Amanda Stoker goes on media blitz following criticism

On Tuesday Senator Amanda Stoker hit back at critics of her appointment as Assistant Minister for Women, spending the day in radio, TV and print media interviews.

The Queensland senator said criticism from Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, and actor Magda Szubanski was misplaced. Senator Stoker said she had a long history of defending women during her time as a lawyer and in parliament had worked hard on the issues that really matter to women.

Speaking to Ben Fordham on Sydney’s 2GB Breakfast Show described the criticism of her previous support of sexologist and Men’s Rights activist Bettina Arndt as “utter nonsense”.

Arndt previously conducted an interview with the school teacher who raped Tame when she was a child, the interview was widely condemned. Arndt has also previously argued that allegations of widespread sexual assault on university campuses has been overstated. In a Senate Estimates hearing Stoker had asked questions about how universities tackle free speech concerns and queried if universities treated speakers from conservative backgrounds in the same way as progressive speakers, but the Senator says it’s not accurate to portray her statements as support for Arndt’s actions.

“In my time as a Senator I have really strongly tried to explain the deep harm that comes from the practice of de-platforming, and that’s the idea that some perspectives that are…different points of view should be denied the opportunity to be spoken and be heard – particularly in our universities – because they might offend people. My view is university has got to be a place when you hear all different kind of perspectives.”

Senator Stoker said controversial views should be heard, but giving them a space does not necessarily make them right.

On Twitter actor Magda Szubanski described Stoker as “Another small but noisy Christian soldier hijacking the national agenda.”

Senator Stoker said she would not be affected by online “trolls” .

“It does speak to the attitude of some, particularly women, on the Twitter-sphere who think that the task is about tearing down other people, particularly other women, instead of working together to make sure we’re helping women from all walks of life to achieve the things they want.”

“There’s been a lot of talk from people from that very noisy, very extreme left, who are particularly active online. They say they want more women to be participating in public life, they say they want more women to be contributing our political and public sphere, and yet when women who don’t necessarily think the same way as them, or might value the choices of women who are a little bit different to theirs – they go on the attack and can be very nasty about it.”Senator Stoker said.

Senator Stoker said ‘normal women – for want of a better term’ were going about getting their work done, thinking about paying their bills, and raising their kids and making sure they were getting what they needed out of school and education.

“They’re not listening to all that noise. They’re focused on the stuff that really matters, that’s the life that I lead and that’s the interest that I try really hard to represent in our parliament.”

Senator Stoker said she was worried that negative social media comments would scare “good women” away from contributing to public service and politics.

Speaking to James Morrow in the Daily Telegraph Senator Stoker said suggestions that she was not an appropriate person to hold the position of Assistant Minister for Women should not be listened to.

“To suggest that I am not appropriate choice to be an Assistant Minister for Women in a form of madness that we should just not indulge.” Senator Stoker told the newspaper.

Senator Stoker, who has three daughters aged 7, 5 and 3, said she and her husband we raising their daughters to believe they could do anything and that aspiring to serve their country and other people who live in it is a noble thing. Senator Stoker said women publicly attacking each other was not helpful.

The senator said the Morrison government had a great record of achievement in improving the lives of women, far better than the previous Labor government lead by Julia Gillard.

“When I’m at the school gate, I find women with the full spectrum of person experience, from women on the career and leadership path who want to now nothing is closed to them, to women who are equally smart and capable who have made the decision that they want to focus on leadership in their families and communities.” Senator Stoker said noting that the government had a obligation to represent the “full range of women’s experience.”

Senator Stoker repeated her description of the school drop off, as a location that features the diversity of Australian women, when he appeared on the Sky News program Credlin later in day. The politician continued her campaign against women who “try to tear down anyone who doesn’t fit their short-term hard-left political objective.”

Responding to Magda Szubanski’s Twitter post Senator Stoker said the comedian probably didn’t know much about her professional life.

“I think it’s very unhelpful for people to try and dismiss one and another using labels that don’t reflect the depth of a person’s contribution across a whole range of fields. If Magda knew anything about me she’d know that I’d been a public prosecutor, worked really hard to protect women and children who’d been victims of, particularly, online sexual exploitation, that I had as a Barrister worked pro-bono for many women who’d experienced sexual harassment and needed help through it.”

Once again Senator Stoker used her school gate example.

“When I think about the Mums at the school gate, to the women in the ‘sandwich generation’ – who are both caring for kids and caring for older parents, when I think about women who are re-training after having kids, or struggling to get resources for the special needs of their child at school – that’s what they’re worried about. They’re not interested in some sort of hard-left culture war that’s about stopping the kind of progress that would make a difference to their lives.” Senator Stoker said.

Labor senator Penny Wong took to Twitter to suggest that rather than picking a fight with Grace Tame, Stoker could focus her energies on delivering paid domestic violence leave and improve funding to domestic violence services, reverse the government’s cuts to crisis accommodation and implement the Respect at Work report.

The Morrison government is facing growing criticism for not providing an official response to the report on workplace harassment. The report compiled by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins was delivered to the government in January 2020.

In March 2020 Minister for Women, Marise Payne said the government would be carefully considering the 55 recommendations within the report, but so far no official response has been tabled. Senator Stoker said the government’s response is expected soon.

OIP Staff

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