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Australian public official grilled on office ‘Hotties List’ allegedly passed around department

Nationals Senator Bridget Mckenzie has quizzed Transport Secretary Jim Betts on a “hotties list” allegedly circulated by young men in his department’s graduate program ranking women’s physical appearance.

“Does the phrase ‘Hotties list’ mean anything you to Mr. Betts?” Senator Mckenzie asked during Senate estimates on Monday.

The senior transport official audibly sighed.

“You’re going down this path aren’t you Senator? Which I’ve warned you about,” Betts replied.

He then went on to confirm he was made aware of reports from some female graduates about “certain male members” of the graduate cohort assembling a “degrading list” of women which assessed them on their “hotness.”

“Confronted with the concerns, I then assembled that graduate cohort and reminded everybody of a need for respect in the workplace,” he said.

“We have subsequently taken more formal investigations into that.”

Betts said no graduates had been fired as a result of the allegations and confirmed he did not brief Transport Minister Catherine King on the issue.

Earlier, Senator Mckenzie also asked if Betts knew if any employees from his department had been followed home from work “in a harassing or intimidating manner.”

Betts then confirmed an individual had raised an allegation, and urged against further questions.

“You may be asking questions which reveal to people who may be under investigation or may be perpetrators,” he said.

“I would urge extreme caution.”

The exchange came after Senators heard the Transport Department had received complaints of “disrespectful behavior,” gender biased and sexist behavior and disrespectful language from employees.

“I would urge extreme caution.”

When asked what action has been taken, Betts said he took allegations extremely seriously and said his department’s first point of call was supporting victims.

“We’ve learned some lessons about this — and one of those is having gender balance in all of our cohorts.”

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