Culture change

The culture in Canberra is clearly in need of reform and if there is any good to come from this shameful episode in Australian politics it must be that women are better respected and that politics cannot come above the law.

The swirling controversy surrounding the Federal Government over its response to sexual assault allegations is unedifying in the extreme.
It is clear the botched handling of a rape claim by a member of a Minister’s staff against a colleague in 2019 – with the offence allegedly happening on a couch in the Parliament House offices of the Minister – was handled primarily as a political problem rather than a violation of the law.
At the time the staffer felt pressured to not lodge a formal police complaint for fear of it jeopardising her career, while senior staff in the Minister’s office felt no obligation to act other than to sack the alleged rapist for a breach of security.
The victim should have been made to feel her career would in no way be compromised by making a formal complaint and attempting to bring this alleged sexual predator to justice.
But it was simply swept under the carpet with politics ruling the day.
If such actions were to take place in the corporate world there would be a hefty price to pay by those in charge.
The Christian Porter debacle appears to be a rather different matter, but one which will stain the Government.
There will only be losers from the 33-year-old rape allegation made against Mr Porter when he was just 17.
The alleged victim is dead and did not proceed with a formal complaint, preferring to withdraw a statement she made to NSW Police outlining the attack one day before taking her own life.
The allegations were sent to two Senators by the woman’s friends, the documents ending up in the PM’s office … but he didn’t read them. The PM informed Porter of the allegations but he too didn’t feel the need to access them.
The subsequent media pile-on has been a feeding frenzy while it appears improbable that a special inquiry into the matter can ever hope to reach an outcome significantly different to what is already known – allegations made and denied.
The culture in Canberra is clearly in need of reform and if there is any good to come from this shameful episode in Australian politics it must be that women are better respected and that politics cannot come above the law.