Oh what a day for women!

March4Justice yesterday had women coming out in force – demanding change to the culture that reinforces male supremacy and power and the laws that do not punish perpetrators of rape and abuse.

Same day, Christian Porter is seeking aggravated damages in the Federal Court over the February ABC article on allegations of rape, offloads some of his portfolio to focus on the fight but won’t step down while that legal action is afoot.

Having said ‘how could he disprove something that didn’t happen?’ The A-G is in effect now forcing the ABC to prove it did, pointed out by Michelle Grattan. Hardly a fair fight but par for the course when it comes to women fighting for justice against gendered violence. As A-G he could even handpick the judge.

It’s hard to believe but the Coalition is now suggesting women tap their superannuation for up to $10,000 cash if they need to escape family violence. As if women are not already discriminated against in building retirement savings. And as if this doesn’t leave them open to even more exploitation! Here’s a better idea – take it from the men doing the abusing.

The Prime Minister actually said of the march that it was a triumph of democracy that women were not shot and he stuck to his guns on not meeting them on their ground. Astounding! To their credit a handful of Liberal women did turn out.

And one thing.. Can we stop saying it’s the Parliament House culture that’s the problem? Our parliament is staffed by a large team of very fine women and men of impeccable culture.

It’s political parties, their leaders, the MPs and Senators – our lawmakers – who influence the culture and have the power to change the laws. Yesterday’s message demands they use it.

Great sign at one march – trickle down misogyny. Except that now it’s a flood.

Here is the list of demands in the petition put to the Parliament:

– Full independent investigations into all cases of gendered violence and timely referrals to appropriate authorities. Full public accountability for findings

– Fully implement the 55 recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Workreport of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces 2020.

– Lift public funding for gendered violence prevention to world’s best practice.

– The enactment of a federal Gender Equality Act to promote gender equality. It should include a gender equity audit of Parliamentary practices.

– No perpetrators as policy or law makers. Stand them down.

– Ratify the International Labor Organisation’s Convention on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.

– An independent review into the prevalence of gendered violence in Parliament to be conducted by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

– Strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act so that Parliamentarians and Judges are no longer excluded from accountability for sexual harassment and discrimination committed in the course of their employment as public officers.

– Creation of a Code of Conduct for all Federal MP’s that includes the prevention of gendered violence in Houses of Parliament and associated workplaces.

– Mandatory gendered violence and sexual harassment training of all Federal MP’s and their staff on an annual basis.

And, by the way, Minister Reynolds is apparently personally paying the compensation and for legal costs in the defamation case brought by Brittney Higgins. The compensation money will go directly to a Canberra agency that provides support for women who have been sexually assaulted, thanks to Higgins’ generosity.

It appears the A-G will also cover his costs and they will be considerable. He has engaged a top legal team including Bret Walker SC. Porter tried to stop Bret Walker acting for Bernard Collaery over the national security charges laid by the Government after it spied on the Timor Leste government.

There are no clear rules about when taxpayers foot the bill for legal action. They did in 2018 when 15 MPs and Senators were challenged as ineligible to stand for Parliament, including Mathias Cormann. That cost ~$24 million and a further $11 million for the by-elections.

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