Media Releases

MEDIA RELEASE Zali Steggall MP to introduce Bill that amends Sex Discrimination Act

8 March, 2020

Zali Steggall MP wants action from the 46th Parliament to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to ensure that sexual harassment is illegal in all circumstances.

Ms Steggall will introduce a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament, Sex Discrimination Amendment (Prohibiting All Sexual Harassment) Bill, on March 15. Under the current Sex Discrimination Act, MPs, judges and other statutory appointees are not clearly protected from, or liable for sexual harassment in their workplace. This Bill would amend that.

“This recommendation was put to the Government in the ‘Respect@Work’ report that the Government has done little to implement when it was delivered a year ago. They have failed to act,” Ms Steggall said. “Australians are shocked by current events in Parliament and want more than words, they want real action from the Morrison Government.”

“I have written to the Prime Minister and Attorney General urging the Government to implement the proposed amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act. As no commitment has been forthcoming from the Morrison government, I will be introducing the Private Member’s Bill Sex Discrimination Amendment (Prohibiting All Sexual Harassment) Bill on March 15 to implement recommended changes.

“This Bill is an important first step to address sexual harassment in every workplace and will demonstrate the 46th Parliament’s commitment to safe and respectful workplaces.”

Two key issues have been identified by the Law Council of Australia, including:

  1. As currently drafted, Members of Parliament, judges and other statutory appointees as well as self-employed workers, gig economy workers and contractors are not clearly covered in Section 3 of the Sex Discrimination Act.
  2. Similarly, Section 105 which prohibits ‘aiding and abetting’ sex discrimination, does not apply to sexual harassment.

The National Action Plan to Reduce Sexual Discrimination in the Legal Profession has outlined proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to address this and the proposed amendment aligns with recommendation 16 of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report, tabled in Parliament in March 2020.