Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


Australian Human Rights Commission

4:58 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

Today, after many months of diligent work, Commissioner Kate Jenkins has handed down her report into the Commonwealth parliamentary workplace, entitled, Set the standard: report on the independent review into Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces. I acknowledge the work of the commissioner and her staff on this report and the 28 recommendations that she has provided to us for change. Following the many issues that have surfaced in this building over the previous months, it was right that an independent review take place so that we can work to change the culture of Parliament House. Labor supported the independent review and encouraged participation and submissions from former and current staff as well as former and current parliamentarians.

Many reflections and opinions will be made on this report in coming days. Parliamentarians from all sides will rightly express their outrage and dismay at the culture of this building and the troubling statistics that were published in this report. However, today, in one of the first responses to the report, I want to address our own staff, both former and current. I entered this place in 2008 after decades as a union official, after decades focused on improving the conditions of working people. It is with that focus that I speak to this report today.

The culture of this building has failed our staff, and any delay in rectifying the issues presented in this report represents further failure. Should these statistics be published in any other workplace, we would be rightly and justifiably outraged. That it is occurring in the nation's parliament makes it even worse. To our staff, I say: this is your workplace. You deserve to be safe at work and you deserve to be supported at your workplace. You deserve to contribute to the government of this nation without compromising your safety or wellbeing. To each of you who has been in contact with our staff and our offices or contributed to the review through submissions and interviews, I want to say thank you. Whatever your contribution to this review or through our offices, you have helped the culture change in this parliament. You have pushed it a little bit more in the right direction.

Labor will review the recommendations published by the commissioner thoroughly. We will consult with our staff and continue to work in a bipartisan manner to improve the culture of this building wherever it is possible. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted.


No comments