Australia to end harassment loophole for politicians

Australia will remove exemptions for judges and politicians from sexual harassment laws, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

Public servants are currently exempt from complaints about workplace gender discrimination, along with some employers of volunteers because of a legal loophole that says they are technically not the complainant's employer.

As the country's government faces backlash for possible mishandling of sexual harassment and assault claims. Morrison said he will adopt all 55 recommendations of a report last year by Australia's sex discrimination commissioner: "Sexual harassment is unacceptable. It's not only immoral and despicable and even criminal, but particularly in the context of the Respect@Work Report, it denies Australians, especially women, not just their personal security, but their economic security, by not being safe at work." A former female staffer of Morrison's government went public in February with an allegation that she was raped in a ministerial office in 2019.

The country's former attorney general was also the subject of an unrelated historical rape allegation in 1988, which he has strongly denied.

Morrison's response to such issues has been widely criticised and polls show his lowest approval rating since last year.