I will NOT be lectured on women's safety by this Prime Minister

I will NOT be lectured on women’s safety by this Prime Minister

Not now. Not ever. And nor should you.
Women's safety Morrison government

The temerity of the then-Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to lecture the then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard on sexism and misogyny in October 2012 was, ultimately, so scandalous that it propelled Gillard to her feet to deliver one of the most blistering ripostes witnessed in Australia’s political history.

Gillard’s misogyny speech was instantly infamous. It struck a chord with women the world over, bone-weary from attempting to placate, manoeuvre and manage sexism, double standards and misogyny.  

Whether any other male political leader would ever be as adept as Tony Abbott at so shamelessly disrespecting and provoking the female population of this country seemed unlikely.    

Almost nine years on Prime Minister Scott Morrison has achieved what once seemed impossible: he is outclassing Tony Abbott in gall and substance in his systemic and blatant disrespect, disregard and mistreatment of women in this country. His entries into the category are competitive.   

But Morrison asking his women’s cabinet taskforce to kick off their invitation-only National Women’s Safety Summit, in the very same week he proceeded with his government’s brazen betrayal of women in the form of legislating just six of the 55 recommendations in the landmark Respect@Work report is hard to surpass

It is sobering to recall Morrison ignored this report for a full year, that he only gave it his attention when it became not just politically convenient but politically necessary. The Prime Minister boldly told the people of Australia in April 2021, when he was under immense political pressure for his woeful and inadequate treatment of Brittany Higgins, that his government would accept all 55 recommendations. But fast-forward six months and he felt emboldened to backtrack and accept just six of the recommendations. Higgins described the decisions as ‘devastating’.

Morrison was unperturbed by the gross hypocrisy of the decision, days before the Safety Summit which has been convened with the express goal of improving the safety of women in this country, to openly reject a comprehensive set of solutions. 

That the women in Morrison’s women’s cabinet taskforce, assembled to improve the economic security and safety of women, have barely participated in any public discussion about this critical report and its recommendations is perfectly predictable. It is characteristic of their public engagement in general which in itself is telling. If the relevant ministers are not willing or able to speak publicly about the security or safety of women it begs the question: what is the point of a minister for women, a ‘prime minister for women’ or indeed the women’s cabinet taskforce?

***

Support female-led journalism and join Women’s Agenda Extra today where you’ll gain access to a free 6-month subscription to digital library Scribd, with access to more than 2 million eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts, mag titles, sheet music and much more.

***

So let me be unequivocal. 

I will NOT be lectured on women’s safety by this Prime Minister or the government he leads.

I will NOT be lectured on respect or the rule of law or honesty by this Prime Minister or the government he leads.

I will NOT be lectured by the Morrison government on its “commitment” to women’s safety when it rejected an opportunity to dramatically improve the ability for women to work safely in this country. 

I will NOT be lectured by a man who has systematically abused his power to obfuscate and avoid accountability in the face of a young woman alleging she was sexually assaulted inside a minister’s office inside Parliament House. An incident he’s asked the people of Australia to accept he knew nothing of.

I will not be lectured about women’s safety or the rule of law or respect, by a man who did not immediately seek to support this young woman, demand answers or demonstrate the dignity, decency and respect the moment called for. 

I will not be lectured on women’s safety by a man who took days to offer a shred of empathy to the young woman and was then brazen enough to admit it was only sparked by his wife prompting him to consider if she was one of his daughters.

I will not be lectured on women’s safety by a man whose office allegedly began backgrounding on the young woman’s partner before reaching out to the woman herself. 

I will not be lectured on women’s safety and respect by a man who does not consider a dossier containing serious criminal allegations about a minister in his Cabinet necessary to read. Or a man whose response to a senior female MP voicing concerns about the treatment of women in the Liberal party is to offer her a trip to New York in exchange for her silence. Or a man whose response to her refusal was to publicly suggest her mental health was an issue while backgrounding against her.   

I will not be lectured on women’s safety and respect by a man whose response to the historic #March4Justice rallies that took place around the country in March 2021 was to remark that women ought to be grateful that they weren’t shot. 

I will not be lectured on safety by a man whose government failed to invite Brittany Higgins to the very safety summit convened as a result of the public backlash to her allegations of sexual assault in her place of work.

I will not be lectured by a man with the gall to tell Tracy Grimshaw “he’s desperately trying” to do better for women in this country while doing everything possible to avoid accountability and absolutely nothing to progress change. 

On Thursday night’s Q&A a pertinent question was posed by Tony Danino about the national summit; is it for real or is it just spin? The Prime Minister himself answered that question with his rejection of the Respect@Work recommendations.

Morrison’s temerity towards women doesn’t just rival the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott – it transcends his and is proving every bit as incendiary.

This year Scott Morrison has given the women of Australia bucketloads of irrefutable proof that a government he leads is a government that will not prioritise the safety and security of women. Enough is enough.

***

Support female-led journalism and join Women’s Agenda Extra today where you’ll gain access to a free 6-month subscription to digital library Scribd, with access to more than 2 million eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts, mag titles, sheet music and much more.

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox