The Australian government is reckoning with a tidal wave of women standing up for themselves. Day after day, we’re hearing more and more allegations of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct by Liberal Party politicians and staffers.
It’s becoming tricky to mentally keep track of who’s been accused of what, and who has allegedly mishandled what allegations. That’s why we’re compiling a list – which we’ll keep up-to-date – of every named Liberal politician who is somehow connected to one of the numerous sexual assault, harassment or misconduct scandals.
It’s important to note that not everyone mentioned in this article has themselves been accused of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct. Rather, this is a list of everyone linked to these various allegations.
We’ll keep this article updated as more information emerges.
Alan Tudge – Accused of humiliating a staffer with whom he had a consensual affair
Current Education Minister Alan Tudge had a consensual affair with then-staffer Rachelle Miller several years ago, however Miller now “bitterly regrets” their intimate relationship and has accused Tudge of “belittling” and “humiliating” her at the time.
She cited one instance at the 2017 Midwinter Ball where she alleges that she felt objectified by Tudge in public.
“I have a feeling that my appearance had a bearing on why Alan would want to walk in with me on his arm, and I felt at that time a lot like an ornament, and that I was being used as an ornament,” she said told Four Corners.
Miller has also alleged that Tudge would often ask her to dinner or drinks after work, and that she felt she couldn’t say no because he was her boss at the time. Miller ended up moving on to work for Michaelia Cash.
Tudge apologised for how their affair played out after it was brought to light.
“I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced,” he said.
Miller is now pursing the allegations through legal means.
Andrew Laming – Photographed a woman while she bent over
In March 2021, Brisbane woman Crystal White accused LNP MP Andrew Laming of taking a photo of her underwear on his mobile while she was bent over at work in 2019.
“The photo was really inappropriate, especially when I was bent over,” White told Nine News.
“My manager at the time saw him do it and forced Andrew Laming to delete the photo off his phone.”
When her colleague reminded Laming about the alleged incident on his public Facebook page this year, Laming replied: “I do [remember it] but it wasn’t meant to be rude. I thought it was funny but your reaction was awkward.”
Laming, for his part, has now tried to claim the photo wasn’t a case of upskirting. Instead, he said it it was supposedly a “humorous” pic of White “in a completely dignified position, kneeling in an awkward position, and filling a fridge with an impossible amount of stock, which clearly wasn’t going to fit in the fridge.”
News of the photo incident broke off the back of historical bullying accusations made against Laming by two other women just days earlier.
“I will step down from all Parliamentary roles effective immediately and complete both the counselling courses I committed to; as well as additional clinical counselling and ask for privacy while that is completed,” he said in a statement.
Christian Porter – Accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988
Attorney-General Christian Porter has been accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988, which he categorically denies.
Earlier in 2021, it was revealed that a woman last year alleged that a government minister had raped her while they were staying in Sydney for an international debating championship in high school.
The woman had mentioned the allegations to police in 2020, but took her own life before a formal report could be filed.
It was not publicly known who the Liberal politician was until Porter outed himself as the subject of the allegations in a dramatic press conference, days after the news first emerged.
“The things that are being claimed to have happened did not happen,” Porter said on March 3.
“Nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened.”
Back in 2020, other allegations surrounding the Attorney-General also cropped up.
Four Corners previously reported that Porter had engaged in a consenual affair with a much younger staffer who ended up feeling “distressed”, according to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
“From what I saw, and I can only speak from the experience I had, was that this young woman was really, was not happy about the situation she was in, was distressed about it, and she spoke about, she spoke about feeling caught, that she was caught in this situation,” Hanson-Young said.
Meanwhile, a barrister who was coached in high school debating by Porter told the same program the he was “deeply sexist and actually misogynist in his treatment of women.”
Porter “categorically rejected” the central claim in the Four Corners program that he had been kissing a younger woman at a popular Canberra bar, labelling them “baseless claims” and “totally false”.
Eric Abetz – Accused of slut shaming Brittany Higgins
In March, Tasmanian state MP Sue Hickey alleged that Liberal Senator Eric Abetz (who was a Minister under the Abbott and Turnbull governments) of slut-shamed Brittany Higgins by saying she was “so disgustingly drunk [that she] would sleep with anybody.”
Hickey also claimed that Abetz dismissed the historic rape allegations against Christian Porter by saying: “Not to worry, the woman is dead and the law will protect him.”
Abetz categorically denied both of these things and described them as “defamatory”.
“To suggest I’d make light of a rape allegation is horrendous,” Abetz said.
Linda Reynolds – Accused of poorly handling Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations
Brittany Higgins was a staffer for then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds‘ office at the time when she was allegedly raped by a fellow staffer inside Parliament House.
A week later, the staffer who allegedly raped Higgins was sacked over a security breach that night, according to Reynolds. However the Parliament House security guard who let Higgins and her colleague in that night said there was no security breach.
On the same day, Higgins told Reynolds about what had happened – during a meeting held the exact same room where Higgins was allegedly raped.
Higgins said she felt unsupported because of political sensitivities and told police at the time that she wouldn’t go ahead with a formal complaint due to “current workplace demands”.
Reynolds has since apologisied for how she handled the allegations, saying: “At the time, I truly believed that I and my chief of staff were doing everything we could to support that young woman who I had responsibility for.”
After mass outcry and legal threats, Reynolds retracted the statement and said she “did not mean it in the sense it may have been understood”.
Michael Johnsen – Allegedly raped a woman in 2019
Michael Johnsen is a NSW state MP from the National Party, however the allegations against him arose at the same time that the Liberal Party was under unprecedented scrutiny for how its members treated women.
In March, state Labor MP Trish Doyle said a sex worker had contacted her to say that Johnsen raped her in the Blue Mountains in 2019.
“She tells me she made herself clear that she was not willing to have penetrative sex with him, however towards the end the man moved around behind her and assaulted her in a way she had not consented to,” Doyle told the NSW Parliament.
“In her emails to me she said that once the assault began she just wanted it to finish. It was an assault, and it was against her explicit instructions, she did not consent, it was rape.”
Johnsen has said he’s “devastated” by the allegations and is cooperating with police.
“I am confident any investigation will conclude that I am an innocent party,” he said in a statement.
He has since stepped down from his role as NSW parliamentary secretary and has been suspended from the National Party.
Michaelia Cash – Accused of poorly handling Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations
After the 2019 federal election, Brittany Higgins moved from working for Linda Reynolds to working for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
However, Cash has also faced claims that she didn’t handle Higgins’ allegations well.
In February of 2021 it was reported that Cash had sent voicemails to Higgins in 2019 telling her to “sleep tight” and that everything was “under control” in response to a journalist making enquiries about an alleged incident. Cash also had several meetings with Higgins about an alleged incident shortly after Higgins moved to her office.
However, Cash has since clarified that while she did know of an alleged incident, she had no idea it was an alleged rape.
“When Britney discussed this matter with my Chief of staff and I, she made it very clear that the matter had been dealt with at the time, seven months previously,” Cash said in February.
“She did not discuss the matter, and she did not want the matter taken any further.”
Additionally, another former staffer, Rachelle Miller, has accused Cash of forcing her out with a “fake redundancy” because of Miller’s consensual affair with her former boss, Alan Tudge.
“I strongly feel I have been discriminated against because of a personal relationship,” Miller said in a submission to an internal Department of Finance investigation.
She also said that Cash had posted “text messages on the office WhatsApp group that I felt were attacking and demeaning towards myself”.
Cash has denied Miller’s allegations.
“The Minister strenuously rejects claims of any adverse treatment of Ms Miller by her, or her office, and strongly disputes Ms Miller’s version of events,” a spokesperson told the ABC.
“At the time of her employment, between late 2017 and mid-2018, the Minister and the office understood Ms Miller’s personal circumstances, which is why support, leave and flexible work arrangements were offered to her.”
Miller is now seeking compensation through legal means.
Scott Morrison – Won’t take ownership of this unfolding crisis
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing, but his handling of the numerous allegations against his Ministers has widely been slammed.
When a Sky News journalist asked him whether he’d lost control over his cabinet, Morrison deflected by referring to a supposed sexual harassment investigation within News Corp (which owns sky news) which the company immediately called bullshit on.
Even if there was such an investigation going on at News Corp, using a stranger’s trauma – hypothetical or otherwise – as a political football is in shockingly poor taste for anyone, let alone a Prime Minister grappling with several unrelated sexual assault and misconduct claims.
Then there’s the time when Morrison said that he could only appreciate the gravity of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations after invoking his own daughters, as if women don’t already have an obvious and unconditional right to be safe.
He shouldn’t have to consult Jenny to understand that rape is bad.
Finally, when the women and men of Australia marched on Parliament House (and in every city around the country), Morrison went off on some stupid tangent about how we should be grateful that we weren’t shot at, or something.
This seemingly nonchalant attitude has been reflected in his leadership style. So far none of the male federal politicians who’ve had extremely serious accusations lodged against them have been booted from the Liberal Party.
While none of the men have been found guilty, the claims have already brought the government into widespread disrepute and other politicians have been sacked for lesser allegations in the past.
Various Liberal staffers – Accused of poorly handling Brittany Higgins rape allegations
Aside from the as-of-yet unnamed staffer who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins (about whom three other women have made allegations of sexual assault or harassment), there are several other Liberal Party staffers who’ve been the subject of similar allegations.
When Brittany Higgins first alleged to Linda Reynolds that she had been raped, Reynolds’ Chief of Staff Fiona Brown was in the room with them. Brown was on secondment from Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s office, meaning that while Morrison claimed he had no idea about any allegations until they became public news, it is claimed that his own Chief of Staff did know.
This has raised yet more questions about how the alleged incident was handled internally.
Meanwhile, 10 News reported that a bunch of Liberal staffers inside Parliament House had been exposing themselves and sharing the evidence among themselves.
One staffer, Nathan Winn, was eventually sacked after he filmed himself wanking over the desk of a Liberal MP, but at least three more men were among the group.
On top of that, former Labor MP Kate Ellis has since told Australian Story of the sexual harassment she faced after becoming an MP at just 27, and becoming Australia’s youngest-ever minister by 30.
“I’d only been an MP for a couple of weeks and we were out for drinks and this Liberal staffer quite aggressively just said, ‘Kate, the only thing anyone wants to know about you is just how many blokes you fucked in order to get into parliament’,” Ellis alleged.
“Just the fact that he came up and said that to my face when I was an elected MP and he was a staff member, that he still had the confidence to do that.”
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 / Stefan Mokrzecki