‘The Project’s Fiery Grace Tame Discussion Is Must-Watch Viewing

Carrie Bickmore and guest Amy Remeikis slammed host Peter van Onselen's scathing article about Tame's "childish" behaviour.

peter van onselen amy remeikis

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Political reporter and author Amy Remeikis has torn down Peter van Onselen in a powerful segment on The Project on Tuesday night.

Following the backlash to Grace Tame’s decision not to smile in photos with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, Remeikis was invited onto the show to discuss — as Channel 10 calls it — the “different opinions on the Grace Tame photo.”

The segment came after The Project host Peter Van Onselen penned a scathing response to the situation in The Australian, in which he asserted Tame acted like a child and simply should not have attended the event if she couldn’t be polite to the PM. While PvO isn’t the only person to have slammed Tame’s actions, it’s fair to say this op-ed was the catalyst for the differing opinions segment.

Remeikis appeared on the show to promote her new book On Reckoning — out this week — which centres on the last year or so in Australian politics, the bravery of Brittany Higgins in coming forward with allegations of rape inside Parliament House, and the rage felt by Australian women as politicians attempted (poorly) to handle the crisis.

“It was just after the International Women’s Breakfast when the Prime Minister did a doorstop interview immediately afterwards and said that he had reflected on Brittany Higgins’ accusations from the day before after speaking with his wife, who told him that he really needed to think about it as a father of daughters,” Remeikis said when asked which comment, in particular, was the catalyst for her writing the book.

“And it was really that moment, when he said he’d thought about it, he’s reflected and now he’s going to act, that something inside of me really broke. That we have to constantly think of other people before we act on such a serious issue. It just absolutely flabbergasted me that the leader of the nation was unable to think about this on the face of it, he needed to be told to think about it as a father of daughters before he realised the seriousness.”

Van Onselen was quick to defend people who don’t see an issue with the comparison, clarifying he is not one of those people.

“What is the problem with it?” Van Onselen asked.

“I have to say this, Peter, your remarks during this whole period is one of the reasons why I wrote the book because your response absolutely helped fuel my anger, and the anger of so many people around it,” she said before being interrupted by van Onselen asking what his response was.

Remeikis, without skipping a beat, went on to explain how PvO referenced the “micro and the macro of the situation” when discussing his friend Christian Porter’s historical allegation of sexual assault, which surfaced around the same time. Christian Porter strenuously denies this allegation.

“It was just flabbergasting to me. You hold such an important position in the national conversation,” Remeikis said before being interrupted by Van Onselen, who clarified his comments were about Porter and not Higgins.

“No, it wasn’t about Brittany Higgins but it was within the same conversation, it’s all part of the same conversation and you hold such an important part in that conversation and for you to take that line was devastating to so many people, and your column today — again — devastating to so many people,” Remeikis said, referencing van Onselen’s column calling Tame “ungracious, rude and childish.”

“Because this is the point. The point is women constantly have to come out, talk about their trauma, talk about their position, talk about not being taken seriously, scream the roof down, get to the point where I am almost crying on national television to talk about this because we’re constantly being told how we should act, who we should think about and who perhaps should be seen in our place.”

When quizzed by co-host Carrie Bickmore as to why he felt the need to write a scathing opinion piece on Tame, and why she should be forced to smile, PvO said he didn’t think she had to smile, but she simply should not have gone if she couldn’t be polite. PvO went on to explain that he is also not particularly fond of Morrison, but he thinks Tame’s behaviour was “immature.”

“You know when she should’ve been able to act as a child? When she was a child and was preyed upon by a man and lost parts of her childhood,” Bickmore told van Onselen. “I’m unsure how that helps. How that article today helps, when I’m assuming you — like the entire nation — want violence against women and children to end.”

Remeikis slammed PvO’s comments, asking why Tame should be forced to smile and be polite.

“She has every right to be there, she has every right to show her feelings and if she doesn’t want to be part of a politically staged photo op, she doesn’t have to smile to make other people feel better and not hurt their feelings. It’s absolutely ridiculous.” Remeikis said.

“And you should know better Peter because you got upset over an incident with the PMO and went on a pretty big tweet campaign about it and nobody was calling you out for being juvenile or childish. People were actually praising you for standing up for yourself.”

Watch the whole thing play out below.

You can pick up Remeikis’ book On Reckoning here.