House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Members of Parliament: Staff

2:32 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Can the minister confirm that on 12 February his office passed official information about the reported alleged sexual assault of Brittany Higgins to the office of the Prime Minister? Who in the Prime Minister's Office received that official information? At what time was the official information received?

2:33 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

As I advised the House yesterday and mentioned in media today, I received a briefing from the AFP Commissioner on the 11th. I took a decision—I think the right decision at that time—not to advise the Prime Minister, because whilst the briefing from the AFP Commissioner was at a high level, as to process and not detail, nonetheless it was provided to me in my role as the minister in charge of the Australian Federal Police.

There were media inquiries to the government on the 12th. My office, as a courtesy, on my advice to my chief of staff, contacted the Prime Minister's chief of staff. There was no operational detail provided, no official—the wording that you used. There was simply a passing of acknowledgement that the AFP had an interest in this matter. Obviously the sensitive investigation unit had made a determination on the 11th, as is the case of normal practice within the AFP. Brittany approached the AFP on 5 February. They made a determination at that point, on the morning of the 11th, that this was a sensitive investigation. On that basis, as the honourable member would be aware, under the guidelines of the Australian Federal Police, there is then an obligation on the police commissioner to advise me, which is what happened in due course.