Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

That was then, this is now One doesn’t have to go full Jon Faine to notice a slight difference in tone between the approach to the current lockdown in New South Wales and the one that scraped most of 2020 off the calendar for Victoria. Measured, nuanced coverage from media that previously hectored. Soothing rhetoric and offers of financial support from politicians who previously scored political points.

But with the news that mounted police are being sent to Sydney’s southwest to enforce the rules, it’s nice to know that there is one issue that can induce the two states to clasp their giant arms together in agreement like that scene in Predator: gratuitously over-policing minorities.

Stoking the controversy Crikey has long noted the hole in the air where a minister for women ought to be. The nominal holder of the title, Marise Payne, didn’t find much to say on the gendered impacts of COVID-19 and wasn’t fantastically vocal during the reckoning around Parliament’s toxic workplace culture brought about by the Brittany Higgins saga. Now Julia Banks’ allegations around bullying and harassment in the Liberal Party have sufficiently energised Payne to put out a statement about the right to safe workplaces (through a spokesperson) so bland and pro-forma it slides off the brain as one reads it.

And that near-silence would be contemptible enough if that were the totality of the women’s portfolio contribution to the discussion of issues that affect women. But of course it’s not. It cedes the discourse to Payne’s assistant minister for women, Amanda Stoker. Stoker was happy to provide more fulsome commentary on Banks’ book, telling Sky (where else?) that Banks is merely seeking a “cheap headline”, adding the Liberal Party’s favoured refrain on the matter: “I certainly haven’t seen in my personal experience the matters of which she complains.”

But of course Stoker has a long history of statements that, if you didn’t know her job title, could be mistaken for those of a visceral misogynist. When Banks first made the claims of sexist bullying on her retirement in 2018, Stoker sad they were “pathetic” and “bizarre”, and accused Queensland’s then-LNP leader Deb Frecklington of “playing the gender card” in similar circumstances. Most recently she backed the one bloke available to her to replace Andrew Laming and didn’t noticeably shift her position after his history of jocular misogyny was revealed.

Chester draws (a comparison) The nation delighted overnight in the progress of fast-tracked national treasure Ash Barty to the Wimbledon final. Among those showering Barty in well-earned praise was newly appointed backbencher for the Nationals Darren Chester.

“In a world filled with narcissists and ego-maniacs (hang on, that might just be my world) how good is Ash Barty?” he tweeted. “Humility, grace, resilience, determination & good humoured as she respects her opponent & focuses on her next big challenge.”

But who or what could Chester possibly be alluding to here?