How can the same Prime Minister who exploded with moral indignation over a decision by the former head of Australia Post to reward senior staff with watches for a job well done be as sanguine as Scott Morrison appears to be about sitting down around the cabinet table with an alleged rapist?
While Christine Holgate's actions were entirely legitimate, she was called upon to stand down during the course of an investigation and resigned her position two weeks later. Mr Morrison had described her actions as "appalling", "disgraceful" and "not on".
The disconnect between the moral stance he purported to adopt on that occasion and his apparent indifference to the allegations of rape against a senior member of his cabinet have left the Scott Morrison open to accusations of cold blooded pragmatism and a stunning degree of hypocrisy.
Unless Mr Morrison chooses to act there is a real possibility a person allegedly linked to a violent rape may escape any consequences for political convenience.
The irony is the 16 male members of the 22-strong federal cabinet are all now under a cloud of suspicion. Names are being bandied about with gay abandon and innocent people are at risk of reputational damage.
It would appear the only way this unfortunate state of affairs can be resolved is if the alleged perpetrator either comes forward of their own accord or is stood down by Mr Morrison pending an independent inquiry.
It is not enough for the PM to stand by his man and to say that the accused Cabinet Minister "absolutely rejects" the allegation. This is not something on which he should act as the judge and jury by accepting the word of the interested party at face value.
Another complication is that unless an independent inquiry is commissioned then the person at the centre of these allegations will never clear his name. The PM has a clear moral obligation to take steps to resolve this matter by exonerating the innocent and providing the alleged perpetrator an opportunity to mount a defence.
The only way to do that is by calling an independent inquiry; no matter how politically inconvenient. This is a matter of public interest and the public have a right to know.
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