Thursday, 12 November 2020
I want to start by responding to the incredible accusations that have been levelled against Senator Waters and the Greens by Senator Birmingham, Senator Ruston and Senator Gallagher. Honestly, to describe this as a stunt, to describe this as virtue signalling, just goes to show how out of touch you are. We are putting forward here a constructive proposal that has been inquired into by this Senate, that presents us the opportunity to collectively endorse a framework and a code of conduct that has teeth—a framework and a code of conduct that can be independently applied. And today we have heard that neither of the major parties are going to support this. As Senator Waters very accurately pointed out, the gaps in the current frameworks are abundantly obvious, and to suggest that somehow we are doing this out of a political motivation is completely and utterly wrong. What we are doing here is offering you the opportunity to join with us in endorsing a solution that will significantly improve the culture of this workplace, a solution that will allow for complaints to be assessed independently and a solution that will benefit women who, ultimately, are overwhelmingly the people who pay the price for the toxic workplace here in Parliament House. I want to say thank you to all of the women who've spoken out so bravely on this issue over this week: the women outside this parliament who bravely and courageously told their stories to the ABC and more recently through other outlets, and the women in this place who have taken the lead here. But I want to say something now about men's responsibility. We men in this place have a responsibility to show leadership, and, in doing so, we should pay tribute to and be inspired by the women of this place who have taken the lead. But, as men, we need to man up, we need to take responsibility and we need to acknowledge that, overwhelmingly, it is men who are the problem here and, overwhelming, it is women who are paying the price for men's behaviour. And we're not going to fix this problem unless we men man up in this place and accept responsibility for the way men are behaving and play our role, with the women of this place, in providing solutions.
That is what the Australian Greens are trying to do today. We want all the men and all the women of this place, no matter what party we represent, to join with us in solutions, because what we've seen this week is a Prime Minister who simply tried to kick the can down the road. We have seen a Prime Minister who is not prepared to act. We want to give the opportunity to all senators to join us in trying to fix the toxic workplace culture in this place that impacts so grievously and overwhelmingly on women. This is a constructive suggestion by the Greens. It is as far from a stunt or from grandstanding or from virtue signalling, whatever that means, as you could get. It is a constructive proposal that would allow us to come together and address the problems that have been exposed so terribly about how it is for women who have to work in this building, and in politics more broadly in this country. This is an opportunity for everyone to join with us. We want this to be a collaborative and constructive process, and we are taking a collaborative and constructive approach.