News National ‘Very constructive’: Brittany Higgins meets Albanese, PM is next

‘Very constructive’: Brittany Higgins meets Albanese, PM is next

brittany higgins meet pm
Brittany Higgins (centre) leaves Anthony Albanese's Sydney offices on Friday morning. Photo: AAP
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Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins spent much of Friday afternoon in talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, after an earlier conversation with Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

Ms Higgins was expected to hold a media briefing later on Friday after her long-planned meeting with Mr Morrison in Sydney.

She earlier met Mr Albanese, and – reportedly – Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek, to discuss reforming the toxic workplace culture faced by political advisers.

“It was a very constructive meeting and I was very grateful for their time,” she said afterwards.

Mr Albanese said Ms Higgins’ reform ideas were “modest and reasonable”.

He said just as there was an independent body to deal with parliamentary expenses and a budget office to independently provide policy costings, there was also a need for an independent body for staff members, MPs and chiefs of staff to seek advice and raise workplace issues.

“She has shown extraordinary courage in coming forward – to be a voice standing up for women, standing up for issues that need real solutions,” he said.

“We need to listen to women and to listen to their concerns, to listen to the experience that they’ve gone through.”

A decision by Ms Higgins to go public about her alleged rape in a ministerial office at Parliament House sparked national rallies about the mistreatment of women.

Political leaders have pledged to co-operate on reforms.

Brittany Higgins with Scott Morrison at a Liberal Party function. Photo: Supplied

Ms Higgins says the system failed her and she wants “a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff”.

Ministerial and parliamentary staff were owed a “significant review” into their working conditions and how they could be improved, she said in a statement earlier this year.

She is concerned political advisers have few protections, resources and confidential reporting mechanisms to address workplace issues, as they are not public servants and work in an extremely high-pressure environment.

Key to any change is reform of the Members of Parliament Staff (MOPS) Act, which Ms Higgins said did not offer adequate workplace protections and conditions for staffers.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins is reviewing parliamentary workplaces, including the operation of the MOPS Act.

After taking evidence and submissions, she is expected to provide an interim report in July and final recommendations in November.

Political parties are also overhauling their complaints reporting systems.

-with AAP