What’s that you hear? A buoyant defence of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff? Outraged cries for bringing the personal into politics, for making a leader’s staff member the story, and for using someone’s gender against them in policy debate?
No. What you actually heard was silence.
A still and telling silence.
When speaking about the Government’s proposed scheme, which would see women who earn higher incomes receiving increased benefits, Palmer said:
Why should Australian citizens and businesses be taxed, and working women discriminated against, just so that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff can receive a massive benefit when she gets pregnant?
Now, whether you’re in favour of the Government’s paid parental leave scheme or not, whether you’re a supporter of this Government or not (and personally, I’m neither) – this remark cannot reasonably be labelled as anything but sexist.
Credlin is a formidable person, a calculated political operative and widely regarded as having phenomenal influence over Prime Minister Tony Abbott. But here’s the thing: so do all Chiefs of Staff.
We are talking about the foremost adviser to the most powerful person in our country – of course Credlin has influence. Just as Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and John Howards’ chiefs of staff had before her.
And to suggest that being female means Credlin is only playing in the PPL policy space for a bit of extra cash for herself, is both laughable and insulting.
Laughable, because Tony Abbott first mooted a change to his stance on paid parental leave in his book Battlelines, which was published before Credlin came to work for him.