Labor’s new ministry signals a cultural change in parliament, but can the government deliver?


Julie Collins, Amanda Rishworth and Clare O'Neil. Source: supplied.

Culture is the mindsets and behaviours that drive ‘how we get things done around here’. After 10 years of Liberal leadership, the Australian people have signalled they are ready for a cultural change.

A significant shift in leadership and ministry is a chance to listen to the problems of the past and use that momentum to fix the big issues. Everyone wants to ask: what’s different? How can I make a mark? How can we change things moving forward? There’s a sense of hope in the air, which acts as a catalyst for cultural change.

The Labor government’s front bench will see Penny Wong, Katy Gallagher, Tanya Plibersek, Catherine King, Linda Burney, Amanda Rishworth, Julie Collins, Michelle Rowland, Madeleine King and Clare O’Neil in key positions, with a record number of women headed to Canberra, including the ‘teal’ wave of independents.

A seismic shift in parliamentary culture is underway and the Liberals will need to make rapid changes in order to keep up; the party has more men named Andrew (eight) than women in the lower house (seven). This echoes corporate Australia where research from We Are Unity found there were more CEOs in the ASX300 named Andrew than women.

As things stand, many of the frameworks in place that are set by the government for corporations to adhere to don’t actually apply to the government itself. It’s why Brittany Higgins didn’t have an HR department to turn to and why (almost) no one has felt compelled to resign as a result of the multiple corruption scandals the previous government faced. Incoming independent MP Monique Ryan has said she wouldn’t want her 21-year-old daughter to work in government because she wouldn’t trust that she would be safe.

Labor HQ implemented a no booze policy to professionalise operations during the election campaign, following last year’s accounts that revealed a parliamentary culture rampant with sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying.

But it doesn’t end there. To lead on these issues in the federal government, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese must follow through on a promise to install all 55 recommendations from Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work report to show, rather than tell, that the new government is different from its predecessors.

With 85% of Australians believing corruption to be a problem in the country and with just 1% saying it is not a problem at all, the public’s vote has also made it clear that we’re clamouring for accountability and want to trust the people in leadership to do the right thing.

Introducing a federal ICAC within the first six months in power will signify a commitment to change and show that the Labor government is serious about accountability, especially given that its retrospective for the last 15 years, meaning there will be members of their own party likely to face retribution.

Labor needs to bring in governance and risk frameworks that they will stick to and that will hold them to account. It needs to follow through on its commitment to ratify the Uluru Statement of the Heart, keep building visibility for minorities in leadership positions, and continue the fight against corruption.

If our new leaders can do so, a genuine cultural change is on the cards — not just for the government, but the country as a whole.


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Peter Martin
Peter Martin
24 days ago

When they treat all issues equally and not hide their own then they can speak but up to now they have been hypocrites

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