House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Questions without Notice

Sex Discrimination Legislation

2:11 pm

Photo of Terri ButlerTerri Butler (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Why has the Prime Minister failed Australian women and voted against Labor's amendments to implement key recommendations by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins in the Respect@Work report?

2:12 pm

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

I thank the member for her question. As the member will well recall, the government has provided a full response to the Respect@Work report. Our response to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner's report sets out our long-term commitment to preventing and addressing sexual harassment. It seeks also to build a new culture of respectful behaviour in Australian workplaces by agreeing to—in full, in part or in principle—while noting, all 55 recommendations in the report. The Respect@Work bill implements, specifically, recommendations 16, 20 to 22, 29 and 30 from the report, in line with the government's commitments in the Roadmap for Respect that the Attorney-General and I outlined many months ago. The bill also clarifies the applicability of the Sex Discrimination Act to members of parliament and judges, and makes key amendments that will immediately strengthen the overarching legal framework with respect to sex discrimination and harassment.

We've prioritised these reforms for immediate introduction, recognising that other more complex reforms require further consideration and stakeholder consultation. A number of recommendations need to be carefully considered together because they fundamentally change the core function of the Australian Human Rights Commission. A number of the remaining recommendations were directed to state and territory governments, to independent agencies, to regulators and to the private sector, recognising the whole-of-community approach taken by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, who I again thank for her work. Work to implement and coordinate these responses is already underway through intergovernmental meetings such as the national cabinet, the Meeting of Attorneys-General, the women's safety task force and the work, health and safety ministers group.

At my initiation, through the national cabinet, I have requested that all states and territories provide their response to the Respect@Work report. At that time that had not been done by state governments, but I welcome the fact that that has now been done by state governments and they have come forward. Even now, as we speak, the women's safety summit is underway, with roundtable discussions proceeding right now and progressing some of the most important issues that you could imagine in keeping women safe in our country. We are supporting that, particularly with a $1.1 billion investment in women's safety through the 2021-22 budget, which includes over $60 million for implementing the Roadmap for Respect. Our government has delivered one of the single largest commitments to supporting the safety of women in our community, consistent with the actions of previous governments under the road maps and national plans which have been developed; they were started by Prime Minister Gillard, and have been faithfully continued by our government in a bipartisan way.