Brittany Higgins: Parliament rape accuser makes complaint

Henrietta Strickland
February 20, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he was "very upset" by allegations that a second former Liberal staffer was sexually assaulted by the same man accused of raping Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office.

The second alleged victim told the Weekend Australian she had chose to share her story to support Ms Higgins, claiming her assault - which allegedly took place in late 2020 - may not have happened if the earlier incident had been dealt with properly.

"If this had been properly dealt with by the government in 2019 this would not have happened to me, " she said.

The man was sacked in the days after the incident, and Ms Higgins argued she felt her complaint against him was jeopardising her career in politics.

She called on the Australian Federal Police to act swiftly over the alleged attack "in what should be the safest building in Australia".

She alleges the man raped her past year, after the pair had dinner and drinks.

Mr Morrison has apologised for the way the matter was handled.

Mr Morrison has denied being aware of Ms Higgins' complaint until it made headlines on major news networks earlier this week.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has offered her support to Ms Higgins, saying she was "horrified both by the incident, and the aftermath".

"Too often, a toxic workplace culture can emerge that enables inappropriate conduct and this is exacerbated by the disparity in the power dynamics".

"The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the Prime Minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors", she wrote.

"There is significant work that still remains to be done in the Parliament House work culture", he said.

This article contains references to rape and sexual assault.

"I believe that getting to the bottom of what happened to me and how the system failed me is critical to creating a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff".

Explosive text messages have cast serious doubt over when the prime minister's office first knew about the alleged rape.

Ms Higgins' allegations came after former lawmakers from the Liberal Party complained about workplace bullying in Parliament.

In the message, the Liberal staffer said he had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison's staff.

Ms Higgins has urged for a "comprehensive investigation".

Mr Morrison said he was made aware of the new allegations when they appeared in the media this morning.

"We would be naive to think it's not a challenge that other workplaces face all around the country, but I agree the Parliament should be setting the standard".

"That never existed before".

"These events truly do sicken me".

Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese repeated Labor's calls for an independent investigation into the procedures for handling sexual assault complaints in parliament, describing the second allegations as a "quite shocking revelation". "The Prime Minister needs to say exactly what the real timeline is", he said, casting further doubt over Mr Morrison's recollection of when he found out about the incident.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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