Brittany Higgins welcomes Scott Morrison’s invitation to meet and discuss workplace culture after she was allegedly raped by a colleague inside Parliament House
- Scott Morrison offers to meet alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins ‘anywhere’
- Ms Higgins welcomes chance to change workplace culture in Parliament House
- Inquiry begun into alleged smear campaign digging into Ms Higgins’ partner
The prime minister has offered to meet Brittany Higgins anywhere she chooses, should she wish to talk.
Scott Morrison said he was happy to meet with the former Liberal staffer, who alleges she was raped by a colleague inside a ministerial office.
‘We’ve always sought to respect her privacy and her wishes on this,’ he said on Friday.
‘I could also appreciate why she wouldn’t necessarily meet in Parliament House, that would be totally understandable.
Brittany Higgins, who alleged she was raped in Parliament House, has welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s offer to come to talk about how to change workplace culture
‘We can arrange to meet in other cities.’
He said Ms Higgins had not expressed an interest in meeting with him but has since said she did not know that was on offer.
‘I was never made aware that the Prime Minister was willing to discuss my concerns about how my assault was handled,’ she said in a statement to Nine News.
‘I welcome the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister to discuss how the workplace culture in Parliament House can be improved.’
The prime minister has meanwhile instigated an inquiry into whether his office was briefing journalists against Ms Higgins’ partner in an attempt to discredit and undermine her.
His chief of staff has spoken to a ‘direct and primary’ source who witnessed the alleged backgrounding.
He thanked the confidential informant for coming forward but would not say when any action would be taken.
‘With anything as sensitive as this, it’s important it follows a proper process to look into these matters,’ Mr Morrison said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered to meet Ms Higgins ‘anywhere’ she feels comfortable
‘It’s not appropriate for me to give a running commentary on each step of that process.
‘Australians should know that we are taking this extremely seriously and following up on all of that information that has been provided to us.’
Labor asked every day for two weeks whether the prime minister’s staff had backgrounded against Ms Higgins’ loved ones.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said it was disappointing Mr Morrison took action only after somebody came forward with first-hand information, rather than seeking out an answer himself.
Ms Higgins also wrote to the prime minister’s chief of staff requesting an investigation, saying the backgrounding was reported to her by various sources at multiple media outlets.
‘He should ask his office and just say what happened with the undermining of Brittany Higgins’ loved ones,’ Mr Albanese said.
Ms Higgins was allegedly raped in Parliament House by a colleague
The prime minister is seeking a circuit-breaker after being criticised for his tone-deaf response to a national debate about the treatment of women.
The conversation was sparked by Ms Higgins coming forward last month to allege she was raped by a colleague in 2019.
There have since been rape accusations levelled at Attorney-General Christian Porter, which he denies, and revelations of a toxic workplace culture in Parliament House.
The horrific allegations have engulfed the Morrison government and started a wider debate about sexual discrimination, harassment and abuse.
The prime minister has admitted repeatedly failing in his tin-eared response to the national movement and conceded he failed to grasp the depth of anger about violence against women.
He has also admitted people in his government failed Ms Higgins after she reported the alleged rape in parliament.
Mr Morrison will try to clear the air by reshuffling his frontbench line-up in coming days.
But shifting Mr Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, who had to apologise for calling Ms Higgins a ‘lying cow’, to other portfolios is unlikely to satisfy those demanding accountability.
A national debate on the treatment of women was sparked by Ms Higgins speaking up last month about her alleged rape in Parliament House at the hands of an older colleague