Grace Tame calls for more action after Scott Morrison apology to women of Parliament Hous

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Grace Tame calls for more action after Scott Morrison apology to women of Parliament Hous

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame has slammed Scott Morrison for his apology to victims of toxic workplace culture in parliament, labelling the speech a “stunt”.

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The Prime Minister, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce issued a statement of acknowledgement to victims of sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament House on Tuesday.

Brittany Higgins was among the seven women who were present in the gallery, and received a special mention from both Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese for her bravery in coming forward to share her story.

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Her close friend Ms Tame was not present but took to Twitter, saying: “How about some proactive, preventative measures and not just these performative, last-minute bandaid electioneering stunts?”

PM’s apology

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Just after midday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rose to deliver a formal apology to the alleged victims of sexual harassment, assault and bullying in parliament.

“I rise to recognise all of those who are why we are here today making this acknowledgment. I particularly want to acknowledge Ms Brittany Higgins, whose experience, and more importantly courage, is the reason we are all here today. And I want to thank her for that,” Mr Morrison said.

“I also want to recognise all of those who have contributed to the Jenkins review. Some 1700 individuals contributed.

“This review speaks of a long-standing culture, generations of culture in this place and in the building before it, of bullying and harassment. A power imbalance, over that time, that has been exploited. And that exploitation, abuse and harassment has played itself out through terrible, traumatic and harrowing experiences.”

Mr Morrison said members of parliament understood “the power of an apology” to “bring healing and bring change”, alluding to former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to Indigenous Australians.

“I am proud that this is a chamber in which we have done this on so many occasions,” the Prime Minister said.

“I am sorry. We are sorry. I am sorry to Ms Higgins for the terrible things that took place here. And the place that should have been a place for safety and contribution, turned out to be a nightmare.

“I am sorry for far more than that. All of those who came before Ms Higgins.

“We are sorry for all of these things, and in doing so, each of us take an accountability for change. For those of us who have perpetuated the bullying and violence, the light will come to those behaviours. As it must.

“But it will follow and respect the rule of law in this country. It will proceed on the basis of fairness and justice. It will be done in the proper way. Justice should come, and it should always be delivered under the rule of law.”

He stressed that sorry was “only the start”, saying he was “determined that we deliver the outcomes of the Jenkins review”. He said parliament was “working together towards implementation” of the review’s 28 recommendations.

“That is our promise to those who are here today, and those watching across Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

“We are working to change this place for the better, together.

“I want this building to be a place where young Australians, and young women in particular, can follow their dreams and live out their beliefs and not have them crushed by brutality and the misuse of power. That’s what I’m dedicated to.

“This work will take many years. It will be ongoing. But we must not backslide. We owe it to all of those who work in this building. We owe it to all of those who strive to work in this building in the future. We owe it to the Australian people, who we all have the good grace and a great privilege to serve.”

Before Mr Morrison spoke, Speaker of the House Andrew Wallace delivered a formal statement to the same effect.

“We acknowledge the unacceptable history of workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces,” Mr Wallace said.

“This issue is of the greatest importance, and the responsibility of all people who work in this place.

“We say sorry.

“Every workplace should be safe and respectful. This place and its members are committed to bringing about lasting and meaningful change to both culture and practise. We have failed to provide this in the past.

“We will aspire, as we should, to set an example for our nation.”

The statement acknowledged and thanked those who came forward to share their experiences, as well as those who did not wish to come forward.

“Your experiences have had profound impacts on your lives. We have heard you and accept your calls for change,” said the Speaker.

“For far too many, it has not been safe or respectful.

“Cultural change has to come from the top. It has to be role modelled and championed by all of us.”

More to come.

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