TRANSCRIPT: TODAY SHOW, 23 February 2021

23 February 2021

TOPIC: Alleged rape at Parliament House

SYLVIA JEFFREYS, HOST: A fourth woman has now come forward with allegations against the former Liberal staffer accused of assaulting Britney Higgins in Parliament House. The new accusations were reported as Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was grilled in Question Time.

[Question Time] MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: At any time, did the Minister disclose to the Prime Minister that her former staff member, Ms. Higgins, had made allegations that she was raped in the Minister's office? If not, why not?


LINDA REYNOLDS: No, I didn't. And the reason for that is I've consistently said here in this chamber that it was not my story to tell. It never was.

JEFFREYS: Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy joins us now from Canberra. Malarndirri, good morning to you. Do you believe Linda Reynolds?

MCCARTHY: Well, clearly, that's what we're trying to get to the bottom of, Sylvia, and the questioning will continue. It is certainly quite irresponsible of the Defence Minister not to be able to express to the Senate what took place between her and the Prime Minister.

JEFFREYS: What does that suggest to you?

MCCARTHY: Well, it certainly doesn't suggest they're forthcoming, does it? I mean, it looks like there's a lot to hide here. And unless the Minister comes forward, that's all it says, that they're hiding something.

JEFFREYS: And in that case, then, is there a cover up and does that go all the way to the Prime Minister?

MCCARTHY: Well, clearly, Labor has been very concerned about this issue. I mean, it was incredibly brave of Mr. Higgins to come forward. So brave that we see three other women, four other women coming forward. So clearly, this has been important. We don't know what else or who else is out there, and they're being brave in being able to come forward. But clearly, the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister are hiding here and the Senate is going to push and demand for answers.

JEFFREYS: Malarndirri these allegations that have been aired over the past week, the powerful account from Brittany Higgins have shocked and saddened and rocked so many of us across the country over the past week. How have they affected you personally?

MCCARTHY: Well, Sylvia, you're right. I mean, it's certainly something that we need to have in terms of the change of culture here at Parliament House. But more importantly, right across Australia, you know, we have staff in this building, we have workers in this building. Everyone, anywhere in our country should feel safe, certainly at work and certainly at home. And the fact that here in the Australian Parliament, women in particular, do not feel safe, then that culture is wrong and that culture needs to change. And the fact that the Prime Minister, whether through his actions or inactions, is unable to change the culture, says a lot about his performance and his obfuscation of this issue.

JEFFREYS: We all want answers Malarndirri. No one deserves a more than Brittany Higgins and the other women who've come forward over the past week. We appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

MCCARTHY: Thanks. Thanks.