Women reject PM’s offer of indoor meeting

Organisers of rally seeking justice for women have rejected an offer from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet behind closed doors in Parliament House.

Women’s March for Justice founder Janine Hendry said with more than 100,000 women expected to march in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane a meeting with “just three women” was not be enough.

“We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the government to cross the threshold and come to us,” she tweeted on Monday.


“We will not be meeting behind closed doors.”

The rallies are being held to protest the “unacceptable” treatment of women in the workplace and the community and the right of women to feel safe.

Organisers had taken the night to consider the meeting offer extended by Mr Morrision and Minister for Women Marise Payne on Sunday.

The march comes as the Morrison government is under a cloud over the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer by a colleague and rape allegations dating back to 1988 levelled at a federal minister, which he strongly denies.

“Enough is enough. This is a national reckoning,” Fair Agenda executive director Renee Carr said in a statement.

“Women and girls around the country are completely grief-stricken by the federal government’s failure to respond to this crisis, and intervene in the systems that enable gendered violence across our communities.”

The prime minister’s office had invited up to four march delegates to meet with him and Senator Payne on Monday afternoon after the rally from 12pm.

Senator Payne also offered a separate meeting earlier in the day.

But organisers want Mr Morrison to attend the rally in person.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend more than 40 marches around the country, which coincides with the first day of a fortnight of parliamentary sittings in Canberra.

“I won’t be going out to the march,” Mr Morrison said in Sydney on Sunday.

“I will be happy to meet with a delegation from the group that is coming to Canberra.”

He said the issue of violence against women continues to be a high priority of his government.

Pressed on why he won’t attend the march, Mr Morrison said: “I don’t have a habit of going to any marches when I come to Canberra because as prime minister when you are in Canberra it’s a very busy day.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is also too busy to attend.

“I’ve already got commitments that I will meet, and I believe if you make commitments, then you should stick to those,” he told the ABC on Sunday.

“I appreciate that this is an important issue and I understand, part of democracy, that people have their right to march and protest.”

However, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese does plan to attend the gathering outside parliament, saying it would be unsurprising if the coalition snubs the grassroots campaign.

“It is important that we listen to what the community is saying, that was the message that Grace Tame, the Australian of the Year, said at the National Press Club,” Mr Albanese told Sky News on Sunday.

“We do have a scourge of violence against women and against children. We do need to listen to what people are saying.”

Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of Channel 10’s The Project, will speak at the Canberra event and deliver a message from Brittany Higgins, who spoke out about her alleged rape at Parliament House in 2019.

“We are women and women have had enough with not being heard,” Ms Wilkinson said in a statement.

© AAP 2021