Jacqui Lambie demands Defence Minister Linda Reynolds resign over Brittany Higgins rape allegations
Jacqui Lambie has called for Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to resign “this morning” over her handling of former staffer Brittany Higgins’s rape allegations.
Ms Higgins, who was aged 24 at the time, claims she was raped by a colleague in the minister’s office in March 2019 and was later called to an employment meeting in the room it occurred.
Senator Lambie has joined the opposition in demanding Senator Reynolds resign after it was revealed she did not inform the Prime Minister about the allegations.
“It stinks of cover-up, it is extremely worrying,” Senator Lambie told Today.
“I think now with the performance of Linda Reynolds, both in her Defence portfolio and now this, it is time for her to step down.
“She should do that this morning.”
Senator Lambie said she did not have “any faith” in the parliament to deal with Ms Higgins’ allegations and was concerned about her wellbeing.
“I think if she wants the investigation done and wants it done properly it needs to be taken out of the hands of parliament,” she said.
“She has a long way to go. This could affect her.”
Senator Reynolds has apologised in the Senate to her former staffer.
Scott Morrison has agreed to an independent review into the workplaces of the parliament and its staff.
“It is my expectation that this review would be conducted at arm’s length of government,” Mr Morrison wrote in a letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
He said it would consult widely across parliamentarians and their staff, the departments and agencies that support their work and provide “constructive feedback” on measures that can be implemented.
Crossbench MP Rebekah Sharkie, who was among politicians calling for an external review, said she hoped it would achieve structural change.
“It really should be wide-ranging to everyone who has a pass so that we can ensure that people have a safe pathway should they experience any form of intimidation, assault or, in Brittany’s case, a very serious sexual assault (allegation),” Ms Sharkie told ABC.
“I want to ensure that no person that works in this place ever feels so alone and feels that they have no one to turn to.”
Ms Sharkie said the gender of the person leading the review did not matter.