Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek has criticised the Prime Minister over his handling of claims surrounding a culture of workplace harassment in Parliament.

Mr Porter has strenuously denied an allegation of historical rape.

“The revelations about Parliament have been shocking but not necessarily surprising,” Ms Plibersek said.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied a rape accusation made against him.
Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied a rape accusation made against him. (Trevor Collens)

In response to a question as to whether Mr Porter should resign, Ms Plibersek said “there needs to be answers about what happened 30 years ago”.

“It’s completely wrong for the Prime Minister to say that an independent inquiry would be unprecedented … I think the real question is ‘why is the government so determined not to have an inquiry?'”

Mr Porter was accused of raping a former debating teammate in 1988 in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s offices and several federal MPs. He has since denied ever having an intimate relationship with his accuser.

Mr Morrison has stood firm on his stance on the allegations, insisting Mr Porter is an “innocent man” under Australian law and saying he would not remove Mr Porter from his role.

Ms Plibersek said the suggestion an inquiry into the allegations against Mr Porter would override the rule of law is “absolute nonsense”.

Brittany Higgins
Brittany Higgins (Supplied)

“Of course, Christian Porter is entitled to the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty but what troubles me is that that will be no independent inquiry if this government has its way,” she said.

The allegations against Mr Porter follow claims from a former Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, who came forward last month with allegations she was raped in Senator Reynolds’ office by a male colleague in 2019, sparking a wave of media coverage into the issue of workplace culture in the upper tiers of Australian politics.

Ms Plibersek has called for stronger workplace protections for women who experience workplace harassment, saying the current laws for parliamentary employees are “still not strong enough”.

“We have seen some improvement but there’s a lot more there that needs to happen.

“It feels like we’ve been going through this again and again, year after year and the script doesn’t change.”

“A lot of the response has been about politics and it looks a lot like victims and survivors have come second.

Ms Plibersek said she is “deeply concerned” an inquiry will fail to result in any substantive change, siting “decades” of investigations into workplace culture and violence against women in Australia which have so far failed to address the issue.

This content first appear on 9news

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