Macklin / Every day was ladies’ day in politics

“The real problem is that autistic children are placed in regular classes without proper support for the teachers. Perhaps with all her portfolios Ms Burch has taken multi-tasking beyond its natural limits,” writes Seven Days […]

Cabinet Women dpiEVERY day was Ladies’ Day in the world of Federal – and even ACT – politics this last week. It began with a bang as Marise Payne – to the spontaneous applause of her colleagues – made her affirmation (rather than an oath) as Defence Minister.

The carrot-topped, NSW Senator received the same enthusiastic welcome from the commentariat and, we’re told, the top brass at the Department.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

It was a very big promotion, but she is fortunate in having the best departmental secretary in the country, Dennis Richardson, to guide her through the military and bureaucratic minefields.

NEXT came PM Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement of the $100 million program to confront domestic violence. And while the funds are important to provide training to the front line cohort in the struggle, the PM himself must continue to give the lead from his “bully pulpit”.

He started well with: “Real men don’t hit women” and calling such behaviour “unAustralian”; but it’s too deep-seated for mere sloganeering to provide a remedy.

CHANCES are we’ll see the policy in action when the US R&B singer Chris Brown is refused a visa because of his domestic violence record. Barring people from the country is rarely a good idea. And we don’t know the background to Brown’s five-year probation in 2009 for attacking his girlfriend Rihanna. But if the campaign requires it, then so be it. It’s not as though we’re banning his, um, music.

OUR own Simon Corbell got into the act with a Bill to tighten the law surrounding domestic violence. Henceforth police records of interview will be admitted for these offences; victim protection will be expanded and interim domestic violence orders will be extended until any criminal charges are dealt with. But when will the perpetrator – instead of the victim – be forced from the family home?

THEN up jumped former PM Tony Abbott’s eminence grise, Peta Credlin to claim she had been a victim of an anti-woman conspiracy. And after all she’d done to get Tony elected, it just wasn’t fair. Mind you, that did involve the most vicious sustained attack on PM Julia Gillard imaginable. Honestly! So much for the Credlin cred.

ACT Education Minister Joy Burch also came under attack from the powerful autism lobby over her handling of the cage affair. In fact, the real problem is that autistic children are placed in regular classes without proper support for the teachers. Perhaps with all her portfolios Ms Burch has taken multi-tasking beyond its natural limits. But at least she doesn’t claim the criticism is some anti-woman plot.

WHILE all this was happening, poor Bill Shorten was announcing actual Labor policies and handling himself very well on “Q&A”. But with all the attention focused on Malcolm and the ladies, he would have had to set his pants on fire to get noticed. However, Canberrans will welcome his appointing Katy Gallagher to the front bench.

FINALLY, a charming by-play when the new Assistant Minister for Water, 52-year-old Anne Ruston, tried to read the oath without her glasses at the swearing-in ceremony. As she stumbled, G-G Sir Peter Cosgrove instantly rescued the damsel in distress with his own pair. A knightly gesture, indeed.

robert@robertmacklin.com  

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