Australian gov't minister accused of rape_china

James Marshall
Марта 3, 2021

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has challenged the cabinet minister accused of a brutal rape to publicly identify himself.

Australia's Parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a "toxic" workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct against women.

Scott Morrison, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor's Penny Wong were sent a letter detailing the complaint last week.

The unnamed woman reported the allegation to police in June of past year, shortly before taking her own life.

In the past two weeks the prime minister has faced a barrage of questions in Parliament about his knowledge of the Higgins case, and claims that she wasn't given adequate support. "I was told that I was one of those individuals", Mr Morrison said. The individual involved here has vigorously rejected these allegations and so, it's a matter for the police.

"It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire cabinet", she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was sacked for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister's office following a night of heavy drinking.

The former Liberal prime minister launched a sharp critique of his successor's approach.

"The prime minister needs to lead here and so far his silence is deafening", Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who was sent documents detailing the 1988 alleged assault, told ABC radio on Monday.

South Australia Police are now preparing a report on the woman's death for the coroner.

Wong said she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation against the man, who was not in Parliament in 1988.

"It's said that she suicided, did she?"

"Why did she suicide?"

"If they think that it's likely that it did happen then they should not be there".

She called for the Cabinet minister to stand aside while the matter is investigated.

Mr Turnbull said the man needed to present a comprehensive explanation of his innocence before resuming his duties.

He said he did not read the documents sent to him but had been briefed on their contents, and would not be launching an inquiry into the allegations.

"Are we seriously going to have a Question Time where the opposition asks every single minister whether they are the person named in the complaint?"

Mr Morrison said he had also discussed it with the federal police commissioner and senior officials in his department, but did not plan to take any action beyond leaving the allegations in the hands of police.

The prime minister, who is already under mounting pressure to tackle what has been described as sexist culture within Australian politics, said the minister was innocent until proven guilty.

Morrison responded to Higgins' public complaints by appointing government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament House culture, improve workplace standards and to protect staff.

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