Australian PM warns of "culture problem" after allegations of rape in parliament

Lawrence Kim
February 22, 2021

Ms Higgins told her story to news.com.au and Channel 10's The Project last week, alleging she had been raped by a fellow staffer in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019.

A third woman has levelled sexual assault allegations against the Liberal staffer who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.

In the interview, she said she feared losing her job after the alleged assault in 2019 and had little support from her bosses.

Ms Higgins' rape allegations have rocked the nation's capital, and raised questions about whether the incident was covered up. However, she said last week she would be making an official complaint.

Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public this week with allegations she was raped in 2019.

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

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was "upset" by those reports.

The male staffer was sacked over a security breach after he entered Parliament House with Ms Higgins on the night of the alleged assault.

The woman, who was a virgin, said she was uncertain as to whether he was conscious or sleeping, but she bolted from the room into the hotel lobby toilet, where she discovered she was "bleeding".

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

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".

A second woman came forward over the weekend.

Ms Higgins has urged for a "comprehensive investigation".

"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".

"There are text messages saying that a senior staff member was going to discuss this with the Prime Minister's chief of staff", Mr Albanese said.

Mr Morrison said the claims were deeply distressing and he had sought to be as "open and honest" as he could.

The comments follow revelations one of the Prime Minister's staffers was "mortified" after being informed of an alleged incident involving then-Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and a colleague. He refused and we argued and I told him five or six times that we couldn't have sex unless he wore a condom.

Mr Morrison has ordered four reviews aimed at coming up with ways to better support political staff when they make allegations of sexual assault. "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", he told said.

"I have told you everything I know about this matter", he said.

"I set out in the parliament this week the timetable of when I am advised my office knew about it", Mr Morrison said on Friday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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