Morrison told a news conference on Thursday that the government plans to amend the gender discrimination law under measures designed to address sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. He said he hoped to pass the new laws by the end of June.
Morrison said sexual harassment was “immoral and despicable and even criminal” and “denies Australians, especially women, not only their personal safety but their economic security by not being safe at work”.
Zali Steggall, an independent federal politician and lawyer, said the proposed changes to the law were a positive step, but called on the government to make the changes quickly.
“The longer the delay, the more behavior is ignored, and this is not retrospective legislation, so it needs to be passed as soon as possible,” she said.
How the loopholes were created
Australia’s Gender Discrimination Act was passed in 1984.
Gaze told CNN that under the Gender Discrimination Act, politicians and judges are not covered because they do not fall within areas of employment where the law prohibits discrimination – leaving them outside the protections of the law.
The staff of politicians are covered by separate labor law, Gaze said, which does not include protection against gender discrimination.
Legal experts said the loopholes in the law were likely the result of outdated and poorly worded legislation, rather than an attempt to deliberately shield Australian politicians from accusations of sexual harassment.
The original law “reflected the time in which it was created,” Australia Law Council chairman Dr Jacoba Brasch said in a statement. “Australian culture and attitudes have evolved and the SDA needs to be updated to reflect contemporary public expectations,” she said.
Steggall said the loopholes were first identified in an Australian Senate inquiry in 2008, but took more than a decade to be corrected, with blame falling on “all sides of politics for n ‘ have not acted “.
What is in the amendments?
Morrison said Thursday he would adopt all 55 recommendations made by the commissioner, including a blanket ban on gender discrimination in the workplace and a nationwide inquiry every four years to verify progress.
The government’s proposed changes to the Gender Discrimination Act would also make it clear to employers and employees what constitutes gender discrimination and give complainants more time to file their complaints.
But despite Morrison’s June schedule, Steggall said she had drafted new laws that were ready to be introduced once Parliament resumed in May.
Its legislation would fill gaps in the law on sex discrimination and sexual harassment under all circumstances, she said. The law would also penalize organizations or political parties that aid or abet crime.
Brasch said the success of any legislation introduced by the Morrison government would depend on how the new laws were drafted, to clear any “ambiguity” in the legislation and ensure that officials are “personally responsible” for sexual harassment.
“(This is) the key to ensuring that (the problem) is dealt with appropriately, and that problematic conduct does not fall into regulatory loopholes,” she said.