Former Liberal staffer Terry Barnes’s partisan attempt to blame sexist abuse in Parliament House on my government’s hiring of young professionals as ministerial staffers simply doesn’t bear scrutiny.
His “cult of youth” theory certainly conflicts with the accounts of people like Lenore Taylor who, as a press gallery journalist in the 1990s, says young women shared lists of politicians whose offices weren’t safe to visit alone.
Barnes argues young people aren’t suited to political work because they lack the experience to survive. Let me spell this out clearly: young women like Brittany Higgins aren’t abused because they fail to protect themselves; they are abused because men, typically their seniors, believe they are entitled to abuse them.
It seems far more likely that this younger generation of staffers — having been raised in a society in which women rightly demand equal treatment — are now blowing the whistle on their abusers, rather than quietly circulating lists.
Kevin Rudd AC
26th Prime Minister of Australia
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