Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has disclosed that he has ordered the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet official, Stephanie Foster, to investigate how workplace complaints in Parliament are dealt with.
Morrison apologised on Tuesday to a former government staffer who alleged that she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House two years ago. He said there will be a separate probe into workplace culture
A day after the former staffer, Brittany Higgins, approached the media with her story, the PM vowed to investigate the allegation and also probe the culture inside the country’s political capital.
Higgins, on Monday, accused a former colleague of forcefully having his way with her in March 2019 after an evening work at the defence minister’s office.
While speaking on Australia’s Network 10 show, ‘The Project’, Higgins said her unnamed colleague approached her and persuaded her to go to Parliament House with him in a taxi to “pick something up.”
Unsuspecting Higgins passed out on a couch and later woke up to see her colleague on top of her. All attempts to get him off her failed as he defiantly continued. She is yet to unmask the colleague.
According to Higgins, the police are aware of the crime which she reported in April 2019 but she earlier pulled out to save her career
She said, “It’s just not the right decision for me personally, especially in the light of my workplace demands.”
Police in Canberra confirmed to Reuters they had spoken to a complainant in April 2019, but she chose not to make a formal complaint.
After Higgins told senior staff in Defense Minister, Linda Reynolds’ office of the alleged attack, she was invited for a meeting in the same office she was allegedly assaulted.
Reynolds told Parliament on Monday that she would have conducted the meeting elsewhere if she knew the substance of the allegations.
Morrison on Tuesday apologised to Higgins vowed that a proper investigation would follow the apology. He noted that the accused was immediately fired for breaching security by entering the Parliament House on the night of the alleged rape.
Morrison told reporters in Canberra that “That should not have happened, and I do apologise. I want to make sure any young woman working in this place is as safe as possible.”
Higgins thanked the PM for his apology and stated that the investigation was long overdue.
She said she exposed the crime against her “because I didn’t want what happened to me, to happen to anyone else.
“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.”