Culture

Duncan Storrar Has Hit Back At The Way He’s Been Treated In A Personal Letter To ‘Media Watch’

"My question is still valid and hasn’t been answered."

We’re exactly one week on since Geelong truck driver Duncan Storrar posed a question about tax breaks to our assistant treasurer on Q&A and it’s certainly sobering to see what’s been made of it since.

Striking a chord with many, Storrar has been celebrated as an underrepresented voice in public debate (on this site among others). He’s been made the subject of a crowdfunding campaign which has raised more than $60,000. His whole life has been put up for public scrutiny as newspapers unearth his financial records and dissect his past behaviour and family life. He was labelled a “villain” on the front page of The Herald Sun.

Now, after serious concerns for his mental health (he disclosed he suffered from mental illness during his initial TV appearance), he’s spoken out about his experience. In a statement to Media Watch, Storrar says he is now “hiding from the media” but has some “lessons for Australia” (particularly Australian press) which have come from this whole thing.

“If a person shows the powers to be, out-of-touch people that they are, they will be dropped, probed and attacked in any way with no thought to the mental wellbeing of their children. This exposing of your life and every discrepancy in it will be published, ruining your job prospects (would you give me a job after a google search comes up with the headlines of last week?) and will be used as a example to keep people like me quiet.

“There have been serious consequences from the decisions that the News Corp press has taken in my so-called story. I told everybody I talk to that I have just been to the Royal Commission and have serious mental issues. Knowing this, the right-wing press decided to write the stories they did without a care for me or my (now ex-) partner’s mental health. Now, as somebody who is training to learn to be a mental health advocate, I ask does News Corp have a mental health policy when it comes to dealing with people like me? … These are questions for lawyers not me.

While making it clear he “didn’t want this”, Storrar then extended his thanks to those who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign set up for him and said the money would be split between a trust fund for his children and various charities. But the most compelling part of his message came, as it did on Q&A, when he spoke broadly about inequality in Australian society at large.

“My question is still valid and hasn’t been answered but, more to the point, there are a whole class of people out there (yes we might have records, yes we might not be perfect) but society has forgotten us, the politicians and the media use us whenever they want to show why they need to be elected but never do anything to help our plight. We are breaking down here and life hasn’t been this hard since before Whitlam for the underclass.

“Q&A is the only place where people like me can ask questions of our leaders and policy makers and, as it’s so hard to see your politicians, we don’t have any other contact with these people. [It’s] the most important part of democracy I have available to me.”

This is a point which was underscored by Media Watch host Paul Barry while wrapping up last night’s segment. “Is this what now happens in Australia to someone who sticks their head up in public and exercises their democratic rights?” he said. “Duncan didn’t ask to be a national hero or a national villain, nor did he ask for our charity. All he did was put his hand up and ask a question and for that, he was crucified.”

You can watch that full run-down here or re-visit Storrar’s initial question here:

As we hurtle towards an election, it’s clear all our debate and scrutiny would be much more usefully directed at Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer and the federal government.