Scott Morrison announced that Marise Payne would be his new Prime Minister for Women, overseeing a new team of women ministers with gendered portfolio titles — before immediately trying to walk it back as people wondered whether he saw himself as only a Prime Minister for Men. As Tanya Plibersek put it, “What a nonsense proposition that we have a government that is half for men and half for women.” Other appointments don’t inspire confidence, either. The Assistant Minister for Women, Amanda Stoker, was immediately slammed by Australian of the Year Grace Tame as “someone who previously endorsed a ‘fake rape crisis’ tour, aimed at falsifying instances of sexual abuse on school and university campuses across Australia. It goes without saying that this came at an immeasurable cost to already traumatised student survivors. … The new Assistant Minister also supported last year’s Australia Day Honour of a woman [Bettina Arndt] who gave a platform to the convicted paedophile who abused me.” In her first interview in her new role, Jane Hume declared, “I don’t think you can appropriately put a gender lens on the budget” — despite her portfolio of Women’s Economic Security seeming to require putting a gender lens on the budget. Perhaps this promotion was based on her performance as minister for superannuation, where she tried to force women to spend their retirement savings to escape family violence. Michaelia Cash is the new Attorney-General and Minister for IR, even though she refused to cooperate with a police investigation into her office’s abuse of power and, to avoid tough questions about it, threatened, “I am happy to name every young woman in Mr Shorten’s office about which rumours in this place abound. If you want to go down this path today I. Will. Do it.” What a charmer.
31 March 2021