Warning: this article discusses rape.
Morrison can’t take a trick lately. He fails the 4 million Covid vaccinations by March target he set in January. Massively. Andrew Laming is off on empathy training to stop his stalking women; curb his up-skirting? Because the party needs the pervert’s vote. Morrison doesn’t have the bottle to sack him. He’s barely promoted Amanda Stoker as deputy of his new women’s taskforce when Grace Tame calls him out. He’s either pulling a swiftie or he’s got dud judgement. And the latest skirmish in the PM’s guerrilla war on women who investigate rape accusations against mates and staffers blows up in his face.
The PM smears Sam Maiden via a snide dig at Sky’s Andrew Clennell for an act of sexual harassment in a News Corp women’s loo. But it didn’t happen. News Corp and Sky swiftly point out how wrong he is. Water closet-gate will be his undoing. But how good is ScoMo as a rapid-fire shit-canner?
“One more scandal. One more boneheaded disgrace. One more backbench troll sent off to study how to impersonate a human being.” Speaking at the ALP’s virtual annual conference, which our press mostly ignores, Bill Shorten sees Morrison’s as already a virtual minority government in disarray.
AFR’s Aaron Patrick has to do Morrison’s hit job for him. It backfires badly. “A crusade of women journos,” upbraids Maiden, Laura Tingle and others for being good journalists and being women.
“Anger at the government over the abuse of women is being led by a powerful group of female journalists,” Patrick pouts in a personal attack rubbishing the “challenging”, “spiky” and “difficult” Maiden’s single mother’s poverty, the writer’s bad temper and ambition. Other women are incensed.
“So apparently giving Brittany Higgins a platform, calling the powerful to account, exposing government coverups & a vile rape/sexual assault culture in Parliament House, is not journalism. According to the AFR, it’s angry activism. Welcome to the new world order boys. Tweets Lisa Wilkinson.
Morrison makes a shocker of an apology on Facebook and on MSM. Blames the emotion of the moment. His cabinet reshuffle just looks like a ruse to demote Dutton, Porter and Reynolds, promote Stoker and to dodge responsibility for his government’s sexism. Misogyny. He press-gangs his women ministers into a “taskforce” to deal with girly stuff. But he and Marise Payne will “co-chair” it, just to keep it on track.
Why put four men in a women’s taskforce? It’s Morrison’s signature; he loves to smirk while twisting the knife. He must know we see him thumbing his nose. The taskforce is just another cynical act of coercive control in the abusive relationship his sexist government has with the nation’s women.
But first his vax debacle; the four million Covid jabs, he promised us by 31 March turn out to be a paltry 600,000. Only 3.4 million shy. The “vaccine rollout” won’t even meet his fudged target (2.0) of the end of April. Seventy-seven leading epidemiologists warn, Tuesday, that failure to vaccinate within the year will pave the way for dangerous mutations against which most current vaccines will prove useless.
Complicating matters, a tad, AstraZeneca, (the only vaccine we, plebeians, are due to get) may cause blot clots in the brains of those under sixty. But only seven people have died, worldwide. So far. And we won’t be halting the program because our Therapeutic Goods Administration says no.
Of course, our corporate elite call the shots behind the scenes. Peter Costello is smirking all the way to the bank. The underwhelming, $161 billion Future Fund, which dropped 0.9% in value last year, whose grandiosely-titled “Board of Guardians”, he chairs, has doubled its one billion dollar investment in vax manufacturers to a $2 billion punt during the pandemic. Costello also chairs Nine newspapers. Always plugs a good cause. While Greg Hunt boosts the TGA ceaselessly, the investor class is in for the kill.
Covid Commission adviser, “Babies Overboard” Jane Halton, has also healthy interests in our nation’s well-being including being Director of Crown Resorts, the COVID-19 quarantine facility in Victoria.
Best TGA in the world, says Greg Hunt. Endlessly. A model regulator. Who is he kidding? While there’s not a corporate arse, in any boardroom, anywhere, this government won’t blow smoke up, the TGA is supposed to be a government body. But it’s one which depends on those it regulates for its funding.
A watchdog which receives funding from health and medical companies has no conflict of interest? Model regulation? Not its transvaginal mesh scandal. The TGA approved the mesh without any studies to show it was a safe or effective prolapse treatment. It wasn’t. Thousands of women report complications, including severe pain and damage to nerves and nearby organs, including the bladder and bowel.
Similarly, a herbal remedy for benign prostate enlargement, from The Tomato Pill Company is TGA approved, despite research showing it is no better than a placebo. Clearly, critics just don’t know how our TGA works. If you have BPH, you might like to try a tomato pill, a TGA spokesperson says.
Morrison could bullshit for Australia but even then he meets only 15% of his original target. Work Experience Boy, Minister for Health Hyperbole, Hunt storms Sunrise, Today and sundry other TV infotainments to spruik his government’s huge success. In Hunt’s view, we’re the envy of the Covid World. Everything his government ever does is world beating or world-leading. Even its wanking. Revelations that Liberal staffers regularly film acts of self-abuse at work do help take the focus off rape cases and the government’s failure to honour its vaccine commitments. Thank you, Peter Van Onselen.
(Anxious readers will be relieved to learn that one Liberal has now been sacked for jerking off at work). Bound to fix the problem. But even this token bust is too much for Michelle Landry who stuns everyone when she is sent out to praise the young man.
“The young fellow concerned was a really good worker and he loved the place. I feel bad for him about this, but it’s unacceptable behaviour,” Landry, assistant minister for children and for Northern Australia, says, outside Parliament, trivialising, if not normalising, lewd sexual misconduct – whilst neatly turning the perpetrator into the victim – a common inversion in the defence of male violence and sexual abuse and no small part of Morrison’s declaration of Christian Porter’s innocence and need for sick leave.
“Politician feels bad someone is suffering from the consequences of their own actions. Right.” tweets former Fairfax reporter now The Guardian Australia‘s Political journalist, Amy Remeikis.
Others see the behaviour as more disturbing; a defilement or desecration. If it’s not an act of violence, it’s certainly an offensive display of disrespect to any female boss. Ten has video of at least four other staffers in a “wankers at work” video which those involved keenly shared amongst friends.
But Morrison moves on. Reports of any man masturbating over a woman boss’ desk are now consigned to the memory hole of history.) Furthermore, it’s been made quite clear, in the usual fashion, that this story or others related to it, are not to be pursued if you value your place in the Canberra Press Gallery.
The PM would love to pick a fight with the states over his own failure to honour his vaccine promise. But the states aren’t having a bar of it even if the PM’s office is able to team up with News Corp to release figures which imply that vax hoarding is the reason for the slow pace of the rollout. Time for a reset.
Enter the ineffable Hunt. No-one believes Hunt. Ever. His spin echoes the twaddle of his “meet and beat” our Kyoto targets. Or his soil magic, a boondoggle of bogus carbon offsets to pay polluters to plant trees they would have planted anyway. Offsets were never measured nor were they permanent.
Our vaccine delivery’s been overhyped and under-delivered, writes Stephen Duckett, The Grattan Institute‘s Health Director, who diagnoses a lack of urgency and poor phasing – frontline workers should have been vaccinated first. Delivery has been compromised, furthermore, by being politicised with Liberal Party logos everywhere and countless, interminable, brag-fests of self-advertising and relentlessly upbeat, absurd over-promising. They call this messaging? The danger of this hype, notes Duckett, is that it leaves no margin for error; blocks any capacity for a government to learn from its mistakes.
Learn? This is a government of covering up mistakes. Beyond even Hunt’s puffery, our PM of sleaze-baggery, self-interest and government by decree even takes a hit in Murdoch’s News Poll. Amen.
Run by YouGov, News Poll now operates solely online – a change which may render it even less reliable than last election, an epic fail that would cause any self-respecting poll to close down – but there’s also an Essential poll out to suggest that Australian women don’t like what they’re seeing in their PM.
Women’s disapproval of the PM rises ten per cent in two weeks – from 30% to 40%. His approval rating drops to 57% (from 62% earlier in the month) driven by lower approval from women (59% to 49%) Three out of four Australian women do not believe women are treated fairly in politics.
Not meeting the women marching for justice has cost him. The sex scandals may not have helped. Along with Michelle Landry’s loveable lad with Portnoys’ complaint, reports pour in of rent boys, assignations, orgies during Question Time, abuse of Parliament House’s prayer room for carnal pursuits.
Certainly not helping is the government’s mishandling of the rape allegation against former Attorney-General Christian Porter by Katharine Thornton, a complaint she emailed police not to proceed with, a day before the woman, tragically, took her own life. To pronounce Porter innocent is not leadership by the PM but a painful, gratuitous, reminder to women of how the system works to protect men.
Speaking of protecting men, where’s Bruce Lehrmann, the former Liberal staffer in Linda Reynolds’ office? The rising star seems to have vanished in plain sight after committing himself to a North Shore mental hospital. All this helps turn Morrison’s dag persona into a reprehensibly clueless Mr Magoo.
Yet is anyone fooled? The PM is as quick to tip a bucket of shit as he is with a disappearing trick.
No-one’s sure Lehrmann still in the country. No-one’s talking. Million dollar man, ($914,000 PA) Phil Gaetjens reveals he’s “paused” the inquiry that the PM set up because the AFP told him to. The AFP denies this – only quickly to change its tune. It’s clear to all, except, perhaps, Brittany Higgins, that there’s no inquiry under way. The AFP, moreover, not only lack the resources and the experience to pursue a rape investigation, since its inception in 1979, it has done nothing to embarrass a sitting government. It’s sheer bastardry to keep up the pretence. But don’t expect Morrison to back down. He enjoys it.
Worse, there’s an orchestrated campaign to discredit Higgins and to impugn her character which ranges from Eric Abetz’ alleged slut-shaming to the alleged briefing against her from the PM’s office. In similar vein, Aaron Patrick attacks Samantha Maiden, who published details of the late Katharine Thornton whom Christian Porter is alleged to have raped. Maiden also broke Ms Higgins’ story.
A cabinet reshuffle is just what’s needed. A reset. While he’s at it, Pro-Mo sets up his own advisory council or taskforce, a cringeworthy display of tokenism and duplicity nurtured by a pliant MSM.
The Liberal’s woman problem? Fixed. Morrison anoints Marise Payne, “the PM for women”, a preposterous over-promotion, to say nothing of its dud subtitle. A journo asks if Payne’s newly exalted status means he’s PM for blokes only? Morrison walks back his spin to a meaningless “Primary Minister for Women“. Now his mob will be all ears to all women. Just don’t expect an answer from his five media advisers. His government by secret fiat is flat out hiding its stuff ups. It has so much to cover up.
Crikey’s Amber Schultz asks Nick Creevey, Senior Media Adviser to Team Morrison, whether there’d been hint of allegations of bullying against Karen Andrews before the PM promoted her to Home Affairs, made vacant by Dutto’s demotion to Defence. The PM’s Media team does not respond.
Andrews is not alone. Cash is a controversial choice for Attorney General, given her role in the hounding of AWU and the leaking of a police raid to the press. Is Morrison’s reshuffle plus political CWA just another bum note from the tone deaf goanna strangler? Or is it more sinister, cynical skullduggery?
Scotty’s taskforce is a Jen’s party of all seven women in cabinet, co-chaired by himself and the invisible Minister for Women, our low-profile Trade Minister Marise Payne who’s been knocking herself out lately, not commenting, not visiting the women’s march; not calling out Andrew Laming. No. She has no comment on the government’s failure to read Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins‘ Respect at Work, a national sexual harassment inquiry report. It’s been on Porter’s desk over a year.
The Commission says fifty-four of the fifty-five recommendations still await a government response. Australia is also yet to take any action towards ratifying the 2019 ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment. Whilst it moots a women’s summit, the Morrison government has plenty to work on immediately. What it would like to label “women’s issues” – rather than matters of common humanity and justice are not a priority. This reality is revealed in its failure even to respond to Jenkins report.
“It may come as a surprise to some in the government, but women don’t exist in a vacuum, writes Crikey’s Amber Schultz. Childcare is an issue for parents, not women. Workplace sexual harassment is an issue for employees and companies, not women. Sexual violence is an issue for society, not women. As a new report shows, even women’s salaries are not only an issue for women: domestic violence risk increases by 35% when women start earning more than their partners.
Jenkins notes that Australia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 1983 with accompanying domestic legislation. Yet “over 35 years on, the rate of change has been disappointingly slow. Australia now lags behind other countries in preventing and responding to sexual harassment.”
Despite calling herself a feminist, Payne acts the compleat enabler, the Coalition’s iconic Stepford wife.
Women’s equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing are “on the agenda”, says the PM’s press drop. Or will be. How could they not? We all know they’ve gone MIA since 2012 when Abbott made himself the Minister for Women, a calculated gesture of contempt, that no-one could forget.
In 2014, the Commonwealth government suddenly abandons forty years of practice and fails fifty-one per cent of the population by ceasing to publish its Women’s Budget Statement, an integral part of its federal budget. No sources are tipping that anyone intends to restore it. Instead it’s all fluffy stuff.
Senior government sources add the rush of improv theatre to the TF concept by bullshitting The New Daily that “It’s about making sure the policies are aligned with where we want to go as a government,”
No shit Sherlock.
Other seers of the bleeding obvious see a taskforce with “a major hand in federal budget preparation” putting a “gender lens” on (The Big Swinging Dicks’) major policy areas and government initiatives.
If that sounds a tad murky, what is crystal clear is that no thought at all has been given to what his taskforce will do. Or how. But that’s the nature of a political stunt. It’s not meant to work. This is for show. Worse. Just a glance at its composition suggests Morrison is making sure TF it won’t work.
Kaye Lee profiles the women in the taskforce in a compelling argument that whilst the ministers may be women, their record on women’s issues suggests that they will not be agents of change or real reform.
Michaelia Cash, a lip-readers’ dream, maintains the pernicious myth that feminism is so old hat that it’s irrelevant to today’s women. Like solidarity. In 2018 Cash, a former Minister for Women boasts that she has the dirt on Bill Shorten’s female staff. No-one had the foggiest idea what she was referring to but then, as our PM just showed, you don’t have to have any factual foundation for a smear to be effective.
She’d heard the “rumours”. For women, unspecified “rumours” are still career death. In fact, any whiff of sexual misbehaviour, even if not directly committed by them, sticks like glue,” writes Jane Caro who notes that Cash, along with many other conservative women MPs are content to ally themselves with men. Token blokes or worse – enablers of a sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal regime that gags on quotas.
Home Affairs is huge. So big in fact, that experts warned Malcolm Turnbull against creating it. The departing, demoted, Peter Dutton, a former Health Minister who was voted worst minister ever by a group of doctors has done nothing in the portfolio to suggest good management or even that the monster is, in fact manageable. Already, however, sleuths such as Mark Kenny are keen to know if Karen Andrews will bring more compassion. Forget it Kenny. Her reply is to make a threat about social media.
More compassion with our applications and ad hoc deportations? Wash your mouth out. The thing that sticks in Karen’s craw is anonymous online disrespect. Of course. Dutto had the same bugbear.
[I] will certainly be taking an active interest and engaging as much as I possibly can on that issue.
Look, social media has significant challenges, one of those issues is the level of anonymity. We need to make it very clear that people can’t hide or should not be allowed to hide on these social media platforms so absolutely I will be taking a very close look at that.
Assistant to Marise Payne is right-wing darling of the Christian lobby, Amanda Stoker. Observers note that she began her career being seen as some sort of libertarian by being parachuted into George Brandis’ Queensland senate seat with a couple of years left on the clock. Then she turned hard right.
Stoker gets a big rap on mensrights.com.au and she’s spoken up for the victims of false rape accusation. Tertiary institutions don’t do enough to protect the rights of students (overwhelmingly male) accused of sexual assault harassment and sexual assault. Accordingly, Bettina Arndt is a big fan.
The Catholic Leader dubs her “Queensland’s voice for life”, and she’s been an outspoken opponent of abortion, regularly starring at pro-life rallies around Brisbane. Naturally, she is convinced that something she calls “freedom of religion” to be under attack despite a lack of any empirical evidence. Morrison shares the same belief and it may help explain why Ms Stoker’s been so rapidly promoted.
He’s got that beaut bill which Phil Ruddock charged a fortune to shape up. Christian Porter’s polished it.
“If we fail to defend people’s right to believe, and to practise their faith, we deny our nation its moral bedrock. Tolerance must cut both ways. It is deeply troubling to have so many examples to point to that suggest this freedom is under attack in our culture,” she claims, declining to point to a single example. It’s the “everybody knows” or “folks tell me” fallacy integral to Trump’s populist rhetoric.
It’s dangerous. Luckily, Frydenberg and Birmingham are along for the ride; helping the ladies’ keep on track. Keeping the boys in line is Elvis impersonator Michael McCormack, who owes his job as The King of the Nats to not being Barnaby Joyce. Big Mac has yet to display any leadership ability whatsoever. He is, however, a National Party MP who owes his deputy PM badge to the Coalition’s quota system.
While Macca’s icon, Presley, liked to take a clutch of fourteen year old girls on tour, the titular Deputy is unlikely to emulate his hero’s pillow fights, tickling, kissing and cuddling. But he’s bound to be right on the button when it comes to helping the ladies come to a decision about gender equity.
If work permits. His “meetings all day” made it quite impossible for him to meet the March4Justice women or even organise his wife, Catherine Shaw, into whipping up a batch of lamingtons. Or a pav.
Morrison’s latest faux pas is greeted with derision, disbelief, anger and weary resignation by at least half the nation’s population who grit their teeth and just get on with their day to day oppression.
As second-class citizens, women know all about gaslighting and abusive relationships- even if the good news comes from Papa Morrison’s hand-picked, handmaid Marise Payne. Or will – if she gets to speak. She may leave that to her assistant, Amanda Stoker. Stokes and ScoMo could be quite a show.
Both would very much like you to believe there’s no such thing as objective truth, and that after a while, the audience will simply lack the energy to understand or argue with what they’re watching – as Marina Hyde observes of Boris and his Brexit clowns.
“Blokes don’t get it right all of the time,” Morrison opines to his oleaginous on-air masseur, Ray Hadley, on 2GB, Wednesday, using that cutesy Love-Rub man-child special pleading he tries on in emergencies.
On this occasion he’s got dirt all over his face after his mudslinging at Sky’s Clennell bombs because Sky and News Corp say there’s no mud to sling. Morrison is quick to invent a salacious slur about a woman being sexually assaulted in a women’s toilet. Only top-shelf stuff from our Prime Mud-slinger.
Blokes don’t get it right all the time, we all know that, but what matters is that we’re desperately trying to, and that’s what I’m trying to do, and we will get this right — we all need to focus on that.”
Of course. It’s not the stuff-up that matters – it’s how hard you try that gets people vaccinated. Ray could be an honorary Stepford wife himself, the way he coos over the PM; soothes his fragile ego. The glass jaw is a bit more of a challenge. But just listen to Morrison begging to be given a koala stamp for trying his best. Telling us to focus on his rhetoric not the reality. Is this what national leadership has come to?
Come in spinner. A session with Jen the clarifier helps him to understand that rape is a criminal offence?
Women won’t forget. Men are not quite perfect? Incredible. This ploy is a tricked-up version of “boys will be boys”. But just lately, the PM’s been getting nothing right – least of all his call to cut Job-Keeper and raise job-seeker by a paltry fifty dollars. Women will be most affected as at least three million Australians will plunge below the poverty line – all in the interests of saving expenditure.
Yet, on the debit side of the ledger, there’s no compulsion for billionaires such as Gerry Harvey to pay back a profit-boosting Job-Keeper they simply didn’t need. Welfare beneficiaries who are overpaid get no such indulgence. The government’s double standard, here, does not augur well for its new taskforce.
But what Morrison’s up to is his old hand-ball trick. Rather than burden poor limited men with women’s issues, he’ll give them to the few women in his cabinet to sort out. ScoMo’s silo. In a flash, he elects the Minister for Women, Marise Payne, Prime Minister for Women, while Amanda Stoker, another senator, a pin up girl for men’s rights groups, who supported a fake rape crisis tour to be her deputy.
Grace Tame unerringly calls him out. Appointing Stoker to second in command of his faux-taskforce demonstrates he either is “ignorant of the cultural issues at hand, or he understands them completely, and is making calculated moves to perpetrate them.
“If the latter is true, then what we are seeing is further abuse of power, masterfully disguised as progress – the very same psychological manipulation at the heart of these recently exposed evils.”
All but forgotten, thanks to the PM’s orchestrated litany of false promises, dissimulation and paternalism is the story of Brittany Higgins, now pilloried by such crusty right wing henchmen of the government as Eric Abetz. Her story, as recounted recently on ABC Four Corners, must not be forgotten.
“As I opened the door, I noticed that the female was lying on her back, completely naked, on the lounge that was adjacent to the door … for which I’ve gone, ‘Oh’,”
A whole nation goes “Oh” with Nikola Anderson as the former security guard at Parliament House’s ministerial wing, who was on night shift at 2:35 am, 23 March 2019, tells ABC Four Corners her shock discovery of a nude Brittany Higgins on a sofa in Defence Minister, “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds’, office, located only a drunken stumble away from Morrison’s office; aka Big Swinging Dick HQ.
Morrison claims that he didn’t hear about Miss Higgins for two years; a claim so improbable it would be laughable – were his abdication of responsibility -to say nothing of the suffering – his office’s leaks help heap up upon Brittany Higgins and her loved ones – a laughing matter. But he miscalculates. Badly.
“It’s incredible… Inconceivable” that Morrison’s own staff would keep him in the dark about such a serious matter, says former PM, “Fizza” Malcolm Turnbull, the man Morrison knifed to get the top job, a job proving way too big for the man. You know you’re in trouble when Fizza calls bullshit on you.
In a desperate reset of his story, Morrison: Model Boss 2.0, the man Michael Keenan describes as an absolute arsehole, now makes noises about having made offers to meet Ms Higgins – as if meeting her somehow atones for his abdication of duty of care, or his office’s subsequent cruelty. Or losing her job, her credibility, or, in the latest of an orchestrated campaign of attacks on her credibility and character, becoming the butt of gibes fired by Abetz, who, of course, denies he ever slut-shamed her.
Morrison’s new version of his own melodrama is crafted solely for the purpose of diminishing a young woman who alleges she is the victim of a rape; paint her as spurning his support. Once again, he displays a rare talent for breath-taking hypocrisy and brazen denial as he gas-lights her version of events.
M:MB 2.0 has a twist or two in the plot. “Just before she departed”, or resigned, the PM tells Channel Nine, Ms Higgins was “offered the opportunity” to meet with himself and Michaelia Cash. Yet Higgins left Cash’s office 5 February, ten days before the story broke. Ten days before he says he knew anything.
Belief will not be beggared, however, much Morrison has “steadfastly maintained that he knew nothing of the alleged rape until 15 February, 2019”, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson. And now he is undone.
Morrison’s bluster; and his big-noting, braggadocio on the run will prove the end of him. His posturing merely accentuates the vulnerability of his victim as she appeared to Nikola Anderson, two years ago. The encounter is richly resonant, confronting as it is instructive; a type of violation in itself.
It’s a nightmare for both women. You want Anderson to say she immediately covered up the young woman; put her clothes back on; took her to hospital. Comforted her. But Parliament house doesn’t work that way. Anderson loses a job she goes public to try to keep. Guards are low down parliament house’s food chain. Along with whistle-blowers, you get sacked, or worse, for speaking up.
Already, Anderson’s testimony contradicts Finance Department reports that Higgins was found half-dressed. Above all, the guard’s version negates the PM’s lie that Bruce Lehrmann’s employment was terminated because of a security breach. There was no security breach. Two guards let him in.
And they let in Ms Higgins, who was, clearly, unable to walk straight. Or put her own shoes on. Anderson’s narrative also hugely damages the myth of Parliament House – to say nothing of how it punctures the rhetoric of national security and the fantasy that we have vital defence secrets.
“Nobody really knows the truth but me,’ Anderson tells Four Corners
There’s security and then there’s Parliament house’s travesty. It’s an indictment. If security guards are so subservient to their overlords, how do they challenge aberrant behaviour? Anderson’s story shows how. Badly. A young staffer, with neither pass nor key and an allegedly “falling down drunk” young woman in tow, is admitted into the office of the Defence Minister at 2:00 am Saturday, two years’ ago?
“Can’t it wait, guys?” Anderson asks.
“Not really,” replies the man.
It’d be a walking bust in most outfits. The male emerges around 2:35 am, alone and exits quickly. Says little. No-one on the security team puts two and two together? No. That’s beyond their pay-scale.
A wave of revelations of acts of depravity, debauchery and slut-shaming follow; including word that Tasmanian Senator and Christian right Tsar, Abetz, is alleged to have said that on that night, Ms Brittany Higgins was “so disgustingly drunk [she] would sleep with anybody”
Abetz is also reported to have said that Christian Porter is “safe because the woman’s dead” and the AG will be protected by the law. It’s classic victim-blaming which sides with both alleged perpetrators in a singularly prejudicial way. It’s almost as if such outbursts are orchestrated by a fixer somewhere.
But if the most dangerous place in the nation for a young woman to be is in a cabinet minister’s office, the Morrison government appear to be running a bawdy house elsewhere. A rising tide of licentiousness threatens to capsize Morrison, a leaky rudderless craft.
It’s clear that The Miller’s Tale has its counterpart in our parliament and doubtless there will be much clutching of pearls in the suburbs, but, for Morrison, the most damaging aspect of being publicly mugged by reality is that it reveals a PM who is a sham; a leader who is clearly neither in touch nor in control.
First, the PM’s security breach story is contradicted by Anderson’s candour. Security let in Ms Higgins and her companion, Bruce Lehrmann. There was no breach of security, she stresses, but this quandary is soon upstaged by Peter Van Onselen. His timely account of lewd acts, dissipation and low pursuits atop the desktops of Canberra threatens the record of Calcutta (Kolkata) under the dissolute Wajid Ali Shah.
Hook-ups and blow jobs? A prayer room, where Stuart Robert knelt beside his pal Scott Morrison just before Morrison knifed Turnbull, appears to be a multi-function, pleasure centre. “Tom the Whistle-blower” provides confidential information to Senator Simon Birmingham, that would earn Parliament House an X-rating, were it a computer game. But he’s not talking about virtual reality. The testimony he supplies to Birmingham involves four current and former staffers; three non-staffers; one busy sex worker; a former minister and a sitting MP in a slew of sexual encounters from September 2015 to 2020.
Dangerous liaisons are taking place right under the PM’s nose. Or knees as the case may be.
Nothing to see here, of course. The Office of PM and Cabinet, (PM&C) positively reeks top-secrecy when not leaking against its enemies, such as Brittany Higgins’ loved ones. Ms Higgins lodges a formal complaint with John Kunkel, Morrison’s Chief of Staff with evidence that Morrison’s media team has been “backgrounding” or leaking, off the record, information to discredit, demean and disparage her partner, former Canberra lobbyist, David Sharaz, who has been forced to quit his Canberra job.
Nothing to see? Except when mud-slinging. The PM’s hack-counter-attack -Tuesday, a departure from his earlier set piece, a histrionic baring of his soul, climaxing in a tearing up scene as the ham actor soliloquises grandiloquently about how the women in his life mean everything to him. But then he loses the plot.
In a flash, the PM switches from treacle to brimstone. He rounds on Sky News’ political editor, Andrew Clennell. How dare he suggest that Morrison can’t control his motely crew! – Clennell had better wise up or he’ll tell what Clennell did to a woman in a ladies’ loo. The mind boggles. But it’s all a bluff
That’s his implication, a lie, for which the PM stages a faux apology later.
Will water-(closet)-gate, prove to be Scott Morrison’s Waterloo? A royal flush of pundits think so.
Is he threatening me or something? Clennell, later on his own show, reflects, in a rhetorical question. The Murdoch journo helpfully notes that Morrison can tell him to “Be careful” about a fake incident that he says took place in a Sky water closet – but, even after two years – he knows nothing about a rape which is allegedly occurred only fifty metres down the hall from his office.
“Captain Schultz” Morrison is infamous for running such a tight-lipped, ship of state that not even his AFP’s Reece Kershaw nor his chief dogsbody, political hack, Phil Gaetjens, know where it’s going. Just don’t ask. Especially when Phil tells a senate committee it’s been two weeks since he hit pause on his “inquiry” into who knew what, where, when and why about the body in the office.
Gaetjens’ drops Morrison right in it. The PM’s been telling the House that Phil’s got the inquiry steaming along. Ongoing. All shipshape and Bristol fashion, rather like his government. But it’s more like the Evergreen Marine, run aground; lodged sideways hard up against the banks of the Suez Canal.
True, former NT plod, now AFP Commissioner, a boyish, Reece Kershaw, tries a quick re-float and turn around. It’s a spectacular retreat. In record-breaking time, he executes a top copper reverse pike.
Commissioner Kershaw disavows all knowledge of ever phoning Gaetjens to stop him poking around, asking nosy questions, in case the AFP’s, much-vaunted but almost certainly apocryphal investigations into the alleged rape of Ms Higgins are compromised. It’s another cover up of a cover up.
Compromised? Least a wary nation take fright at the latest shenanigans, there’s a dead cat on every table or desk. There’s such frigging in the rigging that the air is blue with talk of it, be it a Portnoy on a desk or staffers at it like rabbits while the Dorothy Dixers drone on destroying Question Time.
It’s a remarkable tale in itself filled, as it is with date rape and the disappearing acts of the mysterious Lehrmann, an alleged rapist who has yet to be questioned by police. Once he was a rising star. His meteoric rise without trace included a spell under George “bookshelves” Brandis, the former Attorney-General whom the nation was given to make Christian Porter look good. Fat chance.
Last seen “checking himself” into a North Shore psychiatric ward in Sydney, Lehrmann has vanished off the face of the earth or at least that earthy Liberal dunghill that the PM loves to call his Canberra bubble.
Will Morrison survive? The Liberals and their corporate masters will. Think of the cockroach, a creature which can survive without its head. Or is the PM undone already by his ill-judged mudslinging and his naked desperation to destroy the reputation of Samantha Maiden, a woman journalist, whose only fault is to do her job investigating two notorious allegations of rape? Can a PM promise vaccination and fail so demonstrably, so lamentably to deliver? Now women have woken up to him is it all over for Morrison?
Let us not be distracted by speculation. What emerges most clearly from the latest reports of group madness, bonkers bonking, rent boys, Portnoys and sundry wankers on desks from our federal government in the midst of its women’s taskforce theatre is the textbook persecution of a young woman who came forward with an allegation of rape. The persecution of Brittany Higgins, directly and indirectly through the media and from the floor of the House of Representatives, the assassination of her character and the systematic, orchestrated attack on her credibility is a monstrous injustice that shames us all.