Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s comments on the young Liberal staffer who alleges she was raped at Parliament House have inspired anger after he used the tired trope of comparing her trauma to a hypothetical situation involving his own daughters.
Brittany Higgins went public this week with allegations that she was raped by a Liberal party colleague inside Parliament house in March 2019, when she was 24 years old. She alleges that the unnamed man had plied her and colleagues with drinks before offering to share a taxi with her home. Instead, he took her to Parliament House, where she alleges she woke up to him having sex with her in the office of the then Defence Industry Minister, Linda Reynolds.
Fronting the media this morning, Morrison said that he had “listened to Brittany” and spent the night reflecting on it from the perspective of a father with daughters. This comment hasn’t gone down well with many who questioned why the Prime Minister couldn’t wrap his head around a woman’s trauma without imagining it happened to someone close to him.
“Jenny and I spoke last night, and she said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ – Jenny has a way of clarifying things, always has,” he said.
“And so, as I’ve reflected on that overnight, and listened to Brittany, and what she had to say…
PM said his wife Jen told him last night he had to approach this issue and think of it as a father if it had happened his own daughter @newscomauHQ
— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) February 15, 2021
People were fast to slam the prime minister for his comments, wondering how he would be approaching it if he didn’t have a wife and daughters to use in a hypothetical scenario.
This is a public confession of a failure of empathy and respect. Any half decent human being does not have to be a parent to know that what this young woman endured was wrong, and that the wrong continues. What is the PM’s problem, as a human being, that he does not know this?
— Bruce Buchan ???????????????????????????? (@BruceAlexB) February 15, 2021
So you need daughters to get it… And then a wife to remind you that you have daughters.
— Angela Priestley (@angelapriestley) February 15, 2021
Very weird implication from Morrison that he wouldn’t be taking this as seriously if his wife didn’t tell him too.
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) February 15, 2021
10 News First political reporter Tegan George pressed Morrison on why he needed to frame Higgins’ alleged rape as something that could have happened to his daughters, and whether a father with only sons would be able to come to the same “compassionate conclusion”.
Morrison responded by doubling down that family helps inform how he deals with issues, and that he didn’t get across Higgins’ account until late last night.
“I hadn’t seen her account until last night. I had events and other things I was dealing with until late last night and I had the opportunity at that point to see. I had discussed it with Jenny. She had seen it, and we discussed it. That’s how we deal with these things.
Brittany Higgins appeared on The Project last night, opening up about the allegations, and said she felt betrayed by the Government as she tried to process what had happened that night.
“So it was the strange thing where it felt like everyone had all this information on my own assault and I didn’t have any and I desperately wanted to see it,” Higgins said.
“I asked at least half a dozen times to see that CCTV and [then chief of staff Fiona Brown] always said no.
“It hurt. It really hurt. It felt like a betrayal for them to withhold this one really small thing they needed for myself to process to move on or just to understand what had happened to me.”
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.