Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Today by Paddy Manning

Sarah Hanson-Young takes a stand
The Greens senator is not just playing politics


Joining in the widespread condemnation of David Leyonhjelm’s shameful attack on Sarah Hanson-Young should only be part of the response. Almost everyone, including the prime minister today [$], has called on Leyonhjelm to apologise, and so he should. Much more important is to thank Hanson-Young for taking such a strong stand. It does not come naturally to congratulate politicians. On a jaundiced view, this has been another episode in our broken, polarised politics – his idiocy and doubling-down, her anger and possible lawsuit – from which both draw profile and votes, and live on to fight another day. On a more optimistic view, Hanson-Young is part of something much bigger than we might’ve thought possible before #MeToo erupted less than a year ago: actual, real, lasting, broad, positive change that promises an end to sexual abuse and harassment of women in our society.

The background is well known. In a debate on relaxing restrictions on pepper spray and tasers to help women defend themselves against sexual violence, Hanson-Young interjected “men should stop raping women”, to which Leyonhjelm replied she should “stop shagging men”. After she called him out in the Senate, Leyonhjelm went on a Sky News panel on Sunday with Rowan Dean and Ross Cameron and doubled-down, saying she was “well known for liking men”, and even falsely naming someone she was supposed to have slept with.

Leyonhjelm refused to apologise all day yesterday, digging himself ever-deeper into a hole. Hanson-Young was on fire on ABC’s 7.30 last night, threatening to sue, and again this morning in a compelling interview with ABC’s RN Breakfast, which noted it was six years since Julia Gillard’s groundbreaking anti-misogyny speech in parliament. Apologising up-front for the language, Hanson-Young told host Hamish Macdonald that Leyonhjelm was slut-shaming, and that he was unfit to be a member of parliament and must resign. In both interviews Hanson-Young made the point that the sexist and bullying attacks had been going on for years and “I’m over it … I’m not putting up with it anymore.” Hanson-Young said she was encouraged by the support she had had, including from overseas, but Macdonald remarked afterwards that plenty of listener text messages sent into the station were hostile.

Hanson-Young told Virginia Trioli last night that she had a responsibility to stand up: “I am doing this because I am a woman in a relatively privileged position. I am able to stand up for myself. I am able to not remain silent and I am doing this because the woman on the factory floor, or the woman who works at the bakery or the flight attendant who has things like this held at her, comments made, harassment in the workplace, many of those women can’t stand up. Many of those women are made to feel intimidated and silenced, and it is time that this ended. And if we can’t clean it up in our nation’s parliament, well, where can we do it?”

Hanson-Young sure is making her stand count. The volume of commentary today is overwhelming. John Birmingham zooms in on the culpability of “Foxified” Sky News: “Who would have thought that if you unleashed three jabbering trolls with throbbing persecution complexes inside a television studio and let them run wild without adult supervision, they might end up breaking things and hurting people? Especially if breaking things and hurting people is your business model.” Sky News apologised to Hanson-Young, but compounded its initial error by suspending a junior female producer who added a strapline quoting Leyonhjelm’s sexist comments on Sunday’s show. In The Guardian, Gay Alcorn points up Sky’s hypocrisy, notes that Leyonhjelm was elected accidentally as a Liberal Democrat through a combination of mistaken identity and the donkey vote, and looks back over his record, including inviting Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the federal parliament. “Australia has a blokey culture,” Alcorn writes, “and there is considerable backlash to revelations of the ubiquity of sexual harassment, whether low level or more serious. It’s a ‘yes, but’ response. Yes, but it’s not that bad. Yes, but women are taking it too far. Yes, but women have no sense of humour.”

Hanson-Young should be applauded, pure and simple. As former independent MP Tony Windsor, not known for his political correctness, tweeted: “Take this bloke to the cleaners @sarahinthesen8, you have an opportunity to smack this attitude down on behalf of many women. You have a great deal of support.”

since this morning

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, has been sentenced to 12 months’ detention.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken a veiled swipe [$] at Tony Abbott on energy policy, declaring that it is time to “get out of the realm of politics and ideology”, after his predecessor accused him [$] of trying to repeat his failed 2009 attempt to secure a deal with Labor on an emissions trading scheme.

Malcolm Turnbull has said it would be “regrettable” if reporters from the ABC were not allowed to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, but that Australia must respect the Nauruan government’s right to refuse ABC journalists a visa.

The personal details of Australian Republican Movement supporters have been stolen [$], the organisation’s national director Michael Cooney has revealed in an email.

Technology writer Stilgherrian has commenced a new series [$] for Crikey on privacy under the banner of “Prying Eyes: How personal surveillance invades our lives 24/7”.

in case you missed it

“We’ve got to start talking again,” professor Mick Dodson told the ABC’s AM this morning, as he discussed the First Nations Governance Forum hosted by ANU in Canberra this week.

Australia has followed the US and ceased providing direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying the donations could increase the self-governing body’s capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.

American efforts to contain China’s rise are “futile” and counterproductive, former trade minister Andrew Robb has claimed in a speech [$] to the Minerals Council of Australia.

by Helen Garner
The Courts
A sorry procession
A day in the life of the Geelong Magistrates’ Court

by Abdul Karim Hekmat
True love in Nauru
Two gay refugees face an unwelcoming community and an uncertain future

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?

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