House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Members of Parliament: Staff

2:54 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 confirm that one member of his staff knew about the reported sexual assault two years ago, that a second member of his staff said it would be raised with his chief of staff two years ago, that a third member of his staff knew that the alleged perpetrator had been dismissed two years ago, that a fourth member of his staff checked in with Ms Higgins after Four Corners last year, that numerous ministers were aware of relevant facts and that the Prime Minister had no idea about anything until last Monday?

2:55 pm

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

As I have said repeatedly to this House, I first became aware of the alleged sexual assault on Monday 15 February. I'm advised that my office was first made aware of this issue on 12 February. I have been very consistent, very consistent, on all of those points. That is the record. That is my understanding of these matters. That is when I knew about it.

Once again, the Leader of the Opposition can come to this dispatch box, seek to state these matters and seek to pointscore on them, but the issue that is here is the issue that we all must address. These matters, as we know, are not confined to any one side of politics in this building. We know this to be the case. So I would suggest that, as a chamber, we remain focused on the main issue, and that is to change the behaviour that can occur in this building, to ensure the protection of our staff and to ensure the supports are there to deal with these issues when they arise. That is what I'm committed to doing. I'm answering these questions openly, and I'm happy to answer them as often as the Leader of the Opposition wishes to ask them. I have told the House exactly when I knew about this matter, and that is the case. If this Leader of the Opposition wishes to continue to seek to pointscore on politics on this issue, that is a matter for him. But, as he knows, as the former member for Lindsay, Emma Husar, has raised today, if the Labor Party think that they have no issues to address regarding behaviour in their own party then they are genuinely not understanding the seriousness of this issue.