Lucy Turnbull and Therese Rein have urged Scott Morrison to establish an independent authority to review sexual harassment complaints.
The wives of former Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd also referred to an up-coming review into workplace culture in Parliament House.
The pair want submissions to the review be kept confidential to encourage people to come forward and give honest testimony about their experiences.
Dismay that sexual harassment and sexism still exist
The two prominent businesswomen spoke about the issue on the ABC’s ‘Afternoon Briefing’ program.
Rein expressed dismay that sexual harassment and sexism still exist in the country’s corridors of power.
“I find myself incredulous that the issues that I and my friends were facing when we left university in the early 80s and entered the workplace, that those issues remain exactly the same now,” Ms Rein said.
“It’s not better. And it’s a huge disappointment and people are fed up with it.”
Turnbull also described a culture of long work hours and heavy drinking that exists in Canberra.
“Everybody there’s under a lot of pressure and there is a tendency to let off steam through drinking,” she said.
“So, it’s a situation that’s fraught with risk and fraught with danger.”
Morrison urged to establish an independent authority
Turnbull and Rein called on Scott Morrison to implement the recommendations made by the ‘[email protected]’ report released a year ago.
The landmark report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins made more than 50 recommendations.
However, the Morrison government has largely ignored it.
The report calls for the establishment of an independent authority to investigate incidents of sexual harassment in addition to other misconduct.
“I absolutely agree there needs to be an independent authority responsible for reviewing each complaint as they come forward,” Ms Rein said.
“That independent body needs to have its funding assured and not [be] subject to future budget cuts.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says the government’s failure to act on the [email protected] report is unsurprising.
“The Sex Discrimination Commissioner is part of the Human Rights Commission, and the government has long ignored their reports,” he said.
“So, therefore, I’m not surprised they’ve ignored the very important report of Kate Jenkins.”
Mr Heffernan also said it’s virtually impossible to hold elected representatives to the same standard as regular employees.
“What’s been shocking over the last couple of weeks is seeing just how tone deaf and how inept our leaders have been,” he said.
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