Why NSW Police never interviewed Christian Porter


NSW Police have revealed why they never interviewed former Attorney-General Christian Porter over a 1988 rape allegation and confirmed the alleged victim tried to deliver a statement via Skype during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Outlining new information about how the case was handled, police have confirmed the woman who accused Mr Porter of rape asked to deliver her witness statement via Skype during the COVID-19 pandemic – a request the NSW Police resisted and her friends and family were never interviewed after her death.

The woman ultimately decided to withdraw her complaint after COVID delayed the meeting with detectives and died by suicide at home just 24 hours later.

Mr Porter strenuously denies the allegations that relate to a 1988 debating conference in Sydney. He has launched defamation action against the ABC over the reporting of an anonymous letter sent to the Prime Minister setting out allegations against a member of Cabinet.

He subsequently self-identified himself as the target of the allegations.

RELATED: NSW Police never got letter outlining allegations

It was the woman’s decision to withdraw the complaint that resulted in police not interviewing Mr Porter after her death, according to NSW Police.

“It is current standard practice that once a signed victim statement has been obtained from a victim and further corroborative enquiries are made, the formal allegation can and should be put to the person of interest as per procedural fairness principles for investigators,” NSW Police said.

“On June 23, 2020 the (alleged) victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report. The NSWPF did not have a signed statement from the (alleged) victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest. In keeping with the (alleged) victim’s wishes no further investigation took place and the person of interest was not interviewed.”

NSW Police established Strike Force Wyndarra in February 2020 after receiving information from Mr Porter’s accuser.

Detectives from Strike Force Wyndarra were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman’s formal statement in March 2020 but their trip was postponed after the COVID-19 outbreak.

RELATED: Accuser’s family begs media not to identify daughter

On Wednesday June 24, 2020, the woman’s body was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police. She had committed suicide just hours after telling police she did not want to proceed with a formal complaint.

In answers to questions on notice, NSW Police confirmed the complainant did ask to provide a formal statement over the telephone or via video.

“Yes. On April 1, 2020, the (alleged) victim requested that she commence her statement by way of Skype,” the response states.

“Investigators consulted with the (alleged) victim on April 2, 2020 by way of teleconference. Options were presented to the (alleged) victim in relation to obtaining her statement. A joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely. There were a number of reasons which led to this decision. The (alleged) victim was understanding and supportive of this decision.”

NSW Police also confirmed they made six telephone calls to the woman which were not answered.

RELATED: Porter, Reynolds moved in Cabinet reshuffle

The alleged victim also made two telephone calls to investigators which were not answered. On both occasions the woman’s missed calls were returned within seven minutes and five hours and 26 minutes respectively.

NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the responses from NSW Police demanded further explanation.

“These answers raise yet more questions about the response of the NSW Police,” he said.

“When you speak to experienced investigators who have dealt with historical allegations they will tell you it’s not perfect but sometimes it’s the only option to take a statement by phone or video link.

“What is very distressing here is that this was an option that was requested by the complainant and open to police but for whatever reason was taken off the table.”

The answers provided also detail the Australian Federal Police decision to brief the NSW Police on the letter outlining the allegations rather than send it to investigators in full.

The letter requested urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the 1988 alleged rape.

RELATED: Details of Porter’s ABC defamation suit

It urged the Prime Minister to set up an independent parliamentary investigation into the matter, similar to that commissioned by the High Court into allegations against former Justice, Dyson Heydon.

“When news of [the complainant’s alleged] rape becomes widely known to the public (as it most likely will), legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew and what they did,” the letter states.

“This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins. The loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.

“There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament when this story becomes public if it is simultaneously revealed that senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.

“Failing to take parliamentary action because the NSW Police cannot take criminal action would seem like wilful blindness.”

The South Australia Coroner is yet to determine whether to conduct a public inquest into the woman’s death.



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Porsche driver put on mute for interrupting court


A Porsche driver who admitted to filming dead and dying police officers has been placed on mute by a magistrate for interrupting court proceedings over separate charges.

Richard Pusey appeared via video in Melbourne’s Neighbourhood Justice Centre on Thursday charged with theft and assault in relation to a parking dispute in October 2018.

Instead of letting his lawyer Vincent Peters do the talking, the 42-year-old repeatedly interrupted the court to share his side of the story.

Mr Pusey spoke as the prosecutor shared CCTV of the incident where the former mortgage broker allegedly assaulted another driver and stole his car keys.

“Just for the record that’s a 15-minute parking zone and the taxi has just yielded to me, the white cab. Just politely asking him if he could move forward into the disabled zone,” Mr Pusey told the court.

“There’s also a second camera …” he started to say before magistrate Lance Martin intervened.

“Mr Pusey, I’m sorry. You are represented. It’s inappropriate that you address the court without discussing the matter with Mr Peters,” the magistrate said.

His lawyer told the court Mr Pusey would fight the charges, arguing he didn’t assault the driver and didn’t steal the keys.

Instead Mr Pusey removed the keys from the ignition and took them to South Melbourne police station because the alleged victim became aggressive, the court heard.

“(Mr Pusey) felt the man wasn’t in a condition to drive,” Mr Peters said.

Police allege the unlawful assault charge stemmed from the “threatening nature and fear of assault” the alleged victim felt from Mr Pusey.

The footage shows the Porsche driver reaching into the other man’s car repeatedly to try to pull the keys from the ignition.

Mr Pusey interrupted again later in the proceedings as the prosecutors sought an earlier date for a contested hearing.

“Can I please explain I’ve been to court several times myself … and I’ve requested the prosecution email your office and Ms Tonkin the informant …” he told the court.

But the magistrate had enough of the accused man’s outbursts.

“I’m going to have him placed on mute because this is unacceptable to have conversations coming in from all angles,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Pusey’s lawyer told the court his legal team was working to resolve the parking dispute charges because the proceedings related to the “unfortunate death of four police officers” were due to finish in April.

Mr Pusey admitted to outraging public decency for filming the horrific aftermath after the Eastern Freeway crash on April 22 last year.

Four police officers were killed when a truck driven by drug-addled driver Mohinder Singh crashed into the group, who had pulled Mr Pusey over for speeding.

He was urinating on the side of the road and was not struck in the crash. But he filmed the scene and made vulgar comments.

Mr Pusey was also facing a charge of destruction of property in relation to dropping a “a pack of stubbies” on the floor of a Fitzroy bottle shop, the court was told.

Before the magistrate appeared on the bench, Mr Pusey referred to himself as “Australia’s most hated man”.

The case is expected to return to court on May 6.



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Christian Porter to return this month, details of his defamation suit against Louise Milligan & ABC emerge


Christian Porter has accused ABC journalist Louise Milligan of engaging in a campaign to oust him as Attorney-General, according documents outlining his defamation suit.

Details of Mr Porter’s defamation proceedings against the ABC and Milligan, over a February article outlining details of an historical rape allegation, have emerged in his statement of claims.

The article revealed a “senior cabinet minister”, since revealed to be Mr Porter, had been accused of raping a 16-year-old in Sydney in 1988, which he categorically denied.

His office has announced he will return to work on March 31, after taking a period of mental health leave.

Mr Porter said an article published by Milligan on February 26, revealing the Prime Minister had received a document outlining the allegations, was part of a “campaign” to oust him from his role.

RELATED: Joyce breaks ranks, calls for independent Porter probe

NSW Police could not investigate the matter after the alleged victim took her own life last year, a day after telling them she no longer wanted to pursue it.

“The ABC and Milligan knew that the allegations could never be proved in any criminal or civil proceeding and despite that published the article to harm Porter and to ensure that he was publicly condemned and disgraced in the absence of any finding against him,” the complaint alleged.

An ABC spokesman confirmed the broadcaster would defend the action.

Under defamation laws, the broadcaster has available to it a number of potential defences, including truth, in which it would have to prove the allegation was true on the balance of probabilities.

Mr Porter said he would be prepared to testify under oath.

Four Corners aired an episode in November 2020 in which it accused Mr Porter of inappropriate sexual conduct. The 2020 broadcast did not include the rape allegation.

Mr Porter’s complaint said that by publishing the February article, which referred only to a “senior cabinet member”, Milligan and the ABC confected a scenario in which he would be “obliged” to out himself.

Mr Porter was widely named on social media, and the complaint claimed he was easily identifiable as one of just three male cabinet ministers of a similar age to the alleged victim.

After the Attorney-General outed himself, Four Corners aired a follow-up program outlining the allegation in detail.

“The ABC and Milligan were frustrated that they were unable to broadcast the allegations in the November Four Corners as they intended (because they were indefensible) and thus disingenuously published the article without naming Porter, in order to give effect to their intention to harm,” the complaint said.

It also accused Milligan of failing to disclose her “close friendship” with friends of the alleged victim.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has consistently refused to launch an independent inquiry into the allegation, claiming it would undermine the rule of law.

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese demanded he do so during a fiery parliamentary question time on Monday.

It comes after James Hooke, a former boyfriend of the alleged victim, revealed he had had what he considered “relevant discussions” with her about the alleged incident since mid-1988.

“These are all issues that require examination. The idea, as the Prime Minister has said, that we can just move on, that what has been happening over recent days and weeks can be unseen and unheard, is just not fair dinkum,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Hooke said he also had “clear recollections of relevant discussions I had with Christian Porter” from 1992 to the mid-1990s.

Mr Porter claimed he had only been aware of a “whispering campaign … over the last few months”.



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NSW Police never got letter


NSW Police have sensationally revealed the letter sent to the Prime Minister outlining historical rape allegations against Attorney-General Christian Porter was never sent to them before they closed the case.

The letter contained a warning from friends that further evidence was available to support the woman’s claims.

Mr Porter completely denies the allegation of rape and said he never had consensual sexual relations with the woman, saying he did not “sleep with her”.

In answers to questions on notice released late on Friday, NSW Police outlined the decision not to proceed with the case after the woman’s death.

After the anonymous letter was sent to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison he immediately referred it to the AFP and said it was a matter for police.

However, NSW Police have now revealed that while an email was sent it did not contain any attachment.

For the first time, NSW Police have also flagged contact they had with the Adelaide woman’s sister after her death about the sexual assault allegations.

The new information also canvasses the possibility of the complainant providing a formal police statement over the telephone or via video.

Between the day on which the complainant first spoke to NSW Police in February 2020 and the day she took her own life, there were 24 communications between the complainant and NSW Police — five SMS messages, eight emails and 11 calls or attempted calls.

NSW Police also confirmed that it has never been provided with the documentation sent to the Prime Minister.

However, the complainant did provide a two-page document to NSW Police on 6 March, 2020 and, on 2 July, 2020, after her death, investigators received an 88-page dossier from a friend of the complainant.

Earlier, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed on Friday why the police had chosen not to interview Mr Porter about the historical rape claims.

In evidence to NSW Parliament, Commissioner Fuller also confirmed that COVID restrictions stopped police from being able to take a sworn statement from the woman before her death.

She withdrew the complaint in an email to NSW Police just 24 hours before her suicide in June, 2020.

After Strikeforce Wyndarra was formed to investigate the claims, Commissioner Fuller said he did not alert the Morrison Government or any other politicians.

“I made no contact personally with anyone outside the organisation in relation to it. I had a very high level discussion with Deputy Commissioner David Hudson. But at that stage, the, the, the lady was unsure in terms of what action she wanted,’’ he said.

“Absolutely, from my perspective 100 per cent zero contact.

“A historic sexual assault, statement is one that is extremely complicated. It is not a simple statement. It is not something that you would do justice, taking it over the phone. And there’s still the challenge of putting it in a statement admissible form and sending that and having it sign, which could possibly be done. But, they are complex investigations, as we know, and you really need to ensure that the alleged victim statement is at its strongest to stand the test of possible scrutiny.”

Commissioner Fuller has previously indicated it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to investigate such matters after the complainant dies.

“The alleged victim no longer wanted to proceed which is not unusual in these matters,” he said.

“It takes enormous courage for people to come forward and it is a very challenging journey through the justice system for victims. And it’s not unusual for victims to, even after they’ve given a statement, to withdraw their complaint in those matters.

“We always follow what the victim wants so that doesn’t mean we still don’t apply victim care and welfare services. It’s not that the journey finishes but unfortunately in this case and tragically she took her life the next day.”

Commissioner Fuller said as a broad approach, NSW Police were “pro-prosecution”.

“I would say to you and I’ll give you these figures, I think we have of the 100 per cent of complaints we get of adult sexual assault are able to proceed on 10 per cent. And I think we win 10 per cent of those at trial right.

“So it is hard, and it’s a hard journey for the victim, it’s only often when you have other evidence, forensic independent witnesses who almost saw the crime that we are able to secure conviction. And I think I said this in the media is that I understand the interest in this but don’t let it be lost on what we need to change is the journey for victims in the justice system.”



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Accuser’s ex-boyfriend James Hooke reveals new details


A former boyfriend of the Adelaide woman who accused Attorney-General Christian Porter of an alleged rape has revealed for the first time that she had relevant discussions with him in 1989, the year after the alleged incident, and is calling for an independent investigation into the matter.

In a statement detailing his contact with the woman in the 1980s and his conversations with Mr Porter in the early 1990s, Macquarie Group managing director James Hooke has also offered to co-operate with any inquiry.

Mr Porter has strenuously denied the allegations and insists the events described by the accuser never happened.

Mr Hooke does not detail in his statement exactly what the Adelaide woman, whose name has been withheld at the request of the family, told him in 1989. But it suggests the discussions came in stages.

In the statement provided to news.com.au, he notes that he is the man referred to as “James” in the woman’s unsworn statement and the extracts from her diaries.

He also claims that he had relevant discussions with Mr Porter about his relationship with the woman in 1992 in Perth and subsequently. Mr Porter strenuously denies the rape allegation.

“I continue to be devastated by the untimely death of my very dear friend, and I am enormously concerned for the privacy and dignity of her family,’’ Mr Hooke said.

“I am also concerned for the wellbeing of Christian Porter. I have known all of them for approximately 30 years. We all find ourselves at a very upsetting time.

“Mine is just one set of recollections, and I am aware of the fallibility of human memory, however unintentional.

“That said, I have what I consider to be clear recollections of relevant discussions I had with her over the years from mid-1988 until her death.

“I also have what I consider to be clear recollections of relevant discussions I had with Christian Porter from April 1992 in Perth and through the mid-1990s.”

RELATED: Key doubts over Porter accuser’s story

Mr Hooke, a trained lawyer, is a senior managing director with Macquarie Group. He is a former CEO of the $5 billion Macquarie-managed Australian Stock Exchange listed toll road company, Atlas Arteria.

He is also a former Chief Executive Officer of the Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation, based in New York. He has also served in various positions with Fairfax Media Limited (now part of Nine Entertainment Co.), Bain & Company management consultants, and Phillips Fox Solicitors.

His statement is particularly significant because it represents the first time any witness has come forward to allege that the woman had discussions about the alleged incident decades ago and follows media claims – rejected by her close friends – that her memories were “freshly minted” and may be inspired by repressed memory theory.

“The NSW Police have determined that a criminal prosecution is not possible in this case. I made myself known to the NSW Police after her death and I understand why they were unable to interview me,’’ Mr Hooke said.

“In relation to any criminal prosecution, Christian Porter was manifestly and appropriately entitled to the presumption of innocence – it is essential to the rule of law.

“In relation to any investigation of the important non-criminal aspects of this matter, I support an inquiry, like either that conducted by three retired eminent judges after Justice Lionel Murphy was acquitted of charges or that conducted by Dr Vivienne Thom into allegations about Justice Heydon. I am willing to testify under oath at any appropriately convened inquiry.”

RELATED: PM backs inquest into alleged Porter rape

Mr Hooke also suggests that if the Prime Minister was to reconsider his opposition to an independent inquiry, it would provide a circuit breaker to the “trial by media” that Mr Porter has complained of in his press conference.

“While I fully support the freedom of the press, I do not believe that the media is the optimal forum in which to investigate a situation of this sensitivity and significance.”

In her diaries that are attached to her unsworn affidavit that were sent anonymously to the Prime Minister, the accuser discusses whether to tell “James” about the alleged rape in 1991. She said she had been in a relationship James with previously.

“How can I tell this tale?” she writes in her diary in January 1991. “Who to? James — maybe … if we ever get back together.”

News.com.au put Hooke’s statement to Mr Porter for comment, and a spokesperson said: “As noted at his press conference on 3 March, the Attorney-General is on medical leave. He does not propose to comment further.”

Earlier, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller revealed on Friday why the police had chosen not to interview Mr Porter about the historical rape claims.

In evidence to NSW Parliament, Commissioner Fuller also confirmed that COVID restrictions stopped police from being able to take a sworn statement from the woman before her death.

She withdrew the complaint in an email to NSW police just 24 hours before her suicide in June, 2020 and her family home.

After Strikeforce Wyndarra was formed to investigate the claims, Commissioner Fuller said he did not alert the Morrison Government or any other politicians.

“I made no contact personally with anyone outside of the organisation in relation to it. I had a very high level discussion with Deputy Commissioner David Hudson. But at that stage, the, the, the lady was unsure in terms of what action she wanted,’’ he said.

“Absolutely, from my perspective 100 per cent zero contact.

“A historic sexual assault, statement is one that is extremely complicated. It is not a simple statement. It is not something that you would do justice, taking it over the phone. And there’s still the challenge of putting it in a statement admissible form and sending that and having it sign, which could possibly be done. But, they are complex investigations, as we know, and you really need to ensure that the alleged victim statement is at its strongest to stand the test of possible scrutiny.”

RELATED: Two major questions in Porter claims

Commissioner Fuller has previously indicated it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to investigate such matters after the complainant dies.

“The alleged victim no longer wanted to proceed which is not unusual in these matters,” he said. “It takes enormous courage for people to come forward and it is a very challenging journey on the just through the justice system for victims. And it’s not unusual for victims to, even after they’ve given a statement, to withdraw their complaint in those matters.

“We always follow what the victim wants so that doesn’t mean we still don’t apply victim care and welfare services. It’s not that the journey finishes but unfortunately in this case and tragically she took her life the next day.”

Commissioner Fuller said as a broad approach, the NSW police were “pro-prosecution”

“I would say to you and I’ll give you these figures, I think we have of the 100 per cent of complaints we get of adult sexual assault are able to proceed on 10 per cent. And I think we win 10 per cent of those at trial right.

“So it is hard, and it’s a hard journey for the victim, it’s only often when you have other evidence, forensic independent witnesses who almost saw the crime that we are able to secure conviction. And I think I said this in the media is that I understand the interest in this but don’t let it be lost on what we need to change is the journey for victims in the justice system.”



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Scott Morrison ‘won’t indulge’ calls for independent probe into Christian Porter rape claim


Scott Morrison says he will “not indulge in extrajudicial processes” despite calls for an independent inquiry into an historical rape allegation levelled against Christian Porter.

The Attorney-General has been accused of raping a 16-year old in 1988, an allegation he emphatically denies.

The alleged victim took her own life in 2020, a day after informing she no longer wanted to pursue the complaint.

The Prime Minister has faced growing calls to launch an independent inquiry into the allegation after NSW Police declined to investigate it, citing “insufficient admissible evidence”.

Mr Morrison backed a coronial inquiry in South Australia, where the woman died, if “coroners see fit”.

RELATED: NSW Police won’t pursue minister rape claim

But he told reporters on Tuesday he would “not indulge” the idea of an independent probe, arguing it would undermine equality before the law.

“There is not a separate legal process that applies to the Attorney-General or anyone else. There’s only one rule of law here,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to indulge in other extrajudicial processes that suggest that one Australian is subject to a different legal process to any other Australian.

“If we do that, we are eroding the very principles of the rule of law in this country. There are not two laws in this country.”

But Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek dismissed the claim as “nonsense”, citing an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.

Labor and the Greens have called for an independent probe. Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce broke ranks on Monday, saying the move was necessary to avoid a media “mosh pit”.

Ms Plibersek said Australians needed to be convinced Mr Porter was fit to hold his role despite no formal police investigation.

“We have a very serious allegation against the first law officer of the land. He needs to be above reproach and beyond doubt, and tragically the complainant in the case is not here to pursue all legal avenues herself,” she said.

She also accused the Coalition of hypocrisy, saying they weaponised an inquiry into whether former prime minister Julia Gillard had used union money to pay for a home renovation in 1994.

“This is a government that spent $86m on a royal commission into whether Julia Gillard’s boyfriend built her bathroom 30 years ago,” she said.

With rapes under-reported and convictions rates low, Ms Plibersek said victims needed to be given confidence in the legal system.

“Let’s see some reforms that would make it a little easier to make these claims and a little fairer when it comes to properly determining what’s happened,” she said.

It comes after revelations the alleged victim told a counsellor about the allegation in 2013 aired on the ABC’s Four Corners on Monday.



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Joyce breaks ranks, calls for independent Porter probe


Barnaby Joyce has broken ranks with the government to call for an independent inquiry into the historical rape allegation levelled at Christian Porter to avoid a media “mosh pit” when he returns to Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted growing calls for an independent probe into claims Mr Porter raped a 16-year old in 1988 – allegations he emphatically denies.

But Nationals MP Mr Joyce said the government would “not survive the vacuum” by expecting the issue to disappear.

He warned Mr Porter and the government would be subjected to the allegations being fleshed out in the media without an investigation.

RELATED: Christian Porter says it’s ‘not impossible’ he saw his accuser again after 1988

“I’m at odds with my colleagues, but I think that that is a more sustainable and dignified way to go forward,” he said.

“It will be a mosh pit as soon as Christian sticks his head up there in Canberra, and I just don’t think politically that’s tenable.”

NSW Police were unable to pursue a criminal probe into the matter, citing “insufficient admissible evidence” after the alleged victim took her own life in 2020.

Mr Joyce said he preferred the investigation to be confidential to respect her family and to allow Mr Porter to “give a good account of himself”.

The Prime Minister has insisted the allegation was a matter for police, arguing an independent inquiry would establish a second tier of the justice system based on a “mob process”.

But he has backed a coronial inquest into the alleged victim’s death, which could call Mr Porter to give evidence.

South Australian State Coroner David Whittle revealed last week he considered an investigation into the woman’s suicide “incomplete”.

The family of the alleged victim on Thursday joined friends in backing calls for an independent probe into her death.

“The family of the deceased continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss,” a spokeswoman for the family told The Australian.

“They are supportive of any inquiry which would potentially shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing.”

Outing himself as the minister at the centre of the allegation last week, Mr Porter questioned the viability of such a probe.

“What would I say in front of that inquiry? What would that inquiry ask me to do?” he said.

“To disprove something that didn’t happen 33 years ago. I honestly don’t know what I would say to that inquiry.”

Mr Porter has taken mental health leave following the allegations but has refused to resign, saying it would set a dangerous precedent whereby anyone accused of a crime would lose their job without due process.

It comes after fresh revelations from the ABC’s Four Corners that the woman told a counsellor about the alleged rape in 2013 and referred to the alleged perpetrator as “Christian”.



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Kate Jenkins to lead parliament workplace culture inquiry


The investigation into workplace culture in Parliament House and the process of handling allegations of sexual harassment and assault will be led by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins.

Special Minister of State Simon Birmingham said the allegation that Brittany Higgins had been raped in a minister’s office and the historical claim that Attorney-General Christian Porter had raped a woman were “deeply distressing and confronting”. Mr Porter has strongly denied the claim.

Mr Birmingham told reporters on Friday the inquiry would examine how to change the culture and practices within parliament to ensure future assaults were prevented, after accusations the Morrison government failed to respond to Ms Higgins’ claims properly.

“The parliament of Australia should reflect best practice in the prevention of, and response to, any instances of bullying, sexual harassment, or sexual assault,” he said.

“The Prime Minister asked me to work across party lines to develop a review that would be truly at arm’s length of government, and that would be truly independent.”

RELATED: Reynolds apologises for ‘lying cow’ comment

Senator Birmingham said the consultation to establish the inquiry involved bipartisan advice and support as well as expertise from figures working in the field of sexual harassment and assault support.

He said it would also seek advice from those who say they were assaulted or experienced harassment while working in parliament.

“This review will be able to hear examples and, indeed, take submissions, from any former members of parliament staff or those who have worked within the parliament,” the senator said.

“It is not, though, an investigative review. I think that is important to make clear.”

The inquiry was about achieving systemic change, Senator Birmingham said.

“The review will also have clear protocols and practices put in place such that, if people are sharing experiences or stories of harassment or assault, and where they want to have those issues resolved through appropriate legal channels or other appropriate agencies, the support will be put in place to assist them to do so,” he said.

An update into the inquiry will be provided in July and a final report is due in November.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese welcomed the appointment of Ms Jenkins to lead the review, who he said would have a “big job ahead of her”.

“It needs to have proper services so that people know where to get assistance,” he said shortly after the details of the inquiry were revealed.

“It needs to be a transparent processes in terms of complaints, including at arm’s length from those in positions of existing power so people can have confidence to go forward either on a confidential basis, if they wish, or on the basis of it not being confidential if that’s appropriate and if the people agree.”

The appointment of Ms Jenkins comes after Defence Minister Linda Reynolds apologised to former staffer Brittany Higgins, whom she referred to as a “lying cow”.

Ms Higgins claimed she was raped in the Defence Minister’s parliamentary office in 2019, and has criticised support given to her in the wake of the alleged crime.

It was revealed on Thursday Ms Reynolds called the alleged victim a “lying cow” in an outburst in front of staff, a revelation that prompted Ms Higgins to threaten legal action.

The Defence Minister offered a public apology to Ms Higgins in a statement released on Friday.

“In response to a letter from Ms Higgins’ lawyers yesterday afternoon, discussions are now under way through our legal representatives in an effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible, with any resolution to include an apology,” she said.

“However, in the meantime, I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused.”

Ms Reynolds insisted she had never questioned Ms Higgins’ account of the night in question, and said the remark was directed at the alleged victim’s subsequent criticism of the support offered to her.



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Reynolds apologises labelling alleged rape victim ‘lying cow’


Linda Reynolds has apologised to her former staffer Brittany Higgins for calling the alleged rape victim a “lying cow”.

Ms Higgins claimed she was raped in the Defence Minister’s parliamentary office in 2019, and has criticised support given to her in the wake of the alleged crime.

It was revealed on Thursday Ms Reynolds called the alleged victim a “lying cow” in an outburst in front of staff, a revelation that prompted Ms Higgins to threaten legal action.

The Defence Minister offered a public apology to Ms Higgins in a statement released on Friday.

“In response to a letter from Ms Higgins’ lawyers yesterday afternoon, discussions are now under way through our legal representatives in an effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible, with any resolution to include an apology,” she said.

“However, in the meantime, I want to express how deeply sorry I am for these remarks and for any hurt and distress they have caused.”

Ms Reynolds insisted she had never questioned Ms Higgins’ account of the night in question, and said the remark was directed at the alleged victim’s subsequent criticism of the support offered to her.

More to come …



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Tensions flare after Christian Porter, Linda Reynolds questions


A Liberal senator and a Labor MP clashed during ABC’s Q&A on Thursday night over a question about the historical rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter.

On Wednesday, Mr Porter revealed himself as the minister at the centre of a rape claim involving a 16-year-old girl in Sydney in 1988, choosing to waive his anonymity in order to publicly and vehemently deny the allegation.

The Attorney-General has never been charged and police confirmed there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed with an investigation, labelling the matter “closed”.

The subject caused tension on Q&A when an audience member asked whether the panel thought Prime Minister Scott Morrison should launch an independent inquiry into the allegations against Mr Porter.

RELATED: ‘Not impossible’ Porter saw woman again

RELATED: ‘Considerable grief’: Family want inquiry

Queensland National Party Senator Susan McDonald threw her support behind Mr Porter, saying she felt “deeply” for the woman and her family but that the justice system must be adhered to.

“We do have a system of justice in this country. We do have a police service that is well resourced and the most capable of understanding whether or not evidence needs to go to trial. And they have closed the matter,” Senator McDonald said.

“I don’t think that this is an easy subject but we can’t have a situation where allegations equate to guilt. And I think that the minister has made a full statement and I think that we need to some justice in the law and the rules of the land, because otherwise, you know, do we back a kangaroo court and a court of public opinion?”

Fellow panellist and Western Australia Labor MP Anne Aly, who appeared less than impressed by Senator McDonald’s stance, cut in by asking: “What about justice for the victim?”.

The Queensland senator continued with her comments, claiming anyone who has people in their lives who have been “unjustly accused” of something similar “want them to have the right of reply”.

Ms Aly was quick to respond to Senator McDonald’s comments, once again asking about whether the alleged victim deserves justice.

“We keep talking about justice for the accused. What about justice for the victim?” she said, to a round of cheering and applause from the audience.

“I am infuriated by this because I’m sick and tired of the lip service that we hear in parliament about hearing victims’ voice, about listening to women, about respect for women, and right now is a moment.”

Ms Aly said it was time for the Prime Minister to show leadership and take action when alleged victims come forward.

“What did he do? He came out and he said, ‘Well, I have asked him if he did it and he said no, and that’s enough for me.’ And then suddenly you’ve got all of these men invoking justice, justice, justice,” she said.

Ms Aly said it was up to Mr Morrison to establish an independent inquiry into the allegations against Mr Porter, saying police not pursuing the matter does not preclude the PM from undertaking an inquiry.

“That inquiry will either exonerate Christian Porter and prove his innocence, as he is — as he is saying, that he is innocent, or it will prove otherwise. Either way, this is a serious, serious allegation. It needs to be treated seriously,” she said.

It wasn’t the only time during Q&A where Senator McDonald’s comments irked the other panellists.

Earlier in the show, the panellists were discussing recent reports that Defence Minister Linda Reynolds called alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins a “lying cow”.

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Nearly three weeks ago, Ms Higgins revealed to news.com.au that she had allegedly been raped by a senior staff member in Senator Reynolds’ office while working for her.

That same day, the Defence Minister described her as a “lying cow” in the open-plan office, but said she was not referring to the alleged rape and instead her account of what occurred and the support she was offered after the alleged incident.

Senator McDonald defended Senator Reynolds on Thursday night, calling her “an incredibly compassionate woman and a great leader”.

Senator McDonald claimed the last few weeks since the rape allegations came to light had been “incredibly” tough for her colleague.

“I think what her behaviour demonstrates is she is very human. I know that I’ve said things that I regret and she has apologised to her staff for the words she used,” Senator McDonald said.

“I do think the process of Parliament and the performance of the Senate is incredibly tough and she’s a very kind and decent person who was caught saying something that she has said later that she regretted.”

Once again, Senator McDonald’s comments didn’t get much support from the other panellists, with news.com.au’s National Political Editor Samantha Maiden issuing a blunt reply.

“Well, to be honest, there is nothing human or compassionate about calling an alleged rape victim ‘a lying cow’,” she said, prompting cheers from the audience.

Ms Maiden noted that Senator Reynolds claimed she wasn’t directly referring to the rape allegations with her comments.

“But I will tell you who had a bad week in the office — it was the staffer who got [allegedly] raped. Not Linda Reynolds. And she should answer to Brittany Higgins for those remarks. And she hasn’t.”

Senator Reynolds is now facing defamation action over her comments about Ms Higgins, with the former Liberal staffer’s lawyers issuing a legal demand for her to apologise.

According to The Australian, Ms Higgins’ lawyers branded the remark as a “distasteful character assassination” and are demanding the senator publicly withdraw the comment.

It comes after Ms Higgins told news.com.au that the revelations about the slur had hit her hard and left her distressed.

“The comments made by Minister Reynolds are incredibly hurtful,’’ she said.

“I appreciate that it has been a stressful time but that sort of behaviour and language is never excusable.

“It’s just further evidence of the toxic workplace culture that exists behind closed doors in Parliament House.”



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