E&OE TRANSCRIPT | SUBJECT: The right to feel safe working at Parliament House.
TOM CONNELL, HOST: The Deputy Labor Leader, Richard Marles. There is obviously all the aspects around culture, there’s also just what actually happened. Now, there is a parliamentary inquiry looking into the role of security at Parliament House that night. It was supposed to be in camera. Should it be public now where possible, given Brittany has gone public and wants all of the information out there?
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, it has been in camera up until now. And I don’t know the answer to that question- and in a sense, I can’t know the answer to that question, because I think to properly answer that, you would need to have looked at the material which has gone before this committee up until this moment in time. And I think what Brittany Higgins wants, I would imagine is a relevant consideration for them but you would need to have looked at all that material to be able to properly answer whether this should now come into the public domain. So ultimately, I think that’s got to be a matter for the Committee itself.
CONNELL: Should there though, at least be from the Committee, no longer a thought that this should all be in camera – everything about this private? Because there was a concern about a very private matter. Brittany Higgins has gone public. So there should at least be a consideration; well, should we be making this public, where possible, to get the truth out there?
MARLES: Look, I’m sure that is something that those on the Committee are considering. But again, you know, I hesitate to fully answer the question, not knowing what material they have before them. And that’s, that’s going to be the critical issue in terms of those members determining whether this this remains in camera.
CONNELL: Okay. And what about, you mentioned this not being a partisan issue, do you think Labor has any skeletons in the closet?
MARLES: I think, this is an issue that is really important that we’re not seeing as a partisan issue. I don’t think anyone has a mortgage on any kind of high moral ground here based on a party-party basis. This is about making sure that women feel safe here in Parliament House. It is about making sure that the culture of politics and working in politics is such that it’s safe for women, but encourages women to participate. Now, obviously, there’s a whole lot of women who participate in politics now and they obviously make an enormous contribution, but not enough in the sense that more women should be involved in politics- but when you see, you know, something like this, I mean, it’s an enormous disincentive for women to be involved.
CONNELL: I mean, you’ve been on both sides, you’ve been a Minister, you’re Deputy Labor Leader, how do you deal with that? How do you set up an office where you think this sort of thing could never happen?
MARLES: Well, obviously, I very much hope that it would never happen. And in my time here, it hasn’t happened. I do my best to have a culture which is sensitive to women and women feeling comfortable working in my office. Knowing how, you know, that such a pool of talent and ability lies there, we want to draw on the entirety of our society here. And this is a- parliament house and politics is a great place to work, a great field in which to work. It’s exciting. People love it. I love it. And that is in large measure because of the sense of making a difference. But the privilege that comes with that is not a licence for bad behaviour, the sort of long hours, the high energy that doesn’t provide excuses. In fact, it ought to be exactly the opposite. Precisely because of the work we’re involved in more broadly, the privilege of this place, it needs to be a model employer. I mean, the other answer to your question is, you know, there does need to be the proper form and structure in place; so we’ve had a sexual harassment policy in the ALP for some time. We’ve been up- we’re in the process of updating it right now and an update on that is imminent. and I’m sure that’ll be a living document.