Sydney | Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday apologized for the way his government behaved in 2019 in the face of a former employee who claimed to have been raped by a colleague in Parliament, charges which have sparked a scandal since their disclosure Monday.
Brittany Higgins, then working for Linda Reynolds – then Minister of Defense Industry and has since become Minister of Defense – claims she was raped by a male colleague in the Minister’s office in Parliament after a drunken evening with others colleagues from the Liberal Party.
Ms Higgins told news.com.au that after reporting the assault to a superior, she was invited to attend a formal meeting in the very room where the rape was allegedly committed.
At the 24-year-old then, she had had what she considered “a dream job” for a few months. But she felt during the meeting with her superiors that she had to choose between her career and making a complaint to the police.
The revelations come as several cases of sexual assault, intimidation and harassment have cast a harsh light in recent years on the place of women in Australian politics.
Ms Higgins told Channel 10 on Monday night that she felt like “a political problem” that needed to be resolved, and that she felt her bosses would be “uncomfortable” if she brought up again. this case.
The government initially defended the attitude of Ms Higgins’ superiors, saying they had encouraged her to file a complaint and that she would be supported regardless of her decision. An Australian official, however, conceded that the choice of the venue for the meeting had been a mistake.
But these statements have in no way helped to dampen the excitement over Ms. Higgins’ revelations, on the contrary.
And the Prime Minister made a 180 turn on Friday and apologized.
“It shouldn’t have happened. And I apologize, ”he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr. Morrison explained that after discussing it with his wife on Monday evening, he realized that the response to the scandal had to be beefed up and announced an investigation into how sexual assault complaints are collected, and another on the working culture in Parliament.
“Work environments where young women find themselves in such vulnerable situations should not exist,” he said.
Ms Higgins thanked the head of government for his apologies, but said she should not have had to alert the media for action to be taken.