The Assistant Minister for Women has faced questions over why she has not formally written to Grace Tame, despite saying she is “keen as mustard” to set up a meeting with the Australian of the Year.
Grace Tame has repeated her criticism of Amanda Stoker, saying the assistant minister had previously expressed support for a woman who had given a platform to Ms Tame’s abuser.
In a Senate estimates hearing, Senator Stoker said she had twice tried to contact Ms Tame over Instagram.
“Ms Tame if you’re listening, my office is available to you, I’m keen to talk to you, I have sent you direct messages on the social media platforms that you use,” Senator Stoker told the hearing.
“I’m keen as mustard. Let’s do this!”
Asked why she had not written Ms Tame a letter through the National Australia Day Council, Senator Stoker said she “reached out to her using the same method by which she decided to initially sort of get into me”.
“She took to Instagram to make what I would suggest are inaccurate claims about me,” Senator Stoker told the committee.
“Knowing that’s a platform she uses very actively, I used the messenger service on there.
“Since I don’t have her personal contact details, I used the same method she used to speak about me and that she uses often.”
In an interview with the Betoota Advocate podcast, posted earlier on Monday, Ms Tame criticised Senator Stoker’s approach.
“She’s also gone to the media and complained because she’s sent me Instagram direct messages,” she said.
“Even though I don’t follow her so they’ve gotten swept into the – I’m not joking – thousands that I just can’t, I can’t go through them all.”
Ms Tame also criticised Senator Stoker for previously pointing to her pre-political experience as a prosecutor and a barrister working for justice for women and children who were victims of sexual crimes, as well as “countless hours of pro bono support to women dealing with sexual harassment”.
Ms Tame described the comment as “about as good an example of moral licensing as I think I can find”.
Prime Minister defends comment at awards ceremony
Ms Tame also told the podcast about a comment she said Prime Minister Scott Morrison made to her after she accepted the Australian of the Year award.
“Do you know what he said to me right after I finished that speech, and we were in front of a wall of media?” she said.
“I s––– you not, he leant over and right in my ear he goes, ‘Well gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.'”
Asked about the matter in Question Time, Mr Morrison said Ms Tame’s speech was “very brave”.
“I can’t recall the exact words I used … but I wouldn’t seek to correct in any way, shape or form what Ms Tame has said. That is roughly my recollection,” he said.
“That was a very brave statement and that’s exactly what I meant when I said that to her on that occasion. It was a very proud moment for her and her great struggle and challenge over a long period of time.
“What she did on that occasion was speak with a very strong voice about what had occurred to her, and I think in raising her voice in that way it would have given great agency to so many victims of sexual abuse and harassment all around this country.
“And that is exactly what I meant … and I don’t know why some other meaning may have been put upon those words.”