Two scenes this week were a stark reminder of how prescient Australia’s women’s problem may still be.
Hours after Home Secretary Clare O’Neil and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles announced the government’s response to a study revealing the migration system was being exploited by organized criminals for human trafficking. human beings, Liberal Leader Peter Dutton did not hold back.
Of course, ministers (note the plural) had attacked his legacy as Home Secretary, but he only had eyes for one of them.
“He’s a very angry person,” Dutton told reporters.
“Still very angry and very aggressive, and the negativity coming out of Clare O’Neil today and the exaggerated stance she has frankly taken is aimed at trying to provide cover for a bad Prime Minister.”
The comments practically called O’Neil hysterical. Giles then compared Dutton to former US President Donald Trump, a man who made a reputation for calling women (whether political opponents or journalists) evil.
Thorough debate will always be part of political discourse. Arguably, it is the competition of ideas that helps shape effective public policy. But too often, and arguably increasingly so in the run-up to the Voice referendum, it becomes more toxic and bitterly personal by the day.
For decades, being a woman in the public eye made you a target for sexist attacks. For a country that likes to cut down tall poppies, there are those who take great pleasure in coming for women who dare to raise their heads over the parapet.
Being a woman and an Indigenous person seems to fuel this thirst.
You only have to look at the mentions of Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe or Coalition MP Jacinta Nampijinpa Price or Labor’s Linda Burney and Malarndirri McCarthy on social media to see the vile racist and misogynistic hatred being thrown at them. hour.
Thorpe crossed a threshold today and is done with what she saw, which today included being tagged in a video in which a balaclava-clad neo-Nazi references her name before burning the Aboriginal flag and perform a Nazi salute.
She alleged the Prime Minister and the Australian Federal Police were not doing enough to protect her from the far right.
It’s too simple to say that only men are behind the abuse – but they are by far the loudest contributors and the consequences are being felt by Australians across the country.
Broken political discourse
The Voice referendum and its debate have not divided the nation again, although many are keen to say so.
What was done brought to a head the discourse that often simmered beneath the surface. It seems that some people feel that the debate on Voice has legitimized them to say out loud what they might have previously thought.
And it’s too easy to say that it’s a matter of conservative or far-right men.
Think back to how people react when Nampijinpa Price gives his opinion. The reaction is never as strong as it could be for his compatriot Warren Mundine, a no campaigner.
Going back further, Bridget McKenzie’s management of a grant program generated far more controversy than the scandals overseen by her male colleagues at the time.
Or how a Labor politician might think it’s acceptable to call a female colleague a “naughty little girl” or a witness to call a female politician “ma’am” but her male colleagues “senator”. It’s worth remembering that Labor may be a majority-female party in Canberra, but three of its four leaders are men.
Our politics is tribal. This means Australians often feel they can justify what people on their side say, while attacking those on the opposite side who do much the same thing.
No wonder we are so divided, which brings us back to the Voice.
Caller Peter told ABC Radio Melbourne this week he simply wanted to do what Aboriginal people wanted when it came to voting in the referendum.
“I fear that indigenous people are divided,” he told Raf Epstein.
“The main thing I would like to see is that they are all on the same side.”
Certainly, this approach seems to be working for Chinese President Xi Jinping, but imagine a federal election if we all had to be on the same side to elect a government. It is safe to say that this is a government that would never be formed.
Around the field
- Rapper Briggs came up with a video that the Prime Minister’s Office social media team could only dream of… no wonder they were all keen to share it. Speaking of which, what happened to those videos that basketball legend Shaq (one of the most unfortunate Labor ads of last year) was supposed to show to the Prime Minister?
- If you want to know more about what indigenous people think of The Voice, we answer here, among other things, this question about the referendum.
- Tony Abbott appeared on RN Breakfast, where he accused “the people behind Voice” of “running Aboriginal politics for the last 30 years, they are not voiceless people”, apparently forgetting that the Coalition had been in power for almost a decade. including two years during which he was… prime minister
- There is one thing both sides agree on: the current system does not meet the expectations of Indigenous Australians. David Speers wonders what happens next if Australia votes no.
- There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not the Voice might lead to treaties, but SURPRISE, most states are already moving toward state treaties (and at last check, people still had their back -court).