Brittany Higgins hits back at Linda Reynolds after it was revealed her former boss called her a ‘lying cow’ – saying it highlights ‘toxic culture’ in parliament
- Brittany Higgins, 24, alleged she was raped in the minister’s office in 2019
- Linda Reynolds did not deny making tasteless comment in an open office space
- Scott Morrison confirmed Reynolds had made comments she ‘deeply regrets’
- Higgins said minister’s comments were ‘incredibly hurtful’ and are inexcusable
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins says the comments made by embattled Defence Minister Linda Reynolds are ‘never excusable’ after Scott Morrison confirmed she called the alleged rape victim a ‘lying cow’.
Ms Higgins, 24, says she was raped by a colleague in Senator Reynolds’ ministerial office in 2019.
The prime minister said Senator Reynolds was frustrated over suggestions she did not give enough support to Ms Higgins at the time of the incident.
He said the remark was made in a private office and she later apologised to staff for the outburst.
‘She deeply regrets it. They were offensive remarks. She should never have made them. I don’t condone them,’ the prime minister told reporters in NSW on Thursday.
Ms Higgins says the comments were ‘incredibly hurtful’.
Brittany Higgins has hit back at Linda Reynolds after it was revealed she called her a ‘lying cow’
‘I appreciate that it has been a stressful time but that sort of behaviour and language is never excusable,’ she said in a statement.
‘It’s just further evidence of the toxic workplace culture that occurs behind closed doors in Parliament House.’
Senator Reynolds, who is on medical leave following heavy criticism of her handling of the allegation, is under increasing pressure to resign.
Ms Higgins didn’t proceed with the police complaint in 2019 out of fear she would lose her job as a media adviser.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie is calling for the minister to quit over the remark.
‘She’s gone this morning. She needs to resign immediately,’ Senator Lambie told Sky News.
‘If she’s not coming out denying that, if she’s trying to smooth it over and throw it somewhere else then I think she’s finished. Her career’s done.’
The prime minister said Senator Linda Reynolds (pictured) was frustrated over suggestions she did not give enough support to Ms Higgins at the time of the incident
Senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said Senator Reynolds needed to explain herself.
‘It’s obviously not an acceptable comment and I think the minister needs to respond publicly,’ she told ABC radio.
Independent MP Zali Steggall said she was shocked to hear Senator Reynolds used the derogatory term towards Ms Higgins.
‘That’s incredibly disappointing and inappropriate of Linda Reynolds and the minister should know better,’ she told the Nine Network.
‘It makes her position all the more untenable.’
Senator Reynolds issued a statement saying she had never questioned Ms Higgins’ account.
‘I did, however, comment on news reports regarding surrounding circumstances that I felt had been misrepresented,’ the minister said.
Ms Higgins has recently reinstated her official complaint with the Australian Federal Police.
Three other women have since alleged they were assaulted by the same man.
He was sacked as a ministerial adviser because of a security breach on the night of Ms Higgins’ alleged rape.