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Western Australia's Mines Minister supports introducing gender quotas in the mining industry

Rachel Lang

Published 
| Last updated 

Western Australia's Mines Minister supports introducing gender quotas in the mining industry

A recent report revealed Western Australia’s mining culture is a cesspit of predatory sexual behaviour against women.

WA Mines Minister Bill Johnston believes the best way to solve that issue is to add more women to the mix.

The Labor MP told WA Parliament that gender quotas should be supported by the state government to help companies turn a corner on sexual assault and harassment in the mining sector.

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"The problems in the FIFO industry are appalling and we need to fix them," he said, as per The West.

“One way we are going to fix them is by increasing the number of women in the sector.

"Quotas will work. I suggest that the opposition get on board with quotas."

Johnston's suggestion of gender quotas come following a Parliamentary inquiry that recommended the mining sector implement a sex offender register.

A 178-page report tabled in June found the mining sector 'perpetuated a culture that fails to protect women'.

Credit: Yuri Arcurs/Alamy
Credit: Yuri Arcurs/Alamy

One of the 24 recommendations the report recommended to fix predatory behaviour was to increase the number of women in the industry.

The report recommended: "Part of this must include greater effort to increase female workforce participation, with specific focus on site-level supervisor and management positions."

The Mines Minister took the chance to sing the praises of WA State Labor's already established sex quotas as an example of a cultural shift brought on by gender targets.

"The introduction of quotas was an important component of the change of culture in the Labor Party," the politician said in a speech to WA Parliament last week.

"Industry needs to look at all tools available to them to increase the number of women in the sector."

The Mines Minister added that setting gendered targets is a way that the industry can have a focused approach on fixing its culture for women.

In June, a committee chaired by Liberal MP Libby Mettam handed in their report after nearly a year of investigations.

The inquiry was triggered by a string of women making multiple complaints to police with claims of sexual assaults at the major mines in Western Australia, The Guardian reports.

Mansplaining at the mine site. Credit: RGtimeline/Alamy
Mansplaining at the mine site. Credit: RGtimeline/Alamy

Mettam told WA’s parliament in June she was shocked at the massive scale of the predatory culture in the mining industry.

According to The Guardian, Labor backbencher Mark Folkard revealed that female workers had faced targeted violence, stalking, grooming, and even threats to their lives.

"I am of the belief we have serious sexual predators hidden within the sector," he said, as per The Guardian.

"They have been there for many years and still go unchallenged."

According to Johnston, evening out the number of female and male staff could be the key to that positive change.

"Quotas are a clear indication that an organisation wants to change its culture," he said.

"When I joined the Labor Party back in 1983, it was a completely different organisation from the one it is now. We have our own sins to atone for, but at least we’ve changed our culture."

Featured Image Credit: Cultura Creative RF/Alamy.

Topics: Australia, News, Politics, Global Warming

Rachel Lang
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