News – AU – Rape scandal in heart of Australian Parliament exposes Prime Minister

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Ordinarily, media savvy Scott Morrison was unable to grapple with the aftermath of an alleged attack in a minister’s office

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison prides himself on his ability to craft media narratives. As a retired advertising professional, he’s used to controlling the message. But in the past two weeks, one story has refused to bow to his will and a vulnerability uncovered: women

Morrison is struggling to cope with the growing anger over how a young employee’s rape allegations are handled, parliamentary culture in general, and the treatment of women who work in it

He was unable to divert attention from questions raised by Brittany Higgins, a former media advisor, who claimed she was raped by a ministerial colleague in March 2019

Initially, the matter was handled internally, with Higgins offering support but also pointing out that an election was only weeks away

The then 24-year-old, who was forced to tell her story to her minister in the same room where the alleged rape took place, said she felt she had to choose between her “dream job” and reporting the matter to the police

Two years later, a prime minister’s photo with Grace Tame, a fearless sexual assault lawyer, turned out to be too much for Higgins, who said she felt she had been “silenced” by the government / p>

She resigned, spoke to the Australian Federal Police about the possibility of reopening her case, and went public, sparking a firestorm for the Morrison government, which struggled to come up with an appropriate response

Almost two weeks after Higgins went public, the government, and Morrison in particular, is still raging

Why the Prime Minister didn’t know and why no one thought of telling him has proven to be one of the most damaging hurdles for Morrison Morrison has insisted that his office do not raise the charges until Jan. February, three days before the story was published, and he was made aware of it when she was told on Jan. First published in February by News Corp

However, it has been found that a growing number of people working in the Prime Minister’s inner sanctuary are aware of the allegations due to their previous role within the government

There’s the Secretary of Defense’s chief of staff, who was one of the first people Higgins told her after she was questioned that she was found half-naked on Secretary Linda Reynold’s office couch with Security

The employee who worked with the former special state minister whose job it was to handle the termination payments

The colleague who said Higgins raised the matter with a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office who was “ashamed” and wanted to help

With each passing day, new revelations came from someone who knew something, while the prime minister claimed he learned about Higgins’ story at the same time as the nation

This means that the normally media-savvy prime minister, known for dismissing questions as “coming from the Canberra bubble,” has found no basis in dealing with the aftermath of an immediate attempt to divert questions by claiming that the The matter is the subject of a police investigation, was swiftly dismissed by the police themselves, who confirmed efforts to avoid Higgins privacy issues were denied by the woman herself, who continued speaking and publicly waived any concerns ministers may have had to talk about their case

Morrison’s political retreat, that of the average husband and father known as his “daggy dad” persona, was also shaken when he said he spoke to his wife, Jenny, who “sorted the problem out for him.” urged him to think of his own daughters in place of Higgins’ Other awkward comments, including the fact that Higgins “found himself” in the situation, were immediately criticized Higgins accused Morrison of engaging in “victim accusation rhetoric” and took back control of the narrative by casting the prime minister as a reactionary gambler

His response to initiate four inquiries into the culture of parliamentary life, the employee grievance process, and what his office knew and when to initiate, was also criticized, with all four conducted by members of the government or staff, leading to a pledge an “arm’s length” approach, however, there was no obligation to publish all reports and cabinet minutes have already been called, meaning that it is up to the government to decide what information is released without the need for public scrutiny

A speech he delivered for an International Women’s Day event attempted to calm the swirling storm Morrison mentioned “respect” 42 times in his short address and pledged to “respect, protect and reflect” women without offering solutions or recognizing the structural power problems women had raised in the past fortnight

Parliament ended up with government officials and the prime minister glad to step out of a pressure cooker where the Australian vaccine rollout took second place after stories about a corporate culture that seemed to have lagged public expectations for decades, and a government that struggled to give answers

Higgins has since reopened her police case, but as she said last week, she is looking for broader reforms

“From the beginning I was driven by my desire to make sure that no other person had to go through the trauma I experienced while I was in Parliament,” she said

“I’ve failed repeatedly, but now I have my voice and I’m determined to use it to make sure this can’t happen to anyone else”

As more women add their own voices, the Prime Minister has made an effort to put a voice on the right words to soothe theirs, and to ensure that calls for change get louder

A new allegation on Friday night – this time against a cabinet minister accused of historic rape more than three decades ago – means the pressure on the prime minister to act will only increase

Scott Morrison, Australia, Cabinet

News – AU – The rape scandal in the heart of the Australian Parliament leaves the Prime Minister open

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/26/scandal-at-the-heart-of-australias-parliament-leaves-pm-exposed