Rape claims linked to Australian Parliament widen with new case

Marco Green
February 21, 2021

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.

His comments followed reports that a second woman had said she had been assaulted by the same man whom a former media adviser to the government this week publicly accused of rape.

Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped inside Parliament House, is expected to make a formal complaint to police within days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised for the government's handling of her complaint and has called for a review into parliament's environment and culture.

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.

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

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

He said people could "draw their own conclusions" about the second alleged victim's claims her assault may not have happened had the proper action been taken.

"I am telling my story because I want to support Brittany and I want to help shine a light on this very bad culture", she said in anonymous comments reported by The Weekend Australian newspaper.

The Prime Minister also insisted that all ministers who had knowledge of Ms Higgins' allegations had sought to refer the matter to police, while welcoming the recent referral of it to the AFP.

What does Ms Higgins allege?

. "And I think 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".

'But I've got to say, if any workplace thinks that this is just confined to the parliament, they're kidding themselves'.

"I'm very upset about those circumstances and particularly for the young woman. that is a very distressing event", he said. As they should anyone. "Those who are there now will be doing everything we can to make sure this workplace are safe as possible".

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

Speaking with ABC News Saturday, Mr Albanese slammed the prime minister and called for an independent review to be conducted.

"The idea that the Prime Minister's Office found out about this last week is simply not credible".

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

Ms Plibersek said two cabinet ministers knew the events surrounding the sexual assault two years ago, as did senior staff, but somehow Mr Morrison didn't know.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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