Grace Tame criticises new women's minister

·2-min read

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has criticised the appointment of Amanda Stoker as the assistant minister for women.

The assistant minister has supported a controversial commentator who expressed public sympathy for Ms Tame's abuser.

In 2017, commentator Bettina Arndt published an interview with the man convicted of raping Ms Tame when she was a schoolgirl, suggesting she may have behaved provocatively.

Ms Arndt last year received an Australia Day award for her contribution to gender equity, which was roundly criticised by survivor advocates.

However, Senator Stoker publicly backed the award.

Ms Tame said in appointing the senator to the new role, the prime minister was either ignorant of the issues, or understood them and was making calculated moves to perpetuate them.

"If the latter is true, then what we're seeing is further abuse of power, masterfully disguised as progress," she said.

"The very same psychological manipulation at the heart of these recently exposed evils."

Ms Tame also accused the assistant minister of supporting a "fake rape crisis" tour on university campuses.

She said the campaign was aimed at falsifying all counts of sexual abuse on campuses across the country.

"Needless to say that came at a great expense to student survivors who are already traumatised."

Senator Stoker rejected the criticisms, saying she had spent years advocating for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse.

"Ms Tame's comments are passionate but not informed and they do not correspond with my longer history of work in this area, of which Ms Tame must be unaware," she told AAP.

The prime minister's appointment of Senator Stoker has drawn criticism for several other reasons.

Senator Stoker has accused women from her own side of politics of "playing the gender card" when they have raised bullying allegations.

She strongly opposes abortion as well as transgender rights, arguing "gender isn't something you choose".

Another woman promoted in Scott Morrison's cabinet reshuffle has also come under fire.

Karen Andrews, who was elevated to the powerful home affairs ministry, has been accused of bullying.

She denies the allegations.

The Australian reports the claims have been made by a female senior adviser, who is on stress leave after complaining about the culture in the minister's office.

The woman made an initial written complaint in August and another in March when Ms Andrews was still industry, science and technology minister.

"The manner in which I have been treated is disrespectful, humiliating and demeaning," the woman wrote.

"This bullying conduct has occurred over the last six to eight months and appears designed to force my departure from my employment.

"However, given I have not done anything wrong, I do not believe I should be forced to leave my job and put myself in a very difficult financial position."

During the recent turmoil in federal parliament surrounding the treatment of women, Ms Andrews was one of the most prominent ministers to demand cultural change.