Alleged Higgins rapist axed for misconduct

·1-min read

Officials have provided evidence on the sacking of the alleged rapist of former staffer Brittany Higgins that appears to differ from the prime minister's version of events.

Scott Morrison has said the person was terminated "quite swiftly over the security breach" and minister Linda Reynolds has repeated the phrase in parliament.

Finance Department deputy secretary Clare Walsh told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday the alleged perpetrator was terminated for "serious misconduct".

Quizzed by Labor's Katy Gallagher, Ms Walsh declined to repeat claims that a security breach or repeated mishandling of documents was the reason.

Labor is also concerned the alleged perpetrator wasn't sacked until 10 days after the alleged sexual assault in the office of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in March 2019.

And yet Ms Higgins was told he was sacked immediately, Senator Gallagher said.

She compared the 10-day delay with the rapid sacking of another staffer in March this year for a "lurid act".

"You can see why people think there was a cover-up."

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said only Senator Reynolds, now disability minister, could answer questions about the timing.

"I can't speak for Senator Reynolds' office and the process regarding when they completed the paperwork," Senator Birmingham said.

"They are questions for Senator Reynolds office."

Who knew what and when, and what they did about it, remains subject to an internal inquiry by Mr Morrison's own head of department, due to report within weeks.

Other work is ongoing about revamping support and protocols at parliament, three months after Ms Higgins came forward about her experience.

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