Tag Archives: Australian Parliament

Morrison attempts to derail rape trial under guise of apology

12 Feb

Yet again many of us are asking ourselves, is Prime Minister Scott Morrison thoroughly ill-intentioned, or merely driven by blindly arrogant stupidity and incompetence?  

That we are forced to ask this question almost daily is in itself a serious indictment of the man, regardless of the answer. 

Of course, he could quite easily be both. 

Many of us who heard Morrison’s apology to Brittany Higgins in Parliament earlier this week were alarmed when he named the alleged victim of an alleged rape which is due to go to trial in June. 

The PM’s apology has been described by a leading defence barrister as without foundation, as the allegations have not yet been tested. There is now considerable doubt that, as a consequence of Morrison’s apology, a jury can be struck in the ACT where the trial is due to be held. 

Scott Morrison has interfered with the progress of a criminal trial while ostensibly apologising to the alleged victim who is seeking justice through that legal process. He has imperilled Ms Higgins one chance to seek justice, under the guise of publicly declaring his regret for her situation. And he has done it all under parliamentary privilege.  Incompetence? 

In the ACT the charge cannot be heard in a judge-alone trial, but must be heard before a jury. The accused’s lawyers are now seeking a stay on the criminal proceedings, on the grounds that Morrison has prejudiced their client’s case. If they are successful the trial could be delayed, or aborted indefinitely. 

An arrogant, stupid and unfortunate mistake made by an incompetent politician? 

Or a calculated, self-interested outcome in the guise of a message of concern and regret? 

That Morrison was unaware of the possible consequences of naming Ms Higgins in his speech is not a credible explanation. He has frequently, in parliament, declined to comment on certain situations because they are before the courts, so we know he is conscious of the sub judice prohibition and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. It’s also barely credible that those involved in the preparation of the speech were unaware of its potential to derail the trial.

Nobody knows what the trial might reveal. What we do know is that none of it will be good for Morrison. His stated knowledge of the alleged rape of Ms Higgins remains contested. Accusations of a cover-up by senior advisors and government ministers remain alive. The recent revelation of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s text to Ms Higgins in which he describes Scott as a liar and a hypocrite, again brings into question the veracity of the PM’s account of when he was told of the alleged rape. 

There are many reasons to argue that the sabotaging of the June trial is advantageous to the Prime Minister, not least because it will bring his questionable role in the events back into public focus, whether they are relevant to the trial or not. 

It’s time to stop explaining Morrison’s actions as merely “incompetent.”  The “incompetence” excuse serves only to conceal the depth of his self-interest, and the lengths to which he will go to protect himself and further his own concerns. He is a thoroughly ill-intentioned man with enormous power, who will do anything he needs to do to retain that power. 

“Incompetent” comes nowhere near describing the dark heart of this man, indeed, that descriptor only works to soften and humanise his psychopathy. He is at heart dangerously ill-intentioned. He may well be incompetent with it, but to underestimate his potential for destruction by dismissing it as incompetence is foolish. 

His efforts to sabotage this rape trial should alarm all women, and the men who are our allies. We are nothing to this man. His contempt for us is so boundless that he will even use an apology to derail the possibility of justice, because it’s in his interests to do so. 

It’s transactional, stupid. 

Media women name & shame sexual predators. Unless they are politicians.

26 Oct

 

Further allegations have been made against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, including multiple sexual harassment and molestation claims dating back to 2012.

One of the allegations concerns a 17 year-old girl.

On ABC TV’s The Drum yesterday evening, a segment was devoted to the latest alleged high-profile offender, banished by Conde Naste from practising his profession as a fashion photographer after allegations of serial sexual harassment and assault of his model subjects. Katherine Murphy was one of the panelists, and the host was Julia Baird.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to watch Australian political journalists comment on sexual harassment by powerful men in every workplace other than the Australian parliament. The elephant loomed large in the studio as Baird and Murphy discussed a topic over which journalists have thrown a cone of silence when it concerns Australian politicians.

It’s increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that Australian journalists are complicit in, and enable, sexual harassment and worse in the parliamentary workplace.

The situation for alleged victims of Australian politicians’ sexual impropriety is a dire one. At the best of times women (and victims are predominantly women) struggle to be heard and believed when we complain about sexual harassment and assault. It’s been obvious for some time now that the media play a significant role in bringing harassers to everyone’s attention, giving victims a voice, and making it difficult or impossible for perpetrators to continue their behaviour.

Yet none of this support is available to women harassed in the parliamentary workplace, because the media will not investigate, and will not report on sexual crimes and misdemeanours occurring there.

How ironic that there is currently a name and shame campaign under way, led by high-profile journalist Tracey Spicer, against men who harass women employed in the Australian media, while at the same time, media women protect politicians from scrutiny. This selective approach to outing sexual harassers in the workplace damages the credibility of every woman involved in the campaign, particularly those who comment on politics.

This post by J.R. Hennessy on the Press Gallery convention that protects politicians from scrutiny of their “private lives” is excellent, and well worth a read.

I continue to ask the questions: why are politicians given the freedom by journalists to sexually harass and abuse women, a freedom that exists in no other Australian workplace? Why don’t the Press Gallery care about women in the parliamentary workplace?

The idea of protecting perpetrators because they are “entitled to privacy” has kept women and children in violent and abusive situations for centuries. That it continues to hold sway at the heart of our democracy is absolutely shameful, and every political commentator should be absolutely ashamed if they support this long out-dated convention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: