Last week, boys at Brauer College, Victoria were forced to apologise to all women on behalf of all men who may have offended them. This week, the Prime Minister prostrated himself before the nation in a similar fashion. It didn’t help him anymore than the bewildered students. Indeed, he compounded the confusion by declaring that Foreign Minister Marise Payne would become the ‘Prime Minister for Women’, an unwelcome revelation for females who had mistakenly imagined they were voting for Morrison to be PM and considered themselves important enough to be entitled to the attention of the ‘real’ prime minister.
Not anymore. Payne will lead a Cabinet taskforce of senior women focused on improving economic, health and safety conditions for females. Apparently, this will be achieved without dividing Australians, a nice thought which is utterly at odds with creating a bizarre gender apartheid in the government in the first place.
Like other government mis-steps, it turned out that it was all a misunderstanding. What the PM had meant to say, he later explained, was that Payne would be the ‘primary minister for women’ but it was too late. Labor Senator Jenny McAllister was already lambasting him on the ABC as the Prime Minister for Men and said it would be funny ‘if it wasn’t so depressing’.
The grand irony is that this strategy was cooked up in the Prime Minister’s Office in response to the strikingly sexist attacks by the Left against one of Australia’s most senior female ministers. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ main error was to have respected an alleged victim’s desire for privacy to the point where the PM was not briefed on the matter. Given the staffer stayed schtum for almost two years, and no longer worked for Payne, it seems an understandable oversight.
Yet Reynolds was flayed by everyone from the female staffer who castigated her for not showing sufficient empathy – would that claim have been levelled at a male minister in the same situation? – and scapegoated by ‘feminist’ journalists who showed far less interest in the alleged male assailant. Any woman who dared to defend Reynolds, such as former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone, was also mauled.
Reynolds discomfort was no doubt driven not so much by the fact that she was being savaged by a hostile band of banshees in the media, but was being overtly attacked by the PM and covertly undermined by her own colleagues, one of whom leaked that she had referred to her former staffer as a ‘lying cow’.
Reynold’s fate was sealed however when she caved in to the pressure on all sides and took sick leave. The slow, crash-landing of her career as Defence Minister illustrated the peril of promoting women on gender grounds rather than through the time-honoured tradition of Darwinian combat that ensures the ascension of only those with a hide that can withstand relentless backstabbing.
The demotion of Attorney-General Christian Porter was a salutary warning that going on stress leave is equally fatal to a man’s career. Those who can’t stand the heat in the kitchen Cabinet are sent to the scullery.
Unsurprisingly, the solution of appeasing the Left by adopting its policies – promoting women because they are women – has only provoked their ire. The Twittersphere bristled with outrage that Senator Michaelia Cash had been elevated, a woman who dared to call Margaret Thatcher an inspiration; Senator Reynolds was attacked because she hadn’t lost her job and Senator Amanda Stoker was immediately derided as a ‘handmaiden of misogyny’, ‘a foot soldier of the patriarchy’ and ‘a woman who’s really a male dinosaur in disguise’.
Aye, there’s the rub. Right-wing women are loathed by the Left and the more successful they are, the more they are reviled. There is no better illustration of this principle than the vitriol dished out on a daily basis to Peta Credlin, not least by the Left’s preferred Liberal PM, Malcolm Turnbull. He took the opportunity this week to use his Twitter account to ‘like’ an article in the Guardian in which former Liberal minister Warren Entsch ‘called out’ Credlin, contradicting her claim that it was she who had sacked the anonymous gay staffer who had masturbated on a woman MP’s desk. Wrong, claimed Entsch, it was he who had sacked the staffer.
Either way, it was Turnbull who reinstated the onanist. Not that this is used against him. It’s Golden Gaytimes all round. He is the champion of those who use Parliament’s prayer room to kneel rather than to pray and who, regardless of religious convictions, turn the other cheek. Like Turnbull they have long memories – and longer knives – when it comes to the vote on same-sex marriage or any other progressive policy.
Turnbull has no shortage of supporters who dress to the Left in the NSW parliament and has been keen – or should that be Kean – to court the Green vote. So, it is hardly surprising that he has been rewarded, in spite, or because of, his constant attacks on the PM, with an appointment, made by NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, to chair the NSW Net-Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.
This will not stem Turnbull’s criticism of the federal government. On the contrary, he will use it as a platform to criticise both the PM and Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor on their failure to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, which has been rejected by both until it is possible to ensure that such a target is both achievable and affordable. This policy was roundly endorsed by the Australian electorate at the 2019 election, but it is constantly undermined by the renewable energy cartel within the ranks of the Liberals. Like Edward Lear’s Jumblies, their heads are Green and their hands are blue and their policies are about as watertight as a sieve.
There are two lesson for the PM to draw from this week. First, as Turnbull found out in 2016, there is no reward for adopting the policies of the Left, who will always prefer ‘the real thing’ to an ersatz Liberal offering. Second, in politics, as everywhere, nature abhors a vacuum. If the PM will not set the agenda, focusing on the economy and national security, his enemies will to the detriment of all.
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