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Women's Rights

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Tags: Women, Political Leadership

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, women in Australia are angry. We have had a gutful. We are sick of the false promises, we are sick of the crocodile tears, we are sick of the confected empathy, and we are sick of the lies. We are particularly sick of violence and sexual harassment in the workplace being swept under the carpet. We are sick of the failed investigations. We are sick of the pretence that something is going on over here, when the real issue is happening where everyone can see it is happening in the corridors of Parliament House.

It is happening in female ministers' private offices. Liberal members of staff are masturbating on women MPs' desks. It is disgusting to see the perversion where male staffers feel they are empowered to perform acts of dominance on female women MPs' desks, that they are enabled within their workplace to perform those sorts of acts in an utterly depraved way to demonstrate that they are in control and in charge. They feel they are given licence to do those things and they will not be called out. The fact is that, under this Liberal Prime Minister's culture, they will not be called out. There has been no independent investigation called into the rape allegations against Christian Porter.

There has been no proper accounting for why DPAC ordered cleaners to go into minister Reynolds' office and clean up after the rape of Brittany Higgins. Disgusting. The very next day they went in there and according to the words of a former previous senior DPAC member of staff, this was a well-oiled machine. It has not happened just once, it has obviously happened many times. DPAC call in the cleaners to make sure there is no evidence of events that have happened; lewd, violent criminal acts against women staff perpetrated by male staff who are empowered to walk into Parliament House, no questions asked, with a young woman, Brittany Higgins, clearly so drunk, according to the testimony of the woman security officer, she spent five minutes unable to put her shoes on and was found laying naked in the minister's office.

Yesterday in front of a full media pack the Prime Minister stood there crying crocodile tears talking about his wife, his widowed mother, and his daughters. He managed to get tears into his eyes. The master spin doctor himself had tears in his eyes, tears of self-pity. In the next instant when he was asked a question by a journalist about his actions, he turned on them. He recognised the sexual harassment complaint of a young journalist for his own political advantage to take the pressure off him, an attack which not only would have broken the private confidentiality of that journalist if a complaint had been made but in fact was wrong. No complaint had been made. The Prime Minister will do anything to turn the heat from himself and direct it to anybody, especially if they happen to be a woman. This is a sick, perverted culture.

Australian women can see what it is and there were many thousands of women who marched for justice this week or if they were not there were watching, looking, shouting and encouraging them on, all the other women who could not be there on the streets to listen to the wonderful Grace Tame on the steps of Parliament House in Hobart. How blessed we are as a state to have a young woman so empowered, the Australian of the Year, speaking about these issues. This cannot go on and it will not go on because women in Australia understand that we need more than a Prime Minister crying crocodile tears.

We will investigate. We want strong statements of condemnation. We want independent investigations. The Speaker said this morning by her words, that a Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Senator Abetz, said:

If a young girl is going to get so disgustingly drunk she can sleep with anybody, she could sleep with a spy and our national security is at risk.

If those words were spoken, they are deeply concerning. They are deeply distressing, offensive and they need a strong statement of condemnation not only from the Premier, Mr Gutwein, but from the Prime Minister. That is a disgusting statement. If it is true it must be condemned. The fact that a young woman who was raped and found naked in a minister's office could be slut-shamed in that way is utterly offensive to all women in Australia.

We do not want a Prime Minister who cares about women only because we are daughters and widowed mothers. It is revolting. We are people. That is fundamentally what women want. We want to be treated like people, equal people. It is not too much to ask.