Women in public life digital art
Women in public life digital art

‘Madness’: Women’s minister fires back at critics

Australia's new assistant minister for women has a message for left-wing activists and Twitter keyboard warriors: Our lives will never improve if you don't stop tearing down women for having the "wrong" beliefs and instead focus on making things better for everyone.

"It's really interesting that people who clearly don't know anything about you or your record or what motivates you think it's OK to tear you down just because you come from a different political tradition," Queensland LNP Senator Amanda Stoker told The Daily Telegraph, responding to criticism of her new portfolio.

Newly appointed Assistant Women’s Minister Amanda Stoker. Picture: David Foote
Newly appointed Assistant Women’s Minister Amanda Stoker. Picture: David Foote

"To suggest I am not an appropriate choice to be an assistant minister for women is a form of madness we just should not indulge," she said.

"If this is really about making life better for all women, it should not be about picking and choosing based on what political side you want to win in the short term."

Since being named assistant minister for women, as part of a reshuffle that saw the creation of a number of female-centred portfolios, Ms Stoker has been the target of attacks from prominent left-wing advocates and what she calls "retweet activists" on the basis of her political and personal beliefs.

Australian of the Year 2021 Grace Tame. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Australian of the Year 2021 Grace Tame. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Australian of the Year and sex abuse survivor Grace Tame was among one of Ms Stoker's chief critics, and accused her of work "aimed at falsifying all counts of sexual abuse on (university) campuses across the nation."

"Needless to say that came at great expense to the student survivors who were already traumatised," Ms Tame said at an event last week.

On the weekend actor and activist Magda Szubanski, who last year starred in advertisements backing in Victoria's draconian coronavirus lockdowns, also attacked Ms Stoker's appointment.

"Grace Tame, I salute you & your courage," she tweeted.

"This reshuffle has handed power to Amanda Stoker, another of the small but noisy 'Christian Soldiers' faction hijacking the national agenda. All because a few guys can't keep their dick in their pants. And worse."

Actress Magda Szubanksi. Picture: AAP /Jeremy Ng
Actress Magda Szubanksi. Picture: AAP /Jeremy Ng

But the Campbelltown-raised Stoker, who spent a number of years prosecuting cases involving the vile exploitation of women and children for the Commonwealth in Queensland, rejected any suggestion from the Twittersphere or anywhere else that she was not a strong advocate for women.

"Ms Tame has clearly only heard the side of the story that you would get if you looked at Twitter," said Ms Stoker, who stood by her defence of free speech and due process on campus.

In 2018, Ms Stoker defended free speech on campus after Sydney University students prevented sex therapist and commentator Bettina Arndt from giving a talk.

Ms Arndt had, controversially, been fronting a "fake rape crisis" speaking tour at the time, and would later go on give a sympathetic interview Ms Tame's abuser.

 

While acknowledging the controversy around Arndt, Ms Stoker said that free speech and due process had to extend to everyone as part of the "first principles" of a fair society.

"The idea that de-platforming people and not allowing them to speak is a bad idea should not be a harmful position," she said.

"The idea that free speech matters, or that due process matters, should not be a controversial position.

"Those criticising me on Twitter aren't into delivery, they're into the tribal. I think it's a narrow slice of people who have fairly extreme beliefs."

Stoker, who has three daughters aged 7, 5, and 3, said that the attacks from women who claim to want to help their gender actually were turning off those who wanted to participate in the process, but worried about being torn down for their personal, political, or religious beliefs.

"My husband and I our raising our girls to believe that they can do anything and that aspiring to serve their country and the people who live in it is a noble thing," Ms Stoker said.

Newly appointed Assistant Women’s Minister Amanda Stoker.
Newly appointed Assistant Women’s Minister Amanda Stoker.

"But it's very hard for little girls who grow up seeing other women attack their mother in such a groundless way to grow up thinking that this is a good thing to do."

Ms Stoker also defended the government's record on women's achievement, saying that on any number of indicators from the gender pay gap to women's workforce participation toi investment in womens' legal services, the Coalition's performance was better than under previous Labor governments, including Julia Gillard's.

"When I am at the school gate I find women with the full spectrum of personal experience, from women on the career and leadership path who want to know that nothing is closed to them, to women who are equally smart and capable who have made the decision that they want their lives to be able leadership in their families and communities."

"It's important that as a government we speak to the full range of womens' experience," she said.

 

 

Originally published as 'Madness': Women's minister fires back at critics


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