Sexual assault survivor and Australian of the Year Grace Tame had a stern response when asked about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “as a father” reaction to former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins’ allegations she was raped by a male colleague in 2019.
The PM was criticised last month after he said his wife, Jenny clarified his perspective about the allegations.
“She said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ he told reporters at the time.
“Jenny has a way of clarifying things.”
The prime minister then faced a wave of backlash with the #NotJustADaughter hashtag trending on Twitter.
On Wednesday 26-year-old Tame was asked during her address to the National Press Club of Australia about Morrison’s reaction to Higgins’ allegation.
“When the prime minister responded to the first set of allegations, he used the phrase ‘as a father’. And he had to have a chat with his wife Jenny before he was able to front the media and speak. What do you make of that and what do you make of the rhetoric and the way he handled those allegations?” asked SBS reporter Naveen Razik.
“It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience,” Tame responded, before adding that “having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience”.
As first reported by news.com.au last month, Higgins was working as a media advisor for Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in 2019 when, she said, a male colleague assaulted her in Reynolds’ office after a night out. The case is under police investigation.
Another female employee of Morrison’s Liberal party also alleged she had been raped by the same man in 2020.
The Australian newspaper last week published the account of a third woman, who said she had also been raped twice by the unnamed former Liberal party worker in 2016. A fourth woman has since made a complaint about the man, alleging inappropriate sexual behaviour in a Canberra bar.
Tame was named Australian of the Year 2021 in January, recognised for fighting to overturn laws in Tasmania preventing sexual assault survivors from speaking out.
On Wednesday she spoke about the the need for a national standard of sexual consent to be implemented during her address to the National Press Club.
“To our government, our decision-makers, and our policymakers, we need reform on a national scale. Both in policy and education,” she said.
“To address these heinous crimes so they are no longer enabled to be perpetrated. It is so important for our nation, the whole world, in fact, to listen to survivors’ stories.”
Twitter users praised Tame for her response:
With reporting by Carly Williams.
Need help? In Australia, call 1800 RESPECT (737 732) for the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
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