By: Matthew Doran
Outgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame has given a masterclass in side-eye, in an ice cold exchange with Scott Morrison on her last day in the role.
Ms Tame was among the guests welcomed to The Lodge for a morning tea on Tuesday, ahead of the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra.
Television cameras captured the incident as Ms Tame and her fiance Max Heerey arrived.
The pair were welcomed by Scott and Jenny Morrison, who both congratulated them on their recent engagement — but they remained stony-faced as the group posed for photographs.
Ms Tame, 27, was recognised at last year’s event for her advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and has spent the past year calling for greater consistency on sexual assault laws and education programs across the country.
She has been fiercely critical of Mr Morrison and the federal government’s response to allegations of sexual assault and toxic workplace culture in federal parliament, and accused the Coalition of failing to properly consult on national plans to deal with domestic and family violence.
Last year, Ms Tame seemed aghast at the Prime Minister’s initial comments after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she had been raped in a ministerial office by a colleague in 2019.
Mr Morrison said he had discussed Ms Higgins’s situation with his wife, who had urged him to think about it as a father of two daughters.
“It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience,” she told the National Press Club in March.
“And actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience.”
The events on Tuesday morning showed Ms Tame was keen to continue that character assessment, even as she prepared to hand over the mantle.
Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath took aim at her behaviour at The Lodge in a post on social media.
“The important issues raised by last year’s Australian of the Year must continue to be addressed by all of us,” he wrote on Facebook.
“It is a pity her behaviour and attacks on our Prime Minister are so partisan, political and childish.
“If she didn’t like being Australian of the Year she should hand back the honour.”
Senator McGrath has sparked outrage for his own behaviour in the past, while working as a staffer for then-London mayor Boris Johnson.
He was forced to resign after suggesting older African-Caribbean people should return to the West Indies if they did not like the new mayor.
Former Liberal MP Julia Banks, herself a staunch critic of Mr Morrison, defended Ms Tame.
“Grace … is the only person in this photo who lives her life with honesty, integrity and empathy,” she tweeted alongside a photo of Ms Tame and Mr Morrison.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese had praised the outgoing Australian of the Year during his address at the National Press Club.
“I want to take a moment to thank Grace Tame for her quite extraordinary courage and her fierce advocacy,” he said.
“Grace — you’ve inspired countless Australians and you’ve earned enormous respect.”