Australia’s seat of politics is sick. Very sick. Some in fact, (myself included) hope that it is terminal.
Every day it seems there’s reports of cruel governance from the Federal Liberal/National Coalition (LNP). Rorting, lies, misinformation, self-serving deals and probably the most despicable of what we currently know if this horrid government, a rape allegation.
This week it was publicly revealed that a young Liberal Party staffer, not long into her dream job of working at Parliament House in Canberra, was allegedly raped in the ministerial office of her boss, in 2019 by a male who also worked in the same department.
Brittany Higgins, the now former Liberal Party member of staff soon after the alleged rape, left working for the then Defence Industry Minister, Linda Reynolds and went to work for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash until she resigned in early February.
There’s some horrifying details to this story, and not just the alleged incident itself, but the way the situation was deal with and who actually knew what happened.
Minister Cash claims she was aware something happened to Ms Higgins during an event at Parliament House back in 2019, but claims she was not privy to the details.
I do not see how Cash would not seek further details from another woman who says an incident occurred at a work function. Not just as a woman, but as a senior government official.
Former minister Reynolds got a bollocking from Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week for bringing Ms Higgins into the very office where the alleged rape took place, to discuss what happened.
Reynolds also claims she was not aware of the details. How could this possibly be true. Reynolds has also stated on the record that she was extremely concerned for Ms Higgins’s wellbeing. How could Reynolds be that concerned, yet still not know what had happened in her own office?
Then there’s the Prime Minister. Proving that employing someone to make Morrison seem more caring was an abject failure. The PM mishandled the situation on the day the allegation became public, then Morrison back tracked the following day saying that he spoke to his wife Jenny the night of the bombshell news, to which Jen asked her husband to put himself in the place of a parent who hears their child was assaulted and to imagine if it were one of their daughters. This only made things worse.
It’s sad that the Australian leader has to take empathy and compassion lessons from their partner.
The Prime Minister is also claiming he had no knowledge of the alleged rape until late last week. A notion former Prime Minister and Liberal Party Leader, Malcolm Turnbull finds very unlikely. Ms Higgins claims someone from the Prime Minister’s Office reached out to “check in” on her last year. This was at the time for the ABC ‘4 Corners’ investigation into sexism and inappropriate behaviour by the Australian Attorney General Christian Porter. The Prime Minister claims he has no evidence someone from his office got in touch with Ms Higgins.
Conflicting information is circulating – a common affliction in Australian politics. Initial reports suggested ACT Police were involved having spoken to a complainant in April 2019, but Ms Higgins did not wish to proceed with a formal complaint. Now politicians recollections say police were not involved.
Initially this week, I heard that Australian Federal Police would get involved in the investigation. This seems not to be the case now.
Ms Higgins says she was denied access to the CCTV footage. ABC News Online reports that a spokesperson for the Department of Parliamentary Services says the vision was on file ready to give to police. The DPS claims it is unaware of any request by Ms Higgins to view or access the CCTV footage.
The Prime Minister has announced an independent review into the workplaces of parliamentarians and their staff.
Not sure I’d have much if any faith in that process. Now that many details of the alleged rape are out, this should be left in the hands of police to investigate. A “review” is likely to water down any recommendations and in my opinion make a prosecution virtually impossible.
I hope Ms Higgins gets justice. Those responsible and those who have and are enabling those responsible should pay a very heavy price. Sexual assault is unacceptable anywhere in Australia even in Canberra.
21 FEB 2021: It has since come out that a second woman has come forward claiming that she too was raped by the same male that allegedly raped Ms Higgins. The Prime Minister is still denying that he knew about these reports despite text messages that would suggest he was at least aware of Ms Higgins situation.