As it turns out, Peter Dutton knew of the Brittany Higgins incident, but chose not to tell the Prime Minister. Today, he appeared on the radio to speak his truth.
Peter Dutton has been the latest name linked to the Brittany Higgins allegations, as it seems that he knew about the incident, but apparently failed to inform the office of the Prime Minister. Dutton confirmed that he knew of the incident on February 11, which is a day before Scott Morrison’s office became aware of the story (which came via a request from journalist Samantha Maiden), and four before the first article on the incident was published. This is despite the same office having a report of the incident for two years.
According to Josh Butler of The New Daily, “The PM has continually maintained he found out about Ms Higgins’ distressing claims of rape only when the story was published – a claim described as “implausible” by Anthony Albanese, and “absolutely baffling” by former PM Malcolm Turnbull.”
As The Guardian noted, Australian Federal Police policies compel officers to alert the Home Affairs Minister – currently Mr Dutton – of any “politically sensitive matter” they become aware of, at “the earliest opportunity”.
Peter Dutton appeared on 2GB this morning and said that “I’ve been here 20 years, this is the first allegation that I’m aware of, of somebody being raped…no doubt there will be other people who allege that they’ve been sexually assaulted or they’ve been in a circumstance where somebody believed there was consent and there wasn’t.”
Giving Peter Dutton the benefit of the doubt (and ignoring the 96 cases of sexual assault registered in the ACT between October and December of 2020), one can draw the lines between the above comment, and why he didn’t bother informing the Prime Minister. Moreover, in analysing what he said, he doesn’t qualify a lack of consent as sexual assault, which is to say that victims of don’t understand what happened to them. Which, any way you want to cut it, is Peter Dutton gaslighting Brittany Higgins.
Alongside Peter Dutton, those who knew about the incident stands at Defence Minister Linda Reynolds (Higgins’ boss at the time), Employment Minister Michaelia Cash (Higgins’ most recent supervisor), Senate president Scott Ryan, House Speaker Tony Smith (who were alerted to the security breach in Reynolds’ office and liaised with the AFP to produce CCTV footage of the event), Fiona Brown (who was both Linda Reynolds chief of staff at the time of the incident, and now works in Scott Morrison’s office), and according to Brittany Higgins herself, several unnamed senior members of the PMO.