Australian PM admits public anger after report of lewd acts in parliament

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to defend his government’s actions in working to improve gender equality, but today he accepted there was broad dissatisfaction.— AAP Image/Kelly Barnes via Reuters
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to defend his government’s actions in working to improve gender equality, but today he accepted there was broad dissatisfaction.— AAP Image/Kelly Barnes via Reuters

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CANBERRA, March 23 — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison today acknowledged mounting dissatisfaction with his handling of a series of allegations about the mistreatment of women in politics, as he vowed to drive cultural change.

Morrison’s comments came just hours after The Australian newspaper and Channel 10 reported allegations and images from an anonymous whistleblower about lewd behaviour by male government staff in Parliament House.

They included the men filming themselves performing solo sex acts, including on the desk of a female Member of Parliament.

One government staff member has been removed from his position, a government minister said today.

Morrison described the report as “disgusting” and said he would speak with all government staff members today to remind them of their responsibilities.

The ruling Liberal/National coalition has come under sustained pressure in recent weeks following allegations of rape by a Liberal party staff member, including one in the office of a Cabinet minister.

The issue spurred tens of thousands of people to rally around Australia last week and led to a slump in Morrison’s standing in opinion polls.

Morrison has sought to defend his government’s actions in working to improve gender equality, but today he accepted there was broad dissatisfaction.

“I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

“We must do better... we must get this house in order.”

However, he offered few concrete proposals to improve the workplace culture in parliament, insisting that changes would be announced in the coming weeks. — Reuters

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