Australia

NSW police drop investigation into alleged rape by minister as PM is accused of ‘outsourcing his responsibility’

The New South Wales Police Force says it has closed an investigation into a historical rape allegation against a sitting cabinet minister in the federal government, saying there is “insufficient admissible evidence to proceed”. 

The incident is alleged to have occurred in 1988 when the woman was 16. 

She went to police in NSW last year, but the investigation was suspended when she took her own life in Adelaide in June 2020 after telling authorities she didn’t want to proceed. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday the accused minister “vigorously rejected” the allegation. 

In a statement on Tuesday, NSW Police Force said it had sought legal advice after coming into possession of “a personal document purportedly made by the woman” prior to her death. 

“Based on information provided to NSW Police, there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed,” the statement said. 

“As such, NSW Police Force has determined the matter is now closed.” 

 

A letter detailing the alleged rape was sent to Mr Morrison, senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young last week. 

On Monday, Mr Morrison said he had been briefed on the contents of the letter – but did not say whether he had read the woman’s claims himself. 

He also dismissed calls to stand down the minister, saying it was a matter for police.  

“We have a rule of law in this country and it’s appropriate that these things were referred to the federal police – they have been. They’re the people who are competent and authorised to deal with issues of this sensitivity and this seriousness,” he said. 

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday morning challenged the accused minister to publicly identify himself.

“If he’s vigorously denied the accusations to the prime minister, he should vigorously deny them to the public,” he told the ABC.

He also accused Mr Morrison of “outsourcing his responsibility for composing his ministry to the police” by insisting it was a matter for authorities.

 

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said there is “a dark cloud” now hanging over the government. 

“Scott Morrison needs to recognise that and needs to satisfy himself that it is appropriate for this minister to be able to continue in his position,” he told reporters on Tuesday. 

“Whether there’s a coronial inquiry into the circumstances of this woman’s death, or whether there be other inquiries made, it really isn’t enough for the prime minister to think that this issue is just going to disappear, because until it is resolved, it remains an issue.”  

Sexual assault allegations have rocked federal politics for more than two weeks after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins said she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of people believe the government has been more interested in protecting itself than the interests of the women who have made sexual assault allegations.

A new Essential poll of 1,074 people also found just 34 per cent of people trusted political offices to be safe work environments.

With AAP.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au 

Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyondblue.org.auEmbrace Multicultural Mental Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

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