Tag Archives: Barnaby Joyce

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Politicians, sex and the Press Gallery

24 Oct

 

 

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, the Daily Telegraph decided on Saturday to publish a piece inferring that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce engaged in an extra marital affair with a staffer that has caused upheaval and discontent in his workplace, and his home.

My colleague Noely Neate offers some interesting speculations on the Tele’s piece here. 

What caught my attention was the reaction on Twitter from a few journalists, among them Katharine Murphy of the Guardian, who tweeted:

I’ve written on this convention here, but there’s more to be said about it.

The problem with Murphy’s convention is that it makes any scrutiny of the parliamentary workplace well-nigh impossible. If journalists are not willing to do the necessary investigations, and politicians know they are safe from scrutiny no matter what their sexual activities unless a victim complains to police, they are at liberty to conduct affairs with employees in circumstances that are far from equal. A politician is a powerful individual, some more so than others. Staffers not so much.

In Barnaby’s case he is the Deputy Prime Minister. The power differential between himself and his staffers is considerable. Consensual sex requires a modicum of power on both parts, and it’s arguable whether or not the staffer of a DPM, in a workplace such as Parliament House, has that modicum of power.

I’m not aware of any workplace in Australia other than our Parliament that has an agreement with journalists that employees sexual lives are private, and will not be reported on.

While Murphy’s criminality rider is relatively straightforward, coercion and abuse are not. It is difficult to see how situations of coercion and abuse can ever see the light of day, given the agreement the Press Gallery apparently has with politicians to keep their sexual lives private.

Whether or not an individual is entitled to a private sexual life depends entirely on the nature of that life. If we look at examples such as Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, to name but a handful of men whose sexual lives consisted in large part of exploitation  and sexual assault, then no, those sexual lives are certainly not entitled to privacy. Indeed, according them privacy enables their abusive and criminal behaviour. Without journalists denying them that privacy, we’d be unaware of their predations.

I’m not, of course, suggesting there’s a large number of politicians indulging in predatory sexual behaviours, but given the Press Gallery’s refusal to go there, how do we know? It would be naive in the extreme to believe their workplace is the only one on the planet in which sexual predation does not occur.

We know how difficult it is for victims of sexual predators to speak out. How much more difficult must it be if you’re in a workplace where you know the culture is one of protection for perpetrators?

There are circumstances in which a politician’s sexual behaviour is absolutely of concern to the public, and those circumstances need not be criminal, coercive or abusive. Barnaby, for example, campaigns vehemently against marriage equality on the grounds that it will somehow destroy the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, while he’s allegedly destroying the sanctity of his own marriage vows. If we are being governed by the hypocritical, we have a right to know that.

Paula Matthewson deals with the implications of illicit sexual behaviours in the political world, and our need to know, here.

There are situations in which a politician’s sexual life is absolutely irrelevant, and privacy appropriate. The Press Gallery convention, however, makes no such distinctions, and journalists’ hands off attitude to politicians’ sexual behaviours ensures a cone of silence around their workplace that can only disadvantage less powerful employees, while allowing our elected representatives freedom from accountability journalists grant no other workplace.

Guardian columnist Jeff Sparrow posted this tweet:

While there’s no argument from me that our sex lives shouldn’t matter to politicians, there are occasions on which politicians’ sex lives should matter a great deal to us. Why, for example, is there no investigation into Barnaby’s alleged affair? Did he use public money to fund its enactment? Is it an isolated incident, or does he make a habit of betraying his family?

This is a government that has subjected LGBTQI people to a foul postal opinion poll that gives everyone the right to “vote” on their human rights, based entirely on sexuality. Barnaby Joyce wholeheartedly supports this disgusting intrusion into the sexual lives of others simply because they are not heterosexual. Why is there a journalistic convention that protects Joyce from scrutiny?

Let’s not forget as well that Minister Alan Tudge announced stringent and intrusive requirements for single parents to prove they do not have a sexual/intimate relationship, before they can receive benefits. This government increasingly encroaches upon our privacy and into our bedrooms: yet politicians’ privacy and bedrooms continue to be considered be sacrosanct.

Why?

 

Sam I am. Aiding & Abetzing. Barnaby.

7 Sep

sam-i-am

 

Beleagured and pasty-faced, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari yesterday flung himself at the feet of  herds of rabid news hounds, and proceeded to deliver an almost incoherent mea culpa for his inexplicable acceptance of some $1670 plus change from the Chinese.

Yes, all right, he’s sorry, we get that, even though he’s probably only sorry he’s been caught. However, we don’t want his plate of green eggs and ham, we do not like them Sam I am. We want to know why Sam asked the Top Education organisation to pay his $1670 excess travel expenses, and Sam will not tell us.

He will not tell us in a boat, he will not tell us with a goat. He will not tell us here or there, he will not tell us anywhere.

While we wait until Sam’s motives are uncovered, as they most certainly will be eventually, acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce appeared on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night looking as if he’d been mauled by a polar bear, or might have been if there were any left. Host Leigh Sales hastened to explain that he’s using cream to rid him of sun cancers, and then we got on with the process of distinguishing between I am Sam’s request for a personal handout from the Chinese, and the Chinese making large donations to political parties.

There is a huge difference, Barnaby argued. I don’t agree with his position. The Chinese aren’t giving money to Australian politicians, either singly or collectively, from a place of love and friendship. They, like any other gift giver and donor, hand money to politicians because they want and expect something in return. This is the case whether it’s a personal donation to Dastyari’s travel expenses, or a couple of million to a major party.

On the same theme, this bizarre tweet from Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz appeared in my  time line yesterday:

Eric AbetzVerified account
‏@SenatorAbetz
I have long agreed with banning foreign donations but does @billshortenmp support similar foreign money ban for marriage plebiscite?

Abetz has not “long agreed” with banning foreign donations. Abetz has voted “moderately against” restricting political donations, frequently absenting himself when votes were counted.

As for the rest of the tweet, I can make no sense of it. Perhaps he’s suffering from irrelevance syndrome since Turnbull took away his portfolios.

Or perhaps, as Ben Pobjie suggested to me on Twitter, Chinese billionaires are surreptitiously supporting marriage equality in Australia.

If the alleged support was for the noes, I’m absolutely certain Abetz wouldn’t be complaining.

In conclusion they’re all, one way or another, trying to persuade us to eat green eggs and ham.

We will not eat it in a box, We will not eat it with a fox….We do not like it, Sam I am, we do not like green eggs and ham.

 

Not the full quid

20 Apr

 

Ceci n'est pas un chien. Image: Daniel Munoz

Ceci n’est pas un chien.
Image: Daniel Munoz

Barnaby Joyce is always saying something remarkable for its inanity, and the last couple of days he’s done nothing to cause me to reassess my low opinion of his tortuous thought processes.

I watched him on ABC News 24 as he descended into red-faced blather on the subject, yet again, of Johnny Depp’s damn dogs, free associating like a unicyclist careening around the pavement whilst juggling plates about at any moment to topple, on the dangers Depp’s canines presented to our biological security. Not that I wish to play down Depp’s arrogant offences but Barnaby in the mix can reduce almost any topic, however serious, to farce.

Barely recovered from that comedic interlude, I was almost immediately subjected to Barnaby’s strident claim that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should be returned as PM on the grounds that he, unlike Opposition leader Bill Shorten, has made a quid in his life.

I confess myself somewhat unnerved by this narrative newly entering our politics and seeking normalisation, that the only requirement for holding high office is the demonstrated ability to make a quid, or rather, millions of them. It matters not how the quid is made, indeed the less said about that the better, it’s merely the having of the quid that counts because having lots of quids equals substance and talent sufficient to run a country.

By this measure it is only a matter of time before one of the Kardashians runs for public office.

Those of us who have not made a quid, and I use the phrase as a metonym for wealth rather than the middle-class comfort that aspires to and imitates the shenanigans of the wealthy, are in this narrative called upon to respect the rich and accept the fact of their greater wisdom because after all, nongs like us are disqualified from power having not earned it, because we haven’t got the nous to acquire the requisite quids.

This attitude has been joyfully embraced by right-wing Christian fundamentalists, who have now incorporated as evidence of God’s love and favour the possession of wealth. You have quids because god wants you to have quids and if you don’t have quids it’s because god doesn’t want you to have quids because you haven’t been sufficiently subservient to him and you haven’t done his will.

This combination of politics and religion creates a powerful discourse in which having quids is normalised as a measure of  sacred and profane achievement. Ultimately it relieves both religion and politics of the burden of giving a damn about anybody with less quids: either you haven’t earned it when you should have, or god doesn’t love you enough to let you have it so why should we?

As we approach the next federal election, assume the crash position and kiss your arse goodbye, because barring a miracle, this poisonous narrative will have found the normalisation it seeks, and the majority, who continue to show themselves as being far from the full quid, will keep the conservatives in place, normalising inequality, normalising lack of health care and education, normalising draconian police powers and further normalising the outrageous privilege of those with quids.

It is astounding how some people most disadvantaged by conservative ideology continue to support its rhetoric.

 

 

 

 

 

Two blogs to read. And thank you, and happy holidays!

24 Dec

I’ve just read two blogs that remind me just how classy Australian blogs can be.

First, in the spirit of the season David Horton takes a good look at those whining reactionaries such as Barnaby Joyce who always get on their soapboxes at this time of the year and complain about the de-Xmassing of Xmas. The Watermelon Man’s posts invariably contain little gems of information that both delight and embiggen the brain, and this one is no exception. While you’re there, have a look at some of the other posts because Horton has one of the most unique and interesting voices in the blogosphere.

Then there’s this one, by Carey Moore. It’s a timely reminder that no matter how bizarre one might believe Tony Abbott to be, this is no time to get complacent about his chances of being the next PM. Titled “Busting a few Tony Abbott myths,” Carey unpacks five common assumptions made by Abbott haters that speak to the unlikely prospect that he’ll become our nation’s leader, and shows just how dangerous they could become if we allowed ourselves to be lulled by them.

One of the things I like about this time of the year is the enforced holiday. I like it that the country slows down for a couple of weeks, and that gives me permission to do the same. What the hell, it’s Xmas, I don’t have to…. fill in the blanks. For the next couple of weeks we can loaf about, kayak as much as we want to, sleep in, read crime novels, watch the Sopranos again from the very first series, listen to as much music as we want and slop around in our bathers and sarongs all day. Friends and family will come and go over the next few weeks, and the house has been made ready for easy hospitality.

So I may or may not put stuff up on Sheep!

Thank you so very much for visiting here, reading the blogs, commenting, and engaging with me. No Place for Sheep is approaching its first anniversary in a few days. We’ve had over 43,000 visits this year, and the National Library of Australia has suggested adding us to its digital archives, an honour indeed.

I’ve discovered I was born to blog, and I’ll be forever grateful to have lived in an era when this powerful means of self-expression is so readily available.

If you can, spare a thought for people doing it rough for whatever reason. Those of us free to enjoy this time of the year are among the earth’s most privileged inhabitants.

Be safe, be well, and love one another.

The brutalizing of Australia

24 Mar

Anger Bot by Dave Sliozis

 

When human beings whip themselves up into states of apoplectic rage they tend to all look the same. Thus the images of Barnaby Joyce frothing at the mouth at the “Look, we’re a Tea Party!” demonstration yesterday, reminded me immediately of Muammar Gaddafi. While retaining their individual features if somewhat contorted, the energy of  their lunacy is foregrounded, and it doesn’t really matter anymore who they are.

Self-interested fury is a continuum with Joyce at the milder end and Gaddafi at the murderous extreme. But it is a continuum.

Then there’s the placards, backgrounding Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in TV footage: “Ditch the Bitch, Ditch the Witch, Bob Brown‘s Bitch.” I’m no fan of Ms Gillard, but whoa!  We’re entering Sarah Palin territory here.(I’ve got an article in On Line opinion this morning on the merging of the religious right and state politics in NSW and the USA, that yesterday’s rally eerily supports.)

Then there’s the articles in the Drum over the last couple of days, by Gerard Oosterman, Bruce Haigh and Greg Barnes, all protesting the treatment of detainees at Christmas Island. The comments on the articles are something to behold. The rage against the authors and refugees is palpable, and the misinformation and ignorance displayed is a tribute to the propaganda talents of politicians and shock jocks. These homegrown talents are about to rival Sarah Palin’s Get them in the Crosshairs campaign against Democrats who voted for healthcare reform.

Violence, incitement to violence, brutalizing and hyperbolic language, verbal abuse, xenophobic and sociopathic disregard for the safety of human beings from other parts of the world, are all on the increase in Australia. They are aroused and nurtured by some self-interested politicians, and self-interested rabid media commentators.

It’s not that edifying watching Gillard and Abbott go at it in Question Time either.

Brutalized and brutalizing methods of communicating displeasure are becoming the default position. After yesterday, nobody can deny that. In other spheres public and private, these abusive uncontrolled verbal attacks are known as domestic violence, and intimidatory bullying.

Pointless trying to reduce these violences in intimate settings. Pointless trying to reduce bullying in schools and the workplace. As long as this type of brutalized attack is encouraged by political leaders and ranting media types, as long as it is accepted as our daily discourse, we’re fighting a losing battle in the schools and the home because its in the air that we breathe, and everyone has permission to indulge their most base emotions.

People’s revolt? No, revolting people.

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