The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP
Premier of New South Wales
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001

The Hon. Jonathan Richard O’Dea
Speaker of the NSW Parliament Legislative Assembly
PO Box 209
LINDFIELD NSW 2070

13 August 2020

Re: Condemning Minister Brad Hazzard’s comments towards Ms Jodi McKay and requesting a formal apology in the next sitting of NSW Parliament

Dear Premier and Mr Speaker,

We write as a national leadership group of women, in our role as the Executive of Australian Chapter of Women in Global Health.

We write specifically to unreservedly express our deep collective concern about the behaviour of The Hon. Brad Hazzard, Minister for Health and Medical Research, NSW towards The Hon. Jodi McKay, in the NSW parliamentary sitting on 6th August 2020.

This behaviour included:

– disrespectful, personal and misogynistic comments

– physical gestures and insults

– targeting personal appearance and

– questioning worth in society using terms such as “irrelevant” and “stupid”

The evidence is clear that this type of unacceptable behaviour displayed by leaders such as Minister Hazzard, role models these behaviours for our community and builds on existing unconscious bias against women in credible leadership roles. This can have profound and damaging impacts on societal perception of women, especially those in leadership roles, with unacceptable consequences.

This bullying and unacceptable behaviour directed towards a senior female leader woman who has earnt her position in Parliament, is unacceptable in any setting in Australia, let alone in the halls of Parliament where the Ministers are voted in to be respected community leaders.

In Parliamentary leadership roles, there is a responsibility to behave consistent with the office and position. This includes respect, decency, equity and a lack of bias towards women and other groups in our society, including respect for their colleagues.

Minister Hazzard not only personally disrespected his colleague on this occasion, but also used his position of power to disrespect and degrade all women with his comments in a public forum.

Furthermore, this behaviour as a response to legitimate questions on PPE for frontline care providers, denigrated those of us, who are largely women, working in high risk and hazardous circumstances, during the pandemic crisis.

We strongly oppose this disrespectful damaging behaviour and collectively advocate that such behaviour is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any form in the community generally, but especially in the leadership forum in Parliament. We do note that at least publicly, it appears this behaviour has passed without consequences.

We note that Minister Hazzard apologised to Ms. Jodi Mckay on Nine Radio, on 7th August, followed with the defense of being “tired” and “frustrated”.  However, in the interests of raising expectations of leadership behaviours and addressing unconscious bias against women in leadership, we:

  • strongly urge the Premier to require a formal apology by Minister Hazzard at the next Parliamentary sitting of NSW Parliament,
  • call on Mr Speaker to ensure that this type of conduct is not allowed in any future parliamentary sittings,
  • advocate that leadership commitment and effective strategies to address poor behaviour (such as behaviour checking and censure), should be implemented into parliament to limit opportunities for this to occur in future, and
  • ask for a direct answer to the substantive question with regards to the adequacy of PPE supplies.

Sincerely,

Women in Global Health Australasia Executive

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes, BMed FRACP (Nephrology) PhD
Principal Research Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research

Misha Coleman
Executive Director, Global Health Alliance Australia

Professor Fiona Russell
Director of Child & Adolescent Health PhD Program, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
Senior Principal Research Fellow, Centre for International Child Health, WHO Collaborating Centre for Child & Neonatal Health Research and Training, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
Group Leader, Asia-Pacific Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle
Deputy Director and Head of Women’s Public Health and Health Equity Program
Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation
Obstetrician, Gynaecologist, Monash Health

Professor Helena Teede
Executive Director, Monash Partners
Director of Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation
Endocrinologist, Monash Health

Professor Julie Bines
Professor Julie Bines
Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
Enteric Diseases Group, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Department of Gastroenterology and Clinical Nutrition, Royal Children’s Hospital

Katie Rice
Founding Member of WGH Australasia – New Zealand Country Representative

Piyali Somaia
Network Coordinator, Australian Network of WHO Collaborating Centres