newfound working majority, Peter Dutton’s entry into the rape issues to darken the waters, Nicolle Flint to leave politics after confronting attacks, why the Liberals don’t support women, will Lynda Reynolds retain her job, the new dole payment and the poverty line and JobSeeker (or was it dob a seeker?), or Penny Wong, Linda Reynolds, and the Press Club.

Around 15 issues were canvassed, all of which had a negative slant towards the government, but nobody thought to sum up the government’s standing.

Maybe I have been a little harsh in my assessment of the Insiders programme. Perhaps it’s the Liberal and National parties who are at fault for the avalanche of material that needs to be discussed.

If they didn’t stuff up as much as they do, then the show might be able to vent its spleen at a slower pace.

The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.

2 As the female journal journalist said to the Prime Minister; “You release a report, [Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report] and then 30 minutes later you call a news conference. Fact is you do it all the time.” Well, don’t hold me to those words, but they are reasonably accurate.

And so began what turned out to be a somewhat ridiculous news conference on one of the most severe topics of recent times. With an ageing population, both sides of parliament had known for many years that a crisis in aged care would come sooner or later.

One side knew that it had overlooked 20 reports that had come before the Royal Commissions. It now has to make decisions that will shirt front its philosophy that individuals should pay for their aged care and health costs, for that matter, instead of depending on the state.

However, what they need to decide here and now is what sort of society they want, then Morrison and Frydenberg will have to stare in the face of these questions.

When drafting a budget for the common good, what should your priorities be?

Do you want to do what’s best for Australia’s citizens who have little, or are you more inclined towards increasing the riches of our wealthiest?

My thought for the day

The true test of any nation surely must be how it treats its most vulnerable.

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17 comments

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  1. Kronomex

    “Do you want to do what’s best for Australia’s citizens who have little, or are you more inclined towards increasing the riches of our wealthiest?”

    In answer I shall use a short clip from a Mel Brooks film and a paraphrased Gollumism (that sounds awful, but the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet) to you:


    “We be nice to them, because they be nice to us.”

  2. New England Cocky

    Scummo is unfit to govern and David Spew is a Muloch stooge.

  3. Brandane

    After the Porter Press Conference I had another look and Four Corners – Canberra Bubble.
    When Porter was faced with clear evidence of his predatory sexual practices, his reply
    It Never Happened!
    Where have you heard that?

  4. Regional Elder

    I don’t think you are too harsh at all about the ABC’s ‘ Insiders’ program this year.
    It varies from week to week, but Speers is not impressive with his ‘Gotcha ‘ style of interviewing, though this may be to some extent, an artifact of the opaque response style to interviewers, ( Scott Morrison being a master of this genre) that characterises the Coalition government over the past 8 years.

    Last Sunday’s Insiders was one of the worst. It can degenerate to a shallow talkfest unfortunately.

  5. Harry Lime

    Well, Mr. Lord we can all just move along because Scotty from marketing has declared Porter innocent by Prime Ministerial fiat.This pack of corrupt bastards are heading for a big fall,.The Liar’s attempts to brush it away notwithstanding.The stench surrounding this government is engulfing the entire country.
    The ABC has been going downhill for some time now, as the government slowly throttles its funding.

  6. Ross

    A little off topic but in the realms of negative slant, The Guardian on line seems to stopped all and any comments with a negative slant towards the federal government. This change come amid the gigantic rape scandal involving a government minister and funnily enough after the scam the government has concocted to force the social media giants to cough up some money to local media giants. You can only imagine the vast flood of negative comments from Guardian readers on any article about the minister in question. The most mild would consist of “the bloke has form”.
    Explains why the government tried so hard to nobble Four Corners, failed there but might have more success with the Guardian where comment are routinely anti LNP government.

  7. Williambtm

    John Lord has the ability and learning capacity to introduce and speak about the most pertinent subject matters roiling in many of Australia’s people’s minds. Thank you, John, for all your commentaries.
    The adage of leopards and spots comes to my mind, so does an established track record have relevance in dealing with practiced defense responses as did become the gist in the claims of innocence by A-G Christian Porter?

    Exceedingly apparent is the big-dickers or dicksters (or whatever they had named themselves) are a very concerning appellation given to female conquests to please their predatory selves. It reeks of who and how many. (Parliamentary Staffers.)

    A disgraceful political party minority consisting of spielers, spin merchants, legerdemain practitioners, and additional discomforting traits, including a frequency of denials… This minority group of ego-boosting nonsense endeavors should be banished under all future circumstance,

  8. ajogrady

    Compare how the L/NP hide behind “natural justice” and “the presumption of innocence until proven guilty” for their colleague but never afforded “natural justice” and “presumption of innocence until proven guilty” for the over 2000 suicide victims and the many, many others victimised by the L/NP’s cruel Robodebt debacle. Also compare how Robodebt victims are treated compared to the millionaires and billionaires stealing from the flawed JobKeeper scheme.
    The government of Australia is a hypocritical disfunctional evil cabal of corrupt to the core criminals and are ethically and morally void of standards and values.

  9. Harry Lime

    Ross, the Guardian are going to find their subscriptions dropping off, which is a real pity.I’m one of them and it’s frustrating not to be able to give Morrison and his cretinous gang of fuckwits a good bollocking,and I know I’m not the lone ranger.

  10. Michael Taylor

    That’s the first time I’ve had the chance to hear Grace Tame’s address. It was as powerful, tragic and emotional as people have said it was.

    I’m sure I’m not the only male moved by it.

  11. wam

    4 corners exposed his attitudes to women placing him unable to control his opportunist urges, especially with alcohol and the availability of vulnerable female employees.
    Equally expressive of the importance of sex in porter’s persona is his ‘self portrait’ *which had to be censored) for cleo in 1999. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4331558/Minister-s-Cleo-Bachelor-Year-self-image-rude.html On top of his personal sexual flaws, Elizabeth Minton exposes his complete disregard for the rule of law “Christian Porter responsible for serial breaches of the law, now cries “rule of law” by Elizabeth Minter | Mar 4, 2021 | Government” Where are you albo, wong and plibersek???? ps summo true to form gave his defence minister a smack for lying cow comment remember she is a woman.
    He and all pollies male and female were taught a lesson in Grace’s speech let us hope not just the boys here, michael, but the lnp women heed her lesson and we all educate for equality.

  12. Jon Chesterson

    UNLIKE MORRISON’S ‘RULE OF LAW’ (PROPAGANDA) THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF ‘TRIBAL’ LAW OR ‘MOB’ RULE, WHICH MORRISON TRIED TO FORCE UPON OUR BELEAGUERED CONSCIENCE THIS MORNING (WITHOUT REBUTTAL OR CHALLENGE FROM THE PRESS), ON OUR ABC; AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ECHOED THE SAME LIE AND MISNOMER !

    These men are frauds and liars, as we already know. What’s worse, Porter is an alleged rapist who expects to get off ‘Scott free’ (yup pun and motive intended) because his alleged victim is already dead. Worse than that, he is the top legal executive in the country – The Attorney General. Under no circumstances should he be permitted to remain in office.

    He, above all should realise what is required here in the absence of a criminal investigation, which does not mean he is innocent, whether presumption of such is rule of law or not. There is civil law, public trust and a political process, due process too. He and Morrison would know that anyone else in the country (you and I) would be stood down and suspended while their employer, HR investigates the matter. Under such circumstances proof of guilt is not required. All that is determined when the facts are established and evaluated is the balance of probability.

    So we ask ourselves why does Morrison and Porter himself think he is immune to investigation, from stepping aside and why do they both try to coerce us into thinking he is innocent and above the law and regular civil procedures? The only answers to explain that – Porter’s secret guilt, lack of trust over due process and the belief that men in power like these two arrogant Liberals are entitled to interpret the law themselves or are above it, that for them rape is a matter of opinion not fact or moral responsibility, either that or part of the secondary victimisation cycle.

    No doubt in my mind, Porter has form (Four Corner’s), and both men have always got what they wanted, no matter how abusive or corrupt. Why do men like this always think they can get away with it, the world over. And what do they give us -‘presumption of innocence’, till found guilty, in the knowledge there won’t even be an investigation!

    Well hello, this is Australia not Russia, America, Myanmar, North Korea or Belarus. We have a rule of law and it is not up to Morrison or Porter to interpret it or determine when and where it does not apply, especially when they are the subject of the allegations and in conflict of interest by such close association and opportunity to gain, and clearly judgment, impartiality utterly compromised. Wouldn’t be permitted anywhere else in the country, so why in the highest house in the land?

  13. paul walter

    Talked to his daughters, eh?

    So now they know it is ok to rape someone to the point where this contributes to a suicide, the parents be denied their inquiry and a cabinet minister is patted on the back for slagging off at another rape victim?

  14. Consume Less

    This is dreadful behaviour from the PM, Porter, Dutton, Frydenburg et al. They act as if they are above the law. There must be an inquiry. When I look at Porter’s behaviour over his career, I mean the guy is the complete idiot and he has/had aspirations to be PM. Go figure on that one but we do have mostly useless PM’s.

  15. Bert

    Mr Lord, to quote you “And whilst David Speers is a good interviewer” is subjective, personally I think he’s a waste of oxygen and Insiders is a waste of television bandwidth.

    I had high expectations of how he would conduct interviews after his first appearance and thought him a worthy replacement for Barrie. Those expectations were dashed in the second week and I’ve never watched what used to be a fixture of my Sunday mornings since.

    As the falling viewer numbers have demonstrated, I’m not alone.

  16. Margot

    In today’s Australian

    Attorney-General Christian Porter must not face trial by media
    CHRIS MERRITT
    MARCH 5, 2021
    Grace Tame is right. The nation does seem to be on the verge of some sort of revolution. But it’s not the sort of benign change envisaged by the Australian of the year when she addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday.
    The outrageous treatment of Attorney-General Christian Porter suggests we could be entering a new dark age that erodes public trust in the media and the institutions that govern society……

    The rule of law ‘is dead’ if it can be tossed aside for political enemies
    Sky News host Chris Kenny says the Christian Porter allegation shows if you are on the conservative side of politics then you are “presumed guilty”…..
    If Porter is forced from office the repercussions would be immense. Just like America, many on his side of politics would see this as proof that the ABC-aligned media is their enemy, and the other side of politics believes the law is there to be avoided.

    Chris Merritt is vice-president of the Rule of Law Institute.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/legal-affairs/attorneygeneral-christian-porter-must-not-face-trial-by-media/news-story/854566da2bed58ba09f33a7fe21dd74f

    The Rule of Law Institute is an astroturf group associated with the IPA.

    Groups calling themselves institutes always sets of alarm bells for me.

    This is a great article on astroturfing and the tactics used.

    Grassroots vs Astroturf: the tactics of ‘Rambo’ Ross Irvine
    How the corporate neo-conservative elite goes about the undermining of NGOs
    Named after a synthetic lawn, astroturfing is the creation of bogus community groups or independent authorities who endorse industry practice, recruit lesser-informed citizens, confuse the debate and make the real community groups appear extreme.

    https://www.safecom.org.au/counter-activism.htm

  17. Williambtm

    Another compelling article Mr. Lord, although this ‘trial by media’ had become an employed tactic by the Wunderkind of today’s Commonwealth Constitution abusing Liberal/National coalition party government; John Winston Howard.
    One must recall the huge media coverage of the Port Arthur Massacree all those years ago (1996), just after Howard had slid into the chair of Australia’s Prime minister.
    I recall the news clip video that depicted Howard facing the news cameras, he exhorting that the accused Martin Bryant must be denied a trial by judge and jury.
    Australia’s Commonwealth Constitution insists the right of trial by judge and jury be made available to every Australian citizen.
    Then, in fact, ASIO personnel were on-site when the shooting began in the second chosen target, the Port Phillip cafe.
    One of the ASIO personnel had been fatally shot when he had begun to shout no, not in here.
    There are witnesses to the true going-on that remained out of the discourse published for the masses’ consumption.

    Howard had often called upon Australia’s main-stream media to conflate various Howard contrived events.
    Yet this strategy was certainly not employed by the very recent Scomo-Porter prescribed public address by either of these 2 persons.

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