An angry and emotional Scott Morrison has condemned the sickening sex acts performed by Coalition staffers in Parliament House – and admits he must show more leadership for women who feel let down by his handling of a succession of sex scandals.
A disturbing report on Monday night showed images allegedly shared by senior staffers of solo sex acts inside Parliament House, and allegations of parties involving escorts and ‘rent boys’.
The report came just weeks after political staffer Brittany Higgins said she was raped inside Parliament House and further revelations of the mistreatment of women came to light – prompting the Prime Minister to hold a press conference on Tuesday.
He called on politicians and staff to ‘get this house in order’ and choked back tears as he spoke about his daughters, wife and mother – adding ‘I say to you girls – I will not let you down’.
‘They motivate me every day on this issue,’ he said. ‘And to them, I say to you girls, I will not let you down.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison broke down as he condemned the sickening sex acts performed by Coalition staffers that emerged on Monday night
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with his wife Jenny at the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra on January 25. He choked back tears as he spoke about his family on Tuesday – adding ‘I say to you girls – I will not let you down’
The Prime Minister declined to attend last weekend’s March For Justice rally which called for stronger action against a perceived sexist culture in Canberra, and told protesters that they were lucky to live in a country where such rallies could be held.
However the latest allegations prompted a more forthright stance.
‘I am shocked and disgusted – it is shameful,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We must put the politics aside of these things, and we must recognise this problem, acknowledge it and we must fix it.’
Mr Morrison broadened out his response, citing not only sexual misconduct allegations but other impediments he said women faced in the workplace, where many complained of being under-valued and underpaid.
‘Whether this is unconscious deafness and blindness, or whether it is wilful malevolence that is behind all of this, it must be acknowledged, it must be called out, and it must stop,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘That is all our job, it is my job, it is my ministers jobs, it is my members and senators jobs, it is your job.’
The Prime Minister did become defensive when asked by a Sky News journalist about whether he, as the head of the government, should accept personal culpability and alluded to a sex misconduct complaint with News Corporation.
‘Right now, you would be aware that in your own organisation there is a person who has had a complaint made against them or harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet,’ Mr Morrison said.
He said he was aware many Australian women were not happy with his government’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct in Canberra.
‘I acknowledge many have not liked or appreciated some of my own personal responses to this over the course of the last month, I accept that,’ he said.
‘Whether that was seeking to openly share how I try and deal with such dramatic events, people might like the fact that I discuss these with my family – they are the closest people in my world to me.’
Mr Morrison was criticised when Ms Higgins came forward with her allegations for saying his wife Jenny had given him new perspective by asking him ‘what would you want to happen if it were our girls?’
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, tasked with an inquiry into workplace conditions in Parliament House, will address the Coalition party room.
Brittany Higgins at the March 4 Justice on March 15. She shocked Australia when she came forward with allegations she was raped by a male colleague in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds
This image shared by a whistleblower shows a man sitting at a desk in Parliament House exposing himself
Industry Minister Karen Andrews says other individuals involved in the scandal should stop hiding and leave.
‘I have had an absolute gutful and my conscience will not allow me to remain quiet,’ she told reporters.
‘There are some specific instances in this building that are absolutely unacceptable. What does it say about an individual that thinks that sort of behaviour is okay?’
Mr Morrison hit out at News Corp in the question-and-answer session after his press conference – saying there were new allegations being investigated by the organisation involving the harassment of a woman in a woman’s toilet
The sexual acts – some of which took place on the desks of federal female MPs – were carried out more than two years ago but only came to light after one of the staffers dobbed the rest of them in.
A government source told ABC News on Monday evening one of the staffers was sacked as the bombshell allegations came to light.
A whistleblower shared footage of a staffer performing a sex act on himself inside a female Liberal MPs office.
MR MORRISON’S SPEECH IN FULL
‘We must put the politics aside of these things, and we must recognise this problem, acknowledgment, we must fix it.
‘This has been a very traumatic month. It began with Brittany Higgins and her revelations of what took place in this very building.
‘I remember that day very well, I was equally shocked and stunned at receiving that use also.
‘These events have triggered, right across this building and indeed right across the country, women who have put up with this rubbish and this crap for their entire lives, as their mothers did, as their grandmothers did.
‘It has been going on, we have been talking about it in this place for a month, they have been living with it for their entire lives.
‘The women listening to me today know that to be true, so as much as it has been a topic of discussion here, and around the country specifically in relation to these disgraceful acts, it is something that has been the lived experience of Australian women for a very long time, and I welcome the spotlight that has now been placed on this.
‘I acknowledge that many have not liked or unappreciated some of my own personal responses to this over the course of the last month, I accept that.
‘Whether that was seeking to openly share how I try and deal with such dramatic events, people might like the fact I discuss these with my family, they are the closest people in my world to me.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny at the annual Mid Winter Ball at Parliament House in September 2019. He told his family emotionally during Tuesday’s press conference: ‘They motivate me every day on this issue’
‘But is how I deal with things, I always have. I have grown up in a loving and supportive family, and I discussed this is my family and those who are closest to me – no offence was intended by me by saying that I discuss these issues with my wife.
‘Equally, that is in no way indicated that these events had not already dramatically affected me already at that point. Equally, I accept that many were unhappy with the labels that are used on the day of the protest. No offence was intended by that either.
‘I could have chosen different words, I have already explained those matters in the house. What I am even more concerned about, even more importantly, I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me.
‘I have been doing a lot of listening over this past month, not for the first time, now is not the time for me to run over whether as a Minister for immigration or a Treasurer, or a Minister for Social Services, the keen interest I have shown in these issues, I’m not going to do that today.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public with the allegation she was raped by a male colleague inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019
‘Particularly on these issues over the last because of mother I have been listening carefully, I have had many colleagues, I have had many friends and others that I have regular contact with, talk with me openly about the issues, other traumatic things that they have had to deal with over their lifetimes and members of their family.
‘Let me tell you what I have heard. Women are too afraid to call out, bad behaviour for fear of losing a job for being intimidated in the workplace.
‘That is not OK, it is not their fault, it is the environment we have allowed to be created. Women who are afraid to walk to their car from the train, and they carry their keys in their hand like a knife for fear of being attacked. That is not OK. That is not acceptable.
‘In this country, our country as great as Australia, women walk daily that fear.
I have heard that women are overlooked, talked over, by men, whether it is in board rooms, meeting rooms, rooms, media conferences, cabinets, or anywhere else.
‘Overlooked and treated like they have nothing valuable to contribute. I have heard about being marginalised, women being intimidated, women being belittled, women being diminished, and women being objectified. That is not OK.
‘I have heard that women, when offered a job, take the salary offered because they do not feel they can ask for more. Whereas the blokes do. And they get it. That is not OK.
‘Whether this is unconscious deafness and blindness, or whether it is wilful malevolence that is behind all of this, it must be acknowledged, it must be called out, and it must stop.
‘That is all our job, it is my job, it is my ministers jobs, it is my members and senators jobs, it is your job.
‘This is not something that is of a scale that any government can simply change, it is something we must change as a society because we know it happens all over this country, but for me and my house, the house I work in here, then we must take responsibility, it is our problem here, it is our responsibility here, and I’m committed to dealing with that.
‘We must do better in this place. All of us, and in our country we must do better.
‘Now, forgive me this indulgence, I want women to have at least the same opportunities and the same voice and the same safety as men in this country.
‘I have the deepest of vested interest, criticise me if you like for speaking about my daughters, but they are the centre of my life. My wife is the centre of my life. My mother, my widowed mother is the centre of my life.
‘They motivate me every day on this issue. They have motivated me my entire life, they have taught me the values and the faith has sustains me every single day in this job.
‘Which is why I am here, I owe them everything. And to them I say to you girls, I will not let you down.
‘To the many other women who are in this place, who have shared their stories with me, I thank you for your feedback, your honesty, your support, your council, and your courage.
‘I know there are plenty of women who work in this building today, whether they be members or senators, investors, shadow ministers, staff, journalists, who say why should I bother? Why should I bother? Why should I not just walk away?
‘There has never been a more important time for women to stand in this place.
‘I want to see more women in this place, I have done anything to get more women in this place and I intend to do more. I have put more women in my cabinet than any other Prime Minister has before, and I look forward to doing more. I need women to stand with me as we go about this, as we stand together, I needed that you stated this place, I need them to stand right where they are, I did that to continue to blaze the trail right here this place, by their courage and I call for question.’
The anonymous source also told Ten News MPs and government staffers used a small prayer room on the upper level of Parliament House to have sex.
‘I could probably say there’s very little meditation or prayer going on in that room,’ he said.
He also claimed prostitutes and ‘rent boys’ were brought into Parliament House for the pleasure of Coalition MPs.
‘Having sex, procuring rent boys… in Parliament House, procured by staffers for MPs,’ he told Ten News.
A man is pictured pointing at a female Liberal MP’s Parliamentary desk in a still from a video. He goes on to commit a lewd sexual act on the desk
Mr Morrison was visibly emotional on Tuesday morning as he called on Canberra to ‘get this house in order’
Scott Morrison fires a shot at the nation’s biggest media company as he brutally shuts down a reporter by exposing an ugly ‘bathroom complaint’
Sky News reporter Andrew Clennell suggested Mr Morrison’s job would be in ‘jeopardy’ if he was the boss of a business and these allegations had been made ‘on your watch’.
Clennell questioned: ‘Doesn’t it look like you have lost control of your ministerial staff?’
Mr Morrison replied: ‘I will let you editorialise as you like, Andrew, but if anyone in this room wants to offer up the standards in their own work places as comparison I would invite you to do so.’
Mr Morrison then went on to detail an alleged complaint at Clennell’s organisation.
‘Right now, you would be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them or harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet,’ he said.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham condemned the behaviour on Monday and said those involved would be sacked.
‘I am disgusted and appalled,’ he said. ‘It shows a complete disregard for all that our parliamentary democracy stands for.’
‘It also demonstrates an enormous disrespect for the employing member or senator in relation to those staff and those officers.
Some staffers have used a small prayer room on the upper level of Parliament House to have sex, a whistleblower said in bombshell revelations
The staffer who was fired (left, pictured with Julie Bishop) allegedly filmed himself performing a sexual act inside a female Liberal MP’s office
‘It equally shows a complete contempt for the Australian taxpayers who have paid the wages for such staff and, in my opinion, any individuals who engaged in such activity ought to prepare to pack their bags and leave the building for good.’
The whistleblower told The Australian there was a culture of men who thought they could do ‘whatever they want’.
‘I don’t think they’ve broken any laws — but morally, they’re bankrupt,’ he said.
Ten News and The Australian obtained some of the lewd videos and images filmed inside Parliament House.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins (pictured in 2018) will hand down her final report on inappropriate workplace culture in Parliament House in November
Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the behaviour in the strongest possible terms and urged anyone who knew of more to come forward.
‘Everyone has a right to feel safe at work. The reports aired tonight are disgusting and sickening,’ he said.
‘It’s not good enough, and is totally unacceptable. The people who come to work in this building are better than this.
‘The actions of these individuals show a staggering disrespect for the people who work in parliament, and for the ideals the parliament is supposed to represent.’
Mr Morrison said he had identified the staff member at the centre of the allegations and terminated his employment immediately.
One staffer was confirmed to have been sacked on Monday. Finance Minister Simon Birmingham (pictured) said the others would also lose their jobs
‘I urge anybody with further information to come forward. There is also the serious incident support line that we have established that staff and former staff are encouraged to use,’ he said.
‘I will have more to say on this and the cultural issues we confront as a Parliament in coming days.’
Senator Birmingham said it further demonstrated the need for the inquiry by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins into parliament’s workplace culture.
Parliament House, Canberra, has been rocked by fresh allegations of sexual depravity as senior Coalition staffers allegedly filmed themselves in sexual acts on female MP’s desks and in the Parliamentary prayer room – and shared them on Facebook Messenger
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins is leading a review of workplace culture in Parliament House in the wake of the Brittany Higgins rape allegations.
Ms Higgins says she was raped by a former colleague inside Parliament House in March 2019.
Ms Jenkins’ review is expected to issue a final report in November.