By Joe Montero
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Scott Morrison has increasingly taken on the style of hiding behind others and avoiding public responsibility. He is doing this with the mounting allegations of predatory sexual behaviour against women now enveloping his government. One of them directly involves a senior minister. Others involve functionaries.
How many more allegations are going to come to light?
No one is denying that this sort of behaviour is wrong and serious. There is, however, a pattern suggesting something seriously wrong and involving more than a few rotten eggs. A wrong that penetrates the government and its administration.
There is a failure to act decisively to resolve the problem. The Prime Minister drags his feet, makes excuses, and denies responsibility. He passes off the problem as being one of an unhealthy culture within the ranks and leaves it at that.
Not that he is wrong about an unhealthy culture. But it is what you do about it that counts in the end.
Secondly. The allegations made involve perpetrators and victims. Justice must be done. This will not happen unless a process is started to get to the truth, impose just penalties on the guilty, and redress for those who have been damaged.
Morrison has refused to do this so far, and in doing so, showing he is part of the problem.
The unhealthy culture comes from somewhere. Its source is a sense of privilege and entitlement entrenched in the five percent of society standing itself above the over ninety five percent. These people really do see themselves as superior and look down at the rest of humanity as existing to serve their needs.
They dominate the Coalition parties and the corporate boardrooms. Their morality tends towards service of self above all else and relating to others as steppingstones to realise one’s own ambitions. It is corrupting and there is only a small step from here, to being a sexual predator.
This is an outlook that infects the whole of society in various ways. Predatory behaviour and the high rate of violence used against women are serious problems. Those who would be political leaders have a responsibility to set an example.
Changing the unhealthy culture involves concrete measures to create a new morality. One genuinely valuing service to others instead of self. It involves challenging attitudes of superiority, entitlement, and looking down on others. It involves a proper balance between individual needs and our shared needs. It involves overcoming a history of seeing women as second-rate humans and recognising equality in practice.
This is a big ask of Scott Morrison and his government, which must involve big changes in ideology. Don’t hold your breath. This can only be a long-term ambition.
Today, the inability to face this underlying problem is the reason for to constant dodging around the controversy. It can’t last. The problem will not go away, and the tide of public opinion will eventually force some sort of legal process or inquiry leading to the same. One or more individuals may well be brought to justice.
The longer it takes to get to this point the deeper the prime minister and his government will sink into the quagmire they created.
Once the shift takes place, it will contribute to public discourse, about how to go further to overcome this serious problem.