Unfortunately for the Government the Tania Billingsley story refuses to go away. As people will be aware she is the young woman who is the complainant in the Malaysian diplomat assault with intent to rape case. She bravely requested for suppression of her identity to be lifted and she has spoken out eloquently and passionately on rape culture.
Some on the right have chosen to criticise her and question her motives. They have rather elegantly if inadvertently reinforced what she has been saying about rape culture. If their sort of thinking is common within National’s ranks then it needs to do some soul searching.
John Key is in trouble over the issue because of as clear a flip flop as you will ever see.
On 3 July, when Ms Billingsley’s name was not in the public domain, Mr Key was outraged by the way the case had been handled.
Asked whether he would apologise if he did know her name, Mr Key said: “Yes, in so much that I believe that she shouldn’t have had to go through what she went through.”
But this all changed this week. On Monday Key refused to apologise to Ms Billingsley because he said he only made apologies if there was a serious reason for him to do so. If the colossal mess the Government has made of this issue is not a serious reason then I do not know what would be.
On Tuesday, Key had a different reason.
Because I think the Government has apologised. Both the minister and the officials have made it quite clear they’re sorry for the incident that’s taken place in the way that person left the country. I think that’s wholly appropriate.
“But in the end, I think what’s far more important is that there is a proper inquiry – that’s what the victim in this circumstance deserves and that’s what she’s going to get.
“What’s far more important now, actually, is that the independent inquiry that’s been established and will be run by (former Treasury Secretary) John Whitehead actually gets to the bottom of all of the unanswered questions there.”
There is an online petition petitioning Key to apologise to Tania. Why is it that for National sorry seems to be the hardest word?