House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Questions without Notice

National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

2:00 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Kate Jenkins has made shocking findings in her report today. Does the Prime Minister agree that everyone working in this building, including staff, deserves a safer and more respectful place of work?

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

I am sure I join with the Leader of the Opposition and the leaders of all parties represented in this chamber, including the members of the crossbench, the Independents and the Leader of the Nationals, in answering that question on behalf of all of us, which is, yes, of course we do. In this place, we are not just members; we are also employers individually. Each and every one of is an employer and we as employers have responsibilities to make this workplace as safe as it possibly can be.

Today Commissioner Jenkins has provided the report to all of us, and the government are happy to table that report. This report, I think, goes to the root causes here that we have had to address in our workplaces. This is a challenge that those of us who have been in this place a long time have known and have experienced over that course. It deals with the issue of power imbalance. It deals with the issue of gender imbalance. It deals with the issues of accountability and an independent complaints mechanism, which I'm pleased we have already taken action on, as we have with counselling support and other services. We didn't have to wait for this report before taking that action.

I commend again Commissioner Jenkins, as I indeed have already commended Britney Higgins. It was her speaking up that led to this chain of events that has brought parties together in the multi-party process that has been working together to produce this set of recommendations. I now look forward to us continuing to work together in a multi-party process.

The recommendations cover the full terrain, I think, of the issues that need to be addressed. We need to come together now and work to those together to ensure that this place becomes a safer place and sets standards for all who work in this building. The surveys that are in this report don't just relate to the staff of members of parliament and senators; they in fact relate to all people who work in this building, whether it's in the press gallery or elsewhere amongst members and senators. So it is important we read this, reflect on it carefully and understand what Commissioner Jenkins has rightly set out as the drivers.

As I said earlier today, we have the great privilege to work in this place, and all of those who are here also have that privilege. The significant matters of state and the importance of our work and the stressors that we work under are no excuse whatsoever for inappropriate behaviour, bullying, harassment or any of these things. There is no place for that in this workplace or any other. So I join with all members of this House, including, I'm sure, the Leader of the Opposition, in condemning that behaviour and doing all we can to make this a safer workplace for everyone in this building, and that this is also the truth for those who work outside this building as well. (Time expired)