Judges and Politicians No Longer Exempt from Sexual Harassment Laws in Australia

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This past month, the Australian government announced politicians and judges will no longer be able to receive exemptions from sexual harassment laws. This comes after massive outcries and protests over the rape of a female staffer by a colleague in the House of Parliament and sexual harassment throughout the government system.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would consider all 55 recommendations from the Commissioner on sex discrimination which include a longer time period for complaints to be lodged, a ban on workplace discrimination, mandatory training of company directors, and reporting by listing companies as well as other reforms. 

In a speech to reporters announcing these reforms, Morrison said, “Sexual harassment is unacceptable. It’s immoral and despicable and even criminal…it denies Australians, especially women, not just their personal security but their economic security by not being safe at work.”

Independent Parliament member Zali Steggall told Reuters the reforms should be introduced when Parliament returns in May. “I don’t want to see this as being just another announcement and delay in legislating what needs to be done.”

The Realist Woman’s take:

First of all, how in the hell were judges, politicians, and public servants in general, exempt from sexual harassment laws? I mean, come on. That piece of information alone is nothing short of alarming. So on the one hand they didn’t have to abide by sexual harassment laws, but could they be protected if they were violated? Maybe I’ll do some looking into this because this is insane.

Anyways, the Prime Minister is saying all of the right things as his government moves towards sexual harassment reforms. But he hasn’t had the support of the public due to his standing by the Attorney General when an allegation of rape against him came to light. Morrison’s approval ratings as of now are dismal. I say this to say, his statements on supporting women against sexual harassment may not be sincere and we’ll have to wait and see if Parliament is serious about making new policy to protect women against sexual harassment.