While it’s possible that Scott Morrison wasn’t told about Brittany Higgins, enough people in the bubble knew. So, why haven’t heads rolled?
CW: The following piece discusses rape and sexual assault.
This is an editorial I did not want to write. I received an email from The Big Smoke editor which said, in part: “Considering the continued evidence of an ill ‘boys club’ culture in Canberra, if you could offer an insider’s view? You’re one of the few that have been on the other side of the fence. Is it worth exploring, or not?”
My reply was No. I wrote: “Thought about it, but I really can’t. To be honest, I did not see that. Don’t dispute the Higgins story at all, but I didn’t experience any of that.”
That was last week. Since then, I have had a stream of Twitter and Facebook accusations along the lines of “Hey, Hinch, where are you? Why the silence?” And there are now four young women accusing the same male staffer in Linda Reynolds’ office of rape and sexual assault, all inside the ‘Canberra bubble’.
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It has now completely enmeshed the Prime Minister’s office. It reminds me of the Watergate days when Senator Howard Baker posed the explosive question about Richard Nixon: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” That question justifiably applies to Prime Minister Morrison and the rape allegations just down the corridor from his office. What did the PM know and when did he know it?
In the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister has been so categorical about his timeline, that you have to feel he is telling the truth. But, it is obvious, his senior staffers did know. Ministers did know. Why wasn’t the Prime Minister told? Why haven’t heads rolled? When I was a senator, if a staffer withheld such devastating information, for whatever reason, I would have sacked them.
New: Scott Morrison’s office has acknowledged that another current prime ministerial adviser knew about the termination of a staff member in Linda Reynolds’ office alleged to have raped Brittany Higgins in 2019 because of their “previous role” https://t.co/nqhUP54bwi #auspol
— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) February 22, 2021
There is another area in this sad saga where Scott Morrison has come up wanting. He made much of the fact, on TV, that he had ‘gone home to Jen’ (a woman of obvious wisdom) and his wife had told him that he had to think about the issue as a father. Think about if such sexual brutality had happened to his own daughters. That, apparently, shook the shale from his eyes.
What? Scott Morrison didn’t think an alleged rape in a minister’s office, down the corridor, was really serious until Jen told him? What if he had no daughters? I have no daughters, but I know that rape is a crime. One of the worst exploitative crimes on this planet. You don’t have to check with your wife to know that.
Scott Morrison didn’t think an alleged rape in a minister’s office, down the corridor, was really serious until Jen told him? What if he had no daughters? I have no daughters, but I know that it is the worst exploitative crimes on this planet.
Going back to my reluctance to write about this. It reminds me of when the grubby Barnaby Joyce scandal erupted. I was then a senator in Canberra. Twitter trolls accused me of protecting Barnyard Barnaby. I did not know until the story broke in the newspapers. The recent Four Corners edition was fascinating but was also news to me. I am sure there is a touch of ‘What goes on the road, stays on the road’. But if Canberra is a bubble, it is now one under a fierce microscope.
My most salacious gossip, I guess, came from a senior Turnbull government minister. He was from the House of Reps – the ‘other place’ as Senators demean it. We rarely crossed paths. As I walked their corridors one night, he reminisced, telling me that ‘…we used to have corridor parties every Thursday night in sitting weeks. But we had to stop them. There was too much horizontal folk dancing in the corridors.’
As far as I know, that was consensual. What happened to Brittany Higgins was not. It’s time that Canberra knew the difference.