CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape.

“Why would women want to work in this place? It’s a question the PM needs to address,” Tracy Grimshaw said outside Parliament House while presenting her absolute grilling of an interview with Scott Morrison on A Current Affair.

The Thursday night interview saw the Prime Minister open up about the numerous sexual assault and misconduct allegations mounting against the government, as well as his own widely-panned handling of the whole situation.

This was the first times Morrison has sat down, one-on-one, with a journalist and seriously answered her questions, instead of just deflecting or becoming antagonistic like he has at his recent press conferences.

While no huge bombshells were dropped, the 20 minute-long interview did shed light on what Morrison’s point of view is.

On top of that, it was simply just relieving to finally see the PM squirm while answering the hard-hitting questions about accountability that he’s deserved since February.

Christian Porter

Attorney-General Christian Porter is at the centre of historic allegations that he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 – allegations which he categorically denies.

However, because the woman in question took her own life in 2020 shortly after the case was closed by NSW Police, there has been no chance to reopen the case and investigate more thoroughly, as some advocates are calling for.

Morrison has always said he backed Porter and believed he was innocent, however Tracy Grimshaw pointed out that if Morrison really wanted to be certain, there are always other, independent means of investigating the allegations.

“Christian Porter vehemently denies the allegations against him. You have immediately believed him,” Grimshaw said.

To that, Morrison noted: “The police have decided that there is no further investigation.”

However that’s when Grimshaw pointed out the problem of conflating a non-existent investigation with a hypothetical investigation that has been concluded.

“There really wasn’t an investigation because his accuser died, she took her life,” she told the PM.

“There really hasn’t been an investigation. There has been no investigation, Prime Minister, you have just believed him.”

Morrison also tried to point to the historic rape allegations which cropped up against former Labor leader Bill Shorten in 2014, which he was cleared of after a police investigation was conducted and he was found to be innocent. The difference here was that there was in fact an investigation in Shorten’s case.

Grimshaw went on to reiterate that there are ways other was to investigate the allegations outside of what the police can and can’t do.

“A criminal investigation is not the only way of probing something like this,” she said.

“Christian Porter has vehemently denied it, we watched the press conference, and he said ‘imagine if this isn’t true’. It seems like nobody in the government has thought, ‘imagine if it is’.”

Brittany Higgins

When Tracy Grimshaw brought up the allegations that former Liberal staffer Britney Higgins was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague in 2019, Morrison tried to point out that there were supposedly mechanisms in place for people who made sexual assault allegations.

“They failed,” Grimshaw said.

“They did,” Morrison replied.

“Pretty abysmally,” Grimshaw added.

Morrison then tried to explain what went wrong, as if the rest of us hasn’t already been trying to get it into his head for weeks.

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Grimshaw said, in what may as well have been spoken on behalf of many, many Australians.

“Why was she very much on her own?

“She told Minister Reynolds’ Chief of Staff within days of it happening, then Minister Reynolds was told about it. She told people about it.

“Why was she on her own? People failed her. You talk about processes, you don’t need processes to know how to act humanly and with humanity to someone who has a human problem, surely.

“You don’t need processes to make them a cup of tea, drive them home, make an appointment for a counsellor, don’t just give them a number and say ‘here, call this number, do your best’. She was abandoned, wasn’t she?”

Politics

Grimshaw also pressed Morrison for handling the multitude of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct allegations against the government as a political issue, rather than as an actual human being.

“You have treated it like a political problem right until right up until Tuesday,” she told the PM.

“It is not a political problem, it is a human problem, a lived problem. It has never been a political problem.”

But it was perhaps when the issue of a quota for female politicians in parliament cropped up – something Morrison said he’s not opposed to – when Grimshaw really put him in his place.

“I don’t know many self-respecting, confident women who would want a quota to be the reason why they got a promotion or a job… they would want to get there on merit,” she said.

“I am not sure if quotas are a solution, and I am wondering if instead of quotas, and actively discriminating in favour of women, you would be better off starting to actively discriminate against Neanderthal man like the so-called ‘Big Swinging Dicks Club’ that Julie Bishop says stood on her way.”

To see this moment for yourself, and to hear the rest of what the PM had to say, you can catch the full A Current Affair interview here.


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.