Brittany Higgins has called on Scott Morrison to meet her for face-to-face talks – and she has six demands for major changes at Parliament House.
Brittany Higgins has called on Scott Morrison to meet her for face-to-face talks – and she has six demands for major changes at Parliament House.

Brittany Higgins sends six demands to Morrison

Brittany Higgins has written to the Prime Minister urging him to hold face-to-face talks with her next week outlining major reforms to Parliament House for staff.

But the former Liberal Party staffer, who alleges she was raped by a colleague in former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds office two years ago, has expressed concern that a date has not yet been set.

Despite the Prime Minister publicly spruiking his offer of a meeting there's no firm date yet on when it will occur.

In correspondence obtained by news.com.au, she is calling on new protections for political staffers and a security overhaul to allow APS officers to refuse entry to inebriated and vulnerable pass holders.

"I appreciated your email on the 6 April 2021 formally extending an invitation to meet with the Prime Minister," she writes.

"In the spirit of reform, I have since both publicly and privately welcomed the opportunity to meet.

"As I made clear in my public statements, I consider this an incredibly important opportunity to fix a broken system and ensure no other staff has to experience something similar in Parliament House again."

It's not clear whether the proposed talks will occur at Parliament House or off site at the Lodge.

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The Prime Minister has previously noted Ms Higgins "trauma" about returning inside the building that she last attended outside during the March 4 Justice rally.

However Ms Higgins is understood to be happy to meet with the PM at Parliament House in his office.

News.com.au first broke the story of Ms Higgins' allegation on February 15, a disclosure that triggered a national debate and mass protests.

"In the wake of a national conversation about consent and harassment in the workplace, it is my hope that Parliament will implement meaningful reform and seek to lead by example into the future," Ms Higgins writes.

"Political advisers have very few protections, resources and confidential reporting mechanisms to address any workplace issues. They are not public servants and work in an extremely high pressure environment.

"Too often, a workplace culture can emerge that enables inappropriate conduct which is exacerbated by the disparity in the power dynamics inside offices, among colleagues, inside political structures more broadly, even among lobbyists and the media who share the same workplace.

Ms Higgins says the primary items she wishes to discuss are:

• Reform of laws that allow Parliamentarians at present have the ability to terminate staff without given reason, the legislation should change this by making staff terminations more in-line with the norm outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009;

• Independent Complaints Body. It is widely known the Department of Finance reporting system is largely impotent.

• Establish an independent and confidential internal parliamentary conduct ombudsman or other stand-alone complaints body for ministerial staff similar to IPEA;

• Transparency of the Membership of the Government Staffing Committee.

• Transparency to the public about the people who sit on 'Star Chamber' who vet political staff.

• Improved Protocols and Procedures for DPS Employees.

 

Ms Higgins also outlines suggestions for improvements to security at Parliament House. Security staff who told Four Corners that Ms Higgins was so affected by alcohol that she couldn't put her shoes back on escorted her to the office with the man she alleges sexually assaulted her on the night in question.

They also did not call ambulance when she was found naked in the office.

Ms Higgins letter suggests the following should occur:

• Provide DPS ministerial security employees with improved processes and procedures to provide them with greater agency when dealing with extenuating circumstances.

This would afford DPS employees greater agency on the job to:

• Refuse access to a clearly inebriated person at 1am over the weekend.

• Call an ambulance in the wake of finding a partially naked unconscious women who had been left alone for hours.

She is proposing a meeting next week.

"As per the email I sent on the 13 April 2019, I am available on the 28th-30th of April to meet as I will be in Canberra for personal reasons. Does that suit?," she writes.

"I would like to bring advocates into the meeting. Primarily, to serve as a support during the day.

"Given the circumstances, I feel it is important to have assurances that parties directly involved will not physically present in the meeting. I trust you to exercise your judgment in this regard."

 

  *For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.   

 

Originally published as Brittany issues PM six key demands



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