Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a press conference today where he attempted to explain how appalled he was that someone could masturbate over the desk of a female member of parliament, and that something must be done.
He rambled on about how it all started with the rape of Brittany Higgins within Parliament House and how it has been a traumatic month and how those in parliament “must put the politics aside on these things and we must recognise this problem, acknowledge it, and we must fix it”. He then went on to say: “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. They have motivated me my entire life. They have taught me the values and the faith has sustained me every single day in this job, which is why I am here. I owe them everything.”
When stating this he was almost in tears.1
He was asked several questions by various journalists, but one from Andrew Clennell, a ‘ruperter’ from Sky News engendered a remarkable turnaround from Morrison. Clennell asked: “Prime Minister, if you were the boss of a business and there’d been an alleged rape on your watch and this incident we heard about last night, on your watch, your job would probably be in a bit of jeopardy, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t it look like you’ve lost control of your ministerial staff here?”
Morrison began his reply by using one of his non-answers in saying: “Well, I’ll let you editorialise as you like, Andrew” and followed that with: “But if anyone in this room wants to offer up the standards in their own workplace by comparison I’d invite you to do so.” Clennell replied with: “Well they’re better than these, I would suggest, Prime Minister”
This is when Morrison went into attack mode by replying: “Well let me take you up on that. Right now, you’d be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet. And that matter is being pursued by your own HR department.
Clennell replied rather sheepishly: “I am not aware of it.” And Morrison countered with: “You are not aware of it. So let’s not, all of us who sit in glass houses here, start getting into that.”1
The example Morrison gave seems to have been untrue. The owner of the appalling Sky News, News Corp, issued a statement which said that Morrison was “wrong” and no such complaint had been received. They said that, in recent weeks “following the reporting of matters of sexually inappropriate behaviour at Parliament House”, News Corp’s human resources team “proactively” reached out to staff “to talk to us in confidence about their well-being”. During those discussions, they said the HR team learned of a “verbal exchange” between two News Corp employees at Parliament House last year. “The exchange was about a workplace-related issue, it was not of a sexual nature, it did not take place in a toilet and neither person made a complaint.”2
This, as Karen Middleton said when interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) The Drum (from 5:22), left the journalists at the event “shocked” and “speechless for a minute of two” and that it all felt like it was “political damage control”. What amazes me about this whole shemozzle is that the media, Middleton included, still think Morrison “appears genuine”. I have been documenting Morrison’s disgraceful behaviour over several years, but many in the media seem to be completely unaware of his hypocrisy, his lying, his avoidance of accountability, his venality, his avoidance of responsibility, and his unwillingness to deal with corruption in Liberal Party ranks4-9. All they seem to do is report what the government want.
Maybe Middleton’s realisation that Morrison looks at every drama as if it is all about “political damage control” will slowly make its way through more in the media and make them realise they have been taken for chumps by a narcissist whose only concern is remaining as prime minister. This realisation also seems to have made it into the consciousness of Leigh Sales, the host of the ABC’s 7.30, given her rant of a few days ago where, in part, she said: “I feel like I’m constantly asking myself this question ‘did something change in this country?’ Did something change, that the standard for behaviour now is not ‘I have to do the right thing’ or ‘I have to do what I promised I would do’, but instead ‘how much can I get away with?’… “They’re sick of politicians acting like public money is their own private fund and giving development deals to their mates or grants to their political allies and in the worst cases are taking kickbacks to line their own pockets.”10
This is the same thing that has appalled me in recent years and was the reason I started this blog in early 2017; I got sick of shouting at the television. At the same time, I joined Twitter and found that many people there had the same frustrations and felt the same disgust as I did. We, Uhlmann’s sewer rats11, have been pointing out constantly the ethical shortcomings of Morrison and his government of criminals, and now it seems that the media is starting to catch on. Why has it taken them so long? Are they so bereft of perceptive ability, that they cannot see what is staring them in the face? Are they so concerned about turning out their column inches that they are unable to think too deeply about what they have just seen? Are they simply gullible and too easily fooled by a person with the ethos of a race-course urger?