I have a few brief points on the Archives and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021. I want to reflect on the genesis of this important bill and the independent inquiry it supports.
As the past month unfolded, the crossbench and Opposition called on the government to launch this particular inquiry. Of course, there are multiple inquiries on the books right now, including the unsatisfactory Gaetjens review, which is being held at arm’s length from the Prime Minister’s Office and has been paused indefinitely.
It was obvious to me and to many others in this House from the outset that inquiries of this nature must be fully independent and conducted by someone with appropriate expertise. Kate Jenkins is that person, and I really welcome this review.
Of course, it doesn’t take a review to know the basics and the reasons for why we need this review. We certainly don’t need to wait for this review is complete before we act and legislate—something that I was concerned to hear the Prime Minister suggest in question time yesterday.
What do we know already?
We know that there’s a toxic culture here in parliament. We know that there is no safe and independent place for MPs and their staff to go to with serious complaints in this place. We know that the government sat on Kate Jenkins’ previous Respect@work report recommendations for over a year and we know that the government could have passed a bill I introduced last October to establish an independent parliamentary standards commissioner and a code of conduct.
We know that the government could have passed the bill that the member for Warringah introduced last week to amend the sex discrimination laws so that they apply to all of us in this chamber. No other workplace in this country would take so long to act.
But this bill is about ensuring that victims can come safely to this inquiry.
Their privacy must be protected at all costs and I think we all agree on that. I want to thank the member for Warringah for her tireless work this week to ensure that this bill has the appropriate confidentiality safeguards. Her amendments are really important, I support them and I commend this bill to the House.