In the right, Christine Holgate pulls the wrong rein
WERE the posh gifts for hugely well-paid Australia Post staff more trivial than Andrew Peacock’s Sheridan sheets or Mick Young’s Paddington Bear or Barry O’Farrell’s bottle of plonk? Bullied for being a woman, Ms Holgate? I think not. The nervous turmoil she experienced in the midst of the luxury watch debacle was no doubt genuine but it wasn’t born of Scott Morrison’s sudden-onset frugality or a rumour without foundation. Of the latter, there is no sparsity of vicious examples in Louise Milligan’s Australia. Holgate’s minor extravagance – for such is all it was – never darkened, as details emerged, to the blackness of venality or crime. It was merely dumb. Her gender-themed push-back, on the other hand, is smart – albeit demeaning.
Not even a quartz Cartier is less substantive than a superwoman in public life defaulting to harried damsel when it’s convenient. What started out as a classic Labor class-and-envy smear against the former Australia Post supremo – maybe you don’t remember Paul Keating’s disdain for French horology – has been magically transformed via the oestrogen hubris suffocating rationality in Canberra to yet another anti-Morrison moment.
“He got too hot under the collar, he took a swing, and he needs to apologise,” Sarah Hanson-Young said on Tuesday, likening the PM’s criticism of the $12,000 watch spree to a wrathful husband beating his wife. “I think it’s one of the worst acts of bullying I’ve ever witnessed,” Ms Holgate herself told 7.30. I guess she slept through the left’s treatment of Nicole Flint.
Ms Holgate and her attendants wore white at the sham Hanson-Young-chaired Senate committee, supposedly to identify themselves with the suffragists (none of whom earned $2.6 million a year). The real intention was to signal the Brittany Bombardiers in politics and the media that she sees herself as another victim of Liberal Party misogyny. Succour is available from the aforementioned avengers to any galled female who doesn’t drag the Labor Party into the mire.
That’s the sad thing about this affair: a strong woman legitimately hard done by would take on all who wronged her without preference or pro bono mudslinging from haters like Hanson-Young or Kristina Keneally. She wouldn’t allow herself to be owned like that. Holgate had a case – though whether it cancels out those watches is a subjective question. There were spineless Australia Post lounge lizards who didn’t come to her defence because they were taking advantage of her trouble; Anthony Albanese did want her scalp (the opportunity to park “Cartier” into Hansard and the news cycle at the height of coronavirus lay-offs was fruit so low-hanging he had to bend over to pick it); and yes, Scott Morrison – chuffed to be topping the polls as his government squandered billions – was played by the Opposition Leader. Lucio Di Bartolomeo and the Prime Minister say they won’t be apologising. Nor should they. They shouldn’t be proud of themselves either.