No inquiry into MP photo leak

Having resigned as Minister for Cities and the Built Environment following a drunken night in a Hong Kong bar, MP Jamie Briggs will be spared further embarrassment. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out an inquiry into how a photo of the female staffer on the receiving end of Mr Briggs’ inappropriate behaviour was leaked to the media.

Despite promising to protect the privacy of the young female diplomat, Mr Briggs decided it was OK to send her photo to colleagues, one of who it appears forwarded the photo to a contact in the media.

Whilst Mr Turnbull accepted that the outcome was disappointing, he stated that no inquiry would be held, as there was little point. “These leaks inquiries, they tend to come up with very little”, he said. He also said that Mr Briggs had paid a heavy price by stepping down from his ministerial position.

Telling reporters that Mr Briggs’ resignation was a demonstration of how seriously the Government took ministerial standards, the Prime Minster was less forthcoming about a reprimand for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Mr Dutton found himself in the spotlight after accidentally sending an offensive text message about a female journalist to the journalist in question.

Liberal MP Sharman Stone was quick to denounce her party’s actions. “The interesting activities of the past number of weeks demonstrate that some of our male colleagues still don’t get it in terms of treating all women with respect”, Dr Stone told the ABC.

“I think the most important fact is that it [the photo] was leaked, that someone didn’t see it as important to keep the woman’s identity strictly private.”


Opinion: Still a long way to go

Suffragette, the movie documenting women’s fight for the vote, is currently showing in cinemas. Yet the recent actions of several high-profile men prove that women still have a way to go to be treated as equals.

MP Jamie Briggs made a song and dance of resigning due to an unfortunate event in a Hong Kong bar, late at night, under the influence of alcohol, while on official business. Despite protestations of acting out of chivalry by protecting the privacy of the female member of staff who was offended by his behaviour, Mr Briggs decided it was acceptable to send her photo to several colleagues. Further compounding the abhorrent behaviour is the Prime Minister’s refusal to investigate how that photo fell into the hands of the media. While Mr Turnbull may think there is little to be gained from an inquiry, it would at least send a message that such behaviour, either by a minister or his junior colleagues, is unacceptable.

Then, hot on the heels of Mr Briggs faux pas came Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s text message meltdown. While he may have apologised for calling journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad f**king witch”, it was only the Minister’s error in sending the text to Ms Maiden that outed the disgraceful way in which he referred to this professional woman. Never is it acceptable for a female to be spoken of in such a way. Yet again, Mr Turnbull seems reluctant to act.

There is also some irony that Mr Turnbull delivered his decision about the non-inquiry, and subsequent deflection of questions on the Peter Dutton incident, while sporting a pink tie to support the Jane McGrath Foundation.

So, is it any wonder then, that when international cricketer Chris Gayle acts in a sexist and disrespectful manner during an interview with experienced female sports journalist Mel McLaughlin, as many of the population see nothing wrong with his behaviour as those that do?

For those who missed it, you can watch the video below – suffice to say, it’s cringe worthy. And it should also be noted that the laughing you can hear in the background is Ms McLaughlin’s male colleagues, who have since, somewhat hypocritically, condemned Chris Gayle’s behaviour.

What is perhaps most concerning about the actions of Gayle is that my 15-year-old son and his friends can’t see anything wrong, and believe the whole issue has been blown out of all proportion. A stern taking to by me this afternoon soon informed him otherwise. And I can only hope that the swift response and condemnation by the Renegades, Gayle’s Big Bash team, and Cricket Australia, which has fined him $10,000, reiterates that this type of behaviour is always unacceptable.

No woman should have to fend off unwelcome advances, be the subject of an offensive text message, nor be embarrassed and disrespected on live television when all they are trying to do is her job. In fact, no woman should be subject to any of the aforementioned behaviour, whether in the course of her work or not.

Do you think that the Prime Minister should take a stronger stance against this type of behaviour? Or is it simply a storm in a teacup? Should we just laugh off Chris Gayle’s behaviour as simply being ‘one of the lads’, or is it time to say enough is enough?

Written by Debbie McTaggart