A Liberal staffer who says she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague inside Parliament House will proceed with a formal complaint to police.
Brittany Higgins came forward this week with allegations she was raped in 2019, and now says she wants “my perpetrator to face the full force of the law”.
“Today I have re-engaged with Australian Federal Police and will proceed with a formal complaint regarding the crime committed against me in what should be the safest building in Australia,” she said in a statement on Friday.
“The Australian Federal Police have made assurances to me that they will handle this matter thoroughly and transparently.
“I would also ask that they handle it in a timely manner as to date, I have waited a long time for justice.”
Explosive text messages have cast serious doubt over when the prime minister’s office first knew about the alleged rape.
Scott Morrison claims his office did not find out about the alleged rape until last week and he was not informed until Monday.
But a text message exchange between Ms Higgins and a fellow Liberal staffer within a fortnight of the incident calls this account into question.
In the message, the Liberal staffer said he had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison’s staff.
“Spoke to PMO. He was mortified to hear about it and how things have been handled,” he said.
“He’s going to discuss with COS — no one else. I flagged need for councillor (sic) and desire to be closer to home during election.”
PMO refers to the prime minister’s office and COS is shorthand for chief of staff.
The prime minister is standing by his timeline, despite Ms Higgins saying at least three of his staff had prior knowledge of the incident.
While the messages appear to confirm her account, Mr Morrison wants the nation’s top public servant to review communication records.
“If there was anything different here, I would like to know,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“I want to know and that is why I have asked the secretary of my department to actually test that advice that I received.”
Mr Morrison denied he had misled the public and maintains he is horrified by the allegations.
“I have sought to be as open and honest as I can be about this matter. I have told you everything I know about this matter. I will continue to,” he said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the text messages completely contradicted Mr Morrison’s claim that his office wasn’t informed until last week.
“It’s just incomprehensible that the prime minister’s office, given a reported sexual assault had occurred 50 metres from his office, wouldn’t have then had a discussion about handling the issue,” he told the ABC.
“It just doesn’t stack up.”
Mr Albanese said Ms Higgins deserved straight answers about who knew what and when.
“I believe Brittany Higgins when it comes to the incident and tragedy.”
Greens senator Larissa Waters is not satisfied by an internal review into the text messages, and will push for a public inquiry into the alleged rape and response when parliament resumes next week.
“We need an independent review, which has public findings,” she said.