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Unhappy snaps: PM’s awkward photo op with Australian of the Year

Outgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have had an awkward meeting in Canberra.

Jan 25, 2022, updated Jan 25, 2022
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with his wife Jenny, 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and her partner Max Heerey during a morning tea The Lodge in Canberra. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with his wife Jenny, 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and her partner Max Heerey during a morning tea The Lodge in Canberra. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Attending Tuesday’s Australian of the Year Awards morning tea, Ms Tame stood stony faced for a photograph next to the prime minister at The Lodge.

The pair had a brief exchange, with Mr Morrison congratulated her on her recent engagement, to which she replied “thank you”.

She appeared to reluctantly shake Morrison’s hand without meeting the prime minister’s eyes, but did smile briefly as Jenny Morrison congratulated her.

The episode caused uproar on social media, with several Government members and conservative media criticising Tame’s behaviour.

Tame is a child sexual abuse survivor and has been critical of the coalition government’s response to women’s safety issues.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese later thanked Tame for her “quite extraordinary courage and her fierce advocacy”.

“Grace, you’ve inspired countless Australians and you’ve earned enormous respect,” he said during an address to the National Press Club.

“The events that occurred in parliament … constituted a powerful wake-up call.

“But we’ve had so many wake-up calls. We have no excuse to wait for another.”

Liberal senator Hollie Hughes tweeted Tame’s demeanour during the meeting with Mr Morrison was “immature!”

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Grace Tame looks on as Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the morning tea. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

LNP senator James McGrath criticised Tame for being “partisan, political and childish”.

“The important issues raised by last year’s Australian of the Year must continue to be addressed by all of us,” he wrote on Facebook.

“It is a pity her behaviour and attacks on our prime minister are so partisan, political and childish.

“If she didn’t like being Australian of the Year she should hand back the honour.”

The Morrison government came under intense and sustained fire for its handling of the alleged 2019 rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in a federal minister’s office, made public in February last year.

Ms Tame has said the government “doesn’t get it”, following its subsequent failure to pass all legislative reforms recommended by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

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