Country Fire Authority gender diversity and inclusion

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) (11:15:20) — I thank the member for his question, but the hypocrisy of those opposite is unbelievable — absolutely unbelievable. You want to talk about sexual harassment? Why do you not clean up your own party?

Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, the minister is immediately proceeding to debate the question. I ask you to bring her back to answering it.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Clarinda! The Minister for Industrial Relations had only just begun her answer, but I do ask her to address the question that has been asked.

Ms HUTCHINS — We know that the only way to change workplaces, the only way to stand up — and in particular in this week when we have seen thousands of women take to social media with the hashtag #metoo, standing up saying that they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace —

Ms Kealy — On a point of order, Speaker, this question is clearly about condemning the United Firefighters Union. Again we have, like the Premier, an inability to even mention the word UFU or the United Firefighters Union. Peter Marshall is like Voldemort in this place — you cannot even mention his name. Will we please get the minister to respond to the question put and speak about the union?

The SPEAKER — Order! I ask the minister to come back to answering the question.

Ms HUTCHINS — The question went to issues of sexual harassment, and that is exactly what I am addressing. It is our government that is making the absolute utmost effort to ensure that we are changing the structures, changing the culture that has been embedded for many, many years unfortunately. We are turning that around with our commitment to invest in diversity in the Country Fire Authority and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and making sure that we have better, more equal workplaces.

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) (11:11:50) — I thank the member for his question. A safe workplace is an absolute right that this government has fought for against those opposite, who have done nothing in this space but oppose safety in the workplace. Sexual harassment in the workplace is absolutely unacceptable, and this government is on the front foot. We are the first government to put forward a gender equity strategy, and we are getting on with delivering that in our workplaces.

I want to congratulate the Minister for Emergency Services for the great work that he has done in this space in taking up the challenges that were unveiled during the fire services review. The bullying culture that was identified through that and the fundamental recommendations that have come out of that review have been taken up with full force in going forward and changing that culture and in taking on those changes that are much needed. I want to quote from the report where it says:

Addressing these issues, along with broader problems of bullying and harassment, is first and foremost a requirement of leadership.

And leadership is being shown on this side of the house through the changes that we have proposed around the new fire services legislation that you have opposed. If anyone wants to change the culture, they need to change the organisation. You need to take these issues head on. You need to change the leadership, and it is those opposite that have opposed this.

Mr Clark — On a point of order, first of all, Speaker, the minister in her most recent remarks is proceeding to debate the issue and mislead the house. But more substantively the minister has now had a substantial opportunity to set a context for this question. It was a specific question about action in respect of the UFU’s conduct and seeking their deregistration. I ask you to bring the minister back to answering the question.

The SPEAKER — Order! I find the minister was being responsive to the question asked. The minister to continue.

Ms HUTCHINS — Workplaces, whether they are for employers, unions — anything — deserve to be safe, and this government is going to continue to ensure that we do everything to deliver that.