Media Releases → 2023

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

First major tranche of legislative change in response to Set the Standard report

SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for the Public Service
Minister for Women

SENATOR THE HON DON FARRELL
Minister For Trade And Tourism
Special Minister Of State

Date: Thursday, 10 August 2023

The Albanese Government will introduce a Bill on Thursday to establish the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service as an independent statutory agency, in response to the 2021 Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces, Set the Standard.
This marks a significant milestone in the cross-party effort to lift the standards and improve the culture at Australian Parliament House. 
The Government is committed to improving workplace behaviour and culture at Parliament House and is committed to implementing all 28 recommendations of the Set the Standard report from former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins. 
“Every single person who comes to work at Parliament House deserves to feel safe, and this hasn’t always been the case,” said Minister for Finance Senator Katy Gallagher.
“Significant work has been done during this Parliament and the previous one to implement change through the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce – which includes Labor, Liberal, Nationals, Greens and independent parliamentarians.

“Once this Bill is passed, we’ll have an independent Human Resources entity for staff and parliamentarians enshrined in legislation.” 
The PWSS will be an independent statutory agency that will deliver: 
•    Professional development and training for staff;
•    Support and resources to professionalise management practices in offices;
•    Access to coaching and early intervention supports including policy, process, and guidance to manage suspension and termination decisions; and
•    Training and guidance for the implementation of the Code of Conduct and behavioural standards.

“This enhanced service has been informed by consultation with staff, parliamentarians and departments and I would like to thank those who have contributed their views and experiences.”

“Progress is being made, but we have a lot more to do, including working across the Parliament to establish the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission that will enforce codes of conduct for Parliamentarians and staff,” Senator Gallagher said.

The PWSS will be a new specialist parliamentary human resources agency that builds on the functions and enhances the independence of the existing support and advisory function provided by the current PWSS.
A new suite of specialised services will seek to prevent workplace issues or resolve issues earlier.  
Special Minister of State, Don Farrell says the Government is also moving to simplify the legislation covering the employment of staff of Members of Parliament.

“Over the last two years, there has been a great deal of focus on our workplaces,” Minister Farrell said.

“It’s time for us to make well overdue changes to ensure our workplaces recognise the needs of staff and provide appropriate and accessible support structures.
“Our staff deserve a safe and respectful workplace.”

Government amendments will implement recommendations of the Review of the MoPS Act, a recommendation of Commissioner Jenkins.

“The legislation has been in operation for almost 40 years and the Australian employment law landscape has changed in this time.

“Our amendments will modernise the Act, improve transparency and support cultural change in our parliamentary workplaces.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s)

Lisa Glenday 0403 931 209 | Gallagher.Media@finance.gov.au
Grace Finch (Farrell) 0422 859 471 | Grace.Finch@dfat.gov.au