Two prominent female Liberal backbenchers are calling for politicians to be drug and alcohol tested as part of wider workplace cultural reforms at Parliament House

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Two prominent female Liberal backbenchers are calling for politicians to be drug and alcohol tested as part of wider workplace cultural reforms at Parliament House.

Key points:

  • Senator Henderson said she had heard talk of drug use within political circles
  • Katie Allen floated the idea of banning alcohol at Parliament House altogether
  • Dr Allen said she was appalled by an “underlying lack of professionalism” in Parliament House

During their appearance on the ABC’s Insiders program, Katie Allen and Sarah Henderson referenced the Safe at Work Report when talking about how to create a safer environment for women at Parliament House.

During the interview, Senator Henderson said she had heard talk of drug use within political circles.

“MPs and senators are not that special; we are here to serve the community, and I’ve heard a few rumours about drugs,” she said.

“I haven’t heard [that allegation levelled against] anyone in particular, but I’m just hearing a bit of scuttlebutt, and we need to be the best possible workplace.”

When asked by Insiders host David Speers if they would support drug and alcohol testing for MPs, both women said they would.

“I have heard of people talking about how they drink because it helps them stay up at night … I sat in an emergency department as a young doctor through the hours trying to stay awake — having a drink is not what you do,” Dr Allen said.

Dr Allen also floated the idea of banning alcohol at Parliament House altogether.

“We need to have at least responsible drinking. But even ministers have said to me, ‘You know what Katie, I think even a dry environment might not be a bad thing for Parliament.'”

‘Lack of professionalism’ in Parliament

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins is currently conducting an independent inquiry into Parliament House’s workplace culture. It was sparked by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’s allegation a colleague raped her in a ministerial office.

 

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