A clip of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come back to haunt him a day after he said the cabinet minister subject to a historical rape allegation is entitled to be presumed innocent.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Labor's Penny Wong and Mr Morrison were sent a letter detailing the complaint last week.
A woman alleged she was raped by a current cabinet minister in 1988 when she was 16 and after going to NSW police last year, the investigation was suspended after she told authorities she did not want to proceed and took her own life.
Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday the minister accused had "vigorously rejected" the allegations and he was entitled to be presumed innocent.
However he was slammed for hypocrisy after Australian political journalist Samantha Maiden tweeted a video which appears to be from May 2019, where Mr Morrison says all rape victims should be believed.
"One of the early questions on rape and women being raped and the lack of reporting," he said in 2019.
"And one of the things that often happens with that is, they're not believed and their stories are not believed. And it's important that their stories are believed and that they know that if they come forward, their stories will be believed.
"And as I said, My father was a police officer. And you can only, you know, pursue the crimes when they're reported ... and so you know women in those circumstances I think should have a greater sense of confidence that if they tell their stories that they'll be believed."
People on Twitter blasted Mr Morrison over the comments, with one describing it as a "pack of lies".
"Why don't you believe this dead woman who alleged that one of your ministers raped her when she was 16?" one wrote.
"This speech was all a pack of lies from Scott Morrison. Don't listen to his words, look at his actions," another said alongside the hashtag #hypocrisy.
"This certainly hasn't aged well," a third added.
PM says allegations 'very distressing issues'
Mr Morrison said on Monday he had discussed the woman's allegations with the federal police commissioner and senior officials in his department, but did not plan to take any action beyond leaving the allegations in the hands of police.
"There are no matters that require my immediate attention," he said.
"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."
Minister for Women Marise Payne said the rule of law should apply.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the prime minister had the power to act, based on the probability of a crime occurring.
"The prime minister can decide who sits around that cabinet table and drop them for any reason they want," Ms McManus told the ABC.
"If they think that it's likely that it did happen then they should not be there."
Calls for minister to stand aside
Senator Hanson-Young believes the minister must stand aside pending an independent investigation by an eminent former judge.
"It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire cabinet," she told ABC radio.
"Sitting around that table erodes the trust, the integrity and belief that this government takes sexual assault seriously."
Mr Morrison said the "mere making of an allegation" should not be grounds for a person to be stood down.
Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the woman when she took the complaint to police, questioned whether the minister could do his job with his integrity under question.
"I think he will have to stand aside, at the moment at least, because he's been accused of such a grave crime," Mr Bradley told Nine newspapers.
"It's untenable for him not to, I would think. It's not really a legal question, it's a question of propriety."
Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson has forwarded police an email from a woman who claims she was raped by a serving Labor MP.
The AFP confirmed they received a complaint relating to an historical sexual assault, but would not comment further.
Sexual assault allegations have sparked national debate about political culture after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins said she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House.
Four inquiries are under way, including a multi-party investigation aimed at ensuring parliament is a safe working environment.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Scott Morrison's office for comment.
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