Scott Morrison apologized for his administration’s failure to support women in an extraordinary speech to hundreds of coalition employees.
A recording of Tuesday’s speech to 400 ministers and staffers has been leaked Nine newspapers as the prime minister is suffering backlash over the way his government deals with sexism, sexual assault and harassment of women in politics.
Mr Morrison stressed that he is the son of a police officer and made it clear that workplace management issues must be addressed – and serious misconduct by the police must be addressed.
The speech is an indication of how low the coalition’s morale has fallen in the wake of a salvo of shocking revelations over the past six weeks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (left) pictured last Tuesday ahead of 400 staffers meeting where they tried to rally coalition
This shocking image shared by a whistleblower shows a coalition employee masturbating over the desk of a female MP in the parliament building. The coalition has been shaken by shocking claims
Mr. Morrison called the extraordinary meeting to reassure executives that workplace culture would change and to outline how it would begin – but eyebrows were raised when Secretary of Women Marise Payne was absent.
Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack spoke briefly and apologized three times to the staff, telling them they were appreciated “whether you’re here for 15 minutes or 25 years.”
The prime minister paid special attention to thanking the office workers who had made the last six months ‘a deafening’ when angry voters turned against the coalition.
‘It would have hurt, and it would have been stung, and it would have cut very deep – the abuse that would have gotten on those phone lines over the course of this last month would have been absolutely extraordinary and I am very grateful to those who helped, ”he said.
The prime minister went on to insist that no one should be a victim of improper treatment, bullying, abuse or criminal behavior such as sexual assault.
“It’s not okay,” he said.
Women Minister Marise Payne did not attend the meeting with raised eyebrows last Tuesday
Mr. Morrison urged staff to show respect for each other and their workplace, saying it was the thoughtlessness, the “not understanding or thinking through” and the lack of awareness that needed to change.
“I am the son of a police officer, I know that is where those issues need to be addressed and where justice needs to be done,” he said.
A review of human resources was promised for the coming weeks and months, with a register of the induction and professional conduct of the ministerial staff plus mandatory annual health and safety training.
“This has to be done face-to-face,” Mr. Morrison said in the tape.
He also pledged to establish a centralized human resources department and a personnel reference group to continuously improve the new systems.
Sexual Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins (photo in 2018) will issue her final report on inappropriate work culture in Parliament House in November
A reshuffle of the cabinet is expected within days, while a national summit on preventing violence against women will be organized in the coming months.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins is leading a work culture review at Parliament House, which is expected to release a final report in November.
Mr. Morrison told the 400 staff that the independent advice line was already running and people were already using it.
He announced a ‘proper complaints procedure’ that would be secure and confidential, but stressed that serious misconduct, as contained in Ms. Higgins’ allegations, should be referred to the police.
Former Coalition Officer Brittany Higgins (pictured) says she was raped in Parliament House. The AFP is now conducting an investigation
Mr Morrison’s speech follows a coalition nightmare that began when the rape allegation of former staffer Brittany Higgins became public.
Ms. Higgins says she was raped by a former colleague at Parliament House in March 2019, prompting an AFP investigation.
This was followed by a historic indictment of Attorney General Christian Porter, a claim Mr. Porter denies.
Last week, a video of a senior Coalition staffer masturbating over a Member’s desk in Parliament House was leaked to the media by a former staffer, who admitted that they often shared such depraved images through a Facebook Messenger group.
A coalition employee has already been fired, while three other employees were involved in sharing lewd photos and videos.
Some of the shocking claims included that staffers and MPs used the Parliament House prayer room for sex, and that staffers were purchasing male prostitutes that coalition MPs could use within Parliament House.