Federal ACT Labor MP Alicia Payne says anger at the treatment of women is continuing to burn white hot in the wake of Federal Parliament's #MeToo movement and she's accused the Prime Minister Scott Morrison of responding without humanity or leadership.
Saying it is "beyond politics," Ms Payne and ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher are holding a women's forum in Canberra on Saturday to hear out continuing concerns about the treatment of Australian women in 2021 and gather ideas to take to Labor's leadership.
The opposition's attempt to seize the #MeToo moment comes a day after the woman whose alleged rape sparked the movement, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, met with Mr Morrison - and separately with Labor leader Anthony Albanese - to propose a range of reforms in a bid to change workplace laws and culture.
"Many women have contacted me and they're very angry," Alicia Payne told The Canberra Times. "They are very angry about the way the government has failed to deal with these allegations of Brittany Higgins and also against the former attorney-general Christian Porter.
"It's beyond politics. They want to see the Parliament addressing these things, they want to see our leaders stepping up and changing this culture which is meaning that so many women are suffering, are unsafe and don't have equal opportunities in Australia."
Ms Higgins wants legislated safeguards for staffers at Parliament House, transparency of the "Star Chamber" government staffing committee and the establishment of an independent and confidential complaints system in Parliament House so staff, politicians and senior office holders can report issues and get advice.
After the meeting with Scott Morrison on Friday afternoon, Ms Higgins acknowledged a "robust" and "difficult" conversation with him and that there was consensus for the need for reform to protect vulnerable staff.
It is now a case of wait and see to see how Mr Morrison responds.
Ms Higgins said she was "hopeful" of genuine reform, and the Prime Minister later said in a statement that he was listening and "committed to reform", but Alicia Payne is not so sure.
"This is not being dealt with in a satisfactory way by the Prime Minister," she said. "His response lacks humanity. It lacks leadership, and it's frankly, it's not good enough from a prime minister or an employer."
"There is a sense that there is a real moment about this, you know, as I say because it resonates with so many people have their own experiences in their own workplaces their own communities.
"We really do have a moment to seize and unfortunately the Prime Minister is not seizing that moment."
Taking place shortly before the May budget, the forum expected to field questions and hear ideas in areas such as inequality, superannuation, childcare and domestic violence.
"We are going to take a list of the ideas and issues raised and we're going to send those to the government ministers for women and also send them to Anthony Albanese and discuss them in our caucus," Ms Payne said.
"We saw absolutely nothing for women in the budget last year and they were completely abandoned by the government through the response to the pandemic.
"Labor has always been on the side of Australian women. For example, our childcare policy that we announced in last October will benefit 97 per cent of families who use childcare and obviously the key beneficiary."
Tickets for the now sold out event were limited due to Covid-19 restrictions, but it will be streamed live on Facebook.
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