Paynes silence speaks volumes about the Liberal Party – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: March 31, 2021 at 4:04 am

Last Monday at Senate estimates, Labor senator Jenny McAllister put to Marise Payne a question that I have long wanted to ask myself: Is it an impossible job being a minister for women in a Morrison government?

Now I have made no secret of my feelings about our Minister for Women and the fact she has been effectively missing in action on how the pandemic has disproportionately affected women. She has also been conspicuously absent from the debate over the past six weeks on the treatment of women in the Liberal Party and in Australia generally. This glaring omission culminated in criticism that she had not attended, let alone addressed, a meeting of 400 Coalition staffers which Scott Morrison held behind closed doors last week to acknowledge the absolute rubbish female Liberals have had to deal with.

Marise Payne at a Senate estimates hearing on Monday. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

I have also made no secret of my contempt for what has been referred to as the handbag brigade, the Liberal women paraded in front of the media to defend the indefensible, whenever it occurs. The most recent, egregious example: Anne Ruston, Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cashs spirited defence of that budget last financial year, which many women, including yours truly, rightly called out for failing to deliver for women. A highlight, no doubt, was Ruston feebly telling the ABC that women will enjoy driving on all those new roads that the government stimulus would fund.

Yet when McAllister asked Payne on Monday if it is an impossible job being a minister for women in a Morrison government, I have to admit even I felt for a minister so clearly under siege.

No, senator, was Paynes response. And then there was a very long silence as both women exchanged what I can only describe as a knowing look that Paynes answer was complete and utter bullshit.

Andrew Laming in Parliament on Wednesday.Credit:Andrew Meares

The week before, I watched on with similar unease when Channel 10 reporter Tegan George literally chased Payne through the halls of Parliament (the minister apparently tried to do a runner instead of a promised doorstop) to put to her this question: Can you understand why Australian women feel disappointed and let down by you?


A former boss of the Office for Women, Trish Bergin, has suggested that Morrison make the post of Minister for Women a standalone portfolio that maintains its place at the cabinet table, to ensure the portfolio gets the prominence it deserves. I dont disagree, but I imagine whoever is in the role will be hampered by the fact a male-dominated Liberal Party demands the minister prioritise loyalty over speaking sense. And anyone would tire of being hauled out as an apologist for whatever nonsense their male peers get up to.

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Paynes silence speaks volumes about the Liberal Party - Sydney Morning Herald

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