Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Jamie Briggs was wrong to share a picture of a female diplomat who complained about his behaviour in a Hong Kong bar.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Jamie Briggs shouldn't have shared a photo of a female public servant who complained about his behaviour on an overseas trip.
But he says investigating how the picture ended up in the media was unlikely to be productive.
Mr Turnbull has been under pressure to front the media to explain the conduct of the former minister, who stepped down after acting inappropriately toward the woman in a Hong Kong bar.
"The sharing of that photograph was very unfortunate," he said.
"He shouldn't have done it, quite clearly."
The photo of the public servant and Mr Briggs' chief of staff Stuart Eaton enjoying the night in the bar was published in the Weekend Australian, with the woman's face pixelated.
When asked if he will investigate how the media received the picture, which was taken on Mr Briggs' phone, Mr Turnbull said inquiries of that kind "tend to come up with very little."
"Mr Briggs acknowledged that his conduct was inappropriate and he resigned," he said.
"That is a heavy price to pay, but it shows a very simple fact that the government takes ministerial standards very seriously."
Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong had urged Mr Turnbull - who acknowledged the publishing of the picture could deter victims of sexual harassment from coming forward - to investigate how the photo was leaked.
"I think it is a disappointing display of weakness by a prime minister, who I know has always consistently advocated for women to be treated appropriately," she told ABC radio earlier on Tuesday.
Senator Wong repeated her call from Monday for Mr Turnbull to explain how the subsequent actions of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton fit within ministerial standards.
Mr Dutton had dubbed News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden a "mad f***ing witch" in a text he accidentally sent her about a column critical of Mr Briggs.
Liberal MP Sharman Stone spoke out about the actions of her male colleagues.
"I think the interesting activities of the last number of weeks demonstrate that some of our male colleagues still don't get it in terms of treating all women with respect," Ms Stone said.
"It is just an example of how we've still got a way to go, in all parties ... to ensure there is the greatest of respect paid in parliament as an example to the broader community."
The Victorian backbencher, who backs quotas for women, made the remarks while pushing for an all female Senate ticket in her state for the next federal election.
"In Victoria we've got this opportunity ... to set in place for the long term ... not just a one off, but for the longer term, a process that's going to bring women forward," she said.
Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite later reiterated calls for an inquiry into Mr Briggs' photo drama.
"If the prime minister is going to be a true leader ... he'll launch an investigation into how this photo was leaked to the media and whether or not Peter Dutton's behaviour was appropriate for a cabinet minister," he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said he hopes Australian politics doesn't become too sterile or overly politically correct as a result of the two incidents.
"One of the great things about Australian politics is our informality and directness and I'd hate to lose that - even if there can be faux pas," the colourful MP told Fairfax Media.