Two female Liberal backbenchers are calling for politicians to be drug and alcohol tested at Parliament House, following weeks of shocking claims of sexual assault and harassment within the government
Katie Allen and Sarah Henderson reckon the testing is necessary to ensure Canberra is the epitome of good behaviour.
The MPs add it would be part of a much-needed overhaul into the treatment of women in Parliament House.
About to go on @InsidersABC with @SenSHenderson and @David_Speers pic.twitter.com/cTW9FzUh1m
- Katie Allen MP (@KatieAllenMP) March 27, 2021
Speaking on ABC program Insiders, Ms Henderson said: "I think we need the highest possible standards in our workplace."
She added that she has heard 'rumours' of drug use among political circles, saying: "MPs and senators are not that special; we are here to serve the community, and I've heard a few rumours about drugs.
"I haven't heard [that allegation levelled against] anyone in particular, but I'm just hearing a bit of scuttlebutt, and we need to be the best possible workplace."
Speaking of the highly-publicised rape allegation made by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, Henderson said she was 'disgusted' over the government's handling of the horrific incident two years ago.
"I'm shell-shocked by the allegations which have emerged ... and the fact that she didn't get the support that she needed," she said.
Ms Henderson said further incidents that have since been brought to the public's knowledge, including images of a staff member masturbating on a female MP's desk, were 'absolutely disgusting'.
"I say get out," she said. "We need the bad eggs out of our parliament, out of our party and there should and must be a zero-tolerance for this type of behaviour."
Asked if they would support the move to see MPs drug and alcohol tested, both women agreed that they would, with Dr Allen saying: "I've heard people talking about how they need to drink because it helps them to stay up at night.
"I sat in an emergency department as a young doctor, through the hours trying to stay awake - having a drink isn't what you do. We are making important decisions on behalf of Australians."
She continued: "We need to have at least responsible drinking. But even ministers have said to me, 'You know what Katie, I think even a dry environment might not be a bad thing for Parliament.'"
However, the two women did say they had generally positive experiences in politics, Senator Henderson said that she had experienced social exclusion at work.
"We are spending far too much time in our offices alone and not engaging with our colleagues where a lot of the discussions happen informally about things we could do better - about policy, about ideas," she said.
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