We’re back. It’s just not getting any better, is it.
After the story of Coalition staffers performing lewd acts in offices, including on a desk belonging to a female MP, we then heard from a security guard working in the parliament on the night Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped.
Nikola Anderson described finding Higgins in Linda Reynolds’ office at 4.20am sleeping on a couch. She was unclothed. She closed the door and left. Higgins’ male colleague had left the building earlier. Higgins has told her story of what she says happened that night. Police are investigating.
Scott Morrison said the man Higgins accused of raping her had been fired for a “security breach”. Anderson says both the man and Higgins were active pass holders, which gave them access to the building after-hours – even without their passes. The government hasn’t said what the nature of the security breach was. Anderson says she had only just been contacted by police and plans on giving a statement on what she remembers from that night, but had spoken out publicly as she did not want to be “scapegoated” into losing her job.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like for Higgins to have seen that Four Corners program and had parts of your own story told to you.
But it was only yesterday we learned the inquiry into who knew what about the allegations within the prime minister’s office had been “paused” under advice from the Australian federal police on 9 March. Scott Morrison had been told, but didn’t make it public, despite being asked numerous questions about the inquiry’s progress. He chose to focus on semantics – when the report would be completed – to which he said he didn’t know rather than say it had been put on hold.
Embroiled in a political crisis, Scott Morrison is looking tricky, unable to be straight with the public #auspol https://t.co/p7hk5IqXVX
March 22, 2021
Asked about that, he accused the opposition of playing political games.
Simon Birmingham, the leader of the Senate, told ABC radio this morning he could understand that people might be going to work at Parliament House with a sense of shame today. I think that underestimates the emotions. There has been righteous anger about the handling of these issues for a long time now. When the “bonk ban” (a phrase Morrison doesn’t like) was put in place by Malcolm Turnbull, issues with the culture were raised. People were told it wasn’t a problem. When Rachelle Miller told her story, it was dismissed as the ending of a consensual relationship, ignoring her point about the lack of recourse for staffers when it came to complaints.
It shouldn’t take what it has for any of this to be taken seriously. It’s not shame being felt. It’s rage.
It’s party room meeting day today, which means we’ll hear what the prime minister tells his colleagues. So far, he’s likened the Coalition to being in a boat, all needing to row in the same direction to move forward. Last week, it was Kokoda – the trail gets narrow and you have to work together to get through it. This isn’t something you get through though. It’s something you fix. That has to be driven through leadership though and so far, we’ve seen word games.
Estimates continues and we’ll bring you all the news as it happens. If you’re in a flood danger zone, we’re thinking of you. Calla Wahlquist has a blog keeping you abreast of all the weather news, so keep an eye on that. Mike Bowers is covering the floods, so it’s just me, Amy Remeikis, on the blog today, although as always you have Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp, and a very warm “Huzzah, she’s back” to Sarah Martin, who has returned from maternity leave.
Grab yourself some fortitude and let’s get into it.