Scott Morrison's 'women issue' is the reason he won't call an early election

Scott Morrison’s ‘women issue’ is likely the reason he won’t call an early election

Scott Morrison

It’s been reported that Scott Morrison isn’t looking to the prospect of an early election, telling colleagues to expect a “two-budget strategy” before Australians head to the federal ballot box again.

This would mean that the Prime Minister would likely vie for a fourth term mid next year– the latest date possible being May 21.

It’s an interesting tactic given his apparent lead in the polls.

But beyond the PM’s apparent wish to be a “full-termer”, as reported by several government sources, his decision is likely motivated by more than this. My take? Scott Morrison knows he has a problem with women.

And it’s not just this latest fallout involving Brittany Higgins and the three other women who have come forward to allege sexual assault at the hands of a Liberal Party staffer. It’s the PM’s recurrent disregard for women through policy, practice and culture.

As Labor Senator Penny Wong put it succinctly yesterday, “Mr Morrison talks about culture. But what he is not talking about is the culture he leads, the culture he leads in his own government, where no matter what happens, he is never responsible. Where nobody is accountable for anything. And where serious crime was covered up.”

Brittany Higgins accused Morrison of “victim blaming” after he repeatedly disputed her account of the incident – specifically, when his office was made aware of the allegations. While Morrison said he was “very sorry” she felt that way, his original response to Higgins was a well-trodden path.

When Rachelle Miller raised allegations about the sexism and mistreatment she endured during her time as a parliamentary advisor working for Alan Tudge– a married MP she entered into an affair with — Morrison meagrely chalked up his Minister’s actions to “human frailty”. The seriousness of what Miller was reporting diminished in a heartbeat.

And he refused to do anything about allegations levelled at Attorney General, Christian Porter who was accused by several women of misogyny, exploitation and a recurrent abuse of power. “It wasn’t under my watch”, was essentially the PM’s verdict.

Wherever the Prime Minister has the opportunity to show leadership, he opts instead to sit on his hands. He opts to ignore the women who are bravely calling for time on a culture that sets all of us back a thousand years.

And this, of course, permeates the rest of Morrison’s ideological and policy leanings.

How else can anyone explain his flat refusal to do anything about the dire state of childcare in this country? Where skyrocketing costs prohibit women from reentering the workforce at a time the economy desperately needs the added boost.

Or his inertia on the crisis of domestic and family violence? A far more deadly threat than COVID-19 but with a fraction of the attention. Vital services continue to be under-funded or cut completely under the Prime Minister’s watch.

Or how about paid parental leave? New modelling by The Parenthood shows conclusively that paying dads to take six months leave could be worth $4.6 billion in GDP and help to close the gender pay gap which currently sits at 14 percent. But Josh Frydenberg shut down the debate in parliament last week as swiftly as it had started. The message loud and clear that such a reform holds no legs in a government led by Morrison.

At every turn, the government is failing women. This is true inside its own ranks and well outside of parliament’s corridors– and we’re wise to it.

The latest Roy Morgan poll shows Labor actually leads the LNP on a two-party preferred basis– 50.5 percent to 49.5. Morrison is losing ground and the mud that’s sticking to him is women. If he doesn’t twig to it soon? A fourth term will be merely wishful thinking.

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