Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins came forward with shocking details where she alleges she was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague in 2019. When asked about the incident, Morrison said that there were supposedly mechanisms in place for people who made sexual assault allegations.
“They failed,” Grimshaw responded. “They did,” the PM replied, to which Grimshaw added, “Pretty abysmally.”
Morrison tried to explain what went wrong but still Grimshaw had to ask, “Why was she [Higgins] very much on her own?”
Morrison could only squirm as Grimshaw added: “She told Minister Reynolds’ Chief of Staff within days of it happening, then Minister Reynolds was told about it. She told people about it. Why was she on her own? People failed her. You talk about processes, you don’t need processes to know how to act humanly and with humanity to someone who has a human problem, surely.”
She added, “You don’t need processes to make them a cup of tea, drive them home, make an appointment for a counsellor, don’t just give them a number and say, ‘here, call this number, do you best.’ She was abandoned, wasn’t she?”
Attorney-General Christian Porter also finds himself at the centre of historic allegations that he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988. Despite categorically denying such claims, the woman in question took her own life in 2020 shortly after the case was closed by NSW police. Consequently, there’s been no chance to reopen the case and investigate it more thoroughly, which many advocates are demanding.
Morrison maintained that he always backed Porter and believed he was innocent, but Grimshaw suggested that if he really wanted to be certain, there are alternative means of investigating the allegations.
“Christian Porter vehemently denies the allegations against him. You have immediately believed him,” Grimshaw said.
Morrison then replied: “The police have decided that there is no further investigation.”
Grimshaw then pointed out the problem of conflating a non-existent investigation with a hypothetical investigation that has been concluded. “There really wasn’t an investigation because his accuser died, she took her life,” said Grimshaw.
The PM then brought up the historic rape allegations which came up against former Labor leader Bill Shorten in 2014, and which saw him cleared after a police investigation was conducted and he was found to be innocent. However the key difference here is that there was an investigation into Shorten’s case.
To this Grimshaw responded, “Christian Porter has vehemently denied it, we watched the press conference, and he said ‘imagine if this isn’t true.’ It seems like nobody in the government has thought, ‘imagine if it is.’”
Politics and sexual assault
After videos went viral, Grimshaw pressed Morrison on how he’s handling the growing number of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct allegations against the government and why, at least currently, he seems to be addressing it as a political issue rather than as an actual human being.
“You have treated it like a political problem right until right up until Tuesday,” she said.
“It is not a political problem, it is a human problem, a lived problem. It has never been a political problem.”
When Morrison then said he’d support the idea of a quota for female politicians in parliament, Grimshaw said: “I don’t know many self-respecting, confident women who would want a quota to be the reason why they got a promotion or a job…they would want to get there on merit.”
She added, “I am not sure if quotes are a solution, and I am wondering if instead of quotas, and actively discriminating in favour of women, you would be better off starting to actively discriminate against Neanderthal man like the so-called ‘Big Swinging Dicks Club’ that Julie Bishop says stood in her way.”
It was quite the interview, but there remains much to be desired as far as Scott Morrison’s response goes. To watch the full interview, visit the website here.
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