Time line of a cover up.
The longer the government dissembles, obfuscates and straight up lies like a motherfucker about the rape of Brittany Higgins, the more confused the story and event sequence can seem. But it’s not confusing. It’s pretty fucking simple, actually. Ms Higgins was raped in the Parliament House office of the then Defence Industry Minister, Linda Reynolds. Senior government figures covered up the crime. And the cover up is unravelling.
The number of people involved, beyond the victim and the perpetrator, is confusing.
But only because there’s so many of them.
As every day passes, the Prime Minister’s evasions about his knowledge of the crime and its concealment grows increasingly twisted and tortuous, like the violent spasms of a shrieking buttweasel caught in the jaws of a rusty trap.
From his first mumbling meh culpa, through the cringe-making Jenny Moment, to yesterday’s pantomime bar brawl with Facebook, this fucking guy has looked exactly like every other fucking guy who ever tried to cock-block a reckoning with the extreme and inevitable end point of male privilege.
We don’t know yet exactly what Morrison knew of Ms Higgins’ rape, and precisely when he knew it, but every day another data point resolves itself. On Wednesday Malcolm Turnbull said it was ‘very, very hard to believe’ that the PM’s office didn’t know about the crime.
An incriminating text message soon reveals that within a fortnight at least some of Morrison’s most senior staff knew all about the crime and the utterly muntered way it had been managed – if you stretch the definition of ‘managed’ to include interfering with a crime scene…
…quietly dismissing the alleged rapist for a ‘security breach’, committing a second assault upon the victim by questioning her about the first assault in the very room where it happened, and of course giving her to understand that she could kiss any career in the party goodbye if she made trouble.
“My chief of staff and I moved quickly to ensure that Brittany was given access to the police should she wish to make a complaint,” Minister Reynolds said in her defence, which, lame and inadequate as it might seem, was at least more of a defence than was offered to Ms Higgins.
And what the fuck does Reynolds’ mouthful of pre-chewed word mush even mean anyway.
Brittany Higgins hardly needed them to move quickly to ensure that she was given access to the police. The last I checked pretty much everyone has access to the police if they want to “make a complaint,” or, you know, report that they have been the victim of a sexual assault.
Through it all, Morrison declared himself mortified and sorry and not a little ticked off that he hadn’t been told earlier, but apparently not so mortified and sorry and ticked off that he could be bothered reminding his fixers that it might be a good idea not to handle this little problem like every other little problem they’ve handled for him.
That abject shitfuckery having been exposed, they’re now briefing against Linda Reynolds, with half a dozen unnamed MPs whispering to the gallery that she should resign over her bungling.
The bungling, just so we’re clear, wasn’t a problem before it made life uncomfortable for Morrison. It was only when he was inconvenienced by Brittany Higgins’ rape that Reynold’s efforts were called into question. Everything was tickety-fucking-boo when she was promoted from Defence Industry to Defence proper - less than two months after Morrison’s office learned about the rape.
Let me lay the sequence out for you, because I haven’t seen anybody do it this way yet.
On Friday 22 March, 2019, a Liberal Party staffer raped Brittany Higgins in the Parliament House office of Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds.
The next morning, a female security officer finds Ms Higgins ‘disoriented and half-naked’ in the office.
One Tuesday 26 March, Brittany Higgins and the male staffer are questioned separately about the ‘security breach’ on Friday night. The next day, Wednesday 27 March, Ms Higgins reports the assault to the Australian Federal Police unit at Parliament House.
So, on 27 March, the AFP knows of the rape and begins to investigate. One of the first things they determine is whether a crime scene was disturbed when the office was cleaned on Sunday. Answer - technically, no. Because at that time there had been no assault reported.
On Monday, the first of April, the male staffer is dismissed for ‘breaching security’. And here is where it all begins to go pear-shaped. Morrison’s Chief of Staff, John Kunkel, is part of the dismissal process. Four days after the AFP have begun investigating the rape allegation.
The alleged rapist is dismissed
His victim is not.
Yet the Prime Minister’s Office insists they were still not aware of any assault. We know for sure that they had been told by Wednesday 3 April, because of the text message exchange noted above. On the following day, Thursday 4 April, Minister Reynolds met an an Assistant Commissioner of the AFP to discuss the case.
Nothing to see here, folks. Just a Minister of the Crown and one of the highest ranking officers of the Federal Police sitting down over tea and biscuits to chat about the sexual assault of a young woman in the Minister’s office.
One does wonder whether the Comish’ asked the Minister why the AFP was having so much trouble getting any CCTV footage and incident reports from the night of the assault. Because they were, and confirmed as much to Brittany Higgins four days later at Belconnen police station.
But no way would the PM or his Chief of Staff want to know about any of that.
Not with an election coming - an election that Morrison calls on 11 April. Two days later Ms Higgins informs the police she will not proceed with the complaint.
Morrison, of course, defeated Bill Shorten, and on 29 May, 2019, Linda Reynolds was promoted to Defence Minster, even though the PM’s office had by then definitely learned of Higgins’ rape.
You can see why Morrison leaned so hard into Facebook this week.
He has some explaining to do and he can’t get away with his usual “What me?” routine.
Not this time.
He'll probably survive it, though. That's what this prick does. But beyond the singular incident, it's important to remember that this isn't just something that happened to Brittany Higgins.
It happens everywhere, all the fucking time, not just at Parliament House and not just because men like her attacker feel themselves entitled to take what they want. It happens because men like Scott Morrison do not care to face that reckoning with the natural outcome of male privilege.
That outcome? The endpoint? Another name for it is rape culture.
And that culture is why millions of men are wilfully fucking blind to what's happening until somebody like Jenny tells them otherwise.
It's good, I suppose, that at least Morrison listens to her. But if he was serious he would sit the fuck down with Brittany Higgins, shut the fuck up, and listen to her while she tells him how it is.
And then he would do something about it.
Best written account of the clusterfuck I've read. Now a subscriber
Its columns like this one that make me appreciate your move from writing for national newspapers as I don't imagine this one would have got through the lawyers quite as unscathed. Also his odious whataboutism mentioning the labor offices, which makes it sound like he knew about other rapes and hasn't investigated, which isn't quite the get-out-of-jail-free card he seems to think it is. He is an odious little turd, best described by George Orwell "“It was curious how that beetle-like type proliferated in the Ministries: little dumpy men, growing stout very early in life, with short legs, swift scuttling movements, and fat inscrutable faces with very small eyes. It was the type that seemed to flourish best under the dominion of the Party.”