Grace Tame addresses awkward encounter with PM: ‘Many women are sick of being told to smile’

Headshot of Bryce Luff
Bryce LuffThe West Australian
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, wife Jenny and 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and partner Max Heerey during a morning tea for state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at The Lodge in Canberra, Tuesday, January 25, 2022.
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison, wife Jenny and 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and partner Max Heerey during a morning tea for state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at The Lodge in Canberra, Tuesday, January 25, 2022. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Grace Tame has broken her silence on the frosty meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying “the survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders”.

The sexual assault survivor was stony faced during snaps with the PM and hardly appeared excited at the idea of shaking his hand at a morning tea at The Lodge for Australian of the Year finalists last week.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Ms Tame - the 2021 Australian of the Year - finally addressed the viral encounter.

“The survival of abuse culture is dependent on submissive smiles and self-defeating surrenders,” she posted.

“It is dependent on hypocrisy. My past is only relevant to the extent that I have seen — in fact I have worn — the consequences of civility for the sake of civility.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, wife Jenny and 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and partner Max Heerey during a morning tea for state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at The Lodge in Canberra.
Camera IconPrime Minister Scott Morrison, wife Jenny and 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and partner Max Heerey during a morning tea for state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at The Lodge in Canberra. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Ms Tame, 27, said her stand was not an act of “martyrdom in the gender culture war”.

“It’s true that many women are sick of being told to smile, often by men, for the benefit of men,” she said.

“But it’s not just women who are conditioned to smile and conform to the visibly rotting status-quo. It’s all of us.”

Speaking in the wake of the awkward encounter, Mr Morrison said he had “not raised any issue”.

“When Jenny and I invite someone to our home, we greet them with a smile and they’re always welcome. That day was actually about all the finalists we came to celebrate,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.

“I haven’t raised any issues about (the incident) - all I’m saying is we were there that day to celebrate those who had done an incredible job for our country.”

Ms Tame had widespread support online following the incident, however there was criticism from some in the government, with one LNP senator calling it “childish”.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley would not say whether the comments from her parliamentary colleagues were out of line, but added people were free to speak their mind.

“Grace Tame is a force of nature and being a leader for many women across Australia,” she told ABC TV.

“The Prime Minister has done more for the issues of women than any other prime minister I have ever worked for, and in any other government.”

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