Australia PM Apologises After Woman Alleged She Was Raped In Parliament

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison: Australian PM Scott Morrison Apologises After Woman Alleged She Was Raped In Parliament.

Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, apologised on February 16 to a former political advisor who alleged that she was raped in Parliament by a senior colleague. Furthermore, he promised a proper and extensive investigation into the work culture of the government space.

The PM told the reporters. “That should not have happened, and I do apologise. It shatters me that still, in this day and age, a young woman can find herself in the vulnerable situation that she was in, not her doing. We have to do more, whether it’s in this workplace or any other workplace in the country, to ensure people can work safely in their place and be at their best and do what they went into that job to do.”

Scott Morrison reportedly appointed government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament’s work-culture as well as for the improvement and protection of the staff.

“I want to make sure that any young woman working in this place is as safe as possible. My wife told me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ I hope [the woman’s] call is a wake-up call for all of us.” Scott Morrison added.

Linda Reynolds, now the defence minister, also apologised for having not done enough to support the staffer. “I deeply, deeply regret conducting the meeting in my office where the alleged incident occurred,” she said. However, she claimed that she never gave Higgins a choice between her job and making a police complaint.

This apology came after a woman claimed in a televised interview on Monday that she was raped in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019 by a senior colleague who also worked for the ruling Liberal party.

She revealed that she had spoken to the police in early April of that year. However, she eventually decided against filing the complaint due to fear of jeopardising her career prospects. Canberra police confirmed that they did speak to the complainant, but she chose not to file a case against the person. She further added that she did not receive the support she needed from bosses or other colleagues to seek justice.

The opposition questioned how Scott Morrison could continue to have confidence in Linda Reynolds as she hadn’t informed him of the alleged rape.

Allegations of Rape

In an interview with Network Ten, an ex-government staffer stated that when she was new to the job, she went out for drinks with a group, including her alleged attacker who was an older male colleague. She revealed that she was offered a lift home by the man at the end of the night. However, she claimed that he took her to Parliament. She was reportedly drunk and had fallen asleep in the minister’s office. The woman suddenly woke up from her slumber, finding the man sexually assaulting her.

“I woke up mid-rape essentially. I started crying… I told him to stop.” The man then left immediately afterwards. Furthermore, the then 24-year-old woman said that when she informed her employer about the heinous incident, the office tried to downplay the trauma.

“It felt like I became… it immediately became a political problem. Reynolds told me she would be supporting me if I pursued a police complaint, but I felt pressured not to, believing it would end my career.” She further said that the meeting with the minister was held in the room where the alleged attack took place.

“There was a loop happening in my mind of this trauma that I’d just sort of come to terms with and I thought it was unfathomable that they would put me in such a place again,” she said.

The man she accused was reportedly fired for a security breach for taking her into the minister’s office and leaving her there on a couch after a night of heavy drinking.

Moreover, she resigned from her post in January this year and plans to reinstate her police complaint.

“I think that resigning is the only thing I can personally do to say that I don’t think anyone else should go through what I went through,” she further told.

Woman’s statement after apology

After the PM’s apology, the woman issued an official statement on Tuesday, thanking the Australian PM for his apology and cooperation.

The statement was, “The prime minister’s announcement of an investigation into the culture in Parliament House is a welcomed first step, though it is long overdue. It should not have taken my story, or the story of other victim-survivors to air on national television for the prime minister — or any Member of Parliament — to take action on workplace sexual harassment, assault or bullying.”


Feature Image Credits: Deccan Herald