Is Malcolm Turnbull Getting His Own 'Woman Problem'?

06/01/2016 5:37 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 05: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during High Tea at the SCG at Allianz Stadium on day three of the third Test match between Australia and the West Indies on January 5, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

CANBERRA -- The fledgling 2016, so far, has been a bit of a throwback.

Leaving aside all allowances for the “silly season,” it should be hard to believe we are arguing over the right of women (AKA blushing babes) to do their jobs without being hit on and being able to appropriately report a superior for inappropriate behavior.

As for the inability of the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to protect the borders of his smart phone’s key pad, plenty has been said and surely there’s more to come, but on one level I am happy to see the phrase “Mad F**king Witch” reclaimed and re-tuned.

The women involved, Mel McLaughlin, the anonymous DFAT staffer and Samantha Maiden, unsurprisingly, all want to move on. I am certain Chris Gayle, Jamie Briggs and Peter Dutton do too.

But can we let it all go? Do we all realise there is something wrong here? And I am not talking about how it might be "empowering" to let men grab women's random arses.

This is a reality check for the still newish and buoyant Turnbull Government. Is there confidence in how the Prime Minister is handling his errant men?

Like a virus looking for a new host, it seems Tony Abbott’s problem with women has transferred over to Malcolm, despite the fact that female voters actually like the PM and have been giving him every chance to prove himself.

Sure, there are now five very capable women in Turnbull’s Cabinet, but when it comes to policies and Ministerial standards, people want, nay demand, better.

With more than 16 months warning, the Turnbull Government can’t decide who will be Australia’s next Sex Discrimination Commissioner. The excellent Elizabeth Broderick has left big shoes for the next commissioner to fill, but for the past four months those sturdy pumps have been empty.

And now we’ve cottoned on to the inclusion of breast cancer testing and pap smears in the Government's budget cuts to the Medicare Benefits Scheme.

I think I can safely say no woman wants to have a doctor date with a cold speculum, but all women certainly need to these pap smears.

The Health Minister Sussan Ley denies pap smear costs will go up and it’s important to note that this is not a competition and prostate cancer requires blood tests too.

But with cuts to family tax benefits and childcare changes sitting in the Senate, the Government has opened itself to criticism that women are losing out and little, bar one doorstop from the PM, is being done to improve the situation.

There’s no Malsplaining out of this one.

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