TRACEY SPICER AND #METOO MOVEMENT
The Hon. MARK LATHAM (17:45:23): One of the good things about our representative role in this place is to be invited to worthwhile community events. Last month I noted in my email inbox with interest that I had been invited to the 2019 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture and Award Ceremony and the Sydney Peace Prize Gala Dinner. Immediately I thought it must be something to do with a distinguished New South Welshperson who has brought peace to North Korea or the Middle East or Africa or even Brexit or who in our local communities has helped with things like the drought, to stabilise and assist in troubled parts of New South Wales, given that economic distress. One can imagine my surprise to find out that Tracey Spicer is the recipient of the City of Sydney Peace Prize. I was stunned by that because I do not see how a publicly funded organisation—it receives funds from the City of Sydney and Sydney university—would make such a farce of itself by giving the prize to someone who, compared to all the other worthy people in Sydney and around the State, had not achieved anything.
The newspaper headlines tell the story. Two years ago a headline inTheDaily Telegraph states, "Tracey Spicer vows to out 40 sleazebags in media industry". No such thing happened. Then a headline on the Nine.com.au website states, "Tracey Spicer is bringing sexual predators to justice". She is apparently going to drop "the mother of all bombs" to deal with misogyny, sexism and criminal sexual behaviour in Australian media workplaces. EvenThe Australian newspaper in its Media section in November 2017 had the headline, "Sexual misconduct file imminent", but it never appeared. How do you win a peace prize for something that never happened, for what really was fake news and propaganda?
Then Tracey Spicer herself writes inThe Sydney Morning Herald in November 2017, "More than 500 women have named 65 men in an investigation into sexual harassment and indecent assault". This vast number of men, these sexual fiends and predators in the media have never been named. In fact, the one matter where she seemed to have an impact, from her point of view, was assisting in the allegations against the well‑known Australian actor John Jarratt, having promised that prosecutions would be brought about. The matter was thrown out of court in very brisk time by a female‑majority jury. I think John Jarratt has summed up the real impact of Tracey Spicer in this debate and his words are worth quoting. After he was cleared in the court case, having been accused of rape—an historic matter from more than 40 years ago—The Sydney Morning Herald noted:
Since August 2017, he says, he has had just one day of paid work. The case cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost earnings, and much more in grief.
To quote John Jarratt directly:
The #MeToo movement is very important—
a magnanimous statement—
but it's being destroyed by the false accusers. They are causing havoc for the movement.
Indeed, he is saying they are being counterproductive. So how can Tracey Spicer be the recipient of a peace prize when John Jarratt, in the worst of circumstances for him, his family and his reputation, is pointing out that her activities in spreading this fake news have been counterproductive? I have a very serious concern about her activities in general because it has been reported to me that she has approached media outlets saying that if she had a paid consultancy to deal with gender matters in the workplace that workplace would be immune from the naming and the shaming that she was presenting. In other words, she is a shakedown merchant. It goes beyond being counterproductive. It goes from it being a little good earner on the side to actively abusing the #metoo movement. These matters are important.
John Jarratt is right in saying that effectively everyone in the workplace should act with respect and decency towards each other, that anyone engaged in sexual harassment or assault should be brought to justice with the full force of the law. These campaigns can be significant but they must be based on fact. People cannot run around saying there are 40 sexual fiends in the media and then never produce any evidence. That has tarnished the reputation of every person in those workplaces who, in the majority of instances, would be doing the right thing. The men I speak to say that the workplace there, as it has around the country, has improved dramatically in these standards compared to our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers in the distant past. #metoo needs to be based on fact. The Sydney Peace Foundation has brought embarrassment upon itself—indeed, humiliation—to so belittle its prize to give it to Tracey Spicer, who has been so counterproductive in this area. I ask it to reconsider. I certainly will not be attending the award ceremony.