/ 01 March 2021

Rape allegations against two federal pollies

THE SQUIZ

Pressure on PM Scott Morrison is mounting after allegations were aired on Friday that a current member of the Morrison Government’s Cabinet sexually assaulted a teenager in 1988. And last night Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said she’d passed on rape claims against a Labor MP to the Federal Police for investigation. Not much more about the new claim is known as this point. 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CLAIM AGAINST THE CABINET MINISTER?

The young woman reported the rape to NSW Police in February last year, but the investigation was suspended 4 months later when she told them she didn’t want to proceed and took her own life the next day. Neither the woman nor the accused minister have been named, but reports say she was 16yo when the alleged rape occured. The claims, which came to light after anonymous letters and information were received by PM Scott Morrison, Labor frontbencher Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young last week, have been referred to the Federal Police. She was living in South Australia when she died, and a report is being prepared for that state’s coroner.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

What NSW/South Oz/Federal authorities will do next in the case is an open question at this point. PM Scott Morrison hasn’t addressed it yet, but Finance Minister Simon Birmingham fronted the media on Saturday saying his unnamed colleague shouldn’t stand aside. Labor leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said Morrison “must confirm to himself” that it’s appropriate for the minister in question to remain in his job. The PM faces a series of serious issues on the treatment of women in politics. They include sexual assault claims by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and 3 other women against a colleague, and a decision by backbencher Nicole Flint to not contest the next election, reportedly due to the ‘toxic’ political environment for women. With several inquiries and police investigations in place, strap yourself in – it’s going to be a long and painful ride…

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