ABC NEWS BREAKFAST WITH MICHAEL ROWLAND

SUBJECTS: Social media trolls; Jenkins Report.

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Labor’s Deputy Leader Richard Marles joins us now from Parliament House. Mr. Marles, good morning to you.

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, Michael, how are you?

ROWLAND: Very well, thank you. I want to get to the Jenkins Report in just a moment, but firstly the fresh news this morning the Prime Minister, in about 15 minutes or so, will announce his parliamentary inquiry into big tech, will Labor support that?

MARLES: Well we think that it’s important to be looking at the question of social media and the role that big tech plays in that. Obviously we absolutely support the thrust of what the Government’s trying to do here, which is to stamp out behaviour or trolls on social media and to make that a safer place for the Australian community.

ROWLAND: OK, let’s go to that Jenkins Report. I mean, you know the grim stats more than anybody, 33 per cent of people who took part in the survey, who were currently in the building you’re sitting in have experienced some form of sexual harassment. More than half have experienced either sexual harassment or actual sexual assault or bullying or intimidation. What was your first emotion, Richard Marles, when you first read those figures?

MARLES: Disappointment, a sense of sadness. You know, I was – it’s shocking in the sense that it’s not a surprise to me that there is an issue with culture here.  I think that the conversation over the course of the year has made that clear, and even before that. I – you know, I think we could see that there was an issue of culture in this place – a problematic issue of culture in this place, but the size of the numbers does shock me. And what that speaks to is the extent of the impact of the behaviour and it’s very sad. And this is a moment where we obviously need to be taking pause for thought here and making sure that we change forever-

ROWLAND: OK, excuse the interruption, the Prime Minister says, quite correctly, it’s a multi-party issue in Parliament House. We’ll have a Liberal Party senator on a bit later on, a Greens senator too. But I want to ask you, what will the Labor Party do to make life better, make life safer for parliamentary employees, particularly female employees?

MARLES: Well it is right that it’s a multi-party issue, no-one for any moment is suggesting that this is an issue which only belongs to one part or one side of politics. I mean, we have our own processes within the ALP, which enables people to make complaints, to report issues for them to be dealt with. And we try to make sure that that process is as up-to-date and modern as possible, we’ve updated it this year. But in terms of the recommendations of this report, we will be working with our staff, first and foremost, to make sure that we get their input to have – so that we have a response which encapsulates their views when we do respond to this. But I think more than any of that, we’ve just, all of us, got to take responsibility for what’s happening here. I mean, being in this building is a real privilege, and it shouldn’t be a leave pass for bad behaviour, in fact it should be completely the opposite. This building should be – set the example of workplaces and safe workplaces around the country. Clearly, that is not what has happened. That is what we need to aspire to. And this is the change moment where going forward we simply – we will be judged as those who occupied leadership roles in this building if we do not do the right thing and if we do not implement a culture change going forward.

ROWLAND: You will indeed. Let’s talk about leadership, one of the recommendations of Kate Jenkins was the showing of much greater respect on the floor of Parliament. Yet little over more than an hour later, we had your leader Anthony Albanese calling Peter Dutton a ‘boofhead’. That wasn’t a great look, was it?

MARLES: Look, I think Parliament is a robust place. And I think the question of culture needs to be looked across at every level. You know, I don’t think that comment is of particular concern.

ROWLAND: You don’t think so?

MARLES: Well, I don’t think that comment is of concern. But I think it is right that we need to be looking at culture across the Parliament, and that includes the way in which we relate to each other. And I come back to the starting point that this is about ultimately trying to make sure that this is the example in the country of providing a safe and respectful workplace for those people who work here and particularly women. And we need to be making sure that coming out of this report, we take this moment to change the culture of Parliament forever.

ROWLAND: You’re so right, it needs change. It needs urgent change, hopefully that happens sooner rather than later. Richard Marles, really appreciate your time this morning, thank you.

MARLES: Thanks Michael.

ENDS

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