David Sharaz has resigned from his job dealing with federal government clients saying he could no longer continue in the role.
Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz, whose lives have been upended since going public with the rape allegations earlier this month.
‘I’m so proud of Brittany for her courage and determination,’ David Sharaz, says.
‘Unfortunately the events of this last week haven’t been without consequence for Brittany, her family and myself.’
Brittany Higgins’ partner has been forced to abandon his job over fears he will be frozen out by ministers as payback for the crisis now engulfing the government.
Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz, says his job in Canberra, where he handled federal government clients for a media analytics company, is no longer tenable.
The role required daily interaction with government and the maintenance of healthy relationships with ministerial offices and the prime minister’s office.
“I do not believe I can continue to do that following the events of last week,” Sharaz said , speaking publicly for the first time since his partner came forward.
His resignation is yet another sign of the way that parliament’s power dynamics can work to discourage the reporting of sexual assault.
Higgins has previously spoken of her hesitancy to proceed with a police complaint for fear of losing her dream job. Now, her partner has been forced out of his.
“My number one priority has always been to support Brittany during this incredibly challenging time".
Sharaz is a reporter with extensive experience, working for SBS, Sky News, and regional broadcaster Win prior to going into government.
He worked with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before joining his latest employer in January.
He thanked his employer for its support and said he had “absolutely no regrets in choosing to support my partner”.
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Being supportive is the least that I , or any other partner of a victim-survivor can do,” he said. “Brittany and many others deserve better.”
The revelation comes as the crisis continues to widen for the Coalition. Four separate complaints have now emerged about the alleged perpetrator – the most recent alleging that he stroked a woman’s thigh inappropriately at Canberra bar Public.
Two other women have told the Australian newspaper they were sexually assaulted by the man.
Questions remain about the prime minister’s repeated assertion that his office only found out about the matter on 12 February.
Fiona Brown, who is now in the prime minister’s office, was on secondment in the office of Linda Reynolds at the time of the alleged rape and spoke directly with Higgins about it.
It was revealed on Monday that a second staffer in the prime minister’s office also had knowledge of the employment termination of the alleged perpetrator.
At the time, the staffer worked in the office of Alex Hawke, then special minister of state.
On Monday, the finance minister, Simon Birmingham, said he had spoken to the sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, about an independent inquiry into parliamentary culture, saying the multiple allegations were weighing on him “very, very heavily”.
“Any workplace should be a safe workplace and the parliament should lead by example in terms of providing that safety,” Birmingham told the ABC.
But Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, said the words “ring hollow [while] there is no culture of accountability”.
“Mr Morrison talks about culture,” Wong said. “But what he is not talking about is the culture he leads, the culture he leads in his own government, where no matter what happens, he is never responsible.”
Morrison on Monday declined to say whether he would release publicly a looming report from his departmental head, Phil Gaetjens, which will examine any contact between members of his office and Higgins – a former Liberal staffer.
• If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au