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As Canberra navigates a crisis, SBS News asked politicians from all parties about their own experiences and what needs to change

Australian politics is in the spotlight after allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment forced leaders to grapple with what many have described as toxic culture for women in Canberra

SBS News asked Liberal Senator Jane Hume, Labor MP Tanya Plibersek, Green Senator Lidia Thorpe, and Independent MP Helen Haines about their experiences and whether they would encourage other women to pursue careers in politics

Jane Hume: “You would have a hard time finding a woman who didn’t experience sexism in the Canberra Bubble – but I’ve seen it everywhere I think it’s endemic, but it’s something that everyone points to work towards [improvement] International Women’s Day is an opportunity for everyone – male or female – to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors ”

Tanya Plibersek: “I’ve seen a lot of sexism in Canberra I think there is still a lot of sexism in most workplaces and I try to call it up whenever I see it I’d say probably is best for me now that almost 50 percent of us are women in the Labor Party. I’m not the only one calling out there are a lot of us who can take care of each other and create a different environment for new people when they join ours Coming to WorkWhen you have a critical mass of women in a job, everything changes ”

Lidia Thorpe: “In view of the toxic culture that unfortunately exists in Parliament, the point is to stand together in solidarity and continue to fight against and challenge them”If we keep silent it will go on and it is not just up to women to challenge this, it is up to every Australian in this country to declare bad behavior. Everyone deserves to work in a safe place”

Helen Haines: “In my experience, this is a very blokey place. It’s a very patriarchal place. I’ve usually seen sexism here in the guise of men who don’t necessarily speak to me directly, but to other men around me The way I deal with it is by stepping forward, getting my voice to be heard, and shouting it out, “

Jane Hume: “Parliament has to think about its culture, behavior and attitudes especially towards women. But we do. And the changes that I have seen myself in the four years that I have been here have been quite exceptional, and I hope this change continues ”

Tanya Plibersek: “It would be a better parliament if it were more representative of our Australian community, and that means that it should be half of the women. It means that there should be different ages and professional backgrounds. Parliament meets better Decisions when it better represents our entire Australian community ”

Helen Haines: We need to focus more on the evidence We need to have a lot less of this victory at all costs We need a bigger crossbench If we had more independence in Parliament we wouldn’t see as much tribalism I think we would see a lot more collaboration that should change ”

Jane Hume: “If I were to speak to a young woman who wanted to get into politics I would say go back with your ears. It’s a very hard job and you have to work very hard. Nobody will give it to you to give on a record But the ability to really change people’s lives, to make people’s lives better, is an extraordinary privilege that you shouldn’t shy away from ”

Tanya Plibersek: “If tomorrow a girl came up to me and said, ‘I’m thinking about a career in politics,’ I would say, join in with the horrific stories that have been in the media lately about [allegations ] Sexual assault and sexual harassment has been published in Canberra, this is an incredibly rewarding jobIt is difficult It is high conflict, it can be frustrating at times But when you can look back on the things you have accomplished when you have actually helped someone who have really had problems, there is no better feeling than that – it’s the best job in the world “

Lidia Thorpe: “For those women who aspire to these leadership positions, the key is to make sure they have good support. In our communities, it is our aunts, our sisters and our old people who give us this strength and resilience to to go on So don’t let that stop you. We’ll fight it to the end and pave the way for you “

Helen Haines: “Young women shouldn’t be stopped from entering politics, we need more young women. We need to be seen in places of power, and in doing so, I think we will make our places of power much safer and much better make ”

Jane Hume: “I can name about a dozen of my colleagues who could become Prime Minister, now or five years from now, there is some real talent in our army”

Tanya Plibersek: “I don’t know who the next Prime Minister will be, but given that we had 29 men and only one woman, we have some catching up to do”

Lidia Thorpe: “We are overdue to have a black prime minister in this country. There are many other young people and women of the First Nations who are more than capable and willing to take such a position”

Helen Haines: “There are 46 women in the House of Representatives right now. Each of these women could or should be the next Australian Prime Minister and I would love any of them”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECTorgau

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International Women’s Day Australia

World News – AU – Australian politicians call for sexism on International Women’s Day in Canberra