Australian PM calls for more women in parliament after scandals
Sydney, Australia, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- After condemning a new sex scandal, Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday that he wants more women in parliament and politics.
Scott Morrison’s remarks came a day after media reported they had obtained videos and photos of sex acts by male staffers that were filmed inside Parliament House, where a former Liberal Party adviser five weeks ago alleged she was raped in 2019.
“There has never been a more important time for women to stand in this place. I want to see more women in this place, I have done anything to get more women in this place and I intend to do more,” Morrison said during a press conference at Parliament House.
The Australian prime minister, who was heavily criticized by the opposition and women’s groups for not taking decisive action to protect women and whose party has no gender quotas, condemned the “disgusting” behavior by some men at Parliament House and promised to “get this house in order.”
On Monday, Australia’s Channel 10 reported that a number of men working for the ruling coalition shared photos and videos of themselves performing solo sex acts in Parliament House, including on a female lawmakers’ desk.
Morrison said his government had identified and terminated one man’s employment.
The reports came just over a month after former Liberal Party adviser Brittany Higgins said she had been raped by a co-worker in Parliament House in 2019.
Following Higgins’ complaint, three other unidentified women later also claimed they were victims of assaults or inappropriate contact by the same man.
Higgins’ complaint also brought to light an accusation made against Attorney-General Christian Porter for the alleged rape of a woman 33 years ago in Sydney, when she was 16. The woman died last year and Porter has strenuously denied the accusations.
New South Wales State Police closed the investigation into the accusation over lack of admissible evidence.
During a sit-in inside Parliament House’s meditation room on Tuesday, a group of Labor and Green Party staffers pointed to a “culture of pervasive silence” in Parliament.
“One of the first things that got taught to me is if anything ever happens to you, don’t say anything, because it’ll ruin your career,” said Georgia Tree, who works for a Labor lawmaker, 9News reported.
In early March, the Australian government announced a probe into parliamentary work culture led by Kate Jenkins, sexual discrimination commissioner, who will deliver her final report in November with recommendations to change internal work practices.
Thousands of Australians took to the streets last week to protest against gender inequality and criticize the government for its handling of several allegations of sexual abuse in the country’s parliament. EFE-EPA