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MPs and judges subject to the same sexual harassment laws as everyone else

14 October 2020

The Marshall Government has passed amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act to ensure parliamentarians are covered by sexual harassment laws in their dealings with other parliamentarians. 

Under the changes, sexual harassment laws will extend to MPs in their dealings with other MPs and judicial officers in their dealings with other judicial officers. 

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the changes would bring South Australia's sexual harassment laws in line with community expectations. 

"The public expect parliamentarians to be held to the same legal standard as everyone else and this legislation rectifies a significant flaw in the existing legal framework," said Attorney-General Chapman. 

"These changes subject parliamentarians to a far higher standard when it comes to this type of inappropriate behaviour and ensure there are clear mechanisms in place to allow for allegations to be investigated thoroughly and promptly.

"It's been more than 20 years since Parliament first considered provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act involving MPs and their behaviour towards other Parliamentarians.

"As I understand it, the decision was taken at the time to make no reference to MPs who sexually harass fellow MPs. 

"Since that debate, community attitudes have shifted, we have a greater understanding of the insidious nature of this kind of behaviour and it's clear the public do not tolerate this type of behaviour from their elected representatives. 

"Sexual harassment is unlawful behaviour and, in this day and age, there is no reason why MPs or judicial officers should be immune to these laws.

"These changes will ensure MPs and judicial officers are held to account, for behaviour that is unacceptable in any workplace."

The changes would allow MPs and judicial officers to make a complaint to the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity under the Equal Opportunity Act and to enable those complaints to be dealt with under those provisions.