Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash in Senate Estimates on Wednesday had what many described as brain snap in Senate Estimates when she was being questioned by Labor Senator Doug Cameron about staff movements in her office. Although Cameron didn’t suggest explicitly he implied that Cash’s new Chief of Staff had been moved to her office to comply with the new so called Ministerial bonking ban.
Cash then threatened she would reveal rumours about all the women working in Bill Shorten’s office. Soon after he explosive remarks Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong came into the hearing and said about Cash’s remarks that she had smeared all the women who worked for Bill Shorten and undermined the goal of making the Federal parliament a better workplace for women. Cash said that “If anyone has been offended – I withdraw”.
Her remarks and her subsequent non-apology were not just criticized by members of the Labor Party but also by conservatives such as Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and Andrew Bolt. They also blamed the situation Cash found herself in on Turnbull’s introduction of the bonking ban as it has now invited the media and Opposition MPs to pry into staffing arrangements and relations.
However members of the Government defended her remarks claiming that she had been bullied and provoked by Cameron. Other journalists in the press gallery stated they had heard no such rumours about Mr Shorten’s female staff. Some commentators labelled the week a new low for the parliament as the next day Senators Kim Carr and James Paterson threw Nazi and communist slurs at each other.
Yesterday Cash returned to Senate Estimates, her entry into the hearing can only be described as bizarre as parliamentary security appeared to shield her from the large press pack with a whiteboard. It was claimed this was not done at her request but security simply wanting to enforce the rules about where the media can film. Once in the hearing Cash “unreservedly” withdrew her remarks but did not apologize.
Shorten is still demanding an apology to him and his female staff. Opposition Employment spokesperson Brendan O’Connor is demanding that Cash resign, not for her remarks to Senate Estimates but the fact she is still under investigation by the Australian Federal Police for a leak from her office to the media over a police raid on the offices of the Australian Workers’ Union over a 10 year old donation it made to GetUp.
A staffer from Cash’s office resigned over the leak. Some have suggested that Cash lost her cool this week because of the intense pressure she is under due to this investigation. Despite this hanging over her head she was promoted in the December reshuffle gaining the innovation portfolio. The most likely reason why she has not been disciplined for her indiscretions is because she was a key backer for Turnbull in the 2015 leadership challenge.
While Cash has been widely condemned for her outburst some on the right have defended her claiming it was about time somebody pushed back against the left’s smears and innuendo. They also believe that Mr Shorten’s personal past behavior where he cheated on his first wife with current wife Chloe and got her pregnant deserves proper scrunity. Did Michaelia Cash Go Too Far? Have your say in the poll below: