What Australia can learn from Britain's experience with misconduct allegations in parliament

Europe bureau chief Samantha Hawley and Roscoe Whalan (ABC News)

It was dubbed the "dirty dossier" and, although largely unverified, one spreadsheet exposed a tranche of allegations of bad behaviour by dozens of British Conservative MPs

From sexual misconduct and harassment of colleagues and staff, to extramarital affairs and the use of prostitutes, the 2017 dossier was a catalyst for change in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

Dubbed "Pestminster", the scandal hit at the height of the #MeToo movement, exposing a toxic culture in UK politics – similar to the allegations that have rocked Canberra in recent months – and led to the establishment of an independent scheme to handle allegations of misconduct and bullying in parliament.

Now, MPs in Australia are calling for a similar independent body to be established to deal with allegations of impropriety in the wake of the Brittany Higgins scandal.

A catalyst for change

Heads rolled from the "Pestminster" revelations.

Damian Green was sacked as first secretary of state, accused of sexually harassing an activist and having pornographic images on his computer.

Sir Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary after acknowledging his behaviour towards women had “fallen short” – allegations against him involved other members of cabinet.


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