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Motion: Parliament Workplace Cultural Review Project

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.A. Franks:

That this council—

1. Notes that on 19 February 2020 this council resolved that the President invite the SA Equal Opportunity Commissioner to make recommendations for reforms to facilitate the handling of harassment in this parliamentary workplace;

2. Acknowledges the resultant offer from the Equal Opportunity Commissioner in her correspondence of 13 March 2020 that was tabled on 24 March 2020 and outlined a proposal for a four-month review process of the workplace culture of the South Australian parliament;

3. Notes that the date in the proposal offer for a review to have been undertaken and reported back to the parliament was 31 August 2020, so this project has not only not yet been initiated but its original completion date has now passed; and

4. Requests the President urgently progress this SA parliament workplace cultural review project under the auspices of the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, with a view that it report back no later than the first sitting week of 2021.

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise to acknowledge both speakers today and thank the opposition for its support of this motion. I note that this motion was not necessarily a Greens' motion as such, it was a motion moved by a member of parliament who has had enough of the culture of this place, which belongs in another place and time and not in this century and can no longer be tolerated. The object of this motion was following up on what I thought was an amendment to a previous motion to take a single issue, but to identify that this is a systemic problem.

It is a little rich for the Treasurer to stand here and say that a concurrent motion would need to be moved in the other place. If the government does not have the ability to move a concurrent motion in the other place, what do they have the ability to actually achieve within this government? A motion is the simplest, easiest possible achievement this government could undertake. In fact, it could suspend standing orders this very hour and pass such a motion should it so choose.

What the Treasurer has actually said today is that this government chooses not to act, chooses not to take the simplest measures to ensure that we have a workplace free from sexual harassment, archaic behaviours and a culture that benefits those who perpetuate such behaviours by looking away and feigning incapacity to act. A simple motion in the other place in this next hour is what I would expect from this government right now. What we are getting is a complete abrogation of their duties to ensure that this parliament of our state has the highest standards of our state in terms of a workplace instead of possibly one of the lowest and most retrograde workplace environments in this nation.

I cannot actually express how deeply disgusted I am with the response today from the Treasurer and how deeply disappointed I am in this parliament's failure, through its leadership, to act on this matter. We have had months and months and months with just this particular part of the debate. We have not had just years but decades of extraordinary unacceptable behaviours that have driven people out of their workplaces, that have driven people to quit their jobs, that have left people unable to take recourse that they would take in any other workplace in this nation. It is not good enough for the Treasurer to stand here today and say he does not even have the ability to move a motion in the other place.

I am sure he will get the full support of the opposition even if he could not convince some of his colleagues and I am sure some would cross the floor to finally have a workplace that is indeed one that all would want to be working in or would want to send their children to work in. I note that the Treasurer called the price tag that the equal opportunity commissioner associated with the four-month extensive undertaking that she and her office have offered to do for us 'the kicker'—$152,000 is apparently a kicker. Apparently, when it comes to workplace harassment, sexual assault—harassment that is unacceptable in any other workplace in this nation—it is a little bit too much to actually put some money behind eradicating it once and for all and changing the culture.

I am deeply disappointed that the Treasurer has provided that government response today. I hope this motion will pass the Legislative Council and it will sit there waiting for the other place to move that concurrent motion. I am sure it could come from a number of sources but indeed the support could also come from many more sources than it has done today.

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