Opposing Defense Minister Linda Reynolds has not denied reports that have referred to alleged rape victim and former Liberal staff member Brittany Higgins as a “lying cow”.
According to a story in the Australian newspaper, Senator Reynolds made the statements to staff members after Mrs Higgins went public about an alleged rape in the ministerial wing of the House of Parliament in 2019.
When Senator ABC contacted him, Reynolds did not discuss the reports.
“A report published in The Australian has attributed to me some remarks about the serious allegations made by my former staff member, Mrs Brittany Higgins,” he said in a statement.
“I have never questioned Mrs Higgins’ account of her alleged sexual assault and I have always tried to respect her agency in this matter.
“However, I did comment on news about surrounding circumstances that seemed falsified to me.”
“I have constantly respected Mrs. Higgins’ agency and privacy and said that this is her story to tell and no one else’s.”
“Mrs Higgins’ allegations are very serious and this is how they should be dealt with to ensure that her legal rights are protected. I accept her decision to make progress in this matter with the Australian Federal Police.”
According to Australian reports, Senator Reynolds, who is currently on sick leave, made the comment in an open part of his office on the same day that Mrs Higgins made public the allegation that she had been raped by a male colleague.
The statements were reportedly made at the behest of several staff members, including some who are high school civil servants in the Department of Defense.
Senator Reynolds was admitted to the hospital late last month as a “precautionary measure” following the advice of her cardiologist.
He has faced sustained pressure for his treatment of Mrs Higgins’ rape allegation, and the latter allegation is likely to outrage some of his ambitious colleagues who raised questions about his ability to maintain his ministerial position. .
Former Liberal staff member Higgins has filed a formal complaint with the Australian Federal Police over his alleged rape in March 2019.