Alannah Hill wasn’t the only woman dismissive of the severity of sexual harrassment this week. Susie O’Brien was on the 7pm Project on Monday night, discussing the David Jones sexual harrassment story currently in the headlines. Susie thinks that the woman, who David Jones CEO Mark McInnes allegedly sexually harrassed, is asking for too much money. Susie keeps wondering “what’s so special about her”. The video is below; the segment starts around 4.55. A (loooong) transcript is below the video.
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The segment starts with a brief introduction by Charlie Pickering.
Charlie Pickering: “Sleazy bosses across the country got the shock of their lives yesterday when a former publicist lodged a 37 million dollar sexual misconduct action against David Jones and fomer CEO Mark McInnes.”
Cut to a montage of images showing various shots of McInnes, and David Jones stores.
Charlie Pickering Voiceover: “When CEO Mark McInnes left David Jones in June amid claims he made lewd comments and touched the bra strap of an employee, it hit headlines right across the country.”
Various clips of newscasts on different stations showing the story ‘hitting the headlines’
Newsreader 1: ” A spectacular fall from grace”
Newreader 2: “A prestigous department store has been rocked by the shock resignation of its CEO”
Newsreader 3: “one of our biggest retailers”
Voiceover (Charlie) continues: “Now Kristy Fraser-Kirk the victim at the heart of the scandal is hitting back to the tune of 37 million dollars.”
Cut to clip of media interviewing Fraser-Kirk.
Kristy Fraser-Kirk “All of that money, will go to a charity to help those affected by sexual misconduct at work.”
Voiceover by Charlie Pickering continues whilst shots of Fraser-Kirk are shown.
Charlie Pickering: “Charity or not many have labelled the claim over the top, with some media commentators pointing out that most rape victims who seek compensation generally receive less than 100, 000 dollars. So does the punishmet fit the crime? and the big question everyone wants to know, is she likely to win?”
Cut back to the studio where Charlie introduces guests Susie O’Brien and Sian Ryan.
Charlie: “Joining us on the panel tonight is herald-sun journalist Susie O’Brien and in Sydney workplace lawyer Sian Ryan. Ahhh.. Sian, first over to you, 37 million dollars is a huge amount, does Kristy Fraser-Kirk really have a hope of getting that much?”
Cross to interview with Sian Ryan.
Sian Ryan: “It’s certainly an ambitious claim, there’s no doubt at all about that. Ummm we have seen an increase in awards in this area, they’re up from where they were at 50 to 100, 000, we saw an award of 350,000 in a rape case a couple of years ago, and then the big one recently was 466,000 but that’s the highest we’ve seen to date. This claim, obviously, greatly exceeds that. The difference though, in this case is that the applicant is claiming a punitive style of damages. So, she’s arguing that the conduct of the company and the individual was so bad that they ought to be punished for their conduct, rather than simply looking at an award of compensation to her for what she’s lost.”
Georgie Coughlan: “So Sian, if she’s unlikely to win, what do you think her motive is then?”
Sian Ryan: “Well she’s certainly put sexual harrassment in the headlines, everybody’s talking about it. That, in my view is probably part of it and in my view that’s not necessarrily such a bad thing. But her legal team will argue that there are very unusual and distinct aspects in this case we’re talking about the conduct of a CEO, we’ve got some admissions about some of the allegations, we saw his very sudden and dramatic departure from David Jones and of course we saw materials surface yesterday, that would suggest, if believed, that David Jones knew about this going on, or ought to have known.”
Charlie: “Thanks Sian. Sian Ryan in Sydney there. Now turning to you Susie O’Brien. You wrote a column this morning where you criticised Kristy for this amount and what she was saying, why did you criticise her?”
Susie: “well look, I think you know, initially most of us were sympathetic umm until we heard she wanted 37 million dollars, I mean it’s way out of all proportion, I mean you’d be lucky to get 3 million dollars for a work place death. So I want to know what makes Kristy think that she’s worth 37 million dollars.
Dave Hughes: “Just have a listen to a little bit more of what she said yesterday.”
Cuts to clip of Kristy reading statement to the media.
Kristy Fraser-Kirk: “I am a young woman standing here today simply because I said ‘it wasn’t Ok’. Because I said this should never happen to me, or to anyone”.
Dave Hughes: “She’s, She’s sort of saying there that she’s representing other women. That she wants to take a stand, so that other women also can speak out.”
Susie O’Brien: Yeah, it’s just bizarre. because by by asking for so much money, she’s making it about the money and not about the cause and I think she just makes ummm, she falls into this trap of looking like a gold-digger who just wants revenge instead of a normal woman who wants justice and I think that’s very dangerous.
Georgie Coughlan: Susie, I’m a big fan of your columns, I love your work but I do have to disagree with you on this one. I think 37 million is absolutely nothing in terms of it’s 5% allegedly of his salary and 5% of what David Jones made in that time. This girl is sending a really positive message to the big boys of town to say that there are consequences for actions and I don’t think that we can compare it to other cases, I think that every case is unique. Don’t you think that it’s wonderful that she, if maybe one CEO in the country, or one man or woman who is being sexually harrassed today, on that scale, because if you are a person that is being harrassed by a CEO unless you’ve been through it it is horiffyingly scary you can’t take on the CEO particularly somene who was the golden boy of the country.”
Dave Hughes: “That amount of money certainly made me question my behaviour to be honest.”
Panel: hosts and guests all laugh.
Dave Hughes: “It makes everyone question themselves, what they are doing.”
Steve Price: “Susie, are you saying that she’s a gold-digging, publicity seeking…”
Susie O’Brien. “Look, I think she’s probably a nice girl, who’s been given some really bad advice. Ummm I don’t think people like this American style, ummm you know, litigation where good Australian companies are held toransom.”
Steve Price: “Shouldn’t this be about McInnes and his behaviour and not about her?”
Susie O’Brien: “I think, you know, McInnes is the one who’s gone off overseas in disgrace, and you know, for awhile she still had her job…”
Steve Price (interrupting): “But he’s the sleaze.”
Susie O’Brien: “He is the sleaze but I think she’s doing all women a disservice.”
Georgie Coughlan: “But aren’t there consequences for that company? She told people above her about it. The company allegedly did nothing about it.”
Susie O’Brien: “I think she should get a decent payout. I think we all want to see her get a decent payout but 37 million dollars. I mean asbestosis victims get 150, 000 so 37 million dollars. What makes her think that she is worth that kind of money?”
Charlie Pickering: “I actually agree with you because all of the talk on breakfast radio this morning was about the money and not the issue. (can’t understand next bit) and I think that’s true but what she did say was that if she did get this amount of money she wants to make a charity for victims of sexual harrassment. Does that change the way that it’s perceived do you think?”
Susie O’Brien: “To me it doesn’t because we have no guarantee where that money’s going to go. I mean the thing is, I think you can, unlike from what Georgie was saying is that you can compare this to other cases. She’s not, I hate to say this, but she’s not that special, this happens to women across Australia every single day most of them would be lucky to get 6 grand and an apology.”
Dave Hughes: “But he hasn’t been convicted yet. Can we say that?”
Susie O’Brien: “That’s true. I’m dying to hear his side of it.”
Dave Hughes: “He’s an alleged sleaze I believe.”
Oh GOD the gold-digger jab. Fuck ‘she falls into this trap of looking like a gold-digger’. FUCK. Any woman who claims ANY amount of money from a man is going to be accused of being a gold digger. Single mothers who receive jack-shit from the fathers of their children for child maintenance get accused of being gold-diggers, women who request a divorce settlement are accused of being gold-diggers. Wherever there is a woman asking for money from a man, there will be an accusation of her being a gold-digger.
Continually comparing the amount that Fraser-Kirk is claiming for, with the amounts received for workplace death, asbestosis victims and other women who have been sexually harassed, is a ludicrous comparison; it’s a punitive damages claim. It’s to deter McInnes from doing it again and to prevent David Jones from enabling it to happen again. If David Jones and Mark McInnes had to pay out $6000 do you think it would stop them sexually harassing people? It’s also a ludicrous comparison because, to use the asbestosis victims example – the companies that had to pay out those victims worked very hard not to. The reason that asbestosis victims received little is because the companies worked hard against having to.
And the good Australian company being held to ransom? Don’t worry Susie. McInnes and David Jones will have a fuck off team of lawyers trying to pay the minimum amounts possible. They’ll be alright. They’re well paid. They’ll work very hard to pay out as little as possible.
O’Brien talks about how he lost his job and had to go overseas (boo fucking hoo) but Fraser-Kirk got to keep her job – as though that should be enough. It’s as though she thinks that sexual harrassment is no big deal. Fraser-Kirk should be fucking grateful yeah? It’s the most bizarre reaction to have, the whole ‘what’s so special about her? all the other women have to put up with $6000 so why can’t she?’ Fuck. Cause $6000 is shit? And why the fuck should she have to settle for less?