Monday, 22 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Members of Parliament: Staff
My question is to the Prime Minister. In the first question of this sitting fortnight I asked the Prime Minister whether his government had provided an appropriate duty of care for Brittany Higgins. Given public revelations, including ones that involved the Prime Minister's office, about text messages, calls and written advice relating to the reported sexual assault in the defence minister's office, does the Prime Minister still say that his government provided Ms Higgins with necessary support and offers of assistance?
This is a very serious issue, and the government has always addressed it as a very serious issue, and the matters that have been raised are now the subject of a set of processes. I anticipate that later this week the Special Minister of State, the Minister for Finance, will have concluded his consultations with all parties, in both this chamber and the other, to finalise the terms of reference and the independent process that will be followed in relation to these matters as a parliament. There are also other processes that are all underway.
As we've consistently said and as the now Minister for Defence and then Minister for Defence Industry indicated in the other place, at all times they sought to provide the right support. They followed the advice on the support to provide and the advice to respect in particular the privacy of Brittany through these matters. What I acknowledge, and what I have consistently acknowledged, is that as a result, some two years later, Brittany did not feel that that support had been there for her. That is what I have apologised for, that is what I believe our processes must address, and that is what we are seeking to do.