News Prime Minister standing by embattled defence minister

Prime Minister standing by embattled defence minister

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison is backing embattled Defence Minister Linda Reynolds as she takes indefinite medical leave.

There is mounting pressure for Mr Morrison to demote Ms Reynolds for her handling of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations.

“I spoke to Linda last night and a couple of times yesterday,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“I can tell you she’s much improved from where she was the night before and under doctor’s instructions she’ll remain under observation for a few days yet.”

Senator Reynolds, was was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, has been under sustained pressure for more than a week, following revelations Ms Higgins was allegedly raped inside the minister’s office in 2019.

Ms Higgins formally lodged her complaint with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Wednesday.

Asked whether her position as defence minister was untenable, Mr Morrison said she still had his support.

“She looks forward to returning and getting on with her duties,” he said.

“She’s doing a great job and I have great confidence in the work she’s doing.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is also standing by Ms Reynolds, saying he hopes she is back to work as quickly as possible.

“Linda has been under pressure over the course of the last couple of weeks, and she obviously has a pre-existing medical condition,” he told reporters at Parliament House.

“I think it’s important for us to not speculate about what her job is and all of that. The priority is for Linda to get better and to be back at work as quickly as possible.

Mr Dutton has been questioned over his decision not to tell the Mr Morrison about the alleged rape at Parliament House.

Mr Dutton insisted he chose not to inform the Prime Minister to avoid potentially compromising a potential police investigation.