Western Australian Liberal Senator Ben Small is Crikey‘s Clown of the Week, winning by a nose after a spirited last-minute dash for the finish line by New South Wales Police commissioner Mick Fuller.
Fuller’s “consent app” idea, which simultaneously managed to be back of the envelope and front page of The Daily Telegraph — a thought bubble so elephantine that everything he’s said since groans under its weight — was filleted like a fish in our pages yesterday.
So Small takes the title partly because we don’t want his conversation (if you can call it that) with Labor’s Kate Thwaites after Monday’s March4Justice to be drowned out by the noise elsewhere. After all, in addition to the rally and Fuller’s nonsense, this week featured a government staffer being sacked for allegedly calling a female MP a “meth-head cunt”, as well the ongoing Brittany Higgins saga and the (vociferously denied) allegations against Attorney-General Christian Porter.
The whole interaction, quieter but no less dismissive and in some ways no less illustrative than those episodes, is worth consuming:
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Kate Thwaites: The power, the anger, the feeling that people’s voices are not being heard. That’s what the prime minister is not acknowledging, and I entirely …
Ben Small: The same prime minister that opened his door and invited …
Thwaites: Are you going to talk over me on this? Are you really going to talk over me on this issue?
Small: … The same prime minister that invited those representatives into his office. The highest office …
Thwaites: Ben, we’re talking about respect for women in this workplace. Are you going to talk over me?
Small: …The highest office in the land …
Thwaites: I’ll let you keep going then.
Small: I think we can have a respectful conversation.
Note the number of chances he has to stop, how many ropes he is thrown which he chooses to fashion into a noose rather than haul himself out of the hole he’s dug.
Without doubting Thwaites’ sincerity, she must have been mentally drafting that tweet before Small had got to the second use of the phrase “the highest office in the land”.
Small’s performance — whether you find it genuinely offensive or just bafflingly poorly judged — is the kind Clown of the Week was created to capture.