Rosie Batty slams Australia Day award winner Bettina Arndt
Paedophile survivor Grace Tame and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty have lashed out at the Australia Day Honours and Awards Secretariat over their decision to award an AM to controversial commentator Bettina Arndt.
Ms Arndt received the award for her services to “gender equity” and listed among her achievements was her recent “fake rape crisis” university campus tour.
Last year Ms Arndt drew criticism after she gave a sympathetic interview to twice-convicted paedophile Nicolaas Bester. Bester was 58 when he groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted a 15 year old student, Grace Tame, while he was her maths teacher at an elite private school in Hobart.
On arrest in 2011, Bester was also found to be in possession of 28 piece of child pornography. Following his sentence for the sexual abuse and child pornography charges, Bester was rearrested in 2015 for production of child exploitation material. He also boasted on social media that the sexual abuse of Grace Tame was “awesome” and that other men would be “envious”.
Yet in a sympathetic interview with the paedophile, Ms Arndt accused the victim of engaging in “sexually provocative behaviour” adding that school girls should not “exploit their seductive powers to ruin the lives of men”.
Today Grace Tame has hit back at Ms Arndt’s appointment to the Member of the Order of Australia, saying “I believe that honouring someone who actively defended a paedophile on a public platform is a blatant example of the protracted, systemic moral corruption that still hampers our society.”
Ms Tame added that survivors of sexual abuse “will not let such a clear case of rewarding (such) behaviour deter or enfeeble us. It is precisely this manner of injustice that strengthens our collective courage and motivation as survivors to share our experiences.”
Ms Arndt later apologised for the tone of the interview before reiterating her position saying “there is a real problem (that) teachers can sometimes be targeted by really provocative girls …. Male teachers are really vulnerable. And girls can be very seductive. They can come on deliberately.”
“My immediate response is one of utter incredulity. I feel sickened. It makes me question the legitimacy of the awards system in the entirety across the spectrum,” Ms Batty said.
“How the hell did it get to this place? I am appalled at the process.
“More than one woman a week dies in this country. There are women who are disadvantaged, voiceless, and women for whom it is not safe to speak out.”
Ms Arndt has previously attracted criticism for her views on domestic violence as well as her views on paedophilia.
In 2005, she described Robert Potter, a convicted paedophile and former scout master, as a “good bloke” in an article she penned in the Courier Mail. Potter was found to have sexually assaulted four scouts, one of whom later attempted suicide. At the time, Ms Arndt lamented the “moral panic over paedophilia”, saying “such minor abuse rarely has lasting consequences”.
Prior to that, in 1997, Ms Arndt defended a Canberra doctor who had molested multiple patients, including a 12-year-old child, arguing that the sex offender should not be charged over the molestations, because in another context masturbating a person would be a “loving and pleasurable” act.
Rosie Batty says that such views are incompatible with an Australia Day honour.
“Bettina Arndt represents who we are trying to educate and bring on the journey with us and I can’t believe someone with her thinking is being publicly rewarded and acknowledged in this way. How could this happen? How could we get to this place. I am in utter dismay.
Ms Batty said that there is a “danger” that Ms Arndt’s award “legitimises her views and gives license to her ideas”.
“I cannot help but be appalled that someone who minimised violence towards women who is part of the inevitable pushback and backlash that we all experience as we pioneer a way forward, would be awarded.”
Ms Arndt has told news.com.au that the award captures what she is doing.
“I would imagine that would be controversial because the feminists claim that they’re the only ones promoting gender equity through endlessly tilting laws, rules and regulation to favour women at the expense of men.
“I hope this award will encourage others to join me in campaigning for true gender equity – fair treatment for men and women.”
Nina Funnell is an Our Watch Walkley Award winning journalist and a director of End Rape On Campus Australia.