With the Australian economy in the rebound, Covid-19 largely suppressed, and vaccines ongoing, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government should be on the high. Instead, her ratings are the lowest in more than a year amid criticism for her inability to address sexual violence and inequality.
The prime minister, who has created an image as an affable father from the suburbs, faces a growing backlash from angry voters over his handling of rape allegations in parliament. As new allegations of sexual misconduct emerge on Tuesday, you risk losing control of the political narrative if you fail to comply with your demands for action.
While Australia is not expected to go to the In polls through the first half of 2022, Morrison can’t afford to let go of lingering problems, especially if he wants to keep the focus on economic rebuilding. The nationwide demonstrations of tens of thousands of women that have swept the country point to a potentially powerful voice in the upcoming elections demanding greater female representation in parliament and tough action against sexual violence and discrimination.
“The upcoming elections should have been an easy road to victory for the government because of its handling of the pandemic, but now it is not because of Morrison’s mishandling of women’s issues,” said Paul Williams, political analyst at the Griffith University in Brisbane, who said that the problem does not threaten the immediate viability of the government.
A Newspoll published last week showed his coalition slipping 4 points behind the main Labor opposition, 48% to 52%. The betting markets that anticipated a comfortable victory for the government in the next election are adjusting.
On Tuesday, Morrison said a staff member involved in “disgusting and disgusting” behavior in parliament was fired, in the latest blow to his Conservative government that has already been hit by rape allegations.
Read more: Protests signal a reckoning in Australia’s fight against sexism
The announcement came after Ten Network broadcast allegations that a group of male government employees had shared images and videos of lewd acts. One photo showed a man masturbating on a legislator’s desk.
While the Morrison government has long been accused of failing to adequately address women’s issues, including taking steps to increase the coalition’s share of female legislators from 23%, allegations of sexual assault now threaten to undermine the credentials and the political agenda of your government.
They It began in mid-February when a former Defense Ministry media adviser, Brittany Higgins, claimed she was raped two years ago by a House of Parliament staff member and did not encourage her to alert the police.
Later, Attorney General Christian Porter was the subject of allegations that he raped a fellow school debating team in the 1980s, claims he strongly denies. Morrison has refused to conduct an investigation into the allegations and Porter remains Australia’s first legal officer.
“It has been a month of such reports,” Morrison said Tuesday as he seemed to hold back tears. “This has been shocking, it has been a shame,” he said, adding that “we must fix it.”
“So much anger”
For Kate Ahmad, a Sydney-based neurologist who helped organize the March 4 justice protests in Australia last week, Morrison’s words ring hollow.
“It seemed insincere to me because, once again, he offered no solution,” Ahmad said. “There was nothing practical in that press conference that was going to make a difference in the lives of women.”
Ahmad said the campaign is now a unified movement at the national level after demonstrations took place in more than 40 cities and towns last week.
the The March 4 justice demands include an independent investigation into the Porter allegations, improving funding to support victims of domestic violence, implementing the recommendations of a report on sexual harassment in the workplace, and introducing a system of quotas within the Liberal-National coalition to ensure that more women enter parliament.
While Morrison said Tuesday that he was “open” to gender quotas in his Liberal party, he left most other issues unaddressed.
The troubles appear to have taken Morrison, 52, by surprise, who has a reputation for being a smart political operator who won the “unwinnable” elections in 2019, aided by his intrinsic understanding of the media. But now he is stumbling in his dealings with the press.
During Tuesday’s charged press conference, he told a News Corp. reporter that he should “exercise caution” in criticizing the government’s record and indicated The media company was investigating a complaint about the harassment of a woman in a women’s bathroom. News Corp. dismissed the claim as “simply false” and Morrison issued a He apologizes late at night for his “insensitive response”, adding “I was wrong to raise it, the excitement of the moment is no excuse.”
Morrison was criticized for his handling of the Higgins allegations, especially after saying that his wife Jenny helped him realize their seriousness after persuading him to consider the problem as the father of two girls.
Women’s activists also opposed her statement in parliament that the March 4 Justice demonstrations were a “triumph of democracy” because in other countries those marches were “received with bullets.”
“I have never seen so much anger among women who are not usually political,” Ahmad said. “And although women are half the population, there are many men who are also upset.”
(Updates with Morrison’s apology to News Corp.)