Australia PM wants more women in politics after new scandal

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacts while speaking during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Morrison said he was shocked and disgusted by the latest sex scandal to rock his government and vowed to do more to attract women into politics. He said a lawmakers staff member at the center of the latest allegations of sexual misconduct had been terminated over disgusting and sickening behavior. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) (AAP IMAGE)

CANBERRA – Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday he was shocked and disgusted by the latest sex scandal to rock his government and vowed to do more to attract women into politics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a lawmaker’s staff member at the center of the latest allegations of sexual misconduct had been terminated over “disgusting and sickening” behavior.

Ten Network television news reported late Monday that several male government staffers had set up a Facebook Messenger group that enabled them to share images and video of sex acts performed in Parliament House, including on the desks of female lawmakers.

Perceptions of a culture within Parliament House that is toxic for women have been bolstered since a former staffer alleged last month that she had been raped by a senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. She said she did not go to police for fear of losing her job.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has since been criticized for refusing to stand down over an allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl when he was a teen 33 years ago. The complainant has since died and police have ruled out charges.

“I’m shocked and I’m disgusted. It’s just absolutely shameful,” Morrison said of the Facebook Messenger group.

“I was completely stunned, as I have been on more than one occasion over the course of this last month,” Morrison added.

An emotional Morrison said “a very traumatic month” had passed since the staffer went public with her rape allegation and he welcomed the spotlight that events had placed on political culture.