Liberal MP Andrew Laming was forced to apologise overnight to two women who alleged he had been cyberbullying them, but in news that is entirely unsurprising in our current political climate, he did not resign. And you know what? That’s a huge problem.
In the last month or so, we’ve seen more political scandals than we’ve seen in years, with the Brittany Higgins rape allegation, the historical rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter (which he vehemently denies) and a whole bunch of piss-poor actions from the government as a whole.
We’re not even going to talk about the abhorrent way the government has handled both of those allegations because that’s a whole other story for another day, but what I *do* want to talk about is how the government has managed to use these awful allegations to set a new normal for what is acceptable behaviour in politics, *especially* for men.
If we were truly holding men (or anyone) accountable for their actions, Andrew Laming would resign, or be sacked, for his appalling behaviour towards two women in his electorate. But in reality, the story barely even made headlines.
That isn’t to say that it’s on-par with the allegations against Porter, or the Brittany Higgins situation, because it’s not. But that’s the problem.
So many horrific allegations have been brought to light in recent weeks that our yardstick for what is acceptable and what should be grounds for dismissal has been completely warped.
Andrew Laming, an MP whose job it is to represent the best interest of people in his electorate, caused two of his constituents “significant distress” through his “online commentary”. And it wasn’t until the media got involved in the situation that Morrison actually reprimanded him for it and he gave a half-assed apology.
That is simply not good enough.
But it’s not just Laming who has managed to come out of the allegations against him relatively unscathed.
Obviously, we’ve got Christian Porter, who stands accused of a historical rape dating back to 1988.
Although he denies the allegations and has since launched a defamation lawsuit against the ABC, there has been a monumental push for the government to launch an independent inquiry into the allegations to prove – once and for all – if he is fit to continue in his role. But instead of doing that, Morrison has repeatedly asserted that he believed him.
For a hot second there, Morrison appeared to change his tune about Porter’s role in government, but earlier today he confirmed that both Porter and Reynolds will both continue to play “an important role” in his government.
I’m not asserting that Porter is guilty, and an independent inquiry into the situation could – in theory – work in his favour. But by neglecting to actually look into the allegations, Morrison is also setting the precedent that men in politics won’t actually be held accountable for their alleged actions.
Meanwhile, the only people who have faced any sort of real consequences in the Brittany Higgins case are the man accused, and Higgins herself.
And while it’s great that the man who allegedly raped her within the walls of Parliament House has been sacked, none of the politicians who doubted, slut-shamed or mishandled her allegations have been held accountable.
For starters, we’ve got her former boss Linda Reynolds, who quite literally called her former staffer and alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins a “lying cow.” But if you thought Reynolds would have been sacked for such gross mishandling of the situation, you thought wrong.
Oh, and let’s not forget Michaelia Cash, who has been accused of mishandling Higgins’ allegations *and* is currently being sued by former staffer Rachelle Miller – who claims Cash forced her out with a “fake redundancy” after she had a consensual affair with Alan Tudge.
But not only has Cash faced no real repercussions for her allegedly poor handling of both situations, but she is also rumoured to be the top pick to replace Christian Porter if he eventually is forced out of the position of Attorney-General.
Obviously, the situation is different for all of these ministers, but the common thread that holds them all together is the fact that none of them have faced appropriate repercussions for their actions.
But when we aren’t holding the likes of Porter, Reynolds and Cash accountable, how are we supposed to hold anyone accountable in future?
Make no mistake, Morrison’s actions in recent weeks – or lack thereof – have set a standard for what is acceptable in politics, and the bar is *low*.
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