Australia PM apologises to staffer who alleges she was raped in parliament

Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under intense scrutiny over what he knew about an alleged rape inside Parliament House.

Mr Morrison said he believed those who offered Ms Higgins support had the best intentions, but at the end of the day it was not okay she did not feel that way.

Scott Morrison has vowed to improve women's safety in parliament after discussing a young staffer's alleged rape with his wife Jenny.

The allegations are now under a renewed police investigation.

Mr Morrison said he had watched the interview with his wife Jenny and it "shattered" him that Ms Higgins found herself in the vulnerable situation that she was in.

Tegan George, a federal politics reporter for Channel Ten, was quick to post a video of her questioning Scott Morrison nearly immediately after his statement.

Mr Morrison, a father of two daughters, revealed he was determined to take action after speaking to his wife about the incident on Monday night.

It didn't feel like it was anything about me, ' Ms Higgins told news.com.au.

It took Brittany Higgins two years to break her silence.

Former Liberal Staffer Brittany Higgins alleges that she was raped by a male colleague inside the ministerial office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019.

"The continued victim blaming rhetoric by the Prime Minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors", she said in a statement. "I was crying. I told him to stop, but he didn't".

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

She said a person in Mr Morrison's office checked in on her past year, around the time Four Corners broadcast its story on sexism and inappropriate behaviour by the Attorney-General.

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"It felt like I immediately became sort of like a political problem.it wasn't a staffing problem, it wasn't an HR problem, wasn't a human problem".

Senator Reynolds, who has known about the alleged rape for almost two years, offered an unreserved apology to Ms Higgins for her handling of the complaint.

Yesterday, the government's response to an alleged rape that was said to have taken place inside parliament house in 2019 came under intense fire from people across Australia, and now Today host Karl Stefanovic has added his voice to the outcry, slamming the alleged incident as "beyond belief".

"I just thought it was unfathomable that they would put me in that space again".

Ms Higgins said she was drunk and fell asleep in the minister's office, before waking to find the man sexually assaulting her.

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

Mr Morrison apologised specifically for the meeting in Ms Reynolds' office, where Ms Higgins alleges the rape took place. "So, I hope Brittany's call is a wake-up for all of us from that point of view".

Mr Morrison said he has tasked Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet official Stephanie Foster with reviewing the process in dealing with workplace complaints, while a backbench lawmaker will investigate workplace culture.

"I want to make sure that any young woman working in this place is as safe as possible", he said.

His comments have drawn much criticism online from women who suggested that Mr Morrison should not need to do that.

Morrison on Tuesday apologized to Higgins and promised an investigation.

In 2019, female backbench lawmakers said they felt bullied to support a move to oust then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, while a former female Liberal staff member previous year made an official complaint of improper behaviour by then immigration minister Alan Tudge.

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