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Further to our earlier concerns about the independence of the 4 inquiries relating to Ms Higgins’ alleged rape, it would appear that some changes will be made to make the inquiries more independent and the reports made public. We hope this will apply to all 4 inquiries. The Financial Review has just written about the likely changes.

Andrew Tillett Political correspondent Financial Review Feb 23, 2021 – 6.59pm An inquiry into the Liberal Party’s culture will be rolled into a broader independent investigation into Parliament House workplace practices after the MP heading it found some victims may not have confidence in coming forward to tell their story. And as Labor continued to cast doubt on Scott Morrison’s claim he was unaware of the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, the Prime Minister indicated that a report into what his staff knew about the claim may be released after all. Liberal MP Celia Hammond’s review into Liberal Party culture has been rolled into a broader inquiry. (Actually this should read “staffing issues” – Birmingham is looking at the culture) Mr Morrison also said Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist – who has also been accused by three other women of sexual assault – was not issued a parliamentary lobbyist pass allowing him to walk around Parliament House after his employment as a ministerial staffer was terminated over a security breach. After Ms Higgins went public that she had been raped in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office and expressed anger over the way government staffers and ministers had handled the case, Mr Morrison announced that backbencher Celia Hammond, a former university vice-chancellor, would conduct an inquiry into the Liberal Party’s internal culture. The Liberal cultural review was one of four inquiries Mr Morrison has implemented to deal with the fallout from the rape claim. But Ms Hammond told the party room on Tuesday that having so many different processes risked re-traumatising people as they told their stories, that reviews needed to be at arm’s length of the government and that people needed to have confidence to come forward. She recommended and Mr Morrison agree that her inquiry should be consolidated into the wider probe that looks at workplace culture across Parliament House. Government Senate leader and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is talking to Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers over the terms of reference for that inquiry, which will be headed by a person independent of Parliament. Senator Birmingham told colleagues he was speaking to both current and former staffers about this inquiry as well as consulting Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. Mr Morrison said he expected that report would be made public and it would be completed well ahead of the next election, which is due next year. A day after refusing to guarantee he would release the results of an inquiry by Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens into what staffers in the Prime Minister’s office knew about the rape claim, Mr Morrison left open the prospect of making it public. “I’ll give further advice on that once I receive it.”

FR / AuspollBulletin

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