Investigation ordered into Grace Tame claims | Mercury of Illawarra

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The Prime Minister’s Office denies sanctioning a call for Grace Tame demanding she avoid criticizing Scott Morrison in Australia’s 2022 quarters and is investigating the allegations. The 2021 Australian of the Year spoke of receiving a call from “a senior member of a government-funded organisation” on August 17 about the 2022 awards scheduled for January. Ms Tame told the National Press Club on Wednesday that the person had asked “for my word that I will not say anything condemnable about the Prime Minister on the evening of the forthcoming Australian of the Year Awards”. “You are an influential person. He will be scared… with an election coming up,” she recounted. Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston called it “totally unacceptable” for a state-funded organization and confirmed the government was investigating. The Prime Minister’s Office said Mr Morrison ‘has not and would not allow such actions and has always sought to treat Ms Tame with dignity and respect’. He called on the person, whom Ms Tame declined to name, to apologise. “These comments were not made on behalf of or to the knowledge of the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s Office,” the statement said. “The Prime Minister and the government view the individual’s actions and statements as unacceptable.” The National Australia Day Council, which coordinates the awards, said it had contacted Ms Tame for more information. He also surveyed various staff members who have spoken with Ms Tame over the past year, “none of whom had any interactions … that would be considered ‘threatening’ as the August 17 conversation was described” . “The Australian of the Year award is just that – an award, not a role,” the organization said. “Recipients are free to use the platform provided by the award as they see fit, with support from NADC.” Ms Tame brushed aside the government inquiry and called on the Prime Minister to ‘stop deviating’. “It’s not about the person who made the call. It’s the fact that they felt compelled to do so,” she tweeted. Earlier, she drew comparisons between the call and the child sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a teacher. “I remember being in the shadow of a trusted authority being threatened in the same veiled way,” Ms Tame said. “I would rather be a disappointment to an institution than sell myself as a flattering political puppet to the corrupt forces that coercively control it.” Ms Tame, speaking to the National Press Club alongside former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, rejected Mr Morrison’s apology a day earlier for assault and harassment at Capital Hill. Acknowledging the harm caused was among Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ 28 recommendations. Her review found that a third of Commonwealth parliamentarians surveyed had been sexually harassed. Other recommendations from the commissioner were tabled in the Senate on Wednesday. Ms Higgins, whose allegation that she was raped in the office of then Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds in 2019 sparked various scrutiny, said she did not think much of the government insurance. “I don’t care if the government has improved the way it talks about these issues. Words don’t interest me anymore. I want to see action,” she said. Ms Higgins has denounced Mr Morrison’s propensity for ‘shocking’ and ‘offensive’ language on women’s issues and their safety. “What bothered me the most about the whole ‘imagine if it was our daughters spiel was not that he necessarily needed his wife’s advice to help him contextualize my rape of’ a way that mattered to him personally,” she said. “I didn’t want his sympathy as a father; I wanted him to use his power as prime minister.” Ms Higgins was among the women invited to Tuesday’s apology in the House of Representatives at the last minute after the government was criticized for leaving her out. “It was deeply moving in a way that I hadn’t anticipated,” she said of the apology. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there because it made it so much more tangible.” Australian Associated Press

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