Prime Minister Scott Morrison has talked his way around answering why there has been so little change in Parliament House since the alleged rape of Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins two years ago.
During Question Time on Monday, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese asked the Prime Minister why Parliament House has seen next to no change in terms of its response to serious incidents.
“This morning, Senate estimates were told that more than two years after the reported sexual assault of Brittany Higgins in this building, there have been no changes in the way that this building responds to serious incidents and none of the reviews that the Prime Minister ordered have concluded,” Albanese said, as per The Guardian.
“Despite everything we have heard from Ms Higgins, how can that be so?”
In response, Morrison said a new counselling service was initiated at Parliament House “very soon after the reporting of these events” for all members and senators. He added that the service included “expanded hours of access”.
Morrison said the counselling is being “well used” by staff members and that he is “pleased that it is in place.”
But counselling aside, all Morrison could say was that he is expecting a report “very, very shortly” that will be raised with Cabinet in time.
In February, Morrison tasked Cabinet Deputy Secretary Stephanie Foster to review processes for workplace complaints and allegations.
“I look forward to engaging with the Opposition on the establishment of an independent complaints process,” Morrison said, which should be in place this year.
Earlier on Monday, Labor senator Katy Gallagher asked the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) to confirm if anything has changed in the two years since Higgins’ alleged rape.
The DPS cleaned the ministerial office where the alleged rape of Higgins occurred, and claimed it was not made aware of the alleged incident until almost four weeks later.
“I asked the Department if anything has changed in the way the Department responds to incidents at APH [Parliament House] since March 2019, and the answer given is, ‘There has been no changes to these policies,'” Gallagher said.
In response, Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Rob Stefanic said: “That’s correct.”
Two years ago a young liberal staffer was allegedly raped in the ministerial wing of Parliament House.
— Katy Gallagher (@SenKatyG) May 24, 2021
What’s that thing people say again? Oh, yeah: disappointed, but not surprised.