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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has joined the growing list of people who learned of an alleged rape in Parliament before Scott Morrison.
When Brittany Higgins returned her complaint to the police for the 2019 incident, more details emerged about the knowledge of high-level government ministers.
Dutton confirmed that he was informed by Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw of the alleged sexual assault on February 11, four days before the prime minister said he was informed.Brittany Higgins (pictured) was allegedly raped in 2019 in Parliament
Minister Peter Dutton (pictured) said he knew about the alleged assault before Prime Minister +6
Minister Peter Dutton (pictured) said he knew about the alleged assault before the prime minister.
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Morrison said his office first learned of the allegation on Feb. 12, but it took nearly three days to notify him.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Philip Gaetjens, who is Morrison’s former chief of staff, is investigating whether senior staff were aware earlier.
Higgins insists that a key Morrison adviser ‘checked in’ with her via WhatsApp after Four Corners published an exposé on parliamentary culture in 2020.
The man accused of the rape was fired for a security breach for entering Parliament on the night of the incident.
At least two other staff members now in the prime minister’s office were involved in handling the security breach in 2019.
At the time of the assault Linda Reynolds employed Higgins and the alleged rapist
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash first spoke to Higgins about the alleged rape on February 5 of this year.
Ms. Higgins (pictured) made a formal complaint to the police on Wednesday +6
Higgins (pictured) filed a formal complaint with police on Wednesday
Defense Minister Linda Reynolds took a medical leave Wednesday after coming under intense pressure to handle the complaint.
Sen. Reynolds, who was Higgins’s employer at the time of the incident, says she did not tell the prime minister out of respect for the privacy of her former staff member.
The minister was supposed to face questions at the National Press Club, but she canceled after being admitted to Canberra Hospital on the advice of her cardiologist.
She has been forced to correct the record of how many times she met with the police about the allegations in 2019.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith and Speaker of the Senate Scott Ryan were informed in 2019 about an incident at the House of Parliament.
They knew that the federal police can request CCTV footage of an alleged sexual assault, but later learned that no complaint was being processed and did not tell the prime minister.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he only knew about the assault on Feb 12, 2021
Morrison has rejected suggestions that there is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture within government.
“I have been open about what is a very sensitive issue, a truly very sensitive and serious issue,” he told parliament on Wednesday.
He said a series of actions were being taken to address cultural issues in federal policy and ensure that staff had adequate support.
Ms. Higgins appeared before three other women who said they were also assaulted by the man.
The former media adviser says she originally felt pressured not to carry out an investigation, fearing her work would be put in jeopardy.
There are four investigations stemming from the accusations, which have rocked the federal parliament in the past 10 days.