Morrison has only made Canberra’s sexism crisis worse

 

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

I'm not very religious but the leader of this country is, so that passage from the Bible should resonate. It's from the book of John, the most famous verse from a chapter about the public humiliation of a woman.

This week Scott Morrison staged an extraordinary press conference. It started well. The Prime Minister delivered a powerful speech addressed to the women of parliament who have endured "this crap" for their entire lives. He pledged "we must do better" and "we must get this house in order".

He came close to tears when he spoke about his family. "Criticise me if you like for speaking about my daughters, but they are the centre of my life. My wife is the centre of my life. My mother, my widowed mother is the centre of my life. They motivate me every day on this issue".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference earlier this week made women around the nation furious. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference earlier this week made women around the nation furious. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

For a moment, you almost, almost felt sorry for him. Then he blew it.

If the PM had hoped to garner sympathy from the other daughters, wives and mothers of Australia with this speech, he failed spectacularly by weaponising a case of sexual harassment.

Asked if he had lost control of his ministerial staff, Morrison dropped his guard. He responded by airing details of a sexual harassment complaint he claims occurred at News Corp. It turned out to be false but the damage had been done.

If the measure of a man's character is determined by the choices he makes under pressure, then what does the choice to publicly air an unsubstantiated allegation which, if true, could cause a woman distress in a nationally televised address say about that man? Nothing terribly complimentary.

Most people didn’t care what happens in the Canberra bubble, but they do now. Picture: supplied
Most people didn’t care what happens in the Canberra bubble, but they do now. Picture: supplied

I'd argue most of what happens in the so called 'Canberra Bubble' is ignored by many Australians. There is a general disinterest in politics until it affects your hip pocket or your area.

That's not the case now. From rape claims to lewd acts performed on the desks of female MPs, the behaviour in parliament is now being discussed around the country.

If any of us had demonstrated the same behaviour in our workplaces, we would be quickly shown the door.

From the PM down, the culture at parliament needs to change. As one Labor adviser told News Corp: "I don't know how I'm going to go back home and look my grandparents in the eye after working in this building this week."

I wonder if Scott Morrison is facing the same conundrum at his house.

Originally published as Morrison has only made Canberra's sexism crisis worse


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