A radio presenter has slammed the $2.3million compensation payout to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins that was revealed in the Federal Court on Tuesday.
Ms Higgins got the payout after she alleged she had been raped in a government minister’s office in March 2019 by fellow political staffer Bruce Lehrmann.
The criminal trial into Mr Lehrmann – who has always denied the allegation – collapsed in October 2022 due to juror misbehaviour and was subsequently abandoned due to fears for Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Speaking on 2GB radio on Wednesday morning, Ben Fordham said the payout had ‘never been properly explained and it’s never been justified’.
‘The former political staffer has confirmed the figure in the Federal Court, and it begs the question, what was the reason for that compensation being paid to Brittany,’ he asked.
Brittany Higgins (pictured centre) leaves after her final day in the witness stand at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Fordham said he objected because Ms Higgins’ ‘shocking allegation about that night in Parliament House has never been proven’.
But the shock jock said what Ms Higgins previously said ‘about what happened in the days and weeks after that night in Parliament House, well, that story’s been torn to shreds under cross examination in court’.
‘But if we leave to one side, the she-said, he-said about the night in Parliament House, this was a political issue too because Labor was milking it for all it was worth.
‘And a senior figure, (Canberra MP) Katy Gallagher, even received a briefing about the allegations before they were made public,’ Fordham said.
He said that Ms Higgin’s boyfriend David Sharaz said in a message that then prime minister Scott Morrison was about to be ‘effed over… just wait’ and that she had replied ‘We’ve got him’.
Fordham said that after Labor won power in the May 2022 federal election, ‘a compensation payment was approved for Brittany. It happened at lightning speed’.
‘Her former bosses, (Senator) Michaelia Cash and (Senator) Linda Reynolds were barred from being part of that process and it happened without a compensation claim ever being filed in court.’
He said Ms Higgins ‘had claimed that she would not be able to work for 40 years. The Albanese government paid the 2.3million without challenging the veracity of that claim …
‘Brittany claims that Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash failed her and exacerbated a toxic and harmful work environment.’
Fordham said Ms Cash and Ms Reynolds deny any wrongdoing, and ‘In fact, it was Linda Reynolds and her then chief of staff, Fiona Brown who encouraged Brittany to go to the police.’
He said legal experts his show had spoken to said they had never seen something settled so fast. ‘So why was the money paid? That remains the $2.3million question.’
Fordham said ‘The matter of compensation is a political issue because the Labor Party made it one. They were receiving briefings before the allegation was aired on TV.
Bruce Lehrmann (right) is pictured arriving to the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney on Wednesday, December 6, 2023
‘So from Labor’s point of view, this was a conflict of interest. Brittany’s supporters handed them all of the info they needed to put a bomb under the Coalition.
‘And when Labor was sworn in, they handed Brittany Higgins $2.3million.
‘That’s never been properly explained and it’s never been justified,’ Fordham said.