House debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Members of Parliament: Staff

2:55 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that, a week after announcing his response in question time to the reported sexual assault of Brittany Higgins, he has abandoned one of his four reviews and will no longer review the culture inside the Liberal government, which was to have been conducted by the member for Curtin?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I can't confirm that, because that's not what's happened. I asked the member for Curtin to engage with our party room on a process to look at these matters and issues within our party room. I remember, on the same day, saying that perhaps the Labor Party would like to do the same thing in theirs. I also said that I would listen to the member for Curtin, and the member for Curtin has recommended to me that this process would be best conducted by engaging with the broader cross-party process which is now underway and being pulled together. I welcome that, and the leadership of our coalition has welcomed that. I hope to soon be in a position where the Minister for Finance, after he's concluded his consultations with all parties, can deal with this.

In this place, if we are seriously going to address this issue, the assertion made that this is a matter that only rests with the coalition side of politics is a false one. I note the report from the ABC today by Louise Milligan, and I note this because it is a thing we all have to deal with. Louise Milligan reports:

The handful of Labor women who are also alleging privately to me that they have been victimised are also staying schtum. Their reasons include that they don't want to damage their side's chances at the next election.

We need to deal with this issue seriously. I believe the Leader of the Opposition believes that too; I have no doubt about that whatsoever. I believe all of us want to deal with this issue, and I believe the cross-party process, as recommended in this place, as accepted by the government, is the best way for us to do it. I suggest we get on with that job, and that's what I'm looking forward to announcing soon once the Minister for Finance has received all the advice and had the consultations he's having with parties across this place.