“Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out”. According to Grace Tame, these are the words Prime Minister Scott Morrison said to her following her moving and powerful speech at the Australian of the Year awards.
In an interview with the Betoota Advocate podcast, Tame – who won the Australian of the Year award in January for her advocacy for survivors of sexual abuse – spoke of her astonishment at how the Prime Minister responded to her that day.
“Do you know what he said to me right after I finished that speech and we’re in front of a wall of media?” Tame said, speaking on the podcast.
“I shit you not, he leant over and right in my ear he goes: ‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out’.”
In her speech on Australia Day, Tame detailed her own experience of child sexual abuse, and said that her voice, as a survivor, will not be silenced.
Following the podcast’s release on Monday morning, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek asked Morrison in Question Time to confirm if indeed this is what he said to Tame following her speech.
“I can’t recall the exact words I used, Mr Speaker, but I wouldn’t question that in any way, shape or form, what Grace Tame has said. That is roughly my recollection,” Morrison told parliament.
“That was a very brave statement and that is exactly what I meant when I said that to her on that occasion.”
Morrison continued that he didn’t know why “some other meaning may have been put upon those words”.
Tame also commented on Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations, saying she was not surprised by it “because the common thread is abuse of power”.
“Anyone who thinks this doesn’t exist, that wouldn’t play out especially in an environment like that is kidding themselves, it’s a breeding ground for it,” Tame said.
On the same podcast, Tame criticised Senator Amanda Stoker’s appointment as Assistant Minister for Women, saying she could not look past Stoker’s defence of a men’s rights activist who gave Tame’s own abuser a platform. She noted Stoker, in her view, is not an “adequate person for the job”.
“It’s not that I don’t want to sit down and put differences aside in necessary cases and work with people, but I believe that paedophilia is an absolute wrong, right? And if you don’t absolutely oppose it, you therefore condone it,” Tame said.
“[Stoker has] aligned herself with this person who’s enabled that sort of culture and so I just, I don’t think that she’s the adequate person for the job.”
Meanwhile, it was revealed in Senate Estimates on Monday that Senator Stoker has not formally written to Grace Tame, and has only reached out to her on Instagram.
Tame said she does not follow Stoker on Instagram, therefore her messages have most likely been lost in the thousands of direct messages she receives.
“She’s also gone to the media and complained because she’s sent me Instagram direct messages,” Tame said.
“Even though I don’t follow her so they’ve gotten swept into the — I’m not joking — thousands that I just can’t, I can’t go through them all.”