The Australian Prime Minister warns of “cultural issues” following allegations of rape in Parliament by Reuters

© Reuters. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Tokyo

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday that he had become “sick” from sexual assault allegations in the parliament building, adding that there was a “culture” problem inside the government building.

His comments followed reports that a second woman said she was attacked by the same man a former government media adviser publicly accused of rape earlier this week.

Brittany Higgins said in a statement by the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) on Friday that the man raped her in parliament two years ago. Reuters could not contact you.

Morrison apologized to Higgins on Tuesday for the way their complaint was handled at the time and ordered an investigation into the government’s workplace culture.

“I think we have a problem in parliament and the work culture there,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Saturday. “We would be naive to think that it is not a challenge faced by other jobs across the country, but I agree that Parliament should set the standard.”

Higgins told ABC that she was raped by an unnamed colleague who also worked for Morrison’s ruling Liberal Party and that she would file a formal complaint to open a police investigation.

“These events are really making me sick … like everyone should,” said Morrison. “So I try to do this as quickly but as effectively as possible.”

Media reports on Saturday said a second woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by the man in 2020 after he was fired on Higgins’ allegations and while he was working in the private sector. The second alleged attack occurred at the woman’s home after the two went out for dinner, she was quoted as saying.

Reuters could not reach the second woman or the man.

“I am telling my story because I want to support Brittany and help shed some light on this terrible culture,” she said in anonymous comments reported by Australian newspaper The Weekend.

A police media liaison officer in the capital, Canberra, said Saturday there was an “open” investigation into the incident with Higgins, but the case was not “active” because she had not made a formal complaint.

The allegation of the second woman was not forwarded to the police, said the liaison officer.

Higgins told ABC this week that at the time of her attack, when she was working for Secretary of Defense Lynda Reynolds in Parliament, she had not been encouraged to file a police complaint. Reynolds says Higgins was not pressured to file an official complaint.

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