Karen Middleton, in The Saturday Paper, has reported that Scott Morrison’s apology to abuse victims was not supposed to happen. He intended to leave it for the presiding officers instead1. The presiding officers comprise the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Andrew Wallace and the President of the Senate, Slade Brockman. It was they who, in the first sitting day of parliament this year, delivered a Statement on behalf of the Parliamentary Cross-Party Leadership Taskforce as recommended by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. This was after her report on the history of workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces was published in the final sitting week of parliament for 20212.
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese’s staff had told the Prime Minister’s staff that Albanese wanted to speak on this topic. It seems that Morrison only decided to deliver this speech for fear of being upstaged by Albanese delivering his own apology1.
In the speech on Tuesday morning, Morrison apologised to all former parliamentary staff and others who had experienced bullying, harassment and sexual assault. He directly addressed former government staffer Brittany Higgins, who was watching from the public gallery. It was she who was allegedly raped by a former colleague in a ministerial office1. Higgins’ presence, with others, in the chamber gallery was a late addition as they were initially not invited to watch the apology. Independent MP Zali Steggall facilitated their attendance at the last minute, as her guests, accompanied by one of her staff1.
Many people were alarmed that Morrison named Brittany Higgins when the trial of the alleged perpetrator is due to commence in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court in June3. Lawyers for the man accused of raping Ms Higgins said the comments were “extraordinarily prejudicial” to their client, and could contribute to the indefinite delay to the trial4.
When interviewed on morning television, Karen Middleton said Morrison gave a “heartfelt” apology. This amazed me. The fact that an experienced journalist could construe anything that Morrison does as being heartfelt, beggars belief. Has she not been aware of the constant lying about vaccines5, RATs6, greenhouse gas emissions and his faux agreement with the Nationals7, and the fact of his lying8? His constant refusal to answer questions9? His acquiescence in the face of vaccine disinformation from members of his party10? His refusal to do anything about the numerous instances of corruption11? His refusal to ever accept responsibility for anything, his constant shifting of blame to someone else12?
I seriously doubt Morrison has ever done anything which is heartfelt. To do something which is heartfelt, you first have to have a ‘heart’; to have a conscience; to have empathy. Morrison only appears to have a conscience when someone, possibly with a conscience, tells him what to do. The only things Morrison ever does are in the short-term service of his aims, with little thought for the consequences for anyone else. The sole measure of his success in his eyes is effectively being able to say ‘I’m the Prime Minister’, which, in addition to addressing his bathroom mirror, he has said in public a few times. That is all that matters to him.