Australian PM speaks up amid protests against sexual violence
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday acknowledged the rising dissatisfaction with his handling of a series of allegations about the mistreatment of women in politics. His comments came just hours after the Australian media reported allegations from an anonymous whistleblower about lewd behavior by male government staff members in Parliament House. Here are more details on this.
'I'm shocked and disgusted'
"I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me," Morrison told reporters in Canberra today. "We must do better...We must get this House in order," he said. While the Prime Minister did not offer concrete proposals to improve workplace culture in the Parliament, he insisted that changes would be announced in the coming weeks.
Morrison said he would speak with government staffers
Describing the report as "shocking and disgusting," Morrison said he would speak with all government staff members to remind them of their responsibilities. The reported allegations included men filming themselves while performing solo sexual acts inside the Parliament, including on the desk of a female MP. In fact, one government staff member has been removed from his position, a Minister said on Tuesday.
The PM spoke after videos were leaked to the media
The videos and pictures were leaked to the Australian media by a former government staff member, who chose not to reveal their identity. According to them, certain people had used the prayer room to have sex and even brought sex workers into the Parliament House. They described a culture of "men thinking that they can do whatever they want" in Australian politics.
Protests against sexual abuse rocked Australia last week
The ruling coalition in Australia has come under fire in recent weeks following allegations of rape by a Liberal Party staff member - Brittany Higgins - inside a government Minister's office in 2019. The issue snowballed into a larger crisis as tens of thousands of people rallied across Australia last week, even leading to Morrison losing popularity in opinion polls.
Australian federal elections to be held by May 2022
The scandal has surfaced just one year before Australia elects its next government, as the federal elections will be held there by May 2022. Experts say the ongoing protests and allegations should sound a warning for the governing Liberal Party.