CANBERRA, Aurtralia — (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stood by an unnamed Cabinet minister in opposition to requires him to step down from workplace over an allegation that he raped a 16-year-old woman greater than 30 years in the past.
The allegation has created a cloud hanging over the 16 males in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and feeds complaints of a tradition inside Parliament that’s poisonous for girls.
The allegation was contained in an nameless letter despatched to the prime minister’s workplace and to a few feminine lawmakers final week.
The letter contained a press release from a complainant that detailed her allegation of a rape she mentioned occurred in New South Wales state in 1988.
The lady, who has not been publicly named, reported the allegation to police earlier than taking her personal life in June at age 49.
Morrison mentioned the unnamed Cabinet minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.”
Morrison mentioned he forwarded the letter to police and mentioned the allegation with the federal police commissioner. Morrison mentioned he didn’t intend to take any additional motion.
“We can’t have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicized through the media is grounds for … governments to stand people down simply on the basis of that,” Morrison mentioned.
The Ministerial Code of Conduct states a “minister should stand aside if that minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.”
Some inside the authorities argue that as a result of the complainant is lifeless, her allegation was now not underneath official police investigation as a result of a conviction was unlikely.
Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, a minor Greens get together lawmaker who obtained the nameless letter, mentioned the minister should step down pending an unbiased investigation by a former choose.
“It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire Cabinet,” she mentioned.
“Sitting around that table erodes the trust, the integrity and belief that this government takes sexual assault seriously,” she added.
Marque Lawyers managing companion Michael Bradley, who represented the complainant when she took her accusation to police, mentioned the allegation can’t be resolved via the legal justice system as a result of she had died. The minister ought to step down whereas some unbiased inquiry investigates the proof, Bradley mentioned.
“His position is pretty clearly untenable and he should step aside or be stood aside until this matter can be addressed and resolved,” Bradley mentioned.
The disclosure comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former authorities staffer who alleged she was raped by a extra senior colleague in a minister’s workplace two years in the past.
Brittany Higgins give up her job in January and reactivated her grievance to police after initially not pursuing the case as a result of she felt it could have affected her employment.
The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching safety by taking Higgins right into a minister’s workplace following an evening of heavy consuming.
Three different girls have made sexual misconduct allegations in opposition to the identical man since Higgins went public together with her grievance. A authorities staffer who alleged he raped her final yr informed The Weekend Australian newspaper the assault wouldn’t have occurred if the federal government had supported Higgins’ preliminary grievance.
Morrison responded to Higgins’ public complaints by appointing authorities lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political events to research Parliament House tradition, enhance office requirements and to guard employees.
Hammond and opposition Labor Party senator Penny Wong additionally obtained nameless letters concerning the 1988 rape allegation.
Wong mentioned she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation in opposition to the person, who was not in Parliament in 1988.
“I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police,” Wong mentioned.
Morrison mentioned that earlier than he was informed of the rape allegation final week, he had heard “rumors” that an Australian Broadcasting Corp. investigative reporter was “making some inquiries” round November final yr when the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its “Inside the Canberra Bubble” investigation.
The program accused the ruling conservative Liberal Party of tolerating and condoning inappropriate sexual habits.
The program uncovered an extramarital affair between Population Minister Alan Tudge and a feminine adviser in 2017. It additionally alleged Attorney General Christian Porter had been witnessed “cuddling and kissing” a feminine staffer in a Canberra bar, which he denies.
The authorities has condemned this system. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has requested the ABC board to elucidate how this system was within the public curiosity and complied with the state-owned broadcaster’s obligation to supply correct and neutral journalism.