3 days ago barely anybody in Australia had heard of David Van.
He is a Senator in Canberra from Victoria. Representing the Liberal Party.
Van was chosen by the party for the Senate in 2019 after 15 years as a director of a reputation management company. This week he has been accused of sexual assault by at least 3 women maybe more. 2 of them have publicly accused him so far. Lidia Thorpe and Amanda Stoker. Unfortunately this kind of accusation is far from uncommon both in Canberra and in state parliaments.
When Thorpe, a fellow Senator, accused him of assaulting her she was roundly abused and vilified by about half the political commentators in Australia. Van took his 15 years of experience in reputation management and got up in parliament and called her a liar and got a lot of support. What he did not figure on was that Stoker, a former Senator in his own party, would also go public. She had already complained about him “internally” in December 2020 but Van claims to have forgotten about that. Van’s party leader Peter Dutton says he has had other allegations about Van and because of this has expelled him from the Parliamentary party. Van now sits as an independent.
The big things here are that Dutton took a long time to do this and only took action because there was more than one woman. Secondly nobody is calling Lidia Thorpe a liar any more. Thirdly more women will be emboldened to tell their stories.
It is very difficult for a woman to accuse a man. She may well know friends of the guy involved. Even his wife. It is often hard to prove. She will be attacked. If she is in another political party she will be attacked even more. So huge credit to Lidia Thorpe for going public. Credit also to Amanda Stoker for saying Me Too. Thorpe says 3 other men have behaved inappropriately to her during her first year in parliament.
It will be interesting to see what reaction she gets if and when she names them. I hope she does. Lidia Thorpe says that many other women in parliament have come to her crying. With their own stories but are yet too scared to speak out. I hope that at least some of them do It is the only way that Canberra will be cleaned up.