Sexual harassment rife inside Australian parliament, report finds


FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan, November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

CANBERRA (Reuters) - One in three people working in Australia's parliament have experienced sexual harassment, a report published on Tuesday said, following an independent inquiry into parliamentary workplace culture.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who ordered the review in February after his party came under pressure over its handling of an alleged rape inside the building, said the findings were "appalling" and "disturbing".

The review detailed widespread improper behaviour, and found that more than half of the people who responded had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment, bullying or actual or attempted sexual assault.

"Such experiences leave a trail of devastation for individuals and their teams and undermine the performance of our parliament to the nation's detriment," it said.

Morrison said parliament must clean up its act.

"Like anyone who works in this building, I find the statistics that are presented here, of course appalling and disturbing," he told reporters in Canberra.

"I wish I found them more surprising."

Morrison is under pressure to address parliamentary culture ahead of an election due in the first half of next year. Support for his conservative coalition government fell in the wake of the rape allegation, while thousands of women marched across the country calling for greater equality.

The report made 28 recommendations, including greater gender balance among both lawmakers and their staff, new alcohol policies and the creation of a new human resources office to deal with complaints.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin)

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