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Grace Tame calls out PM’s apathy following Christian Porter’s elevation

Activist Grace Tame has called out the PM in response to the elevation of accused rapist and cabinet member Christian Porter.

This morning, Grace Tame released an opinion piece to the Sydney Morning Herald, questioning Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s leadership regarding sexual abuse.

Tame’s response came after accused rapist Christian Porter was offered the position of Acting leader of the House of Representatives, despite being stood down from his previous position due to sexual abuse allegations.

Grace Tame opinion Porter
Image: Andrew Meares

In light of my own experience, it’s hard to process how an accused rapist – albeit one who will never face prosecution – could be offered one of the highest positions of power in the country by none other than our nation’s leader,” wrote Tame.

It isn’t just Porter’s character that’s in question here, it’s the morality of our current leadership.”

In February, it was reported that Christian Porter had been accused of raping a woman in 1988 and his alleged victim died by suicide in 2020.

Porter denied the accusation and said that he would not stand down from his positions of Attorney-General, House Leader and Industrial Relations Minister but would take leave to recover his mental health.

Last week I had what I thought was a productive meeting with the federal government, and now this has happened,” said Tame.

Porter has been temporarily elevated to Leader of the House while Peter Dutton has to quarantine amid the Queensland COVID-19 outbreak.

Tame said that the decision for Porter to step into the role “reeks of abuse of power” and is “a blatant disregard of the people“.

The role is embedded with the power to enforce silence; the power to suppress truth,” she wrote.

In particular, this appointment is an insult to all survivors, and indeed the whole country. It reinforces the idea that accused predators are too often protected, feeding into the already crippling fear of victims and bystanders. It is an act of emboldening perpetrators.”

The announcement is a huge setback in the Prime Minister‘s bid to clean up parliament and support assault survivors.

Before the report of Porter’s alleged assault, Liberal Party junior staffer Brittany Higgens alleged that she had been raped by a male colleague in 2019.

The Prime Minister denied any knowledge of the assault until Higgens came forward.

Two investigations into the workplace culture at Parliament House were announced, and a promise to develop an independent review into the workplaces of federal parliamentarians and their staff was made.

The Prime Minister also ordered an internal review of workplace culture and complaints handled within the Liberal Party.

Deputy Secretary Stephanie Foster was asked to undertake the review.

Foster found that the existing human resource management system failed to set clear standards for MPs and staff, was not accountable, and lacked an independent complaints mechanism.

The Morrison Government accepted all findings from the review and have decided to adopt an independent complaints process.

Higgens said that an independent complaints mechanism would: “ensure Parliament House is a safer workplace for all future employees“.

In Grace Tame’s statement, she questioned the progress of the campaign for a safer Parliament, saying: “If the Prime Minister’s recent rhetoric about wanting to support assault survivors and protect women’s safety was indeed true, he would surely go to any lengths possible to ensure there was not an accused rapist amongst his own staff.

“Clearly, it has been nothing but lip service. His actions speak volumes that drown out his every word“.

Demonstrative actions at the apex of influence…have a dangerously permissive effect on future corruption whilst simultaneously stifling progress,” added Tame.

My heart breaks at the thought of survivors still living in silence, looking to our leaders for hope.”