NEWCASTLE MP Sharon Claydon said she is "sickened" by reports four women were allegedly sexually assaulted by a former Liberal staffer, saying it is "no secret there are systemic cultural issues" in Parliament House and she is determined to help make it a safer workplace.
"I feel sickened," Ms Claydon said.
"Some of the more criminal elements of the allegation have been shocking, but it is no secret to anybody working in this building there are systemic cultural issues that go to power inbalances in relationships, to a long culture that this place has been operating in this manner since Federation.
"It often has been full of men until more recent times... you're trying to always to have a Parliament that reflects the society you represent.
"As sickened as I am by the reported rape and the subsequent reports that the alleged perpetrator may in fact have had a pattern of criminal behaviour taking place here - it rocks me to my core - but it makes me even more determined and stronger to ensure that the Parliament as a workplace really insists on becoming a model employer."
The government has announced four inquiries, into the federal department structure for handling complaints; the workplace in Parliament; Liberal Party culture and when Mr Morrison's office knew of the incident. Ms Claydon said Labor has called for the first two to be independent, bipartisan reviews that ensure the safety of anyone who works in Parliament.
She said Labor had not yet been contacted by Senator Simon Birmingham, who she said she understood would be doing "cross party consultations".
"Labor has articulated very strongly that we would expect that review to examine issues including the assessment of the existing policies, processes and that workplace culture, including the current piece of legislation that governs the members of parliament staff act; we want to see a truly independent complaints process that provides unbiased advice for complainants centred on their wellbeing," she said.
"This is critical, that we have properly resourced specialist support services so people are actually trained in trauma informed counselling.
"The really hard work is cultural change, this is long term hard work that is required of all of us.
"There has to be, in my view, a properly resourced and thorough process of training and education that goes on.
"This would happen in other comparable places of employment of this size and it's astonishing that it's not happening in Parliament."
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said she welcomed the inquiry but said it would have limited value if the questions at the heart of the matter weren't addressed.
"You can have inquiry after inquiry but if you've got the Prime Minister who is the head of the show who either hasn't been informed or was informed but isn't telling us he was informed, the rot starts at the top," she said.
"I hope they lead to safer workplaces for everyone and I hope they take in the chain of communication in the Prime Minister's office because it seems to be that's where the breakdown really is."
Ms Swanson said it was "inconceivable" Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not know about Brittany Higgins' alleged rape in 2019.
"It's inconceivable in my mind that he didn't know and if he didn't, why didn't he?" she said.
"If his chief of staff knew and didn't tell the Prime Minister about something that serious then that person should be tendering their resignation.
"To be honest it's completely implausible he didn't know a month out from the election, it's a crime that's occurred 50 metres from his office thereabouts.
"If he didn't know - which I think is inconceivable - the Prime Minister's Office needs to be absolutely turned on its end.
"If he did know and he's saying he didn't, then that's reprehensible."
Ms Swanson said Mr Morrison had inferred "this is not one side of politics, this is everyone".
"The Labor Party has almost 50 per cent representation and that make a difference, it does make a difference in caucus, there's a different dynamic when there are more women in a group that speak up and it does engender respect," she said.
Ms Claydon said she was "distressed" at Mr Morrison's responses to questions about whether and when he or his staff knew about Ms Higgins' alleged rape in 2019.
"I think a lot of us struggle with that," she said.
"It says one of two things, it definitely demonstrates an enormous gap in the duty of care arrangement and secondly it begs the question, if all of that is true and the Prime Minister still says he had no idea, is there some kind of culture of covering up these matters from the boss?"
Ms Claydon has been leading a review of Labor's policies, as chair of the national executive working group reviewing sexual harassment and bullying policies and procedures. She will present four draft documents to the ALP national executive on Friday.
Ms Claydon said she was "disappointed" the government had not yet implemented the recommendations of the Respect@Work Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report, which it received last March.
She said many other parliaments including New Zealand's were implementing "serious reform agendas" about these matters.
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