Several leaked videos of Staff from Australia’s conservative government performing sex acts, including that of a man masturbating over a female MP’s desk, left Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration facing another major sex scandal.
The prime minister, who was already under duress for his handling of sexual assault allegations including that of a female government adviser being raped by a male colleague, called the behaviour of the staff “disgraceful” and “absolutely shameful.”
AFP reported that the videos and photos, which had allegedly been shared in a group chat of coalition government staff before being leaked by a whistleblower were first revealed by The Australian newspaper and Channel 10 late Monday.
These graphic images that came fresh after a series of rape allegations that spurred nationwide protests have brought fresh outrage from the female lawmakers and women across the country.
The whistleblower, identified as Tom, told news outlets that parliament staff and MPs often used a Parliament House prayer hall to engage in sexual activities, and alleged that sex workers had been brought into the parliament building “for the pleasure of coalition MPs.”
He also revealed that a group of staffers often swapped sexually explicit photos of themselves and he had received so many of them that he became “immune to it.”
He said that the parliament had a “culture of men doing whatever they want.” While he doesn’t think that none of the staffers broke any laws, he considers them being morally bankrupt.
Following the leak, one aide was immediately fired and the government promised further action.
Many female lawmakers expressed their displeasure with these leaks. Minister for Women Marise Payne told local media these revelations were “beyond disappointing”, saying they highlighted the need for a government-ordered inquiry into parliament’s workplace culture.
Additionally, Cabinet minister Karen Andrews said she had had an “absolute gutful” of sexism in politics and her “conscience will not allow me to remain quiet” any longer. She also urged the liberal government to consider parliamentary quotas based on gender lines.
Tens of thousands of women this month joined “#March4Justice” rallies to protest sexual violence and gender inequality, calling for systemic change in politics and wider Australian society.
Many have repeatedly criticized Australia’s parliament for a “toxic” workplace culture that has allegedly given birth to persistent bullying, harassment and sexual violation of women, particularly of the ruling coalition.
Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleged publicly last month that she had been raped by a colleague in a minister’s parliamentary office in 2019.
Earlier this month, Attorney-General Christian Porter vehemently denied a surge of accusations of him raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988 when they were both students.