Scott Morrison heckled as he addresses women's protests
Mar 15 2021
Australians have rallied in the country's capital and other cities to demand justice for women and call out misogyny and unsafe workplace cultures as the government reels from two rape allegations.
Recently reported scandals include a rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has strongly denied the alleged 1988 assault.
Tens of thousands of women have protested across Australia against sexual violence and gender inequality, with tens of thousands hitting the streets as outrage grows over rape allegations that have convulsed the conservative government.
He denies the allegations, which she took to police before her death a year ago, and the investigation has been closed.
Under growing pressure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday he was prepared to meet with a delegation from the movement, adding that his government was "very focused" on addressing their concerns. Reynolds had called Higgins a "lying cow" in front of staff, a comment she said referred to comments by Higgins about her treatment after the alleged assault, not the attack itself.
More than 5,000 people are expecting to march, with the event finishing outside Parliament House where there will be guest speakers addressing the crowds.
Women wore black to signal "strength and mourning", carried banners with slogans including "Shatter the silence".
Professor Lumby said more women were also needed at the highest levels of public life.
"Together, we can bring about real, meaningful reform to the workplace culture inside Parliament House and, hopefully, every workplace, to ensure the next generation of women can benefit from a safer and more equitable Australia", Higgins told women at the Canberra gathering. "We thank the women and those who have fought tirelessly before us and we march encouraged and inspired by your actions".
"I think the prime minister, if he really cared about women, really cared about our voices. he (could) open the door, walk across the forecourt and come and listen to us", organiser Janine Hendry told the ABC.
Protesters attend a rally against sexual violence and gender inequality in Canberra
An estimated 10,000 joined the protest in Melbourne, with thousands more in major cities including Canberra and Sydney.
Porter lodged defamation proceedings in Australia's Federal Court on Monday against the Australian Broadcasting Corp over a news article on the alleged rape.
Over 33 locations hosted March 4 Justice protests.
Australian of the Year Grace Tame addressed the Hobart rally about her advocacy for other victims of sexual assault.
"I made a decision to resign and share my story, because I felt it was the only thing that I could do to say that I didn't co-sign this behaviour", she said.
Australia's parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a "toxic" workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual assault.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese in parliament accused Mr Morrison as having "not so much a tin ear, as a wall of concrete", and called for an independent inquiry into the allegation against Mr Porter. Ahead of the 2019 election, several women quit the parliament, citing bullying as the reason.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new support measures for women in parliament but is standing by Porter and Reynolds, who both remain on medical leave following the allegations.
"We fundamentally recognise the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place and there are significant failings in the power structures within our institutions", Higgins said.