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Question: Harassment in the Parliamentary Workplace

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It is a very brief explanation. We all know that the report has now been given to the presiding members. We all know that this Review of Harassment in the South Australian Parliament Workplace will involve not just the parliament but indeed leadership from political parties, so my question to the Treasurer is what leadership will he now enact to ensure that crossbenchers and other members of political parties other than the government are involved in fixing the mess that we find ourselves in?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I'm sure I join with all members in saying that there were some distressing claims outlined in the report that we all received yesterday. I think the Premier and the Deputy Premier, in terms of leadership from the government, are taking (have taken and are taking) the lead in relation to the government's response to the report. They have certainly outlined this morning, as I understand it, a clear path—that the government will consider those decisions for which it has responsibility.

There are some that the parliament has some responsibility for in terms of its responsibilities, and there is I think one particular recommendation which is actually a responsibility for the political parties. So that's a responsibility for the Greens and SA-Best, and the Labor and Liberal parties in terms of a political response. I'm delighted to be able to indicate that I believe, whilst it's not referred to, that the party which has demonstrated through its organisation that it has already established procedures for distressing claims such as those outlined is indeed the Liberal Party.

There were significant changes instituted nationally last year, and they were instituted in South Australia during last year for the Liberal Party organisation as a result of other concerns that had been expressed initially at the federal level I think, but in other states and territories as well. So I think there is a collective shared responsibility for a range of groups, organisations and political parties.

I will join with my leaders—the Premier and the Deputy Premier, and indeed my ministerial colleagues and others—in participating in the government response and also being a party to the parliamentary response. There are one or two areas where, as Treasurer, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for the Public Sector, I have—specific responsibilities may be too strong a word—certainly a very specific involvement.

One recommendation was in relation to SafeWork SA, so I have had a meeting this morning with the leadership of Treasury outlining the various recommendations which might impact on units or divisions within my portfolio of responsibilities. Each of those divisions or units need to read the report and provide advice to me as Treasurer in relation to options to respond.

Clearly, Electorate Services is a division within Treasury currently. I think previously it was within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet at one stage under the former government. It's now within Treasury and therefore there are a range of recommendations that relate to practices they engage in on behalf of members and staff in electorate offices, and also staff in the Legislative Council offices in Parliament House.

Also, the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment will potentially have a role. She reports through to me, although she is obviously an independent officer, in relation to issues that might relate to the Public Sector Management Act or the Public Sector Code of Ethics. Those types of issues are areas that she is actively engaged in as well.

I can assure the honourable member that I, as one member of the government, and collectively, as the Premier speaks on behalf of us all, we take the report seriously. In relation to the recommendations, we will need to see the practicality of how some of the recommendations, if they are agreed by government and/or the parliament, might be implemented.

That will be a challenge, but it is ultimately a decision, as I said, firstly for the government in relation to a small number of the recommendations, and then the parliament, which will obviously involve a government view but also the views of the opposition and crossbench parties in terms of coming to a landing on those areas which are the responsibility of either house of parliament or collectively of the parliament as a whole.

 

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