Australia’s Assistant Minister for Women, Senator Amanda Stoker, attended an anti-abortion rally last weekend. At the rally, she told the crowd that she didn’t see any conflict between her anti-abortion stance and her assistant ministry.
When asked about the priorities of his government’s Assistant Minister for Women, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t have a problem with Stoker’s attendance at the rally.
“It’s a free country,” he said.
Stoker, a Queensland LNP senator, also serves as Assistant Minister to the Attorney General. She attended the Cherish Life Queensland rally in Brisbane, alongside LNP Senator Matt Canavan, and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. Stoker also attended an anti-abortion rally last year, just months after being appointed Assistant Minister for Women.
Stoker has since defended her attendance at the recent rally, telling Sky News she wants to support vulnerable people in the community and that includes “women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant” as well as “the 50 per cent of children conceived who are women”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Morrison did not confirm whether he agreed with Senator Stoker’s views on abortion, and said he was not looking to change any laws in Australia.
He then called on Senator Anne Ruston, Minister for Women’s Safety, to address a question about the crisis of domestic violence in Australia.
Eighteen women have died as a result of domestic violence so far this year.
Ruston said the Morrison government had gone further than any other government to address domestic violence.
“I think no government has done more to support women who face family, domestic and sexual violence than this government,” Senator Ruston said.
“We must address the core of gender-based violence, which is disrespect, and that is why this government has made major investments and commitments … to make sure we put things in place to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place.
“No government has done more to support Australia’s women.”
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek was quick to rebuff this suggestion, pointing out that under the Morrison government, Australia has slipped from 24th to 50th place in the world for women’s equality, and that this is the same government who suggested women escaping domestic violence should withdraw money from their own superannuation accounts to flee.
When asked about the Morrison government’s form on issues that affect women, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said a government he leads “would take a very different approach”.
“I’ll lead a government that respects women, that makes sure that we recognise that one of the things that we can do to advance this country is to fully embrace the commitment of advancing women’s interests because that in our national interest as well,” Albanese said. “A good government isn’t one that represents just 50 per cent. It represents the whole society.”