1. The PM has a problem or three
Grattan on Friday says Prime Minister Scott Morrison has three pressing problems:
- the COVID vaccine rollout
- the budget
- the issue of women.
Bernard Keane at Crikey says Morrison continues to see everything as a political problem to manage away. Keane was referring to his tearful mea culpa and apparent change of heart on the issue of women and the intemperate attack on Sky journalist Andrew Clennell, claiming that in Clennell’s own organisation there was an incident of harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet being pursued by their own HR department.
Keane said it was a lie, that the PM has a “reflexive instinct to lie”, linking to Dennis Atkins’ article, All politicians lie, but Scott Morrison’s untruths transcend the usual.
Actually Morrison may have had something very real in mind. See Aaron Patrick at item 4 below.
In any case Keane sees Morrison as completely incapable of leading cultural change.
Sarah Cameron cites information from the Australian Election Study of the 2019 election, which identifies a further drift away from the Liberals by women in a longer term trend:
According to Essential poll Morrison’s personal approval with women voters:
- is now down 16 points since the Higgins story broke in February, the prime minister’s standing with male voters has remained unchanged through the fracas.
Personal approval ratings are not strong indicators of electoral success, but Morrison should worry.
The Greens are distinctly feminised, with 67% more women than men voting Green.
3. Grace Tame blasts Scott Morrison, and Amanda Stoker
Samantha Maiden details how newly minted Australian of the Year Grace Tame blasts Scott Morrison’s Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker.
- Tame said it was possible to respond to a pandemic with funding “but we can’t fix morals with money and masking [and] we can’t boost humanity with stunts and stimulus packages.
“Now that our collective focus has extended beyond economic disruption to issues of morality, we are seeing leaders for who they really are.”
- Tame said on social media that Morrison appointing Stoker to the position demonstrated he either was “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.”
I’d suggest incapable of understanding rather than ‘ignorant’.
In the Courier Mail Kylie Lang writes Petty snipe at PM does Grace Tame no favours:
- Since when did the Australian of the Year honour come with a licence to personally attack our nation’s leader?
Lang then says:
- Ms Tame, a rape survivor, was awarded her 2021 title because she is an agent of change, particularly in regards to women who’ve been sexually assaulted.
Yet Lang thinks it unseemly if she expresses an opinion about persons in high places.
4. A shift in the centre of gravity of political journalism from the male perspective to the female?
Here is a straight factual account of what happened that day when Morrison did his mea culpa:
It happens to be by a man, Matt Coughlan, in InQueensland.
Aaron Patrick in an AFR article PM caught in crusade of women journos makes the claim that reporting on the Brittany Higgins and Charles Porter stories:
- cleaved a schism through political journalism, exposing a shift in the centre of gravity from the male perspective to the female.
He begins by highlighting the role of Samantha Maiden (the article is mostly about her) in holding the government and Morrison in particular to account on sexual harrassment. He says:
- Samantha Maiden’s run of scoops had left Morrison’s government, and the Prime Minister, in disarray.
- In taking up the stories – and causes – of women who believed they were abused by entitled men, Maiden may have done more than any other individual, journalist or otherwise, to define the Morrison government as indifferent to sexual harassment, assault and rape.
Then, about other journalists:
- Angry coverage that often strayed into unapologetic activism came forth from a new, female media leadership: Laura Tingle and Louise Milligan on the ABC, Katharine Murphy and Amy Remeikis at The Guardian, Lisa Wilkinson on Channel Ten, Karen Middleton in The Saturday Paper and a cameo by Jessica Irvine on the Nine Network.
Maiden was probably the most influential, and restrained. Based on copious facts, rather than opinion, her copy was devastating. At every step, as the government tried to staunch the stories, it seemed Maiden was there with a new angle to propel them along.
I’d gathered a few strong commentary pieces by women in the media, such as:
- Anne Summers – Nothing will change for women while Morrison is PM
Summers’ piece is particularly powerful. She runs through the record of all PMs from Whitlam up to Malcolm Turnbull, an avowed feminist, who championed women’s equality and invested in a $100 million Women’s Safety Package.
- Morrison, by contrast, utterly refuses to engage and his instinctual hostility when challenged is evidently deeply ingrained. I will leave it to the political psychologists to ponder why he is like this but the rest of us, the women who marched on Monday especially, need to understand the old rules and expectations no longer apply.
Morrison has clearly signalled that women will get nothing from him. He needs to be told he will get nothing in return.
- routinely turns his back in Parliament when Tanya Plibersek rises to speak; he infamously said on International Women’s Day last year that he did not “want women to rise only on the basis of others doing worse”, and his office last year monstered women who dared criticise the federal budget’s ignoring of them.
That it is hostility rather than, say, just a tin ear was indisputable on Monday.
That was when he refused to meet the thousands of women who had marched, and would not permit his Minister for Women to show her face, then gagged debate, and told the protesters, ‘At least we didn’t shoot you’.
Not surprising therefore that Patrick’s article evoked a ferocious response from Katharine Murphy in Women are not fighting a culture war when it comes to alleged rape and harassment. It’s about time some men realised this.
It’s gold, and includes this:
- If you are reading Aaron, just a few thoughts.
Rape is a crime, and a heinous one.
Sexual harassment is completely unacceptable.
I don’t make these statements because I have a “female perspective”. I make them because they are factual.
- Women don’t want rape or harassment to be categorised as a matter of female perspective. We aren’t prosecuting a new front in a culture war. Women need the support of men to fix this problem. We need this to be what it is: a human problem, one we all own.
It seems to me that we would want to hear from these senior women in the media, and when we do it doesn’t mean they are taking over the joint.
Men have also been severe on Morrison. I cited Bernard Keane above. Most acerbic, I think, was Dennis Atkins in Never mind the doghouse roses, PM must do more to show women he gets it:
- Morrison’s brain, which he boasts is equal to any challenge he faces, has neural roadblocks in the pathways usually used for empathy and cultural appreciation.
As a leader, he’s like the bloke who rolls into the local servo on the way home to buy some doghouse roses in the hope of forgiveness and redemption.
- In the longer train of events, women have been appalled and were, from the time Brittany Higgins bravely exposed the way she says she was raped in a ministerial office by a staffer colleague, hoping to hear something that would at least assuage their deep anxiety and concerns.
They heard a tick-a-box answer, that list of what we’ve done for you and as much blather as could be mustered in the hope that political management would out run the swirling crisis.
When women gathered in Canberra and around the country, Morrison didn’t go to meet them or listen but rather stayed in the relative safety of Parliament House.
Even then he fumbled his lines suggesting those at the rally were lucky they weren’t shot at like people in Myanmar. It was his worst moment since he told Australia he didn’t hold a hose as fire rages along the east coast.
- If he remains genuinely incapable of hearing or understanding, he will pay a heavy price at the ballot box.
He might. A week is a long time in politics, as they say. Morrison is beavering away, has just hosted the first meeting of his cabinet’s women’s taskforce as his government gears up to respond to a landmark harassment report, so we shall see.
5. What’s with Sam?
As I said, Patrick’s article was mainly about Samantha Maiden. There is a considerable back story about Maiden; she has had some bumpy patches in her life, from when her father committed suicide when she was three. In my opinion Patrick went beyond what he needed to in setting up the story.
The first point is, Morrison got his facts muddled. There was no harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet. There was a meeting in a corridor between Maiden and Jade Gailberger, a young News Corp journalist, who was running for election to the federal parliamentary press gallery committee, which liaises with Parliament House bureaucrats on behalf of journalists who work in the building.
Another News Corp journalist, Tamsin Rose, was also running. Maiden was campaigning for Rose and suggested to Gailberger that she pull out, so as not to split the New Corp vote.
The word is that Maiden came on rather strongly. Patrick says:
- Gailberger was so shaken that she felt unable to attend work for several days afterward, according to a Press Gallery source.
It is open to interpretation that Morrison was so annoyed by Maiden’s strong but accurate and fair journalism that he sought to threaten her with skeletons in her own cupboard.
You can read an account of the Maiden/Gailberger incident in the SMH if you scroll down to Water Cooler.
If it’s not pay-walled you can read AFR editor Michael Stutchberry’s defensive reply to a letter to the editor about Patrick’s article. I agree with Amanda Meade in AFR hit job on Samantha Maiden backfires spectacularly. Patrick’s article was ill-judged, and said more than it needed to about Samantha Maiden which distracted from the real story – what did the PM think he was doing, and why did he do it?
6. The real Scott Morrison
Carol Johnson compares Scott Morrison and John Howard, also asking Have the times suited them? I find this worrying:
- Morrison’s attitudes also reflect the apparent influence of the “prosperity gospel,” an American version of Christianity that sees wealth as a God-given reward and poverty as a penalty for the less deserving. Under Morrison, Howard’s mutual obligation requirements for unemployment benefit recipients have been reinforced by a “fair go for those who have a go” mantra. Morrison’s relatively early winding back of more generous Covid-19 related JobKeeper and JobSeeker benefits, along with the small size of the permanent increase to JobSeeker and its strict job search requirements, suggests that he retains his previous views.
The link is to Philip C Almond’s piece Five aspects of Pentecostalism that shed light on Scott Morrison’s politics.
Morrison truly does believe that God is on his side, that miracles happen, that only born-again Christians will gain salvation; other Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists will spend an eternity in the torments of hell.
No need to worry about the world frying with global warming. Jesus will come again and all will be well.
Specifically on Prosperity theology:
- In keeping with his theology, Morrison appears to see himself as chosen by God to lead us all towards his understanding of the promised land, which as we know means, “If you have a go, you get a go”.
This “have a go” philosophy sits squarely within Pentecostal prosperity theology. This is the view that belief in God leads to material wealth. Salvation too has a connection to material wealth – “Jesus saves those who save”. So the godly become wealthy and the wealthy are godly. And, unfortunately, the ungodly become poor and the poor are ungodly.
This theology aligns perfectly with the neo-liberal economic views espoused by Morrison. The consequence is that it becomes a God-given task to liberate people from reliance on the welfare state.
Sorry, Jesus is not on the side of the poor and oppressed, and the rich will be welcomed with open arms as long as they are born again and believe with all their hearts.
The latest Newspoll has Labor ahead in TPP 52-48, same as the previous one, so perhaps a Labor lead consolidating.
The extended analysis (pay-walled) consolidates the last three months of polling, allowing the finer-grained demographic information to be studied.
Big surprise, there was no significant difference between male and female voting.
Young voters (18-34) were 27/43/22 for Coalition/Labor/Greens. Please note Labor is way ahead of the Greens.
The Coalition gets in front with the 50-64 group, and more so with 65+. Old Greens are rare with only 3%.
With Christians its 49/35/5, whereas with ‘no religion’ it’s 33/40/15.
The remaining important demographic is where people speak another language. They brank36/44/13, whereas English only is 36/44/13.
In terms of states (and important fore the senate) in TPP terms NSW is 50/50, Qld 53/47, WA and Victoria 47/53, and SA 45/55. So the Coalition has tanked in SA, but in Qld we might still get one each of Labor, Green and One Nation plus three LNP.
Anthony Albanese says he will have the wind behind him in the final quarter, so we’ll see.
8. Industry may give Porter a swerve
Many in industry will not comment, but some have indicated that the appointment of Christian Porter as Industry, Science and Technology is unacceptable to them. An article ‘Not prepared to meet with him’: Tech industry on Porter’s appointment appeared on the front page of the AFR on Tuesday.
- The tech sector’s engagement with the federal government may nosedive thanks to former Attorney-General Christian Porter’s appointment to the portfolio, with industry leaders saying they believe he would be unwelcome by some at events, and organisations would have to “bargain” with themselves about accepting government funding.
Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Microsoft director of start-ups for the Asia-Pacific, Emily Rich, said she believed Mr Porter’s appointment would deter some people in the sector from engaging with the government, “and it should”.
Ms Rich’s comments come at a time when Australia is sliding down the rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index. Last week Australia placed 50 on the index – six places lower than 2020 and down from 24 in 2014.
Australia plummeted to 70th place from No. 12 in women’s economic participation.
Ms Rich’s concerns were shared by technology angel investor Alan Jones, who said there would be people in the sector, including himself, who would now stop engaging with the government.
“We’re all passionate advocates for gender diversity,” he said. “We’re not going to take calls from his advisers or be prepared to meet with him, and we won’t be getting roundtables together.
Sarah Moran says her business will continue without government grants, but for others it’s a complicated decision. Chris Hopkins
“We’re taking concrete steps together on gender, cognitive and age diversity and we can’t be associated with this dark cloud.”
To me this is an extraordinary development. Time we took a deep breath and thought about who we want leading us, and, well, Australian values.
9. Australian values
There is plenty more I could have included, like a discussion of the CEO of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, who, apart from being monstered by her board chair accuses Scott Morrison of ‘humiliating’ her.
However, I’ve got to go, so I’ll leave with Juice Media’s Honest Government Ad on Australian values as promulgated by the Australien Government.