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June 18th 2013 print

Philippa Martyr

Roxon: Gone, unmourned and best forgotten

If you really need another example of what is wrong with today's Labor, look no further the departing figure of Nicola Roxon


Nicola Roxon has used her farewell speech to demonstrate to the Australian people once again just how unfit she was to be a minister in the Federal parliament, or indeed an elected representative in any government in this country.


According to Roxon, the number one problem stalking the land is not the increasingly problematic state of our economy. Nor is it our undefended northern borders, or the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants arriving every month, or the gross waste of taxpayers’ money on large-scale, irresponsible, uncosted junkets like the NBN, the BER, and other black holes.

Nor is it international drug trafficking through our airports, or money-laundering through our banks, or the fact that the PM herself is associated with a Victorian Fraud Squad investigation of missing union funds; or even a disturbing increase in physical assaults – the kinds of things that an Attorney General might possibly be interested in.

No, the real issue is Australia’s ‘dangerous underbelly of sexism’, which has threatened our beloved Prime Minister’s career at every turn.

This week we saw Australia’s first female Prime Minister: 

1)    remain in that position because Bill Shorten, her male subordinate, decided she would be allowed to;

2)    attempt to stir up an ill-advised gender war by slurring the Opposition as abortion-denying dinosaurs;

3)    then take offence when someone mocked her physical shape;

4)    then have an ailing radio presenter sacked for lese majeste against the First DeFacto;

5)    then obediently take her cue from an unelected public official to try to wade out of the mess she had created;

6)    then experience an unsurprising backlash from male voters in the polls.

Naturally, this is all too much for Roxon. 

We have a capable, tough, smart, determined woman as our Prime Minister yet she has been subjected to some of the most crass, silly, petty, sexist and just plain rude behaviour for years … There is a dangerous underbelly still compromising women of Australia …

The fact that much of the voting public now disagrees with this assessment of Julia Gillard is clearly neither here nor there. But wait – there’s more. There’s always more with Nicola Roxon, isn’t there?

It really is time for people to understand how corrosive sexism is, to acknowledge that it deliberately sets out to diminish authority and sideline the real issues, how constantly sexualising women disempowers them, and how extreme and violent language can turn into or encourage violent and dangerous behaviour.

I agree with every word. So let’s see what Nicola Roxon did about the scourge of sexism while she was in government.

That’s why Tony Abbott has been attacked for his sex, his sexual orientation, his marriage, his daughters, his personal beliefs, his hobbies, and his wardrobe. The last thing Nicola Roxon wants is a nation that takes Tony Abbott seriously, and the best way to do that is to diminish his authority by any means possible, including sexism.  

That’s why the Gillard government – including Roxon – has regularly played the misogyny card. It’s such a good distraction from the fact that they are a wasteful and incompetent ship of fools. It’s also worth remembering that Gillard’s most famous outburst on misogyny was in defence of the – as it turns out – indefensible Peter Slipper.

Ask Mrs Slipper about that one. Or James Ashby. Or perhaps Roxon could give a seminar on this to Stephen Conroy’s office. I’ve also been on the Hansard website to try to find out how many scorching speeches Roxon gave on the issue of pornography and obscene advertising in Australia. Surely she must have been in the front line of those criticising its dissemination, its widespread availability, its marketing, its role in the disempowerment of adult women – not children, but adult women – in Australia. (My count so far is zero, but I am happy to be corrected.)

Indeed. So what, precisely, did Roxon do about the real incidence of hate speech in Australia – not those who express dismay at ALP policies, but those who want to behead the infidel? According to Roxon, there’s nothing to see here, folks.  Instead she tried to introduce a dangerous and ham-fisted piece of would-be legislation that would have crippled free speech in Australia. This was stopped after public denunciation exposed its flaws, dangers and poor drafting.

You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, so let’s look at the men she has praised in her farewell speech for their small but meaningful blows against the tyranny of Australian sexism:

And here’s the nicest and most heartwarming touch.

Ms Roxon told Parliament the only time she had ever seen Mr Rudd "lost for words” was when her mother cornered the then-PM after she had been sworn-in as a Cabinet minister and ordered him to give her time off to get married.

I’m not sure whether this anecdote reveals more about Kevin Rudd or about Nicola Roxon. You’d better decide that one for yourselves.


Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City.

She hopes this is the last time she ever has to write about Nicola Roxon