The political probe to investigate the bombshell claims of Brittany Higgins’ rape is to be suspended, says the AFP commissioner. Just weeks after Scott Morrison ordered an inquiry into investigating the parties who had knowledge about the rape, the Department of the Prime Minister and secretary of the Cabinet Phil Gaetjens secretly paused the probe on March 9. The PM was seeking to verify that his claims that no-one in is his office knew of the assault, is in fact accurate.
The Prime Minister has said nothing about the probe being paused, despite being asked multiple questions in Parliament last week.
Mr Gaetjens emailed the Prime Minister’s office staff to inform them that he would not prepare the documentation, as he believed that he would be “at risk of compromising an investigation and (he is) not willing to do that. This is for the benefit of Ms Higgins.”
Labor Senator Penny Wong immediately retorted, saying, “Do not use her interests as a shield, Mr Gaetjens.”
This has immediately raised concerns over whether the Prime Minister has sought any updates regarding the probe, leaving it all to be answered by Mr Gaetjens who refused any questions.
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has stated this morning that the probe would likely to interfere with the police investigation of the rape. This would also allow for a reliable cover up for the Government, a view supported by the Labor Senators.
Ms Higgins has alleged that she was raped by a Liberal co-worker in March 2019, and that she reported the matter to multiple senior advisers in the Prime Minister’s office and in other ministerial offices.
The Australian Federal Police and parliamentary services and security has stated that they knew there was “an incident” but did not know it was an alleged rape, and further, did not provide her with adequate support.
Commissioner Kershaw was asked whether his letter to the PM this morning was to establish a de facto mandatory reporting policy for rape. He said this is definitely not his intentions.
“It’s not a mandatory report. It may be that the victim does not want any action taken criminally. It is a victim centred approach,” he said.
With the potential mishandling of such a serious allegation, the probe may be the only way of assuring the public that crimes perpetrated by anyone, government employee, or not, are taken seriously. It just looks like it will be a number of months until we get that message.
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