On Friday, Scott Morrison admitted that he offered to meet Brittany Higgins a month before he apparently knew about the allegations involving her.
CW: The following piece discusses sexual assault
Prime Minister Scott Morrison states in this interview that when Brittany Higgins expressed her intention to resign from the office of Michaelia Cash in January 2021, she was offered the opportunity to speak with him before her allegations of rape by a senior staffer in Parliament House were aired in the media.
“At the time just before she departed she was offered the opportunity to come and speak with me with Minister Cash,” he says.
The Higgins story broke on February 15. Morrison has steadfastly denied that he knew anything about the alleged rape of Ms Higgins until that day. Ms Higgins left Cash’s office on February 5, ten days before the story broke.
Why would the Prime Minister offer to meet with Ms Higgins prior to her departure from Cash’s office, if, as he has maintained for the last two months and stated several times in Parliament, he knew nothing about the alleged rape until it was aired in the media?
As Scott Morrison looks to shift the culture within parliament house, beginning with a meeting with Brittany Higgins, it seems the PM is being undermined by one of his own MPs. @jekearsley #AusPol #9News pic.twitter.com/BfsoYbglw9
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) March 26, 2021
Facing intense questioning on the involvement of his department and himself, Morrison instructed Secretary Phil Gaetjens to conduct an inquiry into when the PMO knew about the alleged rape, and who had been informed. This inquiry has since been halted, though Morrison did not notify Parliament of its cessation, leading the House to believe it was still underway.
Senator Cash has denied that she knew the “full details” of the allegations until Ms Higgins indicated her intention to resign at the end of January.
Why would Cash consider accompanying Ms Higgins to a proposed meeting with the Prime Minister if Cash believed Morrison knew nothing about the alleged rape and indeed, had only just found out herself?
Ms Higgins, by the way, says she was never informed of this invitation from the Prime Minister.
It’s not clear if Cash was ever informed, either.
Morrison has gone to extraordinary lengths to convince Parliament and the general public that he was ignorant of the rape allegations until the story appeared in the media on February 15. He claims his office was unaware until February 12.
In one sentence, the Prime Minister has done irrevocable damage to this narrative. He has also exposed the unreliability of all other accounts that have been tailored to support his own, accounts from ministers, senators, senior public servants and staffers.
Morrison’s one sentence has the power to bring the entire dysfunctional edifice crashing down, if the press gallery will follow it up.
If the Prime Minister didn’t know, why would he extend an offer to meet with Ms Higgins in January?
If the Prime Minister did know, he’s been lying to Parliament and the public.
This piece was originally published by the Australian Independent Media Network.