Senate Estimates As Parliament Continues
Senate Estimates As Parliament Continues

Payne: ‘I haven’t experienced harassment’

The new "prime minister for women" has defended Scott Morrison's handling of the Andrew Laming upskirting and bullying scandal while claiming she has never experienced harassment in the workplace.

Marise Payne was announced as the co-chair of the government's new cabinet task force on women's equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing on Monday.

The task force was created after the alleged rape of government staffer Brittany Higgins in 2019, historical sexual assault allegations against Christian Porter and photographs of staffers sex acts on desks at Parliament House.

Mr Porter has denied all allegations of sexual assault.

On her first morning in the new role, Ms Payne was asked by 2GB's Ben Fordham whether she was comfortable sharing a party room with Andrew Laming who is accused of bullying women on Facebook, fat-shaming an expert and taking a photo that revealed a woman's underwear.

She said Mr Laming had taken responsibility for his actions.

"The first is that he is taking time to do training and instruction and awareness-raising that frankly should have been in place before - that is something he has decided to do on his own volition," she said.

"Secondly, he has indicated that he has taken a very serious decision to leave the parliament at the end of this term.

Under-fire MP Andrew Laming. Picture: Glenn Hunt
Under-fire MP Andrew Laming. Picture: Glenn Hunt

"I hope it shows to others that would seek to engage in this sort of activity that is completely unacceptable and that must change."

Mr Laming is also under fire for allegedly taking a photo up a woman's skirt at her workplace. He said the photo attempted to show someone trying to fit an impossible amount of stock into a fridge.

Ms Payne is now the foreign affairs minister, minister for women and co-chair of the task force on women's equality.

She was criticised earlier this month for refusing to attend the Women's March 4 Justice outside Parliament House.

The Senator also said she had never experienced harassment in the workplace.

"I know many people experience it and not just in our workplace of course. While it is currently an absolute focus on our workplace I know that in Australia and internationally these issues have had to be addressed," she said.

Originally published as Payne: 'I haven't experienced harassment'


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