Following new revelations by female MPs Karen Andrews and Kylea Tink about poor parliamentary behaviour, the Greens say progress on enforcement of the parliamentary codes of conduct is desperately needed.
Recommendation 22 of the Set the Standards report was that the Houses of Parliament should establish, within 12 months, an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission (IPSC) to enforce codes of conduct. The IPSC was initially expected in October 2023, but that timeframe has since been updated to February 2024.
Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on Women, Larissa Waters
“It was disappointing overnight to hear from further women in parliament who have experienced inappropriate behaviour from their colleagues in this place.
“When female MPs are still being subject to sexist intimidatory behaviour, you can only imagine how much worse it is for staff - indeed the Set the Standard report showed more than half of those surveyed had experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment or actual or attempted sexual assault.
“One of the hurdles identified in Set the Standards was that staff are reluctant to come forward if there is no real prospect that an MP will be sanctioned. Consequences are crucial.
“The PWSS has been a huge step forward but, without enforcement powers, it cannot solve the problem.
“The Greens have been calling for an enforceable Code of Conduct for politicians and senior staff for years. Without genuine consequences – such as suspension from parliament, loss of entitlements or directions to provide a public apology - there is little to deter against bad behaviour.
“Both Houses of parliament have now endorsed Codes of Conduct for behaviour, but there is still no independent body to investigate breaches and enforce the Codes. Work to set up that body that will enforce those Codes, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission, is complex, but there is no doubt it’s been too slow.
“The Greens are disappointed that the original timeframe to establish the IPSC has blown out from October 2023 to February 2024, and we will continue to insist that no further delays occur.
“While that work to establish the IPSC is being done, it is a responsibility of every MP to act consistently with the commitments they made when endorsing the Codes, and for all parties to act quickly in response to complaints.”