Australian Defense Minister Reynolds Hospitalized as 'Precautionary Measure'

Ruben Hill
February 26, 2021

Mr Dutton, who is himself a former drug squad cop, told Parliament that he had also been given further briefings last week and again this week on how the case was progressing.

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in 2019 by a colleague in the parliamentary office of her then-boss Linda Reynolds.

Several high-profile government members, including Ms Reynolds, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Senator Michaelia Cash, had been made aware of the alleged incident before Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"It is the case that in both cases, the action of the minister at the time had sought to put support around Brittany Higgins, as they did, and as we have apologised and accepted over time, it is very clear that Brittany did not feel she had that support", Mr Morrison said.

"I would hope that in the future, if people wish to protect the privacy of any individual, they could raise these matters in an anonymised way".

"I can not state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct", he wrote.

"Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing any subsequent police investigation".

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw has warned MPs of the potential consequences if they do not immediately report criminal allegations.

Commissioner Kershaw took a thinly veiled swipe at those politicians, insisting not reporting criminal offences "may lead to obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating the course of justice or the administration of law".

She met with the AFP at the time, but did not pursue her complaint as she feared it would hurt her career.

On April 3, 2019, a fellow Liberal staffer told Ms Higgins he had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison's staff.

The minister decided it was an operational matter for police.

'I took a decision I wasn't going to disclose to the Prime Minister, I think that was the right decision'.

Mr Dutton told Mr Morrison's office about the rape allegations on February 12 after media enquiries.

"We've had decades of anti-discrimination legislation at a federal and state level that prohibits sexual harassment, and yet what we see in reality is that prevalence and the lived experience, particularly of women, is not going away", she said.

He was sacked after the incident because of a security breach on the night of the alleged rape.

Two other women have subsequently claimed they were also raped by the man, with one of the alleged attacks occurring past year.

Mr Morrison has consistently said his office first knew of the allegation on February 12, but staff took nearly three days to notify him.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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