Australian of the Year Grace Tame has returned fire at her critics over her tense meeting with the Prime Minister joking she was â€œsurprised they let her in.â€
Ms Tame made the comments on Instagram today after her icy meeting sparked natiomal media coverage and backlash from conservative MPs who called her â€œchildishâ€ and immature.
The Australian of the Year hinted she was making a political point with her body language, posting an image from the satire website The Beetota Advocate that stated â€œwoman faces backlash for not pretending everything is ok.â€
She also uploaded a short video of her standing outside the Lodge in Canberra and saying that she was â€œsurprised they let me in.â€
Extraordinary photos captured the tense moment Ms Tame met with the Prime Minister at The Lodge.
The 27-year-old advocate for survivors of sexual assault arrived at the 2022 Australian of the Year Finalists morning tea on Tuesday.
She was seen looking unimpressed as Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny stood for photos with other people as she waited to enter the event
â€œHello Grace,â€ the Prime Minister was then heard saying.
â€œGâ€™day,â€ she responded.
â€œHow are you going? Congratulations on the engagement,â€ Mr Morrison continued.
â€œThank you,â€ Ms Tame said, not making eye contact with the Prime Minister.
She then smiled at Jenny who said something that couldnâ€™t be heard.
Ms Tame then appeared visibly unimpressed while standing for photos next to the Prime Minister.
She didnâ€™t say anything once the photos were taken before walking off.
Ms Tame had earlier tweeted an image about her two days in Canberra: â€œOn second thoughts letâ€™s not go to Canberra. Itâ€™s a silly place,â€ it said.
Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath criticised Ms Tame for her â€œchildishâ€ behaviour, suggesting she should hand back her award.
In an extraordinary attack after images emerged of the tense meeting, Senator McGrath said he was sick of her â€œpartisanâ€ attacks.
After months of public criticism of the Prime Minister by Ms Tame, Senator McGrath said if she didnâ€™t like the job she should â€œhand back the honour.â€
â€œThe important issues raised by last yearâ€™s Australian of the Year must continue to be addressed by all of us,â€™â€™ he said.
â€œIt is a pity her behaviour and attacks on our Prime Minister are so partisan, political and childish. If she didnâ€™t like being Australian of the Year she should hand back the honour.â€
Senator McGrath is no stranger to public controversy himself.
He was sacked by Boris Johnson in 2008 for suggesting that African-Caribbean people should emigrate if they were unhappy living in Tory-controlled London.
Senator McGrath was recorded on tape saying, â€œWell, let them go if they donâ€™t like it here.â€
Mr Johnson, who was London mayor at the time, said his aide was â€œnot racistâ€ but had made an error of judgement.
Senator McGrathâ€™s Facebook post prompted dozens of online attacks on Ms Tame as â€œsurlyâ€, â€œchildishâ€, â€œdisgustingâ€ and lacking â€œmanners.â€
Channel 10â€™s The Project host Peter Van Onselen slammed the footage of Grace Tame meeting the Prime Minister at his residence as â€œembarrassing, for her that isâ€.
â€œShe was ungracious, rude and childish, refusing to smile for the cameras, barely acknowledging his existence when standing next to him. The footage tells the story free of overstatement,â€™â€™ he wrote in The Australian.
â€œShe didnâ€™t have to play the role of court jester, or be a fake. Just be a decent human being, thatâ€™s all. If that wasnâ€™t possible, why bother to attend at all? At his Canberra house no less. It isnâ€™t like the person who lives there wasnâ€™t going to be there.
â€œIf your disdain for the man is so great (understandable perhaps) that you canâ€™t even muster basic and common courtesy, then just donâ€™t go. That would be reasonable. Plenty of people would understand. It would cause a stir, but justifiably so given her criticisms of the PM. But acting like a child displaying a lack of basic manners when coming face to face with him in a meet and greet was unbecoming and unnecessary.
â€œBut to look as forlorn as she did in response, rudely and deliberately looking away from the photographer, was an act of juvenile dissent. That of itself sends a powerful message without being childishly rude and demeaning yourself.
Government sources confirmed that the Prime Minister had invited Ms Tame to his family home because it was tradition and never contemplated changing that tradition as a result of the fractured relationship between the pair.
Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes joined the attacks tweeting â€œImmature!â€ in relation to the awkward photographs.
But just hours after her icy moment with the Prime Minister, Labor leader Anthony Albanese praised her huge role in sparking a national conversation.
â€œOn her final day as Australian of the Year, Iâ€™d like to take a moment to thank Grace Tame for her extraordinary courage and fierce advocacy,â€™â€™ he said.
â€œYouâ€™ve inspired countless Australians and youâ€™ve earned enormous respect.â€
Ms Tame was named the 2021 Australian of the Year after overturning a Tasmanian law that prevented her from speaking about her experiences of sexual assault when she was just 15.
â€œI lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15, anorexic; he was 58, he was my teacher,â€ she said in her powerful acceptance speech.
â€œFor months he groomed me and then abused me almost every day. Before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor.
â€œI didnâ€™t know who I was.
â€œAustralia, weâ€™ve come a long way but thereâ€™s still more work to do in a lot of areas.â€
Ms Tame later told the Betoota Advocate podcast that she was perplexed by Mr Morrisonâ€™s words to her after the speech.
â€œDo you know what he said to me, right after I finished that speech and weâ€™re in front of a wall of media?â€ Ms Tame said.â€œI sh*t you not, he leant over and right in my ear he goes, â€˜Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that outâ€™.â€
Mr Morrison later defended his words when coming under fire for them during Question Time.
â€œThat is roughly my recollection,â€ he told parliament.
â€œThat was a very brave statement, that is exactly what I meant when I said that to her on that occasion.â€
Ms Tame also criticised Mr Morrisonâ€™s handling of the Brittany Higgins sexual assault allegations.
She was asked what she thought about the Prime Minister saying he spoke to his wife Jenny, which helped him understand the seriousness.
â€œJenny and I spoke last night and she said to me, â€˜you have to think about this as a father. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?â€™â€ Mr Morrison had said.
â€œJenny has a way of clarifying things. Always has. And so, as Iâ€™ve reflected on that overnight and listened to Brittany and what she had to say.â€
Ms Tame said it shouldnâ€™t take having children to have a conscience.
â€œAnd actually, on top of that, having children doesnâ€™t guarantee a conscience,â€ she added.