Minister for Women's Safety Anne Ruston (Image: AAP/David Mariuz)

Newly-appointed Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston is in no rush to act on gendered violence. In an announcement that perfectly captured the government’s approach to gendered issues, she said her team would need yet another survey into sexual violence before it could possibly act on it.

Ruston told the ABC on Thursday that it was “really important that everybody gets their opportunity to have their say”.

Is it though?

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Forget the decades of inquiries, dozens of reports, hundreds of recommendations and brilliant expert minds at the ready: Ruston wants to know how you — yes, you — rank aspects and outcomes of domestic violence from most to least relevant ahead of the vaguely defined women’s safety summit beginning in July.

Forget the Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report and its 55 recommendations — which the government only responded to yesterday, a year after it was released. Forget last month’s parliamentary inquiry into family and domestic and sexual violence and its 88 recommendations. Let’s ignore the years of budget submissions from women’s safety organisations on this very subject.

In what universe is the government short on input?

Oh, and forget Ruston’s previous job as social services minister, which apparently earned her this new role.

Following the 2020 budget, which responded to the gendered effects of COVID-19 with a budget that offered roughly sod all to women, Ruston provided a defence so magnificently tone deaf as to achieve a kind of avant-garde genius (kind of like The Shaggs).

How could the budget be sexist, she argued on the ABC, given it provides for roads and “women drive”. Later in the year she dutifully recycled an announcement regarding 700 new places for women and children fleeing domestic violence — the third time the government had announced the same funding without actually doing anything.

In 2017 she split with her colleagues to vote with Cory Bernardi’s empty provocation on banning abortion on gender grounds. Earlier this year, she sold us the “dole bludger” line while announcing a hotline for “jobseeker cheats” which could have forced vulnerable women to accept unsafe work.

Ruston has acted on women’s safety slowly and reluctantly, while heartily embracing culture war nonsense that harms women. In other words, she’s the perfect pick for women’s safety minister in this government

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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