Australian PM apologizes over handling of rape complaint
Published: 11:24 AM, 16 February 2021 Updated: 05:23 PM, 16 February 2021
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Photo: Collected
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized on Tuesday to a woman, a former political adviser, who alleged she was “raped in the Parliament” by a senior colleague and promised a proper investigation.
“That should not have happened, and I do apologize. I want to make sure any young woman working in this place is as safe as possible” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Morrison said he has appointed the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet official Stephanie Foster to review the process in dealing with workplace complaints, while a backbench lawmaker will investigate workplace culture.
The former political adviser named Brittany Higgins said she had been raped in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019 by a senior colleague who also worked for Morrison’s ruling Liberal party.
She told local media that she spoke with the police in early April of that year, but she decided against making a formal complaint amid concerns about her “career prospects.”
Police in the capital confirmed they had spoken to a complainant in April 2019, but she chose not to make a formal complaint.
The woman said she told senior staff in Reynolds’ office of the alleged attack. She said she was then asked to attend a meeting in the office where she says she was assaulted.
Reynolds on Monday confirmed she had been told of the complaint last year, though she denied the woman was pressured against making a police complaint.
Meanwhile, the allegation has intensified pressure on Scott Morrison after a series of allegations of improper behavior towards women within the Liberal party.
In 2019, female backbench lawmakers said they felt bullied to support a move to oust then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull while a former female Liberal staff member made an official complaint of improper behavior by then immigration minister Alan Tudge last year. However, Tudge denied the allegation.
Source: BBC, NDTV