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so many nagging questions left unanswered – NEWPAPER24




so many nagging questions left unanswered

2021-02-25 01:27:54


Greater than per week since information of the incident broke, we’ve obtained nothing however dishonest deflection from the federal government — and a whole lot of unanswered questions.

Scott Morrison and former ministerial staffer Brittany Higgins (Pictures: AAP Picture/Lukas Coch; Fb)

When Brittany Higgins alleged she’d been raped by a male staffer in Parliament Home, it might have been a possibility for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take a principled stand on a poisonous office tradition.

As an alternative, within the 10 days since, we’ve heard mealy-mouthed statements and dishonest deflection from the federal government — and a whole lot of unanswered questions.

We nonetheless don’t know who knew what concerning the incident and when. We don’t know why Morrison knew nicely after a number of of his ministers and staffers in his workplace. We don’t know what occurred to the alleged perpetrator after the night time in query, or why police and public servants bungled a lot.

What number of ministers knew earlier than the PM?

Morrison maintains he knew nothing of Higgins’ allegations till the information first broke final Monday, February 15. However a lot in his authorities knew a minimum of one thing. Senate President Scott Ryan knew about “an incident” the week after it allegedly occurred, in March 2019. Speaker Tony Smith discovered some element in April that 12 months. Ryan says he solely knew the total particulars on Friday, February 12.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Higgins’ boss on the time, knew the small print inside per week when she had a gathering along with her staffer within the room the place the alleged assault occurred. She’s been repeatedly questioned about what she knew, and has given conflicting accounts of conferences with police. Reynolds would’ve confronted much more scrutiny on the Nationwide Press Membership yesterday, however was admitted to hospital on the recommendation of her heart specialist.

Employment Minister Michaelia Money knew about an “unspecified incident” in late 2019 when Higgins started working for her. She turned conscious of the rape allegations on February 5, 10 days earlier than Morrison.

Yesterday Residence Affairs Minister Peter Dutton revealed he knew as nicely. He’d been tipped off by the Australian Federal Police on February 11, below “sensitive information” pointers which obliged them to tell the minister when Higgins informed them she was contemplating reopening the investigation.

After evading journalists, this morning Dutton defended his choice to not inform Morrison. He additionally described the incident as “he mentioned, she mentioned” — as a result of the person is all class.

So why did none of those ministers really feel the necessity to inform the prime minister? And in the event that they knew, what number of of their senior employees additionally knew? Maybe at this level it’s extra related to ask who within the authorities didn’t know concerning the incident earlier than Morrison.

What occurred within the prime minister’s workplace?

The official line from the prime minister’s workplace is it didn’t know particulars till February 12 when it first obtained questions from For some motive, employees didn’t inform their boss.

Opposition Chief Anthony Albanese says it “doesn’t appear believable” Morrison didn’t know concerning the incident till final Monday as a result of loads of his staffers appeared to. However what number of staffers knew, and what stage of element, can also be unclear.

Fiona Brown, Reynolds’ chief of employees on the time of the incident, knew inside per week. She now works in Morrison’s workplace. On Monday Guardian Australia reported one other staffer now in Morrison’s workplace knew concerning the alleged perpetrator being fired.

There’s additionally proof the PM’s workplace knew a lot earlier. Textual content messages indicate a buddy of Higgins had knowledgeable somebody within the workplace again in 2019. And a few of Morrison’s most senior employees appeared to know one thing.

Higgins says the prime minister’s principal non-public secretary Yaron Finkelstein contacted her on Whatsapp for a “check-in” proper after the ABC’s “Contained in the Canberra Bubble” 4 Corners aired final 12 months. Finkelstein and Morrison deny this. Chief of employees John Kunkel was within the assembly the place the alleged perpetrator was fired, however says he didn’t know concerning the rape allegations till February 12.

Morrison says the whole lot’s effective in his workplace. However the one rationalization for all that is lots of his staffers have spent a whole lot of time with heads buried within the sand.

The alleged perpetrator

We all know the alleged perpetrator’s employment was terminated days later however just for the “safety breach” of being in parliament after darkish.

The federal government received’t say whether or not it offered him with a reference or termination payout. And though his parliamentary entry was cancelled, the federal government couldn’t verify whether or not he’d returned as a customer.

Since leaving parliament, he’s labored at a serious lobbying firm, and a big company from which he was lately stood down. And together with Higgins, four women have made sexual assault allegations towards the person.

5 evaluations

The Morrison authorities has introduced five inquiries. As Crikey reported this week, none actually deal with the important thing query of how so many individuals knew concerning the incident with out doing something.

Morrison additionally refuses to confirm whether or not he’ll launch a report by Phil Gaetjens, his former chief of employees and now secretary of the Division of Prime Minister and Cupboard, into what his workplace knew.

The bungling

Lastly, if we return to the aftermath of the alleged rape, there’s a lot extra which doesn’t stack up. Why did the Division of Finance declare Higgins was supplied an ambulance after being discovered within the workplace, one thing disputed by her and the Division of Parliamentary Companies?

Why did Finance ship steam cleaners into the workplace? Why, in April 2019, did Belconnen police say they have been struggling to find CCTV footage from Parliament Home when Division of Parliamentary Companies later mentioned police did see it?

And why, above all, did so many individuals appear to know extra about Higgins’ alleged rape than she did?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey



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