Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is open to gender quotas after a cabinet minister declared she’s had an “absolute gutful” of sexist behaviour and urged the Coalition to consider the move.
Parliament House has been rocked by a slew of allegations over men’s mistreatment of women, ranging from rape allegations to sex scandals.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said on Tuesday she would no longer be silent.
“I have had an absolute gutful and my conscience will not allow me to remain quiet,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
“While the spotlight has definitely been on behaviours within this building in Canberra, we should not lose sight of the fact that there are numerous stories of many women right across Australia, that speak to the disrespect of women in the workplace.”
Mr Morrison told reporters on Tuesday he was open to gender quotas, saying the old methods had not worked.
“When it comes to that issue, I don’t hold the same reservations that others do,” he said.
“ Why? I think many Liberals may be coming to this view over time; we’ve tried it the other way, we’re not getting the results that we want to see.
“I’d like to see us do better on that front.”
It comes after Ms Andrews confirmed she had shifted her opinion on quotas in recent months.
She is now “certainly open to a discussion” on the issue, saying parliament needed more women to reflect the broader population.
“I’ve always been quite anti-quota. I felt they were a disadvantage to women, because they would be perceived as only getting promoted, only getting a job, because they were a number,” she said.
“The point that I’m at now is that our processes to attract more women into my party, and into the parliament, has not been as successful as they need to be, and we can’t continue doing the same thing and expecting other outcomes.”
The comments come after a Coalition staffer was sacked on Monday for filming himself performing a lewd act on a female MP’s desk and sending it with a group in which similar images were regularly shared.
Ms Andrews said the behaviour, first reported by Channel 10, was “unacceptable on so many levels” and it was disappointing it took a whistleblower to break the story.
“What does it say about an individual that thinks that sort of behaviour is OK? What does it say about a group of people, seems to be men, who passed around those sorts of photographs and thought that that was OK?” Ms Andrews said.
She claimed the identity of other members of the group was common knowledge, and demanded they jumped before they were pushed.
“I really do think that those individuals who have been involved actually need to show a bit of integrity and walk themselves out the door, not wait until their uncovered,” she said.
“Those people know who they are, so stop hiding. Stand up, get out of the building. It’s time to go.”