Albo’s claim about Brittany Higgins
Anthony Albanese has dismissed the budget's focus of women as an "afterthought" for the government, saying the "extraordinary" movement kickstarted by Brittany Higgins had shamed them into action.
Mr Albanese made the comments to a caucus meeting on Thursday, ahead of his second budget reply speech as Labor leader, taking aim at the government's response to months of allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to rape.
Tuesday's federal budget featured a women's budget statement and bolstered funds for domestic violence services, childcare, and preschooling.
But Mr Albanese dismissed the moves as an "afterthought" for a government that did not prioritise women's safety.
"A reported sexual assault occurred … just 50 metres from the Prime Minister's office," he said.
"Does anyone think that, if all of that had not happened, there would have been a women's budget statement this year? I think not.
"Like everything with this government, it's an afterthought. It's about political management, it's about how we get through and deal with a political crisis which is of the government's own making."
Delivering the budget on Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the scourge of domestic violence was a priority for the government.
"We will improve the family law system to better protect children, give victims of domestic violence greater access to justice and reduce time spent in court," he said.
The Treasurer announced $1500 cash payments would be provided upfront to women escaping violence, who would also be entitled to $3500 for extra costs like schools fees.
The measures were announced months after the former Liberal staffer alleged she was raped in 2019 by a colleague in the office of then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds.
She claimed she felt forced to choose between continuing to work within the government or making a police complaint.
Ms Higgins said she was inspired by Australian of the Year Grace Tame, a rape survivor whose advocacy prompted reform of Tasmania's sexual assault laws.
Mr Albanese said the pair were the "catalyst for a quite extraordinary response", which saw thousands of people descend on parliament in March to demand change.
"I can't think of an equivalent response in all my time as a political activist, where you have a spontaneous grassroots movement of civil society, saying very simply: enough is enough," he said.
Mr Morrison launched an investigation into Ms Higgins' claim his staff had spread negative information about her partner to journalists, but its findings have yet to be made public.
Mr Albanese accused the government of stonewalling in an attempt to avoid scrutiny.
"Months later, we still have the dissembling, the prevarication, the blocking, the hoping that people just move on, rather than that transparency that's required for an issue like this," he said.
Originally published as Albo's claim about Brittany Higgins