Note: This story discusses sexual assault.
Thousands are expected to march on state and federal parliament houses today following a slew of government assault and harassment allegations, with The New Daily reporting that Scott Morrison has agreed to meet with a private delegation of organisers in Canberra. Government and opposition have agreed to not call any division votes to allow politicians to attend the March4Justice itself.
Event organiser Dr Kate Ahmad explained in Crikey last week that March4Justice is based in part on “dehumanising” responses to allegations against politicians, and protesters will deliver Parliament a petition with demands including a federal Gender Equality Act and strengthening of accountability for parliamentarians and judges in the Sex Discrimination Act.
As news.com.au reports, on the eve of today’s marches, female Labor staffers aired allegations of sexual assault and harassment in a private Facebook group, saying they will “no longer keep their secrets”. Separately, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller also pledged late last week to assess whether new material pertaining to the rape allegation denied by Christian Porter — namely a friend of the alleged victim coming forward on Friday — is enough to reopen the case.
Crikey will livestream Canberra’s event from 12pm AEDT via Facebook Live. In order to watch, head over to our Facebook page where you will receive a notification when we go live.
LABOR TAKES NEWSPOLL POSITION
Scott Morrison has recorded the worst Newspoll ($) result since the 2019 Black Summer bushfires, with Labor leading 52-48 on two-party-preferred following roughly a month of criticism over the government’s handling of an alleged rape at Parliament House and historical rape allegations denied by Christian Porter.
Liberal and National leaders are also dealing with a bloodbath in Western Australia, where Labor is expected to pick up at least 52 of the Legislative Assembly’s 59 seats. The ABC reports that WA Nationals leader Mia Davies is considering a coalition partnership with the state Liberals, while The Australian ($) reports Morrison senior cabinet ministers will launch a “political blitz” on the battleground state with likely defence, resources, and economic announcements.
But in a reminder of the difficulty of oppositions of any persuasion gaining ground through the pandemic, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that polling by Labor’s internal pollster Redbridge puts the NSW party’s primary vote at an almost 120-year low and suggests state leader Jodi McKay stands to lose her own seat.
WORKING THE CASE
Finally, the ABC reports that NSW health officials are still investigating the source of a hotel quarantine guard’s positive COVID-19 result, while NSW Health has identified one high-risk exposure site — Beverly Hills Pancake on the Rocks, Beverly Hills between 10:45am to 12pm on Saturday March 13 — and several other potential sites from the past five days in Bexley North, Haymarket, Hurstville, and Central-Hurstville train routes.
The news comes after three close contacts of a Brisbane doctor tested negative, while three high-risk locations have been identified for Thursday 11 March: West End’s Morning After Café (2-3.15pm), Greenslopes’s Corporate Box Gym (5:45-7pm) and Stones Corner Hotel (6.30-7.45pm).
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
No, I have meetings all day.
The deputy prime minister is simply too busy in his role as public servant to meet with any of the thousands of Australians marching today against gendered violence.
“A close friend of Kate, the woman who accused Christian Porter of rape, has spoken publicly for the first time, saying he has information about Kate’s allegation he would like to share with an independent inquiry into Porter’s suitability to hold the role of attorney-general.
“James Hooke first met Kate months after the alleged incident in mid-1988 at national debating competitions. The pair were romantically involved about a year later and remained friends throughout Kate’ life.”
“Much of the coverage of Kate, who Crikey previously called Jane Doe and whose first name was revealed on Four Corners this week, has been focused on her allegation of rape against Attorney-General Christian Porter — allegations which Porter has strenuously denied.
“But Kate was so much more than her allegations and her trauma. She was an academic, an artist, a debater and a caring friend. Inq has spoken to five friends who have each described her as bright and brilliant and funny. They pegged her to be Australia’s first female prime minister. She killed herself last year.”
“The total resistance to an inquiry into the allegations against Attorney-General Christian Porter is of course being driven by internal Liberal Party politicking. My God, there must be some act three of Downfallgoing on there.
“An inquiry, with Porter temporarily out of office, would help conserve the political system. Morrison announces there’s no alternative. The inquiry considers both the 1988 allegations and the 2020 handling. Porter is dropped down a proverbial lift-shaft, whatever happens. Morrison apologises for the minor crime of bad handling — ‘much to learn’, ‘new era’ — and actually gains from it.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Labor’s thumping win in Western Australia carries risks for both sides — Martin Drum (The Conversation): “While there will be at least six Liberal or National MPs in the 59 seat lower house, and a much higher number of non-government MPs in the upper house, there is no doubt the McGowan government will dominate proceedings in parliament. Such is the imbalance, though, that it raises questions of accountability. Parliament is the principal body of accountability for governments in our democratic system, and it is critical parliamentary processes that typically hold government to account are maintained. Opposition parties need resources to research contentious issues, investigate complaints, and develop alternative policies.”
Post-COVID reality for conservative governments ($) — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian): “Conservative government is facing its biggest test in decades. The COVID pandemic has broken the classical liberal model of the limited state. The promise of small government is gone for at least a generation. At the end of the month, the government’s COVID support packages that kept businesses afloat and consumers spending are due to come to a close. But conservatives are facing an uphill battle as the taxpayer-funded media and public sector make alliances with businesses on the edge to fight against fiscal restraint. Reality is about to bite and it will hurt like hell.”
In the Netherlands, workers are taking on fossil fuel giants like shell — Malia Bouattia (Jacobin): “Today, people across the Netherlands are taking part in the Climate Alarm, a nationwide set of demonstrations demanding action on the climate crisis. Over the last few months, activists, students, teachers, families, and workers have been forming community coalitions, mobilizing people for local protests planned in over forty towns and cities.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Crikey will livestream Canberra’s March4Justice from 12pm AEDT via Facebook Live. To tune in, head to our Facebook page to receive a notification when we go live.
Senator Rex Patrick will propose a resolution acknowledgeing that China has committed and continues to commit genocide against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang.
Several Uyghur organisations will hold a rally outside Parliament House all day today, with speakers to include Patrick, the Greens’ Janet Rice and Labor MP Tony Zappia.