Scott Morrison says he has been “stunned” by reports that male coalition employees had recorded themselves performing sex acts inside Parliament House, including on the desk of a female MP.
Network 10 on Monday aired a number of explosive allegations which have put further pressure on the government to address the workplace culture at Parliament House.
The report alleged that government staffers had brought sex workers into Parliament House for coalition MPs. They had also taken explicit photos of themselves inside the offices of MPs, and would share them with their colleagues.
On one occasion, a staffer allegedly filmed himself committing a sex act on the desk of a female MP, before sending it to his colleagues. That person has reportedly been sacked since the story broke.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, the prime minister said the “disturbing events” aired in the media were “absolutely shameful”. He said he has been “completely stunned” by such reports on more than one occasion over the past month.
“Indeed, reports involving the conduct of staff and, of coalition government members and ministers, but as you know reports of equally disgraceful and despicable activities anonymised of those working in other party,” Morrison said.
“We must put the politics aside of these things, and we must recognise this problem … We must fix it.”
The culture at Parliament House has been under increased scrutiny for the past month, since former ministerial staffer Brittany Higgins alleged that she had been raped inside Parliament House in 2019, and historical rape allegations were made against Attorney-General Christian Porter.
When asked by a reporter what he would say to encourage young women to join the public service or federal politics, in light of the recent revelations, Morrison said:
“Because they want things to be better, and they have something to contribute to that. I believe in my girls, I believe in all the women of Australia.”
According to The New Daily, the Network 10 report has prompted some government staffers to strike on Tuesday morning.
Appearing on 7.30 on Monday, shadow minister for women Tanya Plibersek said the allegations were “revolting” and “came as a complete surprise”. She argued they were part of a wider problem in Australia that must be dealt with.
“Obviously anybody who has behaved in that way shouldn’t be working in Parliament House, but the bigger question is, how do we make sure that this is not just a 24-hour political problem managed away by the government but that real action is taken to provide a safe workplace for women who work in Parliament House,” she said.
More to come…