The Morrison government’s rape scandal and other troubles

Illustration by Simon Leigh/ABC News

Contributed from Victoria

The rape scandal engulfing the Morrison government just won’t go away. This is its own fault. Right from when it is said to have occurred at Parliament House on 13 March 2019, the lack response has been abysmal.

The Prime minister expressing outrage now that it is out in the open is one thing. Doing something about it is another.

Scott Morrison is ultimately responsible for the lack of action on the rape allegations

Critics have pointed out that the failure is connected to a legacy of backroom politics and lack of transparency, and the habit of cover ups in the conducting of government business. The problem facing Morrison and his government, is that society happens to see rape as an especially serious crime, and this make the prime minister and his government look bad.

Brittany Higgins has shown incredible courage to come out to tell the world about what she says happened to her. She has no made an official statement to the Australian Federal Police,  to ensure an ongoing investigation.  If not for her action, the alleged crime may well have remained hidden.

Photo by Emma Machan/ABC News: Brittany Higgins

Failure to be seen to act decisively is hurting the government. More so, after two more three women have stepped forward and made their own rape allegations. People must be starting to wonder how many more there may be.

Politically damaging it is. It is also a two-edged sword. No one will suggest that the government invented the rapes or deliberately manufactured a scandal over them. But it is hard to deny, that the timing distracts from other looming political disasters. From the government’s point of view, this could be a case of choosing which scandal is the least damaging in the long run.

If this is the case, expect more failure to act decisively and dragging the matter out.

So, what are some of these other minefields?

Most potent is the failure to emerge out of an ongoing economic downturn, made worse by the pandemic, costing jobs, and closing businesses.

Scrutiny over policy designed to create more insecure jobs at the expense of secure ones is almost absent. This is policy born out of a demonstratively the wrong claim, that increasing labour market flexibility will increase opportunities. The government’s so-called Omnibus Bill is the vehicle to do this and restrict union capacity to so anything about it.

There is the looming cut of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, which will put an unprecedented number of Australians into poverty. This has been knocked right off the headlines. It is a point where the government is especially vulnerable.

The Morison government faces a series of scandals including the pulling away of support for those out of work

Then there is the potential trouble coming from the global warming policy failure and the associated scandal of government money been channelled through the back door, into coal and gas company bank accounts. With even the United States shifting ground on this, the Australian government is left internationally isolated and politically exposed.

Overlaying everything, is what must be called a rising level of corruption on government. and there is the growing division within thq Coalition ranks over these and other policies.

These matter have been stripped from the front page headlines. We must m=not lose sight of them. They are important too.

The rape scandal must not be allowed to be manipulated to escape accountability in other areas.

This does not mean that the rape allegations should be ignored. On the contrary. They must be pursued properly and as quickly as possible. Delays are unacceptable. The person or persons alleged to have raped, and those alleged to have covered it up, must be investigated, charged if the evidence is there, properly punished and the victims justly compensated.

Those in the political system who have tried to get in the way of this, must also be brought to account, no matter who they are.

The connection between this and the other scandals is the shift towards increasingly secretive and big brother government, the greater grip over policy and actions by powerful vested interests, rising corruption, and the associated trend to restrict our rights as citizens of this nation.

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