CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape.

Bill Shorten, of all people, didn’t hold back when calling out the government’s choice of acting Attorney-General.

The current Attorney-General Christian Porter is taking a short break after he publicly denied historical rape allegations on Wednesday. Despite the controversy, he refused to step down permanently.

And yet for his temporary replacement, the government for some reason chose Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to step in as the acting Attorney-General.

There are over 20 members of the cabinet, and out of all those ministers, the government chose Michaelia Cash, who’s been widely panned for how she handled the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House by a fellow Liberal staffer.

It’s just wild to replace someone who’s embroiled in rape allegations (even though he categorically denies them) with another person who’s handling of an alleged rape isn’t too good, either.

In comes former Labor leader Bill Shorten, who tweeted what we’re all thinking (before quickly deleting it): “You can’t write this shit.”

The tweet might have now been deleted, but the sentiment pretty strongly reflects how many Aussies are feeling at the moment.

News.com.au reports that Cash knew about an incident involving Brittany Higgins, sending her a voicemail her to “sleep tight” several months later, however Cash said she didn’t know that the incident was actually an alleged rape.

Nevertheless, Cash didn’t actually report the incident to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the time, despite deeming it serious enough to warrant a personal phone call.

Fast-forward to early February, 2021, and Cash says she heard that Higgins was allegedly raped because a journalist contacted her office for comment.

Afterwards, she did offer go to the police with Higgins, as well as to the Prime Minister’s office, however she said Higgins decided against it.

“She advised me she did not want to pursue it,” Cash said in February.

“She advised me that at all times she wanted her privacy respected.”

Incidentally, Christian Porter actually mentioned Shorten a couple of times at his press conference.

That’s because Shorten was the subject of his own historic rape allegations which he denied in 2014. Victoria Police dropped the matter when they determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

However this particular situation is not about allegations. This is about how certain people handled certain incidents, even if they weren’t aware of every single detail.

It’s bad optics, it’s bad politics, and – judging by past actions or lack thereof – it’s a bad idea all around.

That’s why Michaelia Cash is an unbelievably ridiculous choice to stand in for Christian Porter as the acting Attorney-General.


Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: Getty Images / Sam Mooy