A SENIOR Liberal party figure has issued an almost damning assessment of the government’s handling of accusations of rape inside Parliament House.
The latest allegations has seen two further women come forward inside the past 24 hours over being sexually abused by a prominent former staffer.
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt appeared to apologise on behalf of the government’s watch during an unrelated press conference on Monday (February 22).
“There is a cultural change and a systematic change required, which is critical,” Mr Hunt said.
“Every workplace deserves to be safe; every person deserves to be safe in their workplace.
“Around the country we have a journey to take, but within the Parliament of Australia we have to not only walk and live that journey, we have to be even better and even stronger than we have.”
A newspaper in Canberra reported on Monday that a woman gave a statutory declaration to police from an incident during the 2016 election campaign.
A fourth woman has since told the ABC’s Four Corners she made a formal report against the accused man at a Canberra police station on Sunday that suggested he “reached under the table and stroked her thigh” in the presence of colleagues at a Canberra bar in 2017.
The serious allegations over conduct in the Parliament has followed former one-time Liberal media adviser Brittany Higgins first coming forward last week with allegations of sexual assault against the same man as the other three accusers.
“Obviously, this is deeply concerning and deeply distressing case,” Mr Hunt said.
“Personally, I don’t know anything about the individual, but I do hope that they have access to the compassionate, caring support that they need and that they feel the support and confidence to take this matter to the police, but first and foremost we have support for the individual.
“There are a number of processes that are going on, both investigatory and with police that I understand has been indicated that it has been made and lodged, which is an important step forward.”