Aus PM apologises after allegation of rape in parliament

PM apologises for treatment of former Liberal staffer, orders workplace review after alleged rape

Scott Morrison vows to tackle sexual assault in parliament after rape claims

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised to a former political adviser who has alleged she was raped by a senior colleague in a minister's office in parliament.

"I unreservedly apologise to Brittany Higgins", she said.

Ms Higgins, 26, spoke out in a TV interview on Monday that has prompted shock and outrage over her treatment.

Ms Higgins said made a decision to speak out after being inspired by women's campaigner and Australian of the Year victor Grace Tame.

Mr Morrison said he was "shattered" by her claims, and had called for a review into parliament's environment and culture.

"That should not have happened, and I do apologize", Morrison told reporters.

But Mr Morrison was also drew criticism for saying he better comprehended the allegations after considering them as a father of two girls.

What does Ms Higgins allege?

Ms Higgins was 24 years old when she was allegedly raped by a colleague in March 2019.

"The Prime Minister's announcement of an investigation into the culture in Parliament House is a welcomed first-step, though it is long overdue", she told news.com.au.

Ms Higgins has also shared her distress at being summoned to a meeting with Senator Reynolds in the days following the alleged incident in the same room it allegedly occurred.

She told "The Project" she woke up to find her colleague on top of her "mid-rape", and when she repeatedly asked him to stop, he didn't.

She said the man left the building, leaving her to be discovered by security guards in her cocktail dress the next morning.

After informing her employer, Ms Higgins felt Ms Reynolds' office tried to "manage" the situation, downplaying her trauma.

In a statement to CNN, Higgins said that she had come forward "because I didn't want what happened to me, to happen to anyone else".

The young staffer said during the meeting with Senator Reynolds she was "nice" and "apologetic", but the meeting quickly turned to whether she would report the incident to police.

What does Ms Higgins allege?

Mr Morrison has drafted West Australian Liberal MP Celia Hammond, a former university vice chancellor, to work with party whips and MPs to improve workplace standards and protect staff.

What was the PM's response?

She said she was then asked to attend a meeting in the office where she says she was assaulted.

Parliament House needed an independent reporting mechanism for staff so that they could confidently and safely make complaints, Higgins said.

The prime minister also announced a review into the professional culture of parliament, saying problems crossed over party lines. "We are all privileged - whether it's members of Parliament, the people who work in our offices, indeed, those who work in the Gallery and get to do what we do in this place - it is a privilege", Mr Morrison said.

Opinion polls pointed to Morrison's conservative coalition government losing power at the 2019 election which took place weeks after the alleged rape. "What would you want to happen if it were our girls?"

Mr Morrison said the environment of Parliament House needed to be addressed.

"It should not take a man having a daughter for him to treat women who've been assaulted with empathy and respect", wrote author Jamila Rizvi on Twitter. It has previously been accused of covering up sexual misconduct.

Ms Higgins said she was motivated to speak out about her experience after an ABC investigation previous year aired allegations of inappropriate behaviour by government ministers.

His comments have drawn much criticism online from women who suggested that Mr Morrison should not need to do that.

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