‘Distractions posing as solutions’: Grace Tame criticises Scott Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle

‘Distractions posing as solutions’: Grace Tame criticises Scott Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle


Australian of the Year Grace Tame has criticised the promotion of Liberal senator Amanda Stoker to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new ministry, accusing the new assistant minister for women of endorsing a “fake rape crisis tour’ and failing to support victims of sexual assault.

In an Instagram post, Ms Tame said Ms Stoker had also supported an Australia Day honour for controversial columnist Bettina Arndt, “a woman who gave a platform to the convicted pedophile who abused me”.

Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“The new Assistant Minister for Women is someone who previously endorsed a “fake rape crisis” tour, aimed at falsifying instances of sexual abuse on school and university campusts across Australia,” Ms Tame wrote.

“It goes without saying that this came at an immeasureable cost to already traumatised student survivors.”

In January, Ms Tame was made Australian of the Year for her push to reform the laws preventing sexual assault survivors from speaking about their abuse, as well as her advocacy for victims.

Ms Tame was groomed and then repeatedly raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher, Nicolaas Bester, when she was aged 15. In Tasmania, where she went to school, the age of consent is 17 years of age.

Bester was later jailed for rape. After his release, Ms Arndt, who began her career as a sex therapist, hosted an interview with the convicted paedophile on YouTube and sympathised with him, suggesting that male teachers can be the victims of sexually provocative schoolgirls.

On Australia Day in 2020, Ms Arndt was given a Member of the Order of Australia – Australia’s fourth-highest honour.

Ms Tame called on the Governor-General to cancel Ms Arndt’s honour at the time because of the interview, which Arndt has since deleted.

Separately, Labor Senators Kristina Keneally and Penny Wong later moved a motion in the Senate condemning the comments, saying that they had the ability to bring the Order of Australia into disrepute.

That motion related to separate comments in which Ms Arndt defended a policeman who claimed the husband of Hannah Clarke could have been “driven too far” before he killed his wife and their three children by torching their car in a quadruple murder-suicide last year.

The Liberal party supported the Labor motion and some Coalition MPs also joined calls for Ms Arndt’s honour to be stripped.

However, Senator Stoker defended Ms Arndt during debate on the Labor motion, despite disagreeing with what she described as a “dumb comment” from the social commentator relating to the murder of Hannah Clarke and her children.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Senator Stoker told Parliament. “At some point we’ve all said dumb stuff or things that in time have come to be understood as wrong.

“But being able to reflect, admit mistakes and grow without trying to rewrite history is the sign of a functioning adult.”

When asked by veteran interviewer Kerry O’Brien on SBS on Tuesday night if Prime Minister Scott Morrison was moved by her words after the awards were announced, Ms Tame paused and said: “moved, in what direction I don’t know”, to huge applause from the audience.

She said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had “dismissively” rejected her idea for a national framework to define consent laws at the Australia Day Awards morning tea. On Monday, Mr Morrison announced a new cabinet taskforce on women’s equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing. The taskforce will be co-chaired by Mr Morrison and the Minister for Women, Marise Payne.

“We need to be careful not to be naively misled by actions that are quite calculated distractions posing as solutions,” Ms Tame said of the reshuffle.

“This is not a gender issue … equal representation is not going to address the abuse of power.”

The Prime Minister’s office declined to comment.

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