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Rape, masturbation and lewd acts all part of Parliament House under Morrison

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(Screenshots via YouTube)

It’s increasingly difficult to keep apace of the torrents of misinformation, disinformation, obfuscation, avoidance, denial and bare-faced lies that emanate from the Morrison Government and its enablers every day.

*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape and sexual abuse

On Monday morning at Senate Estimates, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw was asked by Senator Kristina Keneally if he had asked Phil Gaetjens, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMO), to “stall, pause, or alter” his inquiry into the PMO regarding who knew about the alleged rape of media advisor Brittany Higgins by a senior male staffer, in March 2019.

Kershaw responded with a very firm “No”.

At the same time in another room, Gaetjens informed senators that, on the strong advice of Commissioner Kershaw, he had suspended his inquiry into who had knowledge of the alleged 2019 rape, on March 9 2021.

On Monday afternoon, Kershaw released a media statement in which he claimed that he had in fact strongly advised Gaetjens to hold off finalising interviews he was conducting on the matter of the alleged rape. This contradicted Kershaw’s own denial earlier in the day.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to answer questions about the Gaetjens inquiry, saying the Secretary would answer in Senate estimates on Monday. However, Morrison was already fully aware that the inquiry had been halted on March 9, and that Gaetjens would refuse to answer in estimates.

Morrison did not inform Parliament of the inquiry’s suspension. The Prime Minister conducted his business in the House as if the inquiry was proceeding.

This led opposition leader Anthony Albanese to accuse Morrison of misleading Parliament — an accusation Morrison vigorously denied.

This is but a small example of the confusion deliberately seeded and the obfuscation deliberately employed by the Morrison Government, to obstruct the pursuit of truth in the matter of the alleged rape.

The Morrison Government appropriates every means at its disposal – and there are many – to construct a fortress around itself specifically designed to protect it from unwelcome scrutiny. The Government is better at this than anything else it does. Because it has to be. It seems very little about the Morrison Government will withstand close examination. The Government appears to be under permanent siege, scurrying for the protection of its fortress to regroup after every new outrage.

Democracy depends for its success on trust, particularly trust that the checks and balances in the system will be employed as checks and balances, rather than co-opted and exploited as a means of protecting a self-serving government from scrutiny and accountability.

Morrison appears to have no limits that might curb his pursuit of – and determination to retain – power. A leader with no limits gives permission for those he leads to abandon the concept of limits as well, not only his political colleagues but also the public servants and staffers who work for them.

Someone changed Commissioner Kershaw’s firm “No”, a mere few hours after he made that declaration.

Someone decided Gaetjen’s inquiry must be halted and in so doing, postponed that inquiry indefinitely.

Someone, or several someones, have now ensured the fortress is secure and nobody will find out who in the PMO knew about the alleged rape of Ms Higgins — especially whether or not the Prime Minister did.

There is, in all this skullduggery, it seems, not the slightest interest in or concern for a woman who was allegedly raped in Parliament House, just a few steps from the Prime Minister’s office. In the great game of politics, women are generally irrelevant except when they can be used.

Neither is there the slightest concern that their machinations are apparent. That we can see what they are doing, how they are doing it and why, is of no consequence. They dwell in a world of magical thinking in which they are inviolable.

Also on Monday, we heard allegations of a Liberal male staffer masturbating on a female MP’s desk, and recording his performance for friends. We heard of MPs buying sex and the exchange occurring in a special room in the House intended for prayer. We heard of sex acts the reporter declared unfit to broadcast, performed in Parliament House by Liberal staffers.  

Parliament House is a cesspit. In what other workplace (apart from the premises of sexual services providers) is it acceptable for men to have sex, bought or taken? In what other workplace is it acceptable for men to ignore the most fundamental boundaries?  

The depravity of the Morrison Government – and those who work for it – is extremely alarming. There are no limits. There is no accountability.

When Morrison refuses to be held accountable, everyone else is at liberty to do the same. A world in which no one is accountable is a depraved world. Morrison bears full responsibility for a workplace in which male Liberal staffers feel free to express their depravity in lewd sexual acts.

It’s notable that a leader of such fervent religiosity as Morrison professes, oversees a workplace remarkable largely for its corruption and depravity, and its destructive contempt for women.

How many women have been raped in Parliament House? Because given the vibe, it’s likely there’s more than one. The rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment of women in this workplace are enabled by the extraordinary protections put in place for perpetrators. These protections are instigated at the very highest level – the Prime Minister’s Office – and quite possibly with the knowledge of the Prime Minister himself.

If you would like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Dr Jennifer Wilson is an IA columnist, a psychotherapist and an academic. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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