ANALYSIS

It has become very clear our contrite PM still does not 'get it'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Scott Morrison wants the women of Australia to know he now gets it. A corner has been turned and his government is now pledged to improve the treatment of women in Parliament.

But the Prime Minister demonstrated he still has a severe blind spot to the "it" he now supposedly gets.

His media conference on Tuesday was just gathering speed when the politician who supposedly understands why Brittany Higgins chose not to proceed with a police complaint weaponised another allegation against one of his enemies - the media.

It matters little that the Prime Minister's understanding of the details of the allegation was apparently wrong. Horrendously wrong, it seems. In loosing the arrow of an allegation in the heat of the moment at a reporter who was unaware of the circumstances or even the existence of an allegation, Mr Morrison showed that he was still prepared to use the abuse of women as a tool to hurt others for political gain.

Ms Higgins understood this. She feared that what happened to her would be weaponised against the political party she worked for in an election campaign.

In the days leading up to that election campaign, Ms Higgins chose instead to drop the matter and bear the trauma that has clearly not gone away.

We learned on Tuesday not that the Prime Minister has understood what made Ms Higgins scared. What we learned was that Ms Higgins was right to be scared.

Women across all sides of politics have come forward in recent weeks to tell Australia about the treatment they receive from colleagues and from the public. Some of these revelations have also been weaponised.

The Prime Minister asked to be forgiven for the indulgence as he again used his wife, his daughters and his mother to explain how he gets it. He begged for sympathy for having been criticised for sharing how these women are the centre of his life.

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"They motivate me every day on this issue," Mr Morrison said. "They have taught me the values and the faith that sustains me every single day in this job, which is why I am here. I owe them everything. To them, I say to you girls, I will not let you down."

Mr Morrison's mea culpa extended to the women in his cabinet and in Parliament. He needs them to stand right where they are, he said. He admires their courage and he calls on it.

In question time on Tuesday, that courage was theirs alone. The Prime Minister was defensive and evasive.

Asked to explain why he'd been less than forthcoming about the now halted Gaetjens review of his own office, the Prime Minister at first evaded and then attacked, calling the line of questioning a "whole bunch of abuse".

Asked to explain why he citing a rumoured allegation that was unknown to the public, the Prime Minister said he referred to the matter in an "anonymised way".

"The problems that we are experiencing in this country are not confined simply to the offices of members, of senators and ministers in this place," Mr Morrison told Parliament.

The Prime Minister is uncomfortable that the attention is primarily focused on his party and his colleagues. His efforts, now that he gets it, will be on ensuring that blame can instead be shared as widely as possible across society and less directly in his own house.

This story It has become very clear our contrite PM still does not 'get it' first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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