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Question: Sexual Harassment in Parliament

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:05): Under standing order 107, I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Hon. Rob Lucas regarding his public commentary on sexual harassment in the South Australian parliamentary workplace.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I refer to the words spoken in this place yesterday by the Hon. Rob Lucas in relation to the Review of Harassment in the South Australian Parliament Workplace report. In debate on a motion, the member noted the then acting EO commissioner's conclusions, specifically:

It acknowledges that there is a problem within the parliamentary workplace, but it is quite clear in saying that it is at a rate similar to workplaces across Australia; that is, yes, there is a problem within the parliamentary workplace, but it is at a similar rate to workplaces in the nation, whether they be, I imagine, private or public sector workplaces, together with the parliament.

I think too often in this particular debate, the parliamentary workplace is being made out to be much more toxic, much worse than what exists in many other workplaces, and that is not a view, certainly, that I subscribe to.

Said the Hon. Rob Lucas in this place. However, the words the Hon. Rob Lucas did not add were those of the acting commissioner's—most important words—that said there was a lack of complaint handling procedures in the parliamentary workplace, complaints management was not consistent with modern-day workplace standards and there was an 'absence of clear and consistent policy that speaks to behavioural standards required in the parliamentary workplace'.

So, yes, while the rates are similar to other workplaces, the stark, dare I say, toxic difference in this workplace is that we have inadequate or non-existent processes when problems do arise. I note that the member came into this place in 1982, some time indeed before even the passage of the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act, so may well have never worked in a workplace with appropriate policies and procedures to manage the types of sexual harassment complaints canvassed in the report.

So my question to the minister is: have you ever worked in a workplace where all in that workplace were afforded complaints management consistent with modern workplace standards for sexual harassment? If the member has not, is that perhaps why he cannot recognise just how toxic this parliamentary workplace has been?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:07): I reject most of what the honourable member has just said. I made it quite clear yesterday in my contribution to the house that there were a number of issues and recommendations of the parliamentary committee, but also other parts of the broader government framework, not just the parliament—it will need to be Treasury, for example, the police commissioner and others who have responsibility for some of the staff who work in parliament house in terms of improving the reporting arrangements that have been rightly identified as lacking in substance.

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