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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9205

Sexual Harassment


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:20): My question is to the Minister for Communications, Senator Fifield. Minister, yesterday you told the ABC that you'd be raising the issue of sexual harassment within the media industry. I assume you've treated this issue with the urgency that it deserves and, as such, I would like the minister today to inform the chamber of the outcome of these conversations, of what steps have been taken and of what steps have been committed to by the broadcasters and media industry players.


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (14:20): I thank Senator Hanson-Young for her question. In an interview yesterday on ABC Radio National with Fran Kelly, she raised the recent coverage that there has been in relation to harassment in the media industry. I said to Ms Kelly that there was never an excuse for harassment, that there was never a justification for harassment and that anyone who was in that situation should bring that forward to the relevant management of the organisation and, where appropriate, bring it forward to relevant law enforcement agencies. In the conversation with Ms Kelly, she asked if this was something that was taken seriously, and I said that absolutely it was and that, in the meetings that I have frequently with media executives, I would be emphasising that this is a serious and important matter. I should note that a number of media organisations have, over recent days, indicated that they have appropriate workplace policies in these areas and that they take these matters extremely seriously.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson-Young, a supplementary question.



Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:22): I find it disappointing that the minister hasn't had these conversations as yet. I ask a supplementary question: when will the minister hold these meetings? We know already that Mr Don Burke has been named, but we also know—

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator O'Sullivan interjecting

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I will take some of the interjections from over there. We are talking about the sexual harassment of women. What is the minister going to do about it? (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right. Order around the chamber, from the rear corner and on my right. Senator Fifield is on his feet.




Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (14:22): I thank Senator Hanson-Young for the supplementary question. As I've indicated, I meet frequently, as you would expect, with media executives in the country, and these will be matters that I will be discussing with them, and I will be emphasising the importance of having appropriate workplace policies and saying that there are appropriate responses when these matters are raised.

The PRESIDENT: A final supplementary question, Senator Hanson-Young.



Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:23): We know, Minister, that Mr Don Burke has already been named, but we also know that another 65 names within the media industry are yet to be released. What role do you have, as Minister for Communications, in overseeing the broadcasting rules and regulations? What are you going to do? What powers will you use to stamp out this incessant, toxic culture of sexual harassment and hush?


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (14:24): In my portfolio areas, I have legislative and policy responsibilities, obviously, in relation to media organisations, telecommunications organisations, arts organisations and organisations that have responsibility for copyright law, and I would observe that, no doubt, there are inappropriate practices by individuals in a range of organisations across portfolios. There are, as you would know, at both the state and federal levels, laws that deal with some of the sorts of issues that have been raised, and I think every colleague in this place, and every minister across every portfolio area, obviously has an interest in ensuring that there are good and appropriate practices in the portfolios for which they have responsibility.