The gender gap in Australia and the Pacific . . .
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2020 report, Australia ranks 44 out of 153 countries. This ranking puts it safely in the top third, but five places lower than two years earlier, and nearly 30 places lower than in 2006. Australia scores poorly in terms of political empowerment: it sits in 57th place. New Zealand, in sixth position, is far and away Oceania’s best overall performer in terms of gender parity. Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea, the region’s only other entries, rank 103, 126, and 127, respectively. By contrast, Canada ranks 19th.
A double sexual assault scandal . . .
Since mid-February, two sexual assault scandals have rocked Canberra. The first arose when a female former staffer of then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds made allegations that she had been raped in Reynolds’ office by a senior male colleague. Minister Reynolds was quoted as calling the staffer a “lying cow” in relation to her claims that she’d not received adequate support following the incident. Reynolds has apologized and is on health leave. Days later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and several other Members of Parliament received a letter alleging a senior male cabinet minister had raped a 16-year-old classmate in 1988. It took a week before Attorney General Christian Porter, who denied the allegations and subsequently went on stress leave, revealed his identity as the accused. PM Morrison had not done so. The alleged victim, who died by suicide in June 2020, alerted police to the alleged assault earlier that year.
The Canberra bubble . . .
The sexual assault accusations and the government’s handling of them have attracted considerable media attention in recent weeks. Undergirding the coverage is the toxic culture and systemic misogyny in Canberra, especially in parliament, a culture that has been quietly acknowledged for years. The Australian Broadcasting Company’s investigative documentary “Inside the Canberra Bubble,” which aired in November 2020, brought this culture into public focus. The follow-up, “Bursting the Canberra Bubble,” which aired last night in Australia, delves into the accusations against Attorney General Porter.
- The Canberra Times: Government continues to resist call for independent inquiry into rape allegation against Attorney-General
- The Conversation: Embattled Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to miss more parliament, prompting speculation about her future
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Julie Bishop backs inquest into Porter case, says Reynolds had duty to tell police about alleged rape