Seething. That’s how I felt when I learned that Rachelle Miller, the brave whistleblower on sexual misconduct in Parliament, had lost a position with a defence contractor allegedly as a result of ABC’s Four Corners last Monday.
According to Four Corners’ reporter Louise Milligan, Miller’s employer reneged on her contract this week, saying they needed “more time to consider” in light of her recent media appearance.
News like this is exhausting and infuriating. It’s also emblematic of why women across industries still can’t speak out over the misconduct of superiors. The repercussions will almost always ricochet off the accused and come back to hit them instead. And the impacts can be devastating… as Rachelle Miller is now learning.
Miller did nothing wrong. In fact, she did thousands of women a great service in exposing the rot that goes on at the top levels of government: the sexual misconduct, the exploitation of power, the habitual cover-ups.
If we had a progressive government they’d recognise that Miller’s bravery actually served their best interests as well. Who in their right mind would want this kind of culture to persist?
But of course there are people inside government who want exactly that. They want the status quo to be upheld so they can continue doing whatever they want whenever they want along with their pale, male and grossly entitled mates.
Alan Tudge and Christian Porter are the case in point.
If the reports are true, both ministers exploited their power for personal gain. Both were accused of degrading and belittling women. Both were accused of covering up the debris.
“My mistake was an affair with a married woman with children,” Tudge said in a post on Twitter. But this doesn’t cover the half of it.
His mistake was treating the woman he was in a relationship with as an object; belittling her, demeaning her and then steering her out of a job she was reportedly excellent at. His mistake was the sheer hypocrisy of fighting against marriage equality in the name of sanctity, all while betraying his wife.
Christian Porter’s alleged conduct was even worse as documented by several women who opted to speak out across party lines. He was the party boy of parliament, treating women as utterly disposable and there for his own gratification. He was a “misogynist” and “deeply sexist” as revealed by barrister Kathleen Foley– a woman who has known the Australian Attorney General for more than 20 years.
Leaving aside Porter’s treatment of women for a moment, there’s also the inescapable fact that his relationship with a junior staffer (the one he was caught kissing by a journalist in Canberra’s Public Bar) compromised national security.
But what is the penalty for these two ministers?
Zip, nada, nil.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said he’ll be taking no further action in regard to these allegations, with the excuse that it happened under Malcolm Turnbull’s government and there had been no breaches of ministerial code of conduct under his watch.
He’s repeatedly shut down media probes into the story; including trying to prevent the ABC from airing the report and chalking Minister Tudge and Minister Porter’s behaviour down to “human frailty”.
Slippery as always, two men with power and profile get off scot free. While the women whose lives and careers were gravely impacted? Fight to have it not destroy their futures as well.