According to their ABC prime minister Scott Morrison is being influenced by the far right wing.
One QAnon adherent has attracted attention because of his long friendship with the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.
The Prime Minister’s old friend is an enthusiastic exponent of QAnon’s bizarre conspiracy theory.
Read this exchange carefully – paying attention to who it is that are ‘best friends’.
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: At the same time that Tim Stewart was descending into QAnon, one of his old friends ascended to the highest office in the land.
Scott Morrison became Prime Minister in August 2018.
Tim Stewart’s wife Lynelle has been best friends with Scott Morrison’s wife Jenny for decades.
The two couples cemented their friendship at their local Baptist Church in the early 1990s.
BRIAN STEWART, TIM STEWART’S FATHER: Well, it’s a close one, there’s no doubt about that. The two girls in particular have known each other from high school onwards and the two men that married the two girls became friends along the way.
VAL STEWART, TIM STEWART’S MOTHER: They’ve had a lifelong friendship together.
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: Would you say ‘best friends?
VAL STEWART, TIM STEWART’S MOTHER: Oh yes, I would say best friends. Yes. Jenny was Lynelle’s maid of honour and Lynelle was Jenny and Scott’s bridesmaid.
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: Jenny Morrison describes Lynelle Stewart on her Facebook page as her “dear old friend”, Lynelle says Jenny is a “precious treasure” and a “forever friend”.
Jenny Morrison and Lynelle Stewart are good friends and have been so since high school. Their husbands know each other through their wives.
Okay – so what is the problem?
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: At the time, Scott Morrison was preparing for one his first acts as Prime Minister, a national apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
I’m assuming their ABC does not disapprove of that – but who knows?
Eliahi Priest set up a meeting with Tim Stewart and others.
The group wanted the phrase “ritual sexual abuse” included in the national apology.
DR MICHAEL SALTER, CRIMINOLOGIST AND CHILD PROTECTION SPECIALIST, UNSW: So, when the QAnon conspiracy is using the term ‘ritual abuse’, they’re using it as synonymous with child torture, cannibalism, really the most gross and vivid and graphic allegations of child abuse that you can imagine.
Oh me gawd.
NEXT THING THE PRIME MINISTER USED THE PHRASE “RITUAL SEXUAL ABUSE” – previously unknown to the English language – IN HIS APOLOGY.
SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER: The crimes of ritual sexual abuse happened in schools, churches, youth groups, Scout troops, orphanages, foster homes.
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: But close observers of the process were taken aback by the use of the phrase “ritual sexual abuse”.
DR MICHAEL SALTER, CRIMINOLOGIST AND CHILD PROTECTION SPECIALIST, UNSW: Ritual child sexual abuse wasn’t a focus of the Royal Commission.
It wasn’t evident in the reports or in the recommendations and so, certainly there were questions about, where did this phrase come from?
How did it arise?
How did it come to be in the Prime Minister’s speech in the manner that it was?
I’m in contact with international networks of mental health workers particularly, who treat children and adults who have been subject to sexual exploitation, and I was contacted, I was emailed. People reached out about this phrase.
It is a phrase that we’re aware of.
It’s a very sensitive phrase.
According to The Australian newspaper that “phrase that we’re aware of”, that “very sensitive phrase”, came to be in the prime minister’s speech from the, ahem, royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse. That is where it arose.
The second volume of the royal commission’s final report includes several mentions of how victims of abuse described rituals of hazing and rape across orphanages, churches, the Australian Defence Force and other institutions.
“In some private sessions, we heard about how many of the forms of sexual abuse described above were used in ritualistic or initiation settings to instil institutional culture. For example, institutions may condone sexually humiliating rituals or initiation practices, including forced public nudity, hazing and rape,” it says. The report also highlights ritual abuse of children involved in ADF youth troops and mentions that “ritualised abuse” has been a recurring theme in the media.
“The abuse took place within an informal hierarchy in which older recruits physically and sexually abused more junior recruits as part of the ritualised practices of bastardisation that were designed to break in and humiliate the new entrants to the navy.
“The media reported on high-profile alleged offenders, organised paedophile networks and ritualised abuse in Australia and overseas. As awareness grew, so did knowledge of related behaviours, such as grooming.”
Goodness me. Maybe the prime minister’s speech writer read the report? At least, liased with somebody who was familiar with the issue?
So what have we got here? An acquaintance of the prime minister big-noting himself to his other mates. The ABC criticising the prime minister for making an apology to the victim of a crime using language that the royal commission itself used. Oh, yes – a whole bunch of idiots behaving like idiots.
Despite all that:
DR MICHAEL SALTER, CRIMINOLOGIST AND CHILD PROTECTION SPECIALIST: The speech was received, I think, tremendously well.
It was taken in the spirit that it was offered, which was, I think, a spirit of generosity, a spirit of repentance and regret and that’s something that survivors of sexual abuse don’t often get.
They don’t often get someone saying, “I’m sorry that this has happened to you. I regret that this has happened to you.”
Beyond trying to score cheap shots against the government, and cruel a friendship between Jenny Morrison and Lynelle Stewart, never mind undermining Scott Morrison’s national apology to the victims of sexual child abuse, what exactly is it that their ABC was trying to achieve?