Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Members of Parliament: Staff
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office said:
That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Defence (Senator Reynolds) to questions without notice asked today relating to allegations of sexual assault occurring in her office.
Can the minister explain what this support from the Prime Minister's office entailed?
Senator Reynolds has indicated that she acted in accordance with advice from Ministerial and Parliamentary Services in relation to the interpretation of the ministerial code, and it would have been just that—advice into the interpretation of the ministerial code.
We know that in March 2019 the Prime Minister's office provided the minister's office with support. The Prime Minister's fixer was broadly in proximity following the alleged rape and contacted Ms Higgins in the week after Four Corners aired its 'Inside the Canberra bubble' expose. The minister's then chief of staff had previously worked for, and currently works for, the Prime Minister. How can anyone believe the Prime Minister when he says neither he nor his office knew of the alleged rape until this week?