Wilkinson’s blunt message to PM
Lisa Wilkinson has called out Scott Morrison over his handling of the Brittany Higgins alleged sexual abuse scandal in an emotional segment on The Sunday Project.
A teary Wilkinson questioned the Prime Minister for needing to seek advice from his wife Jenny on how to address the situation regarding Higgins, 24, who no longer works at Parliament House.
“Parliament’s culture encouraged some of the senior team surrounding the Prime Minister to see a woman asking for help as a political problem first, and a person in need a distant second,” Wilkinson began.
“This is a culture the Prime Minister has presided over for three years.
“Prime Minister, you indicated that after a full day to consider the horror of what Brittany says she experienced, you needed your wife to tell you how to react. I wonder if that means that you too have now fallen victim to that culture?”
Mr Morrison publicly apologised to Ms Higgins on Tuesday, before announcing he would establish an investigation into workplace culture at Parliament House following news.com.au’s story detailing Ms Higgins’ claims she was sexually abused by a fellow Liberal staffer in a ministerial office in 2019.
He also revealed that Jenny urged him to think about the issue as a father of two daughters.
“Jenny and I spoke last night, and she said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’” Mr Morrison said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Jenny has a way of clarifying things. Always has. And so as I’ve reflected on that overnight and listened to Brittany and what she had to say, there are a couple of things here we need to address.”
Ms Higgins later accepted Mr Morrison’s apology but noted an investigation into culture was “long overdue”.
“I shared my story yesterday because I didn’t want what happened to me, to happen to anyone else,’’ she told news.com.au.
“I note the apology from the Prime Minister in the media this morning and thank him for this.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement of an investigation into the culture in Parliament House is a welcomed first step, though it is long overdue.”
Wilkinson also delivered a “personal note” to Ms Higgins during the segment, thanking her for refusing to be silenced.
“Brittany, as one of the many Australians who were inspired by you this week, thank you for telling us your story. Thank you for finding your voice and in the face of enormous political pressure, both publicly and privately, refusing to be silenced,” Wilkinson said.
“This week you changed the national conversation for survivors of sexual assault, you told us of the shocking culture at Parliament House, and what women supporting women should actually look like. We hope that now you truly do get the justice you have for far too long being denied.”
Ms Higgins claims she was raped on a couch in Senator Linda Reynolds’s office by a fellow Liberal staffer in March 2019, after a night out when she was working for the then Defence Industry Minister.
It has since emerged that security guards helped the pair enter the suite, and after the man left they found Ms Higgins half-naked and disorientated in the office.
News.com.au revealed on Tuesday that the Department of Finance then controversially ordered the cleaning of the office, a decision that was the subject of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation that cleared anyone of wrongdoing.
Originally published as Wilkinson’s blunt message to PM