/ 18 February 2021

Higgins assault plot thickens

Former federal Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins yesterday accused PM Scott Morrison of “victim-blaming” in his response to her claims that she was raped by a colleague inside Parliament House in 2019. And she says she’s upset it’s taken her to quit her job and go public to learn details about the night in question. “I didn’t know that security guards let me into Minister [Linda] Reynolds suite. I didn’t know that a security guard came into the office multiple times seeing me in a state of undress. I didn’t know they were undertaking an internal review into how the matter was handled at the time. I didn’t know that they debated calling an ambulance at the time of the incident.” And Higgins says she wants more answers about how her claims have been handled.

Senior Coalition figures were put under pressure by Labor yesterday to account for what they knew about Higgins’ claim, and when. In Parliament yesterday, Higgins’ first boss Defence Minister Reynolds cited privacy concerns and a police investigation as reasons not to detail her knowledge of events. But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who hired Higgins in June 2019, said she found out about the rape allegation on 5 February when Higgins told her she wanted to resign. “I told her I wanted her to stay in her role and I told her I would do anything to assist her,” Cash said. Meanwhile, details of an independent review into the treatment of staffers who work for federal politicians emerged last night. Staff will be involved in the process that Morrison says will focus on “the adequacy, effectiveness, independence and awareness of current supports that are available”.

News Corp papers report this morning that the man who Higgins claims assaulted her is in a Sydney hospital receiving psychiatric care after checking himself in this week. He resigned days after the alleged attack when questioned about entering Reynolds Parliament House office late at night. On Higgins’ rape claims, he has never been charged because a police complaint was not pursued.

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