Bruce Lehrmann’s trial is in its second week, and many are worried about Brittany Higgins’ well-being after she was unavailable to attend the trial.
In this 2021 article, editor Michelle Pini examined the despicable way the Morrison government turned its back on Higgins and tried to cover up the scandal.
*CONTENT DISCLAIMER: This article is about rape
IN THE Morrison government, it seems, it’s not as important who knew what happened – or when – in the Brittany Higgins case as it may be for the rest of us. we.
Details such as crucial evidence of alleged rape, justice for the victim, a rapist still at large, or government ministers only interested in saving their own skins are neither here nor there.
What do the media know? What issues need to be managed? How to make all this go away? These are the pertinent questions. Because, when you’re not trying to investigate a crime but only looking to take care of the optics, the first priority is to make sure someone else finds out.
This week, like many weeks since ex-Liberal Party worker Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped by a fellow Liberal in parliament – the people’s house – further revelations from a massive cover-up emerged. However, evidence that the government is trying to establish the facts of the case never materialized.
With each passing week, the list of people who knew about the alleged rape but chose not to act and who can’t remember when they knew what they knew, or if they knew anything, continues. to lie down.
Consider the following comment during yesterday’s Senate Estimates from the person leading the internal investigation into the government’s handling of Higgins’ allegations, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens:
“My view, then, is to ask them questions relating to this matter which confirmed, in my view, that the Prime Minister was briefed by his office when they told him they told him.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Phil! But let’s not get too carried away on the veracity of his words since – despite the internal investigation reaching 100 days – Phil himself seems more than a little puzzled.
In the following exchange (during the Estimates) with Senator Penny Wong, Phil “sheds some light” on his role in the investigation:
WONG: You just told Senator Gallagher…that you understand your mandate is to verify what the Prime Minister’s staff told him. So what do you understand to be the facts you are checking?
GAETJENS: Senator, I’ll take note…
WONG: Not sure what you are supposed to check in this survey?
Senator Simon Birmingham was also asked in the Senate estimates why the alleged rapist was fired, but he also seemed quite baffled, taking most of the questions on notice.
Penny Wong summed up Birmingham’s contribution to the investigation thus:
“…You take into account the facts that you check, you refuse to tell…the Committee how many interviews with the Prime Minister’s staff you have undertaken and you cannot give us a date when you will give the report? And you can’t, Senator Birmingham, tell people that the report will be made public?
Then there is a report tabled in Parliament yesterday by the Prime Minister’s current chief of staff, John Kunkel, in which the department investigated its own conduct regarding allegations of defamation of the reputation of Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. Kunkel’s report declined to find “first-hand” evidence that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s media team gave negative information to reporters against Sharaz. Sure.
However, as Penny Wong pointed out, the report “don’t exonerate anyone” as Kunkel did not “to find that the bottom didn’t happen – he just didn’t find that it did”.
No independent investigation is therefore necessary.
It’s no surprise that the office of Peter Dutton – who initially dismissed the allegations as a ‘he said, she said’ scenario – was told 16 months before he claimed to have been told. Earlier this year, Dutton revealed that the first time he heard of this particular rape allegation was on February 12, 2021, when Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw shared the information according to disclosure guidelines for “sensitive investigations”.
However, we now know, also thanks to AFP, that Peter Dutton’s office knew of an alleged sexual assault in October 2019. Either Dutton’s department made extraordinary efforts, over 16 long months, to hide from him, or he suffered an episode of extreme memory, reminding Arthur “I don’t remember” Sinodinos.
It’s also perhaps unsurprising that Dutton also chose not to act. Shockingly, it now appears he lied when he knew what he knew, making him complicit in the cover-up. Then again, given Dutton’s record, it’s not that surprising either.
Then there is the Prime Minister himself, who has always maintained that he and his entire office were unaware of the alleged rape until February 11, 2021. At least Morrison admits knowing 24 hours before Dutton.
Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, in whose office the crime is believed to have taken place, had known since March 2019 when the alleged incident had occurred, but did not alert the Prime Minister or, apparently, anyone of note. . She also did not open an investigation. Or review security procedures.
Given that the incident was treated as a “security breach”, CCTV footage of Reynolds’ office at the time of the incident would likely have been viewed by parliamentary security officers, Prime Minister’s Office staff minister – including the then senior adviser to the PM, Fiona Brown – and, presumably, by Reynolds.
But it was never seen by the victim, or even made available to AFP or anyone else notorious, apparently. Reynolds, however, managed to find the time to have the couch – where the incident may or may not have taken place – cleaned. Maybe she was told by our pious PM that cleanliness is next to godliness. Reynolds also found time to call alleged victim Brittany Higgins, “a lying cow” — I don’t know where this advice comes from.
And Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash said she didn’t know until February 5 this year – a full six days before Morrison and seven before Dutton. She also did not share this information with the PM. Or then Home Secretary Dutton. Or take any action whatsoever.
So to sum up, the only staff authorized to cover up the Higgins Mission Rape are: Parliamentary Security Staff, Reynolds, Reynolds Staff, Fiona Brown, Michaelia Cash, Cash Staff, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, the Home Office, Peter Dutton, the AFP, the alleged rapist, the husbands and wives of all of the above, their friends, families, families’ au pairstheir families’ tennis partners and, possibly, the Prime Minister.
Joking aside, it seems clear from this complete debacle that is the Morrison government “inquiry” that there is no transparency. We cannot trust this government to properly investigate such a serious matter or the resulting allegations of incompetence and corruption. Only an independent investigation can hope to establish the facts.
When Scott Morrison claimed he knew nothing before the media, he also claimed to have “listen to Brittany”.
The Prime Minister then claimed to have had an epiphany after his wife, Jenny, ‘clarified’ things for him when she said:
“You have to think about it as a father first. What would you like to happen if it was our daughters?
Well, apparently not much.
Follow IA Editor-in-Chief Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.
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