The fact that Scott Morrison refused to attend the historic women’s March 4 Justice in Canberra on Monday made headlines – as did his equally unfortunate musings at Question Time that the protestors should be happy they weren’t “met with bullets”.
And while I get why that comment drew gasps of disbelief and media coverage, I actually think Morrison’s comments later in his full statement about protests were far more egregious — and indicative of the extent to which he takes women for mugs.
And those later comments confirmed my view that had the organisers accepted the Prime Minister’s hasty, last minute invitation for a delegation to meet with him in private, it would have been a complete and utter waste of time.
Scott Morrison isn’t interested in actually listening to women — only in talking at them.
Why so harsh, you ask? How do I know that?
Because Scott Morrison told us so.
In his full statement about the protests delivered at Question Time, Morrison read out what he says he would have told the delegation had they accepted his invitation. “If we were to meet today,” he said, “I would have advised them in relation to the matters of which we have been speaking”.
Morrison then launched into a laundry list of everything “his government” is doing and has done to tackle violence against women.
“We must not let our frustration with our failure to achieve so many of the results we would hope for undermine the unity needed to continue our shared progress,” he warned.
The thing is, any woman who might have formed part of that delegation — and certainly the women and their allies marching for justice across Australia — is already quite familiar with the Morrison government’s track record in combatting violence against women.
To assume that all that’s needed is a lecture from the nation’s Daggy Dad-in-Chief setting them straight on the “Morrison government’s commitment to end violence against women” — as if the protesters were simply blissfully unaware of everything the Morrison government has done– is, quite frankly, insulting.
The women marching across the country know precisely how much has been spent, what has been invested in, and, more to the point, what hasn’t. And in keeping with the theme of the March 4 Justice, it’s not “enough”.
It has never been “enough”.
Scott Morrison knows that. And, more importantly, the protesters know that.
Morrison can waffle on all he likes about the $1 billion spent on successive violence against women action plans since 2014.
But the women of Australia know all about the Morrison government’s long history of gaslighting, claiming to “deliver outcomes” for women while doing anything but.
They know that the most recent Economic Security Statement for Women launched alongside the 2020 Budget was more of the same nonsense about supporting women’s “choices” that failed to get to grips with the structural issues that drive gender inequality. And they know that those who pointed out the budget and security statement’s shortcomings were told by the PMO”s office that they lacked “credibility”.
They know that during a year in which domestic and family violence rates skyrocketed, the Morrison government quietly slashed more than a million dollars in the 2020 Budget from its anti-domestic violence education program in Australian schools.
They know that the Morrison Government has committed zero dollars of new funding in the 2020 budget for the specialist services that so many victim-survivors rely on for their safety – services that still aren’t resourced to assist everyone reaching out to them for help.
They know that buried deep in the 2020 budget was the Government’s pathetic response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sexual Harassment Inquiry. The budget set aside just $2.1 million “to help prevent sexual harassment in Australian workplaces” by setting up a Respect@Work Council to develop a training package and build an online platform of resources.
Yes, that’s it. A response to just one of the report’s 55 recommendations. They do love “training” and “resources” in lieu of genuine law reform, prevention and support for victims.
And I am sure they couldn’t help but notice that the Government announced it was going ahead with controversial plans to allow domestic violence victims “compassionate” early access to their super… announced the morning after the marches took place. Yes, the super women are statistically speaking likely to have half of compared to men. They may never be self funded retirees, but they can be self funded DV victims. Super!
The long list of initiatives and seemingly exorbitant sums, “billions!”, says Morrison, spent on this that and the other thing, may impress the Prime Minister, but if he thinks it will impress (or satisfy) those seeking an end to violence against women , it is the Prime Minister , on this occasion, who is ill-informed.
The women of Australia know very well what’s needed to tackle violence against women. The question is, does the Prime Minister?
Kristine Ziwica is a regular contributor. She tweets @KZiwica