More horrific revelations about rape in our parliament over the weekend. A second and third woman has come forward to level rape allegations by the same Liberal staffer. The PM’s office has sunk into a swamp of lies as senior officials are exposed as knowing about Brittany Higgins early on. Higgins herself has triggered a full federal police investigation which the scum will welcome given they can now hide behind the phrase “I don’t want to prejudice the investigation”.
My reading is that PM Morrison is fatally wounded as things stand. Every time he opens his mouth it’s another indictment. It doesn’t matter what the subject is or whether you agree with him or not. If he defends your interests then that puts you on the side of Morrison’s (alleged) rapist protection racket.
A large majority of Australians likely feel the same way. Common decency and fairness are bedrock traits of Australian identity. Whether it’s true or not, they want to see themselves this way.
So, what now for a sinking Government? It has two remaining options. The first is to go the transparency route and force Morrison to resign or be rolled. Peter Hartcher on the weekend:
The crime against Brittany Higgins sits unanswered. It is unanswered in the specific case of Higgins, but it is also unanswered in the wider case of the Australian Parliament. Until this alleged crime is answered for Higgins in particular and answered systemically by the Parliament for Australia, it is a standing challenge to the legitimacy of the government, the Parliament, and the exercise of power itself.
…to change behaviour, incentives must change. Sharkie is right. The idea of an independent body is one way to change behaviour. We can be guided by successful precedents.
After decades of politicians rorting their expenses, the solution was the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Agency, which is now operating well. After decades of parties squabbling over claims that their opponents are guilty of “black hole” budget costing disasters, the solution was the Parliamentary Budget Office, which is working brilliantly. The solution both times was an independent, expert umpire operating with high levels of transparency.
The Government does not have the moral substance. It is more likely to pretend through series of inquires past the next election, as we saw over the weekend with Morrison’s newly discovered fake outrage. If polls collapse then perhaps.
But the Government has another problem, at The Guardian on the weekend:
A senior staff member in Liberal MP Craig Kelly’s office continues to work in his role despite multiple young women – some as young as 16 – coming forward to NSW police to allege inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, including an instance of unwanted touching, and despite an apprehended violence order being granted in one case.
And The Saturday Paper:
‘I was a staffer, and so was my perpetrator’
“What Australia seems wilfully blind to is that each of its enclaves of power has a misogynistic, patriarchal power structure that enables the oppression, vilification and sexual abuse of women.”
Eighteen months after publicly reporting her assault, former Liberal staffer Dhanya Mani explains why
We can expect a ceaseless drip of this stuff going forward. It will come from the “me too” dynamic, as well as the media’s and Labor’s dirt files.
So, the second option for the Government will be to deflect and distract, much more Morrison’s style. We are already seeing moves that way. The Nats dropped a nuclear power chimera last week that got no traction. Better for the Government is the great Facebook distraction. Even I fell for that this week and the media has such a conflict of interest on the issue that it can run as a much bigger story than it really is. For instance, Christian values promoter, Paul Kelly, saw fit to ignore the rape protection racket running parliament in order to focus on Facebook.
But that wont last, either. Facebook holds the whip hand. The hypocritical media has tried to bully it into paying for content but it has instead walked away from carrying it. Why not? If it were a supermarket carrying newspapers and it said ‘no thanks’ would anybody care? Facebook will lose a bit of revenue out of it but it was going to lose that anyway if it paid. And an Australian precedent that rolls out globally as Facebook paying for content everywhere would be far more damaging. Facebook has taken the China route. It’s going to make an example of what not to do out of Australia.
So, ScoMo’s rape protection racket is going to need something much bigger and darker to pull the wool over our eyes. What might it be? Perhaps ten new coal and nuclear power plants for QLD? The pandemic might deliver a new crisis. But that’s based upon luck and vaccines are not the Government’s friend. There is also China. Morrison could seek a bigger stoush which would certainly wedge Labor.
This is where my thoughts turn dark. The Government has another “nuclear” option in its own dirt files. It could start drip-feeding these into the press. For years, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement between the parties and press to keep dodgy behaviour in the parliament secret. That’s why the recent 4Corners material so upset the Government. Labor infractions are certain to exist so the Government could shift towards a Trumpian mutually assured destruction strategy that drags Labor into a bottomless pit of disgrace. That’s better for it than being exposed by itself.
You can always gauge the remaining shelf-life of any politician by the degree to which the population still listens to them. Once people shut down to the PM’s words owing to boredom, disenchantment, or datedness, it’s all over. In Morrison’s case, it is far worse. When he opens his mouth, a rising tide of disgust drowns his words. The Government may reason that if the rape protection racket can embroil Labor then the polity will stop listening to Canberra altogether and reset voting intentions to default.
As we’ve seen around the world, the psychological damage by the pandemic to humans unhinges populations. Australians have been compliant. But it has cost them money, lifestyle and routine. All of these things result in anxiety and anger. Morrison’s rape protection racket has presented the PM as an obvious target for the projection of this collective angst (which is in no way intended to mean that he does not deserve it). One way to remove himself from disgrace is to disgrace everybody else. In a battle of shamelessness, Scott Morrison will win hands down.
We may be on the verge of the ugliest year of Australian politics that anybody can remember.