February 08, 2020 06:50:29
The young woman at the centre of the controversy over the Australia Day award given to social commentator Bettina Arndt is calling on the Governor-General to rescind the honour.
- This year, men’s rights commentator Bettina Arndt became a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia
- Ms Arndt said her interview with a convicted paedophile had nothing to do with her Australia Day honour
- Grace Tame has spoken exclusively to the ABC about her request to the Governor-General
Grace Tame told the ABC she wanted Ms Arndt stripped of her AM for “significant service to gender equity” because she had publicly sympathised with the man who repeatedly raped Grace when she was 15 years old.
“I think it would be hugely powerful gesture and a step in the right direction for the Governor-General to at least consider rescinding the award,” Ms Tame said.
“It might seem trivial to take away one individual’s award, but it’s about a principle.
“There is a principle at stake here and it’s about demonstrating to people that we cannot reward people who validate abusers and people to capitalise on the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of others.”
There have already been calls for Arndt’s award to be cancelled, including from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.
Video: ‘Feminists persecute disgraced teacher’
Nicolaas Bester was jailed for raping Ms Tame over a six-month period in 2010, when he was her maths teacher at an elite private high school in Hobart.
After Bester’s release from jail, Ms Arndt published an interview with the twice-convicted paedophile on YouTube, titled “Feminists persecute disgraced teacher”.
In the 17-minute video, published in 2017, Ms Arndt accused Ms Tame of “sexually provocative behaviour”.
“The question that remains for me is whether there is any room in this conversation for talking to young girls about behaving sensibly and not exploiting their seductive power to ruin the lives of men,” Ms Arndt said in the video.
Ms Tame said she had not behaved in a “sexually provocative” manner.
“Not only is the interview disturbing because it gives a platform to a paedophile. It’s not a truthful interview,” she said.
“There was no evidence of my provocative behaviour.
“I was diagnosed with anorexia. I was a 15-year-old child. I was mentally unwell. I was not a willing participant. That is in the sentencing comments. And I did not know how to extricate myself.”
Ms Arndt declined to do an interview with the ABC but said in a statement “this issue has nothing to do with my honours award”.
“I have already discussed the Bester video, and the complex issues involved, at length in numerous interviews. All the relevant background is on my website freely available and on the public record,” she said.
The video was taken down soon after it was published for legal reasons.
‘This is a man who boasted about what he did’
Ms Arndt has said she made the video because “feminist vigilantes” were harassing Bester after his release from prison.
She said her comments in the video have been taken out of context.
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Ms Tame said in this case it was not a good example of a man being unfairly persecuted.
“It’s a really poor example because this is a man who boasted about what he did to a child. He boasted about having the opportunity to have sex with a child and she validated his excuse.”
A spokesman for Governor-General David Hurley said he “respects the courage and leadership Ms Tame has shown through her advocacy”.
“The Governor-General acts on advice from and recommendations made by the Council for the Order of Australia.
“If and when the Governor-General receives requests to terminate or cancel an award (such as Ms Tame has made) it is referred to the Council for the Order of Australia for advice and action.”
Ms Tame said the award sends the wrong message to the community.
“I just wanted to appeal to his humanity and to appeal to his compassion and sense of reason here.
“I’m not asking for an apology or an explanation, but just a chance to show the Australian public, to show the world that we do make mistakes but we can correct them.”
February 08, 2020 06:14:07
Contact Lorna Knowles
stories from Tasmania