Welcome to the last sitting day of this parliamentary session. It’s taken us years to get to Thursday and, judging by the fraying tempers and stretched patience on display yesterday, it’s going to be a long one.
Brittany Higgins has given a statement to police and an investigation is now officially under way again. ACT policing sent this out late last night:
Update regarding alleged assault at Parliament House in March 2019.
· ACT Policing can confirm it is investigating this matter after receiving a report about an alleged assault at Parliament House in March 2019. No additional comment will be made during the investigation.
· No other formal reports associated with this matter have been made.
· ACT Policing encourages members of the public to report any form of assault committed against them. All such reports will be appropriately considered and victims will be supported via ACT Policing’s Victims of Crime team and dedicated specialist support services.
With an investigation now under way, you won’t get many answers in parliament – we saw at the beginning of this ministers batted away questions by saying they believed it was part of a police investigation. It wasn’t at the time but now that it is, you won’t get too many more answers from the government.
There are still questions about why the AFP decided to alert Peter Dutton to Brittany Higgins’ case on 11 February, the day before the journalist Samantha Maiden went to the PMO with questions. Subsequent reporting from Maiden and Christopher Knaus reveals Higgins’ approach to the AFP on 5 February inadvertently sparked a process that led to Dutton being advised:
News Corp Australia reported on Wednesday night that the Australian federal police (AFP) was approached by Higgins on 5 February and she advised them she was considering reopening the complaint. The Guardian understands that prompted the police to flag the matter with Dutton as politically sensitive. News Corp reported Higgins was not aware Dutton would be alerted in such a manner.
But the AFP had been aware of the complaint since March 2019.
As Chris reports:
Police guidelines say the home affairs ministers must be informed about politically sensitive matters “at the earliest opportunity”. If those guidelines were followed, Dutton could have been told of the alleged rape two years ago, when Higgins first reported the incident to police stationed at Parliament House in March 2019.
We’ll see if we find out any more on that today.
Linda Reynolds remains on medical leave after she was admitted to Canberra hospital yesterday for a pre-existing medical condition.
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison is the guest of honour at an International Womens’ Day event at parliament.
We’ll let you know everything that happens across the day, with the Guardian brains trust, as always, at your disposal. You have Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Paul Karp and Mike Bowers in Canberra, with Amy Remeikis at the blog helm.
I’ve already had four coffees and have been staring at a wall since 4am, so this should be fun!
Let’s get into it.