Tony Abbott is finally on board with reducing family violence – so why is everyone so suspicious?
He said: “Something like one in three Australian women has suffered violence in a domestic context through her lifetime.”
“I am the father of three daughters, I am the brother of three sisters. The last thing I want to see tolerated is violence against women and children.”
At yesterday’s press conference, the PM committed to asking state and territory leaders to agree on a national scheme for domestic violence orders. He also said we needed to look at consistent penalties for breaking protection orders because “[i]If you’re a repeat drink driver, you really have the book thrown at you. But if you breach domestic violence orders, often there are hardly any consequences.”
All of this is true.
We should be celebrating that this issue is receiving national attention.
And we would be.
If the announcement hadn’t been made by someone who over the last 12 months as Minister for the Status of Women has overseen the defunding of a number of services that are essential to supporting women leaving violent relationships.
We might have cheered a welcome change of heart from a government that has, since its election, neglected this vital area.
But for the fact that the initiative was almost a word-for-word re-announcement of an initiative agreed by all Australian governments in a national commitment five years ago (the 2010 agreement committed to “a national approach to domestic and family violence protection orders” and “strong penalties for repeat offences and breaches of sentencing and protective orders”).
The PM’s announcement yesterday reeks of hypocrisy, desperation and a burning desire to distract from his unpopular decision to bestow a national honour on a known racist and associate himself with a popular decision (not made by him): awarding Australian of the Year to family violence campaigner Rosie Batty.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister met with retiring Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, who will sit on a new panel advising the Council of Australian Governments on family violence.
The PM said of that meeting, “[Rosie Batty] is determined to ensure that we don’t just make a statement by appointing her Australian of the Year, but that we act as a nation to make a difference, reduce the scourge of domestic violence which is stalking too many households in our country,” he said.