Former Liberal staff member Brittany Higgins says she was only aware of some of the details of the night she was raped in the House of Parliament after she came out publicly with her story.
- Ms Higgins says she became aware of the ‘key elements’ after making her allegations public
- She has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of ‘victim guilt’
- Mr Morrison has asked his department chief to find out if a member of his staff contacted Ms. Higgins after the alleged rape
Ms. Higgins alleges a colleague raped her in the office of then-Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds after a nightmare in 2019.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, she blamed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the “victim’s guilt” and said “the government has questions to answer for their behavior”.
“I have only become aware of the main elements of my sexual assault as a result of public appearance with my story,” she said.
“I did not know that the security guards allowed me to enter Minister Reynolds’s suite. I did not know that a security guard entered the office several times, seeing me in a state of undress.
“I did not know they were arguing by calling an ambulance at the time of the incident.”
She said one of the Prime Minister’s staff and a person working in another office had refused to provide CCTV footage of the night.
“And it constantly made me feel like my continued employment would be jeopardized if I went further with the issue,” she said.
The prime minister said he had asked his department head to check if a member of his staff had contacted Ms Higgins last year.
Yesterday, Mr Morrison said his office was first advised of the allegations made by Ms Higgins late last week and there was no evidence anyone had spoken to her before.
“About mine [staff member]”There is nothing that has been put in front of me, nothing, including phone records or anything else that suggests that it really was,” he said.
Ms. Higgins told the Channel 10 Project that a person in Mr. Morrison’s office reached out to “check in” last year, around the time the Four Corners aired its story on sexism and inappropriate behavior by the Attorney General.
Today, Labor asked the Prime Minister if he accepted Ms Higgins’ statement.
“I refer to the answer I gave yesterday on this issue and the advice I have is that it was the first time I showed yesterday that my office became aware of those issues, and I am engaged with the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to verify that advice, “he replied.
ABC has been told the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet has been asked to look at the working telephone records for that particular staff member.
The prime minister has also announced an independent review, the third stage triggered by Ms Higgins’s “government-length” claims will be carried out in the jobs of parliamentarians and their staff.
In a letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, who called for the establishment of an independent grievance body for political staff, Mr Morrison said he hoped all political parties would be involved in conducting the review.
“In particular, I have asked that this process take into account the adequacy, effectiveness, independence and awareness of the current support available to parliamentarians and their staff,” he said.
“Importers It is important that the staff working with us is heard in the process.”
Yesterday, Mr Morrison announced two new initiatives following the allegations.
The first will see Western Australian MP Celia Hammond work with Coalition MPs to consider the new standards. The second, overseen by senior bureaucrats in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Stephanie Foster, will advise Mr Morrison on how to set up an external grievance redressal process.
Ms Higgins was working for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash until she resigned earlier this month.
Today, Senator Cash said she just became aware of the full nature of Ms. Higgin’s claims last week.
“I only recently became aware, in fact about the alleged rape, it was when a journalist contacted my office for comment,” she told Question Time.
“On Friday, February 5, Brittany and I talked and she revealed details of what had happened.
“I told her I wanted her to stay in her role and I would do anything to help her … I offered to go directly to VET with her, so that she could provide them with a statement.
“She advised me that she did not want to follow him.”
Senator Cash said she also offered to go with Ms. Higgins’ to say to the Prime Minister, but she said “no” and that she wanted to preserve her privacy.
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