Federal Senator Amanda Stoker will be a headline speaker at an anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia rally in Brisbane on Saturday, months after being appointed Assistant Minister for Women by PM Scott Morrison.
Morrison’s decision at the time of appointing Stoker to the role, alongside “Primary Minister for Women” Marise Payne, was to ensure a “particular focus and lens on our challenges as a country to ensure that women have at least equal opportunity, at least as much safety, at least as much economic security as men in this country”.
The government’s ‘Women’s Safety Taskforce’ came into effect as part of a cabinet reshuffle in response to sustained public backlash following a slew of misconduct allegations against male members of the government, including an historic rape allegation levelled at former Attorney General Christian Porter.
But Stoker’s appointment was met with swift condemnation from many, who identified that her personal views had historically failed to marry up with broader perspectives on achieving gender equality. Most notably, Stoker was slammed by Australian of the Year Grace Tame who accused the Senator of declaring support for a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors of sexual assault.
“That is a woman who has been put into a position of great power – she has been given this new portfolio,” Tame said, adding that Morrison’s decision was either “ignorant of the cultural issues at hand or he understands them completely, and is making calculated moves to perpetrate them. If the latter is true, then what we are seeing is further abuse of power, masterfully disguised as progress – the very same psychological manipulation at the heart of these recently exposed evils.”
Stoker responded furiously, telling Sydney radio that Tame’s claims were “utter nonsense”.
“I don’t think the answer is shutting down and refusing the right to speak for people who share a different point of view to you,” she told 2GB host Ben Fordham.
Of course, people are entitled to have differing perspectives– in most regards, diversity of thought is what makes Australia a robust democracy. But when these differing views are born from religious indoctrination, that’s where we come unstuck.
In the case of Amanda Stoker, this is exactly what it boils down too. For years, she has used her platform in politics to advocate for religious freedoms. Indeed on her web homepage, she cites: “Religious freedom is not the government’s gift to Australians, it is a natural right, something every human is born with.”
But she laments the supposed loss of “religious liberty” saying it has “come under increasing pressure” to the point that “we now have a situation where so-called anti-discrimination acts have been turned into weapons against people of faith.”
“For too long, faith has consistently lost out to corrosive identity politics,” she says.
When these extreme religious views lie at the heart of Amanda Stoker’s belief system, how can we expect for her to champion policies that will benefit the majority of Australian women in an unbiased way?
Her pro-life stance has approximately zilch to do with the safety and health of women and everything to do with ensuring that the “word of God” is upheld. Her controversial opinions about the “transgender agenda” as she labels it and “completely unreasonable” demands of some transgender activists, are born from this too.
Recently, I wrote about the need for Australians to be wary of Scott Morrison’s evangelical religious beliefs. As the leader of a secular country, the PM’s recent claims that he regularly practices the “laying of hands” on unsuspecting members of our society are truly concerning.
Morrison reportedly asked a national conference of Christian churches to help him help Australia, suggesting that he and his wife Jenny had been sent to complete the work of God. But Scott Morrison hasn’t been sent to do “work of God”, he’s been elected to do the “work for Australians”. All of us. Religious, non-religious, and everyone in between.
The same goes for Amanda Stoker. Her role as Assistant Minister for Women at this point in history is critical. More than ever, we need strong, open-minded leaders with a laser focus to deliver a better country for 51 percent of this population. If their judgements are clouded by faith, we can’t expect that that will happen.