Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Gerard Rennick refuses to take part in Parliament House sexual harassment training

A Morrison government senator will refuse to participate in new sexual harassment training for parliamentarians, saying the plan to name and shame those who skip it is harassment itself. Queensland Liberal National Party senator Gerard Rennick has lashed out at the program, insisting he would not participate in the training.

I don’t intend to sign up,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“The threat of being named and shamed is harassment in itself. I won’t be taking advice from anyone who thinks that the best way to get someone to do something is by shaming them.

“I attended the Women’s March for Justice in Canberra earlier this year to express my support for women in the workplace (and in all other places) and to speak out against all forms of harassment.

“If the federal government wants to get serious about helping women, it could look at funding the restoration of maternity wards in regional Queensland, 30 plus of which have been closed down under Labor governments over the last 30 years.”

On Monday, the Morrison government announced that face-to-face sexual harassment training would be made mandatory for Coalition ministers and staff.

Ministers who refused training were warned they could lose their frontbench positions.

The training is optional for backbenchers like Senator Rinnick, but those who don’t participate will be named and shamed.

The practice was recommended by senior bureaucrat Stephanie Foster in her report on how the federal parliament responds to severe incidents.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister did not respond to questions about whether MPs and senators would face further repercussions for not participating in training.

Scott Morrison has previously said he can’t force parliamentarians to take part.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Larissa Waters confirmed her party would participate in the training and urged the Prime Minister to make the training mandatory for all parliamentarians.

“Sexual harassment training ought to be mandatory for all parliamentarians, not merely for ministers,“ she told NCA NewsWire.

“That is what Stephanie Foster’s review recommends, and it’s what the PM should be doing if he wants to have any chance of convincing women he takes their safety seriously.

“But one-hour sessions alone, mandatory or otherwise, will not create the kind of change in parliament that women are demanding.

“We need comprehensive training, supported by robust complaints processes and real consequences for MPs who continue their bullying and misogynistic behavior.”

Labor will table a proposal to caucus next week recommending all opposition parliamentarians undertake mandatory training.

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