Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to clean up parliament after the latest in a series of sexual harassment and abuse scandals rocked his government and amid accusations that he has failed to understand women’s anger towards the toxic male culture.
After weeks of pressure for what was seen as a muffled response to the scandals, Morrison broke down in tears at a press conference in Canberra on Tuesday when he promised to use his young daughters, wife and mother as motivation to fix a problem. problem that has refused to go away.
But the tension also showed when his carefully cultivated suburban dad persona slipped when he struck out at a reporter who suggested he had lost control of his staff.
It is not the first time that Morrison, who is a committed Pentecostal Christian, has tried to invoke his family as his moral compass or deflect questions about the crisis, with his response described as carefree and callous that goes even more moody and aggressive. .
The latest allegations come from a whistleblower claiming to have been part of a WhatsApp group of Coalition staff members who shared images of themselves masturbating in parliament, including on the desk of a Coalition deputy.
The allegations also include claims that the sex workers were invited to Parliament House by a former minister and that the employees had regular sex in a room set aside for prayer and meditation. A member of the Coalition staff has been fired.
The whistleblower, named only after Tom, took aim at the male-dominated culture in parliament that had allowed it to rot.
He He said TV Channel Ten: “You can probably tell that there is very little meditation or prayer in that room. Now is the time to speak, now is the time to put it on the record. It’s a culture of men who think they can do whatever they want. “
Morrison described the revelations as “embarrassing” and “embarrassing.” They come at the culmination of a tumultuous weeks for the leader of the Liberal Party.
Beginning with employee Brittany Higgins’s claim in February that she was raped in the defense minister’s office in 2019, and followed by a landmark rape allegation against her attorney general (which has been strongly denied), the whistleblower’s claims are add to the evidence. of a toxic culture that runs through the ranks of the ruling Liberal-National party coalition that now threatens to poison Morrison’s entire prime ministerial post.
Morrison, who used his appeal to central Australia to consolidate his grip on power after winning the job in a backroom parliamentary coup in 2018, was clearly determined to show his empathy for women on Tuesday.
Citing his young daughters, wife and widowed mother, Morrison said he had “the deepest of vested interests” in making sure women had the same opportunities and vowed he would “not let them down” as he sought to fix the problem.
“Criticize me if you like me for talking about my daughters, but they are the center of my life,” Morrison said, fighting back tears.
“My wife is the center of my life. My mother, my widowed mother, is the center of my life. They motivate me every day in this matter ”.
But moments later, he was dedicated to trying to point the finger at the others.
When asked by a Sky News Australia reporter that he might have lost control of his staff, the tone changed. He said journalists must “be careful” when criticizing the government and later claimed that a case of sexual harassment was being investigated at the reporter’s own media organization.
“You are free to criticize and stand on that pedestal, but be careful,” Morrison said. News Corp, the owners of Sky, have denied that any complaints have been received.
Morrison’s “terribly difficult month” began in February with Higgins’ explosive claims about an as-yet-unidentified male employee. Despite evidence to the contrary and the feeling of credulity that strains, Morrison claimed that his office knew nothing of the allegations and tried to change the agenda. It didn’t help when Defense Minister Linda Reynolds admitted calling Higgins a “lying cow” and the opposition has spent the past few weeks accusing him of delaying an investigation into the Higgins case.
When his cabinet colleague Christian Porter was indicted two weeks after historic rape allegations dating back to 1990, Morrison faced repeated calls for an independent investigation into the allegations that many believed necessary because the whistleblower is dead and there can be no trial. Instead, he indicated that his hands were tied and subcontracted the matter to the police.
The prime minister’s handling was revealed again when a series of March 4 women’s justice demonstrations were organized across the country on March 15. After declining an invitation to attend any of the marches due to previous commitments in the newspaper, Morrison limited himself to commenting only that the protesters were lucky to be able to protest without “being greeted with bullets.” He offered to meet them later, but the protesters refused.
Morrison has bank credit among the Liberal rank and file for uniting the party in the wake of the coup that eliminated Malcolm Turnbull and led to an unexpected victory in the 2019 election.
Since then, he has tread carefully, beating weak Labor opposition and reaching a near presidential bearing during the Covid crisis, when much of the heavy lifting has been done by Australia’s state governments.
But polls show that voters are beginning to reconsider their suitability for the job. Morrison faces by far the most dangerous moment of his tenure.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism