PM’s unawareness of Parliament House assault “unfathomable”: Claydon

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Newcastle Federal MP Sharon Claydon is helping shape new measures to prevent sexual assault in the Labor Party.

The allegations of rape made by Brittany Higgins – the former media aide to the then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Renyolds – has rocked politics in recent weeks.

The fallout from Ms Higgins’ claims raised questions regarding the workplace culture within political parties and Parliament House.

Ms Claydon took aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison, adding it was “unfathomable” that he would not be aware of Ms Higgins’ accusations.

“If he didn’t know then that indicates a really disturbing problem that sits inside his office,” she said.

“Why is it that none of these senior ministers thought that the reported rape of a member of staff in a minister’s office wasn’t something that they would want to share with the Prime Minister?”

“It is unfathomable, and I think the Australian people are asking the same question. How could this be true?

“[Parliament House] is a workplace that should be a model employer. It is essential that this parliament conducts an independent review.

“People should have access to specialised support services that are trauma-informed, that are victim-focused.

“All of these things that are currently missing. That is a huge systemic problem for the Australian parliament as a workplace.”

Ms Claydon is chair of the Labor Party’s national working group on sexual harassment and bullying policies.

Today (Friday 26 February), the working group will submit four documents to the Party’s National Executive body, which will include a national code of conduct.

The documents aim to establish detailed policies to prevent sexual harassment, as well as detailing how allegations should be responded to.

It will also include measures addressing bullying, harassment and complaints.

Ms Claydon said the goal of the new policies was to ensure the Labor Party was a “safe space for people to work in and be a part of.”

“The scope of this review has been enormous,” she explained.

“These policies cover not just people like myself, elected officials of Labor and paid staff, but also unpaid staff, people who are in our campaigns, people who are contracted to do work for the party, at our branch meetings, at formal and informal events.

“The scope is enormous, and is a very strong sign of Labor’s commitment to an ongoing process of review and ensuring that we, as an organisation, as a major political party, as an alternative government in this nation, have the very best policies.”

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