If you’ve missed out on the latest Government shitstorm, I truly do not blame you. There’s been a lot of chaos surrounding the handling of the Brittany Higgins case, and it involves alleged cover-ups, withheld information and a whole lot more unprofessional chaos.
In the latest fucked happenings surrounding Higgins, her partner, David Sharaz, who was never supposed to be named or involved in the case, has had to openly slam the Government for it’s poorly conducted investigations into Higgins’ claims that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ‘backgrounded’ him.
What backgrounded means is that allegedly, Scott Morrison‘s staff gave journalists twisted ‘facts’ and misinformation about Higgins and her partner to inform media articles that lambasted her and her private life.
If it’s all still confusing, don’t worry, I’m going to explain why this is just the tip of the iceberg of the Federal Government’s shitty fkn handling of the Brittany Higgins case.
Higgins’ Formal Complaint
Firstly, back in March, Higgins issued a formal complaint to ScoMo, claiming that her partner had been backgrounded by Morrison’s office.
According to Higgins, the backgrounding attempted to undermine her partner, who once worked in the Prime Minister’s department as well as at Sky News. She suggests that the media framed that her partner as having some kind of ‘grudge’ against his former employers, leading him to push her to come out with her story of alleged assault in the Parliament House as some kind of revenge tactic.
Higgins even claims to have had journalists from Channel 10 and News Corp informing her that it came directly from the PMO. Fked.
“I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. It is entirely plausible the Prime Minister did not know this was happening. However, the more relevant point is that it did occur,” she wrote in her letter, which was addressed to the PM’s chief of staff John Kunkel (often referred to as Dr Kunkel).
Dr Kunkel plays a big part in this story, so keep him in mind, because he’s the one who investigated the claims.
Then comes the report into the claims, which was created by Kunkel, and released yesterday. It basically concluded that there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever linking the PMO to Higgins’ claims of backgrounding.
The thing about this though is that it was an investigation into the PMO, made by the PM’s chief of staff, so make of that what you will.
“Evidence before me falls well short of the standard that would be needed to arrive at such a finding,” Dr Kunkel wrote.
“[I am] not in a position to make a finding that the alleged activity took place.”
So yeah, basically everyone denies the allegations, but the key thing here is that Kunkel doesn’t state the event didn’t take place, just that there wasn’t any evidence to prove it did.
Dr Kunkel’s report into whether Scott Morrison’s media staff backgrounded against Brittany Higgins:— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) May 25, 2021
– No journalist gave “first hand experience of such activity”
– All senior members of PMO “rejected the allegation” #auspol pic.twitter.com/wiB3rCUnvP
The main thing to take from Tuesday’s Question Time is that Scott Morrison tabled the report after being questioned by Anthony Albanese about it.
Basically, this means that he didn’t want to fkn talk about it anymore.
“I would never instruct such a thing; I would never do that,” ScoMo said.
“The apology offered to Brittany Higgins in this place was sincere, was genuine, and I’m happy to restate it.”
It is after this that Dr Kunkel informs Higgins that the report was tabled in parliament and, well, this is how Higgins discovers that the report even exists.
Huge fkn yikes, yet again.
In Tuesday’s estimates, Labour Senator Penny Wong and Senator Katy Gallagher (alongside others throughout the day) grilled the fuck out of a series of PMO members for their treatment of Higgins and her partner.
Two people were the centre of the roasting, with huge fkn revelations, and they were Phil Gaetjens, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Reece Kershaw, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner.
Here are the findings:
- Reece Kershaw (AFP): Revealed Peter Dutton‘s office knew about Higgins’ alleged sexual assault way back in 2019.
- Phil Gaetjens: Revealed there was an internal investigation lead by himself into the matter. He refused to reveal who he spoke to, how many interviews he had, and also declined to comment on what Morrison’s office knew about Higgins’ claims of backgrounding on her partner.
So yeah, totally fucked, yet again.
“It’s like a cover-up of a cover-up of a cover-up. It’s like a triple cover-up,” said Katy Gallagher during one of the estimates.
Brittany Higgins deserves more respect than what we saw today – she deserves some compassion.— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) May 25, 2021
Scott Morrison put out a sham report that amplifies a smear against her partner, without even a heads up. pic.twitter.com/inVYIEt29j
In the #estimates footage, the clear concern for Brittany Higgins shown by Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher is what true empathy looks like.— Emma (@emma__jayne14) May 25, 2021
And the sheer frustration and exasperation at the stonewalling is reflective of our collective mood.
Higgins’ Partner Speaks Out
After all this absolute fuckery, Higgins’ partner has finally spoken out against Dr Kunkel’s report and the subsequent ‘cover-ups’ made by the PMO.
“The PM’s chief of staff undertakes an investigation into his own office and finds it’s functioning well. How unexpected,” he said in a statement to The Guardian.
“Even the most cynical person would see this for what it is – PMO staffers protecting themselves.”
David Sharaz, Brittany Higgins’s partner, has responded to the PM’s chief of staff’s report into allegations the PMO backgrounded against him. pic.twitter.com/x9CyiJcFbx— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) May 25, 2021
So yeah, it’s safe to say that the handling of Brittany Higgins’ case has gone completely off the rails.
With new claims of backgrounding, cover-ups and withheld information, it’s hard to see what the hell the truth actually is here.
Phew. After learning yesterday of the ongoing cover-up of the Brittany Higgins scandal, the torrent of sex abuse in politics and the lack of any budget process around the Kurri Kurri gas plant, I'm relieved to learn from newspapers today that the problems are all on Labor's side.— Bernard Keane (@BernardKeane) May 25, 2021
All we can really do is wait for something to be done about all this bullshit. Unfortunately, Higgins has to go through the entire circus just to see her claims treated with respect and appropriate concern.
The Morrison Government just can’t seem to meet her with the level of maturity and honesty that she deserves.