Is there a brig big enough for Briggs?
A few days before Christmas, Jamie Briggs resigned as a Minister in the Turnbull government. His behaviour towards a female departmental employee while on a Ministerial trip to Hong Kong was described by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, as serious and warranting resignation. Turnbull should know. He was part of the committee, along with Julie Bishop and Warren Truss, that examined the complaint and the evidence against Briggs.
As Turnbull said:
“This is a serious matter.
“It was considered very carefully with due process, consultation with senior colleagues, it was considered very, very carefully.
“Ministerial standards were breached. His conduct did not live up to the standard required of ministers and as a consequence, he reflected on that and made a decision to offer his resignation which I accepted and it was the appropriate course of action.”
Briggs was a supporter of Tony Abbott and is part of the sizeable reactionary group in the Liberal Party. They supported him after he resigned. Their basic line was that it was a minor indiscretion and Briggs would bounce back one day into the Ministry. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton thought he was texting Briggs when he described one female journalist reporting on Briggsgate as a mad fucking witch. The incompetent sent it by accident to the journalist.
While that re-installation now appears dead, the spirit that protects Briggs isn’t. Sexism as an expression of women’s oppression infects significant sections of society – ‘she was asking for it,’ ‘she had it coming,’ ‘she must have led him on’, all come to mind.
The oppression of women under capitalism is systemic. It arises from the need of capital for the development of the next generation of wage slaves on the cheap. One role of women is to provide that unpaid ‘raise the kids’ labour.
The Liberal Party has had a stellar rise in the polls since Malcolm Turnbull replaced arch sexist Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in September this year. The Liberal National Party government will comfortably win the next election, especially if the vote is held before the May Budget. According to a recent poll in The Australian,
It is the classic two card trick. The abrasive Abbott exposed the systemic sexism of his government. Turnbull hides the systemic oppression of women with silver tongued words.
However, Turnbull has a new Briggs’ problem. News Corp papers on Saturday and Sunday had pixelated photos of the woman who complained about Briggs’ behaviour and details about her university and other life matters sufficient to identify her. The aim is of course to scare her, and to scare any woman in the future who might even contemplate complaining about the actions of a born to rule man. Women need to know their place and that is to be the grateful recipient of unwanted advances from drunken ministers and not to complain.
As ABC News says:
‘According to News Limited, Mr Briggs said he took the photo in question and then distributed the image to colleagues before and after she made an official complaint.
‘It is unclear who then leaked the photo to the media.’
Why did Briggs distribute a photo of the female victim to colleagues before and after this blew up? Did he discuss the photo with anyone? If so, what was the nature of those discussions?
We know from the Royal Witch Hunt into Trade Unions that this is a government keen on stamping out bullies and referring all ‘errant’ behaviour to the relevant authorities. Well Mr Turnbull, here is your chance. Refer the photos and their leaking to the Australian Federal Police and Fair Work Australia for investigation. The AFP can see if taking the photos, distributing them to colleagues and leaking them to the press are crimes, and who did what in relation to the leaking and publication. Fair Work can protect the female victim from the bullying that is the leaking of the photos and their publication by investigating and then taking punitive action against the bullies. Over to you Mr Turnbull. Or are you just a smarmy version of Tony Abbott?