World news – Australia’s politics are alive and well: the government is « pursuing » investigations against employees for alleged sexual acts in parliament


According to Simon Birmingham, the government is working to « get to the bottom of these allegations ». Liberal MP Andrew Laming apologized for the correspondence which fell below expectations. PM considering reshuffle. This blog is now closed

Thu 25 Mar 2021 08:54 GMT

First published on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 at 8:55 pm GMT

8.44 a.m. GMT08: 44

We’ll be back with the news tomorrow as soon as it happens. As it is not a parliamentary session day, Amy Remeikis will not blog and Matilda Boseley will be blog captain instead.

8.32 a.m. GMT08: 32

He says he would « like to see » a woman follow him … as a local member for Cook in Sydney. But he doesn’t mention the role of the prime minister.

I would like to see a woman who will follow me as a member for Cook when I retire from politics.

8.30 a.m. GMT08: 30 a.m.

Grimshaw asks Morrison about the « big swinging tails, » a group of self-appointed Liberal MPs who former Secretary of State Julie Bishop said she blocked in parliament.

I wonder, rather than quotas … You’d better start actively discriminating against Neanderthals like the so-called Big Swinging Dicks Club, which Julie Bishop said stands in her way.

That was a shame, I saw Julie talk about it. That was horrific. Ultimately, if we don’t have more women in this Parliament, we have to do something different. That’s the point I’m making.

8.26 a.m. GMT08: 26

He said he offered to speak privately to the organizers but did not participate in protests, « whoever makes the protest ».

That was whether I was a backbencher or a minister or Prime Minister was, I wanted to hear her, where we are having a proper conversation. That opportunity was there, it was extended to this by my office, and that offer was not accepted. I respect that.

8.24 a.m. GMT08: 24

Morrison says the sexual assault and harassment revelations over the past few weeks were a « wake-up call » to which Grimshaw replied, « It was not a wake-up call for 52% of Australians. »

Grimshaw asks Morrison: “Do you understand why this problem has haunted the government for the past month? Why didn’t it blow, all gone?

In this place, for many years, people from all sides of politics have worked hard to address issues of violence against women … I think of what Hannah Clark was doing before something happened more than a year.

… What I believe has become more crystallized in the last five weeks when Brittany got up has led to a very deep and confrontational conversation in Australia. We went much deeper, we went beyond the mere shock of violent acts. We’re starting to grapple with some house truths.

Are you really saying that you only realized the extent of this problem women grapple with every day in the last month?

No, I am not me. I have already told you the story of my own experience with my mother … I will do everything I can to try to understand this as best I can. I may not always have got it as often as people would like, but I assure you I will do everything I can to understand it as much as possible.

I find this a little unfair, Tracy. I think there are a lot of people in this country who live with it every day. You have lived without your whole life. Almost every woman has.

But you are not on an island or in a bubble. You need to know you have a wife, daughters, you have referenced her multiple times. How did you not know the depth?

This is the hard part of it. You understand as only you could. I have a different experience than yours but I can tell you that for a lot of Australians this was like a big wake up call and it was like a red light to say, « Stop it, look at this ».

8.18 a.m. GMT08: 18

Grimshaw asks Morrison why he believed Porter, Senator Eric Abetz, and others instead of the women making the allegations.

Grimshaw: “But this pattern here is that women are always the liar. Brittany Higgins, Sue Hickey, Christian Porter’s accuser. « 

I disagree with your assessment. In this country people will make allegations and we have ways to deal with them. I do not judge the truth of either statement.

8.16 a.m. GMT08: 16

The night I became aware of this, I did not have a copy of it … This information had not come to me that Wednesday evening.

It had come to someone else, it had gone to the Federal Police. I spoke to the Federal Police, I spoke to the Federal Police Commissioner, who gave me his understanding for these allegations. I raised this with the Attorney General, he absolutely refused.

When they finally came to me, I followed the commissioner’s advice. I wasn’t in Canberra, I was in Sydney. They were not sent to me electronically, but as printouts … and they were immediately forwarded to the Federal Police, as the inspector had advised me.

8.12 a.m. GMT08: 12

Morrison has said that both Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds will remain in « important roles » in his cabinet, but has not confirmed that they will have the same roles.

The Prime Minister also says that it will There is a « double standard » in the treatment of Christian Porter compared to Bill Shorten, who also made historical rape allegations against him.

Morrison says it is a police matter and he brings up Shorten’s example.

Historical allegations have been made, not the first time this has happened in this country. You are aware of historical allegations against another MP.

It happened on that occasion when the police said there was no further investigation into this … Now we have the same situation when it comes to Mr Porter

Against you, me, against everyone else an allegation can be made. The only system we have for understanding these issues and treating them fairly is to get the job done.

8:08 a.m. GMT08: 08

8:08 a.m. GMT08: 08

Morrison just said that Brittany Higgins was « very alone » and agreed that people who support her have « failed ».

As she became more traumatized by these events, the services disappeared and she was very alone.

It would not be true to say that those who were there did not try to give all the support they could . I agree with you that this clearly failed the test and Brittany failed. Nobody denies it.

They would have tried as everyone else tried under the circumstances. We have to fix this and you don’t have to tear things down to build them up. What we need in this place and across the country are much better systems and resources to help people in these situations.

8.05 GMT08: 05

Whether she would like to discuss something as private and personal as this … I look forward to the conversation [if it is her].

8:02 a.m. GMT08: 02

Brittany Higgins released a statement today formally complaining against her and her partner about your meeting, presumably to discredit and undermine them. Do you see now that this happened?

We started a process today. I received a direct and confidential source reporting these matters to me.

One major source, someone who allegedly witnessed this [stepped forward]. We have a process to deal with this and I think it is important that, with things like this, I allow you to handle these matters properly.

7.41 a.m. GMT07: 41

Treasury Secretary Simon Birmingham has just issued a statement that the government will « further investigate » employees who allegedly shared pictures of masturbation on an MP’s desk.

News reported earlier this week that a group of coalition officials had committed sexual acts, including masturbation, in the parliament building. One employee has already been fired for alleged participation.

Birmingham, who is also the head of government in the Senate, has vowed to pursue the allegations.

Allegations that have surfaced this week are disgusting and inappropriate in any workplace, but especially in the national parliament. These are grave allegations and we have shown that this behavior will not be tolerated. One person will be released on Monday evening.

Earlier this week, I said we would be conducting further investigations to identify more cases of wrongdoing. We have continued this investigation, and I thank those who have provided information so far.

The government is working to resolve these issues and investigate these allegations.

I assure everyone that we will not tolerate the alleged behavior and will take all possible steps to ensure appropriate consequences for anyone who has done wrong.

7.33 a.m. GMT07: 33

Thanks as always to Amy Remeikis. A huge inning today, on top of the most ridiculous week.

Your post below sums it up better than any other – read it while we wait for the Prime Minister’s upcoming interview. It should start at 7 p.m. or around after, depending on the order in which ACA was run.

7.25 a.m. GMT07: 25

With that in mind, I will hand you over to the extraordinary Naaman Zhou to guide you through the evening.

We are awaiting a statement from Simon Birmingham regarding actions against employees or employees who have been identified by a whistleblower for involvement in lewd acts at work, as well as the interview on A Current Affair with Scott Morrison.

Thanks to everyone who followed me this week. Your support meant the world. We hope to start the comments again soon and I know how much you miss them – we do too. Really. We are just taking all measures to ensure that we are all legally protected.

Parliament will not meet until the budget is approved in May. Then I’ll be back with the Politics Live blog – but in the meantime we’ll have a daily news blog so you won’t be left without your daily update.

And special thanks to everyone who went out of their way – all of us do it the best we can and just want to do a good job for you.

It’s been another very tough week in the long run. That doesn’t make it any easier. Indeed, this type of emotion can be stressful. We think of you and understand. Please make sure that you take care of yourself and those around you. I don’t know anyone who won’t be hurt by it. Not everyone can and shouldn’t have to be public about it. Everyone has their own story and that’s the only thing you can control at times. Treat the people around you with a little more kindness right now. Sometimes it can make all the difference in the world.

I’m back in politics, but I’ll be back on the blog in May. If you need me, you can reach me here and here.

7.13 a.m. GMT07: 13

Scott Morrison would also be « happy » to sit down and chat with Brittany Higgins, according to another excerpt from the upcoming interview with A Current Affair.

6.50 a.m. GMT06: 50

Eight private companies will be participating in $ 330 million in profits to run the controversial independent evaluation program of the Morrison government’s national disability insurance scheme.

Martin Hoffman, executive director of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, told Senate Estimates on Thursday that the agency had signed contracts with the eight healthcare providers to conduct 518,000 assessments over a period of three years.

Hoffman also responded to questions about how the bidding process was handled after the ABC announced that some winners also have subsidiaries that operate other NDIS services. According to the contract rules, companies that conduct independent assessments cannot offer other NDIS services in the same area. However, the rule does not apply to subsidiaries.

When asked by Labor’s Nita Green about a « perceived conflict of interest » in a contract with a company affiliated with former National Disability Insurance Agency chief Rob De Luca, Hoffman told Estimates of the Senate:

According to estimates, De Luca launched the first pilot project for independent assessments. He left the NDIA in April 2019. However, De Luca said the process is a fully open tender with independent probabilistic advisors and is « carefully managed ».

I gave our board the recommendation for the last eight. I have never met or spoken to Mr De Luca. I don’t owe him anything …

The suggestion that the board of directors would wrongly place an order with his company just doesn’t hold water … No inappropriateness or problems here. I think it is an unfounded insult to me, the Board of Directors and Mr De Luca, to propose otherwise.


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