Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has made a despicable comment about Brittany Higgins following her rape allegation becoming public. The incident involved Reynolds calling Higgins a “lying cow” in her office after going public, which Morrison has called “inappropriate and wrong.”
The Australian government is in full damage control mode. This is unsurprising given the way recent events are undermining the ability for people to believe the Liberal government was ever a fair, equanimous place of decent behaviour.
“A report in The Australian attributed some remarks to me regarding the very serious allegations made by my former staff member, Ms Brittany Higgins,” Senator Reynolds said in a statement, which did not deny that she made the comments.
“I have never questioned Ms Higgins’ account of her alleged sexual assault and have always sought to respect her agency in this matter,” said Reynolds. “I did however comment on news reports regarding surrounding circumstances that I felt had been misrepresented.”
Morrison confirmed that was indeed that case and that the ‘lying cow’ comment was in regard to Reynolds being frustrated that Higgins was speaking publicly that she felt unsupported by her former employer.
At last check, members of the Liberal government have: called these incredibly serious allegations a “he said, she said” situation, admitted to withholding information about the rape from the Prime Minister, scheduled a press conference from Christian Porter, who was accused of a historical rape, at the same time as a speech from Australian of The Year Grace Tame, an activist who experienced a sexual assault as a child.
Morrison himself has admitted that he began to see Higgin’s experience in a new light after coaching from his wife to think about how he would feel if his daughters were put in this position, which many deemed a poor and deeply paternalistic response.
Reynolds is currently on medical leave and now many of her colleagues, defence industry figures and citizens are questioning whether she should remain in her position. At this stage, Reynolds has not confirmed that she has apologised to Higgins.
Lead image via Sam Mooy/Getty Images.