PM’s surprising admission after rape claim
Scott Morrison has conceded didn't read the evidence sent to him implicating one of his ministers in a rape claim that has rocked the government.
The Prime Minister received an anonymous letter last week penned by friends of a woman who told police she was raped in 1988 by a man who is now a minister in Mr Morrison's cabinet. The woman has since taken her own life.
Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday he had spoken to the minister in question and he "absolutely" denied the allegations.
Mr Morrison said he had discussed the correspondence with the AFP commissioner, as well as Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary and deputy secretary.
"I had a discussion with the individual, as I said, who absolutely rejects these allegations," Mr Morrison said.
"And so after having … spoken to the commissioner and to the secretary and deputy secretary at this stage, there are no matters that require attention."
When asked if he believed the minister's denial, Mr Morrison said it was a "matter for the police".
"I'm not the commissioner of police," he said.
"Allegations of criminal conduct should be dealt with by competent and authorised agencies."
When asked whether he had read the evidence submitted with the letter, Mr Morrison said he was "aware of the contents".
"I've been briefed on the contents of them. And it was appropriate, as the commissioner himself advised the parliament to refer any allegations to the properly authorities," the PM said.
"That is the way in our country under the rule of law things like this are dealt with. It is important to ensure that we uphold that. That is the way our society operates.
"Now, these are very distressing issues that have been raised, as there are other issues that have been raised in relation to other members in other cases.
"But the proper place for that to be dealt is by the authorities, which are the police.
"That's how our country operates. That systems protects all Australians."
The letter published by news.com.au on Monday states: "When news (of the incident) becomes widely known to the public … legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew it and what they did,''
It also referenced the allegations of sexual assault made by a former Liberal staffer whose claims are now being investigated by police.
"This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins," the letter states.
"In (the woman)'s case, the loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.
"There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament if it is simultaneously revealed that the senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.
"This is not a partisan issue … This is a difficult issue. Victims share information in confidence and sometimes do not want to pursue claims, at least initially.
"In this case, (the woman) shared her story with many and begged people to help her seek justice. To date, defamation law and political inactivity have adversely affected the ability of (her) claim to be properly addressed."
The minister in question has not been charged, nor is he under investigation.
Originally published as PM's surprising admission after rape claim