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Well, Jamie, shit happens

The Australian today has published details of the complainant in the Jamie Briggs’ alleged sexual harassment scandal that allow the woman to be identified, while simultaneously trumpeting that it is withholding her name in order to protect her privacy.

This is one of the many reasons women hesitate to report sexual harassment and assault, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a public figure.

The Australian also reports that some MPs are greatly unsettled by the decision to sack Briggs because of alleged sexual harassment, as it sets the ministerial bar “impossibly high.” Respecting women, much?

Just don’t touch us without permission, how’s that for starters? Can you manage that? Because if you can’t be in charge of yourself, you shouldn’t be in charge of the country.

It’s worth repeating that Briggs was the subject of two LNP inquiries into the behaviour that provoked the complaint lodged against him. In the first instance, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet engaged an independent official to investigate the matter. It was subsequently referred to the cabinet’s governance sub-committee, members of whom included Warren Truss, George Brandis, Julie Bishop, Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Michaelia Cash and Arthur Sinodinos. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the allegations as “a serious matter.” The decision of the subcommittee was that Briggs had to go.

If even that bunch of charlatans couldn’t find a way to get Briggs out of it, it must have been serious.

It’s simple to avoid the situation Briggs created for himself, but apparently it isn’t easy. There are at least two obvious considerations. The first might be: if you are in a relationship that is committed to monogamy, don’t make sexual advances to other people. The second might be, if you are in a position of power, do not make sexual advances to a subordinate. The third might be: if you disregard the first two recommendations fasten your seatbelt, because you may well have just blown your life, the lives of your spouse, your children and the individual you harassed, to bits.

The problem with men such as Briggs is that they apparently don’t believe these very human rules apply to them. Perhaps the most useful thing Briggs has achieved in his career thus far is to demonstrate, albeit it entirely unwillingly, that these rules do apply, even to LNP ministers, and that his peers have enforced them against him.

For Briggs’ “conga line of apologists” , as Paula Matthewson puts it, including The Australian, to attempt to discredit the complainant despite the outcome of his peer review, is, while despicable, sadly unsurprising given the prevalent attitude towards women who complain about the unacceptable behaviour of men.

The sub-committee who decided Briggs must go likely had more than one agenda, nevertheless, it is one small step towards justice for women who take a stand against harassment in the workplace. I can only hope this is not undone by the rabid attentions of a media hellbent on protecting out-dated male privilege and presumption of entitlement, regardless of the vile behaviours this engenders.

Perhaps we can offer to Jamie the consoling words his pal Tony Abbott offered to those he rendered unemployed during his brief term as a failed Prime Minister: see this as a liberation, mate, an opportunity to learn something entirely new.

In the meantime, Jamie’s struck another blow at the supposedly monolithic sanctity of heterosexual marriage, demonstrating yet again that its biggest threat isn’t from anyone in the LGBTI community who wants equal access to the institution, but from those already ensconced who just can’t seem to honour their commitments.

For an excellent analysis of the Briggs affair and how to recognise and set sexual boundaries in the workplace, see here, by Kate Galloway.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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42 comments

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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Beautifully stated, Jennifer Wilson.

    Unfortunately (for Jamie & LNP Goons), we all have a very good image of seedy, leery, dishonourable and un-entitled Jamie Briggs making decadent, sexual overtures to the subordinate young woman.

    Your 3rd observation also makes a lot of sense for those, who can’t keep their pants up. Don’t espouse conservative, monogamous marriage, if you don’t know the practical meaning yourself. Hey Jamie!!

  2. Loz

    Well said JW.

  3. Tim

    When I was a boy, my Dad taught me that real men respect women. Without being specific, he generalised that strong men protect other people, while the weakest amongst us protect themselves… It seemed a heavy burden for a young person to contemplate, but now I’m older with a family, I realise there’s nothing easier.
    My only critique is that not every man around had my Dad. If we are serious about correcting the very obvious deficiencies the men in our society have, we should provide similar support that we do to woman. The strongest amongst us would appreciate the help dearly…

  4. lawrencewinder

    Succinct and to the point. Perhaps the minions of the “Ugly American,” Murdoch can use their phone tapping skills to dig up some dirt of the complainant?

  5. Jennifer Wilson

    Thank you Loz, and Lawrence.
    Your dad sounds like an excellent teacher, Tim.

  6. Mike

    Totally on-point analysis

  7. Backyard Bob

    It’s true! Great minds really do think alike!!!

    Bob: If that mob of scoundrels couldn’t find a way to get Briggs off then he really was a dead man walking.

    Jennifer: If even that bunch of charlatans couldn’t find a way to get Briggs out of it, it must have been serious.

    Ok, yeah, so I find that cool. It’s New Years, give me something ….

  8. bobrafto

    If even that bunch of charlatans couldn’t find a way to get Briggs out of it, it must have been serious.

    That sentence is like an uppercut. love it!

  9. Backyard Bob

    For an excellent analysis of the Briggs affair and how to recognise and set sexual boundaries in the workplace, see here, by Kate Galloway.

    Actually I found that article too superficial to be meaningful. And this is problematic from someone doing a law PhD thesis:

    The problem we face however in attempting to define professional boundaries is the sense of entitlement by those who fail to recognise the boundaries exist. This is evidenced by the response of those who apparently see nothing wrong with Mr Briggs’ behaviour. In seeing nothing wrong with such behaviour.

    “of those”. Whom are “those”, exactly? Why not name someone? Aside from the usual social media suspects I haven’t noticed any. Please note if you cite Mathias Cormann or that other guy I will tear you a new one.

  10. Roswell

    Backyard Bob, just in case you were wondering what happened to your last comment, it got caught up in the spam filter.

    Good thing I’m on duty tonight. 🙂

  11. Roswell

    Like I said last night, the lady writers on this site are amazing. What a powerful voice they have become.

  12. Matthew Oborne

    They are indeed Roswell, Everyone who works on this for the rest of us deserves a hand, I always have time to read the articles but not always the time to comment, but overall as well it is a great effort.

    The media often miss some very scandalous minute details that come within announcements The Aimn has a good record of finding them and letting them be known.

    I remember The Children Overboard incident people were shocked, and believed what the government told them the pictures were showing,

    No one in the media questioned it just as no one questioned the security threat rising after the budget, just to save themselves from looking like fools.

    I knew the children overboard issue was Bogus because Parents would never do what the government said they did, just as leaving a phone sim card with credit in the hands of relatives in the country it worked didnt make Haneef a terrorist.

    Even the guardian or the ABC wont step up and call out what is obviously going to be a lie.

    The Aimn has had no problems with issues like that.

    I have seen many predictions that are accurate here.

  13. Jennifer Wilson

    Bob, we share the same sensibilities on the parlous qualities of our current overlords. Greetings, brother.

    Roswell, many thanks for your appreciation. This is an excellent site. I’m proud to be given a platform here.

  14. Jaq

    So well said Jennifer! Once again those “journalists’ on the UnAustralian doing their bit to protect the chosen. We all need to support the victim in this, for as many of us here know, actions like these from men, well known or unknown get put in the “well nothing actually happened “- “no harm done”, “just a bit of fun” basket. NO. And by the way, its also called bullying, plain and simple.

  15. Terry2

    I’m still finding it hard to come to terms with the hypocrisy of the Australian for publishing the selfie photo with the young woman – in the background with one face in the foreground pixelated – and then say that they had not published her name ‘to protect her privacy’.

    They have wilfully exposed this young woman’s identity fully knowing that this will cause her unwanted publicity and distress. Clearly the ethical standards of the News of the World are alive and well at News Corporation Australia.

  16. Helen

    ‘If even that bunch of charlatans couldn’t find a way to get Briggs out of it, it must have been serious.’ Exactly, look how long and hard they protected Bronwyn and her helicoptering propensities before finally giving her the push. For Briggs to be pushed so firmly, and so soon, the allegations must have been undeniable and indefensible, even by his hypocritical and entitled colleagues.

  17. Matters Not

    For Briggs to be pushed so firmly, and so soon, the allegations must have been undeniable and indefensible,

    Perhaps. But remember with politicians, ‘politics’ is always in play. Briggs voted for Abbott not Turnbull, so there wasn’t ‘loyalty’ at stake. In fact, the opposite and it gives Turnbull a golden opportunity to promote a supporter and most probably a woman. Further, it wasn’t Turnbull who gave Briggs the ‘thumbs down’ but Cabinet colleagues, some of whom were friends of Briggs. Turnbull can be seen to have has clean hands.

    More importantly perhaps he would have won voter support from female electors; important, given how that grouping so disliked his predecessor.

    For Turnbull, the politician, it’s a ‘win win’ all round.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Fourth consideration: Stop getting pissed when acting in an official capacity and I don’t care if it was after hours.

    I used to take away groups of high school students on week long excursions. I didn’t get pissed after the official activities of the day were over. Nor did I tell any of my students that they had nice abs.

    On the marriage side of things, the definition of marriage thrust upon us by John Howard (without the need of a plebiscite) is “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”.

  19. Backyard Bob

    Fifth consideration: stop appointing people who self-evidently lack sound judgement and self control to positions that require both those things. That’s for you, Malcolm.

  20. Kaye Lee

    It gets worse. That photo came from Briggs mobile phone. he was the one that distributed the photo though he denies giving it to the newspaper.

    This report from Adelaide Now:

    “After publicly stating that he’d chosen not to name the woman to “protect her privacy’’, Mr Briggs confirmed on Saturday that a pixelated photograph of the 26-year-old woman, published on the front page of TheWeekend Australian, was from his own mobile phone.

    The former minister denied leaking the picture to the newspaper — but confirmed he’d “sent it to a few people prior to the complaint and following’’.

    The Sunday Mail can also reveal Mr Briggs has accepted dozens of bottles of fine wines and champagne during his time as an MP. The Mayo MP pointed to the photograph as evidence of the “informal’’ and friendly nature of the evening.”

    Good luck next election Jamie!

  21. Matters Not

    He will need a large measure of luck given one of his opponents is Rebekah Sharkie representing Xenophon’s party and given she used to work for Briggs.

    More dirty linen to be washed?

    Yes Turnbull’s political judgement has historically been a problem. But this time I think he’s on safe ground.

  22. Backyard Bob

    It’s quite evident from the photo that the evening was quite friendly and informal. How that is relevant to an inappropriate sexual approach to a work subordinate is kind of going over my head. But it’s nice to have it conformed that next time at the pub I can grab that sheila on the arse because, well, it’s all very friendly and informal. Happy days.

  23. 5ime0n

    Endemic of those in a position of power, mechanisms of accountability seem as foreign as a 457 visa. Unless you’re a Union official suspected of taking bribes; down comes the hammer!

  24. bob elston

    Les Patterson lives on!

  25. Sen Nearly Ile

    you are on fire Kaye,
    As the ‘discipline manager, I used to take teenagers away for camps and excursion. It amazed me that often the teachers felt it alright to have a drink after the kids had gone to bed I always made an arse of myself by putting the alternate view of responsibility and insisting on abstinence.
    When I retired the boys and girls old and young were happy but within 12 months a music teacher got caught interfering with the boys and got gaoled.

  26. Kaye Lee

    This just keeps getting worse. While Jamie admits to circulating the photo but denies giving it to the press, his Chief of Staff did provide the text messages between him (the CoS) and the woman to the Australian. Apparently they were quite professional but they quoted one which said she was glad the minister had ­“enjoyed the program” in Hong Kong”.

    The woman had told the Chief of Staff on the night in question that she felt uncomfortable and his response was to suggest she stand near him rather than Briggs.

    Nice protecting. Giving those texts and photo to the Australian should see them both sacked and no doubt the government will be offering compensation to the victim to avoid a court case.

    Shaming And Blaming The Victim: Why The Jamie Briggs Controversy Continues To Escalate

  27. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I really hope the young woman will be refusing the pathetic compensation offered by the LNP surreptiously.

    She will have my legal support plus no doubt others’ to mount a case against the dereliction of duty by the LNP Australian Government for allowing Jamie Briggs to stalk her.

  28. Kaye Lee

    She won’t need us Jen. The public service and government will be falling all over themselves, watched by the union. I am speculating about compensation. I have heard no official word of such but this giving shit to the media is absolutely typical victim blaming.

  29. Colin

    If the Libs Mayo branch had any gumption they’d dis-endorse Briggs for the seat at the next election. The seat is in the Adelaide Hills (I happened to dine at a hotel opposite his electorate office in Mt Barker the day after he “resigned”), so Labor won’t win it, but the Xenophon candidate, who’s a woman, just might, particularly with Labor preferences.

    The latest incident is really only the last straw, as he’s really achieved bugger all since he succeeded Alex Downer anyway. Not for his constituents, at least. He appears to have done pretty well for himself!

  30. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Colin,

    I hear the possibility of Xenophon candidate with Labor prefs. They all need to learn how to deal with each other to bring the BEST outcomes to their constituents.

    Jamie’s the cat who slinked away for the LAST time.

  31. mars08

    It’s not a problem, Colin. A bit of a joke really…

    Quote:

    Says Samantha Maiden, the News Ltd employee who received the wayward message: “… I think some of these MPs, they’re having a bit of a problem with their phones. They might just want to put them down.”

    However, The Herald Sun reported Maiden was “not offended” by the “mobile phone malfunction”.

    In a statement sent to Fairfax Media on Sunday evening, Mr Dutton said he “had a laugh” with Maiden about what happened.

    “Sam and I have exchanged some robust language over the years so we had a laugh after this and I apologised to her straight away which she took in good faith,” Mr Dutton said.”

  32. Terry2

    Surely there will be an official enquiry into all of this, after all, there is an official complaint laid by the young woman and whilst Briggs has stood aside he is still in Parliament.

    Now we have Briggs circulating photos of the young woman, including to the media. Doesn’t this seem a bit strange for a grown man to be texting his mates with this photo of his night on the piss.

    And then we have the boys’ club trying to cover up and point fingers at competent journalists who are just doing the job we expect them to do.

  33. Roscoe

    ‘Jamie made a mistake, he owned up to the mistake, he’s paid a high price and it’s time we moved on’ said Simon Birmingham, another S.A. LNP politician. It is time we moved on from the LNP I think

  34. Matthew Oborne

    I wouldnt agree with moving on Roscoe. One of the reasons it was announced when it was is because they hope the media moves on before people come back from holidays.

    Is it as downplayed as The Murdoch rags insist or is there much more than they are telling.

    Her Privacy could well be a secrecy agreement that hides something worse than is being said.

    One thing is for sure if Briggs did indeed kiss other people on the cheek and compliment them as mentioned by the australian, if it was known at the time it was not a come on as mentioned by the Australian it would be hard to imagine the Liberal Party demoting him given their track record of defending the indefensible.

  35. Backyard Bob

    I would have been all for moving on except for the little matter of Briggs’ behaviour with the photo. Moving on in now not possible. There’s something seemingly sinister in his spreading the photo after the complaint had been made. Sinister or just really stupid, given who we’re talking about.

  36. Matters Not

    Seems to me that the Briggs’ case and how it was handled raises any number of issues/questions that have escaped the MSM and commentators here.

    It’s what we don’t know that might be of much greater significance than what we do know.

    For example, we don’t know what her actual written ‘words’ were. (Yes we do know the meaning’ given to same by ‘political’ interests.) The timeline of her report is still unclear. The available evidence suggest it was at her leisure rather than penned with ‘outrage’ in mind and certainly not the morning after. We don’t know whether her ‘mention’ of Briggs’ behaviour was front and centre or whether it was merely a footnote to her report of the ‘last meeting’ of the day.

    We are told that there was two subsequent inquiries but we don’t know the process used? Was it just confined to her written ‘report’ whether that be ‘footnote’ or ‘separate’?

    Was she actually ‘interviewed’ by either of those subsequent enquiries? Was it like a ‘cross examination’? And so on.

    Can I make it absolutely clear, I have no sympathy for Briggs but I am concerned that ‘due process’ may not have been followed and as a result we are all the poorer for it. And that includes the Vice Consul in Hong Kong whose ‘interests’ have been trashed. After all, she didn’t want to be ‘identified’.

  37. Colin

    The Karma Bus travelled to Mayo on Saturday …

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