‘We must put the politics aside of these things, and we must recognise this problem, acknowledgment, we must fix it.
‘This has been a very traumatic month. It began with Brittany Higgins and her revelations of what took place in this very building.
‘I remember that day very well, I was equally shocked and stunned at receiving that use also.
‘These events have triggered, right across this building and indeed right across the country, women who have put up with this rubbish and this crap for their entire lives, as their mothers did, as their grandmothers did.
‘It has been going on, we have been talking about it in this place for a month, they have been living with it for their entire lives.
‘The women listening to me today know that to be true, so as much as it has been a topic of discussion here, and around the country specifically in relation to these disgraceful acts, it is something that has been the lived experience of Australian women for a very long time, and I welcome the spotlight that has now been placed on this.
‘I acknowledge that many have not liked or unappreciated some of my own personal responses to this over the course of the last month, I accept that.
‘Whether that was seeking to openly share how I try and deal with such dramatic events, people might like the fact I discuss these with my family, they are the closest people in my world to me.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny at the annual Mid Winter Ball at Parliament House in September 2019. He told his family emotionally during Tuesday’s press conference: ‘They motivate me every day on this issue’
‘But is how I deal with things, I always have. I have grown up in a loving and supportive family, and I discussed this is my family and those who are closest to me – no offence was intended by me by saying that I discuss these issues with my wife.
‘Equally, that is in no way indicated that these events had not already dramatically affected me already at that point. Equally, I accept that many were unhappy with the labels that are used on the day of the protest. No offence was intended by that either.
‘I could have chosen different words, I have already explained those matters in the house. What I am even more concerned about, even more importantly, I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me.
‘I have been doing a lot of listening over this past month, not for the first time, now is not the time for me to run over whether as a Minister for immigration or a Treasurer, or a Minister for Social Services, the keen interest I have shown in these issues, I’m not going to do that today.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public with the allegation she was raped by a male colleague inside Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019
‘Particularly on these issues over the last because of mother I have been listening carefully, I have had many colleagues, I have had many friends and others that I have regular contact with, talk with me openly about the issues, other traumatic things that they have had to deal with over their lifetimes and members of their family.
‘Let me tell you what I have heard. Women are too afraid to call out, bad behaviour for fear of losing a job for being intimidated in the workplace.
‘That is not OK, it is not their fault, it is the environment we have allowed to be created. Women who are afraid to walk to their car from the train, and they carry their keys in their hand like a knife for fear of being attacked. That is not OK. That is not acceptable.
‘In this country, our country as great as Australia, women walk daily that fear.
I have heard that women are overlooked, talked over, by men, whether it is in board rooms, meeting rooms, rooms, media conferences, cabinets, or anywhere else.
‘Overlooked and treated like they have nothing valuable to contribute. I have heard about being marginalised, women being intimidated, women being belittled, women being diminished, and women being objectified. That is not OK.
‘I have heard that women, when offered a job, take the salary offered because they do not feel they can ask for more. Whereas the blokes do. And they get it. That is not OK.
‘Whether this is unconscious deafness and blindness, or whether it is wilful malevolence that is behind all of this, it must be acknowledged, it must be called out, and it must stop.
‘That is all our job, it is my job, it is my ministers jobs, it is my members and senators jobs, it is your job.
‘This is not something that is of a scale that any government can simply change, it is something we must change as a society because we know it happens all over this country, but for me and my house, the house I work in here, then we must take responsibility, it is our problem here, it is our responsibility here, and I’m committed to dealing with that.
‘We must do better in this place. All of us, and in our country we must do better.
‘Now, forgive me this indulgence, I want women to have at least the same opportunities and the same voice and the same safety as men in this country.
‘I have the deepest of vested interest, criticise me if you like for speaking about my daughters, but they are the centre of my life. My wife is the centre of my life. My mother, my widowed mother is the centre of my life.
‘They motivate me every day on this issue. They have motivated me my entire life, they have taught me the values and the faith has sustains me every single day in this job.
‘Which is why I am here, I owe them everything. And to them I say to you girls, I will not let you down.
‘To the many other women who are in this place, who have shared their stories with me, I thank you for your feedback, your honesty, your support, your council, and your courage.
‘I know there are plenty of women who work in this building today, whether they be members or senators, investors, shadow ministers, staff, journalists, who say why should I bother? Why should I bother? Why should I not just walk away?
‘There has never been a more important time for women to stand in this place.
‘I want to see more women in this place, I have done anything to get more women in this place and I intend to do more. I have put more women in my cabinet than any other Prime Minister has before, and I look forward to doing more. I need women to stand with me as we go about this, as we stand together, I needed that you stated this place, I need them to stand right where they are, I did that to continue to blaze the trail right here this place, by their courage and I call for question.’