House debates

Monday, 15 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Members of Parliament: Staff

2:00 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister advise the House how the government has responded to the allegation that a woman was sexually assaulted in the defence minister's office in March 2019? Has an appropriate duty of care for the woman been exercised?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

My government takes all such matters, all matters of workplace safety, very, very seriously. Everyone should feel safe in their workplace, wherever that is. Reports today are deeply distressing. This matter is under consideration by police. At all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins as to how she wished to proceed, and to support and respect her decisions. This important best practice principle of empowering Ms Higgins is something that the government has always sought to follow in relation to this matter.

The government has aimed to provide Ms Higgins with her agency to provide support to make decisions in her interests and to respect her privacy. This offer of support and assistance continues. It is important that Ms Higgins's views are listened to and respected, and I table for the purposes of the House a statement issued by a government spokesperson today on these matters.