Australian PM apologises, promises probe after allegation of rape in parliament

A woman sits in a courtyard

A woman sits in a courtyard

Ms Higgins, who worked for two Federal Ministers from Western Australia, said she did not receive appropriate support from key figures in the government and that the man she claims attacked her had faced no consequences since the alleged assault in March 2019.

Ms Higgins, 26, gave a TV interview on Monday that has prompted shock and outrage over her treatment.

Morrison on Tuesday apologized to Higgins and promised an investigation.

The allegations are now under a renewed police investigation.

He said parliament's professional standards and culture would be reviewed, saying: "I hope Brittany's call is a wake-up call for all of us".

"That should not have happened, and I do apologise", Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

It didn't feel like it was anything about me, ' Ms Higgins told

Mr Turnbull said he found it "incredible" and "very, very, very hard to believe" that senior advisers in the Prime Minister's office would not have been aware of the nature of the incident.

Reynold, the country's current defense minister, reacted in the Senate: "My only top priority throughout this matter was the welfare of my then-staff member, adding she was "extremely concerned" about Higgins, who said she kept quiet to keep her "dream job".

"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", Higgins told Network Ten.

She said the man left immediately afterwards, and she wasn't offered assistance by security guards on her way out of parliament.

After informing her employer, Ms Higgins felt Ms Reynolds' office tried to "manage" the situation, downplaying her trauma.

"It felt like I immediately became a political problem", she said.

She told the local media that she spoke with the police in early April that year, but decided against making a formal complaint amid concerns about her career prospects.

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Ms Higgins said her leg was "crushed" during the alleged rape and took a photo of an alleged bruise in the bathroom.

"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 remembered.

Tame responded to Higgins' comment in her Instagram post, saying, "To have been referenced as inspiration for Brittany is a positive reinforcement of the power of solidarity".

The allegation has intensified pressure on Mr Morrison after a series of allegations of improper behaviour towards women within the Liberal Party.

What was the PM's response?

Mr Morrison was asked about the meeting between Ms Higgins and Ms Reynolds in the office where the alleged assault occurred.

Parliament House needed an independent reporting mechanism for staff so that they could confidently and safely make complaints, Higgins said.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet official Stephanie Foster has been asked to assess the procedure of dealing with workplace grievances.

She woke up in the middle of the assault. "What would you want to happen if it were our girls?'"

Australian politics has long faced accusations of being a hostile environment for women.

Ms Higgins said chose to speak out after being inspired by women's campaigner and Australian of the Year victor Grace Tame. It has previously been accused of covering up sexual misconduct.

Many were also quick to point out too, that Morrison imagining his own family members in such horrors doesn't apply to families of colour, and Aboriginal families separated by detention centres, and prisons.

A year ago an ABC investigation aired allegations of inappropriate behaviour by ministers within the conservative government.

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