Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint

  • Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint

Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint

Alarm about the workplace culture at Australia's Parliament heightened on Saturday (Feb 20) amid claims that a former government adviser accused of raping a junior female colleague in the building had sexually assaulted another woman.

The new allegations follow reports earlier this week that Ms Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, was raped by a Morrison adviser in Defence Minister Linda Reynold's office in the early hours of March 23, 2019.

Higgins told ABC she was raped by an unnamed colleague who also worked for Morrison's ruling Liberal party and that she would lodge a formal complaint to open a police investigation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced four separate reviews into Parliament's workplace culture, the complaints handling process and when members of his office became aware of the allegations.

The second woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by the man in 2020, after he had been sacked following Ms Higgins's allegations and while he was working in the private sector.

Reynolds says Higgins was not pressured against making an official complaint.

Mr Morrison said he made his views known to his staff for keeping him in the dark "very candidly" last Monday.

She referred to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's own words that she should be given "agency" going forward, saying, "I don't believe that agency was provided to me over the past two years but I seize it now".

The fresh allegations, made anonymously to the Weekend Australian, come amid ongoing calls for an independent probe into the handling of Ms Higgins' allegations.

But Labor's Tanya Plibersek believes Ms Higgins has been let down by the prime minister and that the full story over who knew what at the time is being withheld.

"I was failed repeatedly, but I now have my voice, and I am determined to use to ensure that this is never allowed to happen to another member of staff again", she said in a statement on Friday.

What does Ms Higgins allege?

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"I think we've got a problem in the Parliament and the workplace culture that exists there", Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Saturday. "And that, I think, set a very strong standard and sent a very strong signal", he said.

"These events truly do sicken me... as they should anyone", Morrison said. As they should anyone.

Australia's Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese today described the new reports as "shocking" and "distressing".

- Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the second alleged rape also allegedly occurred inside Parliament House.

Mr Morrison said anyone who thought cultural problems were confined to Parliament House was "kidding themselves".

Mr Morrison's former chief of staff, the current Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens, has been tasked with leading a review into departmental communications regarding the incident.

If you or somebody you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, the Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.