Julie Bishop breaks her silence on bombshell sexual assault allegations against Australian politicians – including Brittany Higgins’ claim she was raped by a Liberal colleague
- Respected former foreign minister left ‘unspeakably sad’ by sex assault scandals
- Julie Bishop, first female chancellor at ANU, says lawmakers set the standards
- Says those in positions of power have a duty to tell police of criminal allegations
Australia’s first ever female foreign minister Julie Bishop has broken her silence on recent sexual assault allegations that have rocked Canberra.
The 64-year-old’s comments came after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Parliament House by a former colleague.
‘The last few days have left me unspeakably sad,’ Ms Bishop told veteran journalist Samantha Armytage on the new Stellar podcast, Something To Talk About.
‘The people who are in Parliament House are the lawmakers, they are the legislators – and that’s where standards should be set. And sadly, that’s not the case.’
Julie Bishop (pictured) was Australia’s first female foreign minister and is now the first female chancellor of ANU. She said police must be called if an employee raises criminal allegations
The highly respected former deputy leader of the Liberal Party said Parliament House must introduce independent counselling, and those in positions of power had a duty to tell police when told of allegations of criminal sexual assault.
‘I believe that if an employee comes to me to tell me of an alleged serious crime, I have a duty to tell the police,’ she said.
Ms Bishop said people within the party system were so protective of the party’s reputation and prospects that counselling had to be independent.
The former senior Liberal leader opened up during the sit-down interview to express her heartfelt sympathy for women who have been attacked sexually and physically – and the emotional and physical trauma they suffer.
Ms Bishop said new induction processes were needed at Parliament House along with regular training for both politicians and their staffers.
Ms Bishop pictured with Brittany Higgins. Ms Bishop said the last few days had made her unspeakably sad as she opened up to veteran journalist Samantha Armytage about how workplace processes at Parliament House need to change
Pictured: Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on February 23. Ms Higgins says she was raped in Ms Reynolds’ office by a senior staffer and has lodged a formal complaint with police
Her call comes as an independent inquiry into workplace culture at Parliament House was announced on Friday in response to allegations made by Ms Higgins that she was raped in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds by a senior Liberal staffer.
Ms Higgins has now brought a formal complaint to police.
The inquiry will be led by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins who will provide an update in July and a final report in November.
Ms Bishop, who became the first woman chancellor of the Australian National University in January last year, said the behaviour that occurs inside Parliament House – which should be the model workplace – would never be tolerated in the private sector.