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Higgins takes assault complaint to AFP


Brittany Higgins went public this week with allegations she was raped in 2019, plunging the Morrison government into a political crisis.

"I have re-engaged with Australian Federal Police and will proceed with a formal complaint regarding the crime committed against me in what should be the safest building in Australia," she said.

"The Australian Federal Police have made assurances to me that they will handle this matter thoroughly and transparently."

Ms Higgins, who has since resigned from her job as a Liberal staff member, has also demanded a review into the conditions under which ministerial and parliamentary staff are employed.

"Political advisers have very few protections, resources and confidential reporting mechanisms to address any workplace issues," she said.

"Too often, a toxic workplace culture can emerge that enables inappropriate conduct and this is exacerbated by the disparity in the power dynamics."

She referred to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's own words that she should be given "agency" going forward, saying, "I don't believe that agency was provided to me over the past two years but I seize it now".

Ms Higgins said she expected to have a voice in framing the scope and terms of reference for a review into conditions for ministerial and parliamentary staff.

From the outset of going public about her alleged sexual assault in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, she had done so with a higher aim.

"I was failed repeatedly, but I now have my voice, and I am determined to use to ensure that this is never allowed to happen to another member of staff again."

Explosive text messages have cast serious doubt over when the prime minister's office first knew about the alleged rape.

Mr Morrison claims his office did not find out about the alleged rape until last week and he was not informed until Monday.

But a text message exchange between Ms Higgins and a fellow Liberal staffer within a fortnight of the incident calls this account into question.

In the message, the Liberal staffer said he had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison's staff.

The prime minister is standing by his timeline, despite Ms Higgins saying at least three of his staff had prior knowledge of the incident.

While the messages appear to confirm her account, Mr Morrison wants the nation's top public servant to review communication records.

"If there was anything different here, I would like to know," he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

Mr Morrison denied he had misled the public and maintains he is horrified by the allegations.

"I have sought to be as open and honest as I can be about this matter," he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the text messages completely contradicted Mr Morrison's claim that his office wasn't informed until last week.

© AAP 2021

Photo: AFP website