Scott Morrison – Grace Tame criticises Scott Morrison’s cabinet reshuffle appointment of Amanda Stoker
On Australia Day in 2020, Ms Arndt was given a Member of the Order of Australia – Australia’s fourth-highest honour.
Ms Tame called on the Governor-General to cancel Ms Arndt’s honour at the time because of the interview, which Arndt has since deleted.
Separately, Labor Senators Kristina Keneally and Penny Wong later moved a motion in the Senate condemning the comments, saying that they had the ability to bring the Order of Australia into disrepute.
That motion related to separate comments in which Ms Arndt defended a policeman who claimed the husband of Hannah Clarke could have been “driven too far” before he killed his wife and their three children by torching their car in a quadruple murder-suicide last year.
The Liberal Party supported the Labor motion and some Coalition MPs also joined calls for Ms Arndt’s honour to be stripped.
However, Senator Stoker defended Ms Arndt during debate on the Labor motion, despite disagreeing with what she described as a “dumb comment” from the social commentator relating to the murder of Hannah Clarke and her children.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” Senator Stoker told Parliament. “At some point we’ve all said dumb stuff or things that in time have come to be understood as wrong.
“But being able to reflect, admit mistakes and grow without trying to rewrite history is the sign of a functioning adult.”
On Wednesday, Senator Stoker said she had not attended Ms Arndt’s campus tour but raised it in Parliament “to highlight the universities’ inconsistent approaches to free speech and de-platforming”.
“Ms Tame’s comments are passionate but not informed and they do not correspond with my longer history of work in this area, of which Ms Tame must be unaware,” the senator said.
“I’ve spent my career as a prosecutor and barrister working for justice for women and children who are victims of sexual crimes and unconscionable exploitation. As a barrister, I provided countless hours of pro bono support to women dealing with sexual harassment. I have argued and written out of the media spotlight for better systems to investigate and deal with sexual assault and harassment, and sometimes succeeded in making changes for the better whilst clearly the requirement for change continues. In my parliamentary role I fight relentlessly for projects and resources that improve the safety of women at risk of violence.”
She intends to invite Ms Tame to meet her, saying she hoped they could work together “to advance our many shared goals”.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to work – as I always have – to make life better for all Australians, but particularly Australian women who have faced violence,” Senator Stoker said.
When asked by veteran interviewer Kerry O’Brien on SBS on Tuesday night if Prime Minister Scott Morrison was moved by her words after the awards were announced, Ms Tame paused and said: “moved, in what direction I don’t know”, to huge applause from the audience.
She said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had “dismissively” rejected her idea for a national framework to define consent laws at the Australia Day Awards morning tea. On Monday, Mr Morrison announced a new cabinet taskforce on women’s equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing. The taskforce will be co-chaired by Mr Morrison and the Minister for Women, Marise Payne.
“We need to be careful not to be naively misled by actions that are quite calculated distractions posing as solutions,” Ms Tame said of the reshuffle.
“This is not a gender issue … equal representation is not going to address the abuse of power.”
The Prime Minister’s office declined to comment.
National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732. Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au).
Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.