Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson has forwarded to the Australian Federal Police an email from a woman who claims she was raped by a man now serving as a federal Labor MP.
Ms Henderson issued the brief statement on Sunday evening, saying she was doing so in the interests of full transparency.
“I forwarded to the Australian Federal Police an email I received this afternoon from a woman alleging she has been raped by a man who is now a federal Labor Member of Parliament,” she wrote on Twitter.
Ms Henderson said she was doing so in line with advice from AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw, who last week urged all MPs to swiftly report alleged criminal misconduct.
My media statement. pic.twitter.com/boo9JLodpA
— Senator Sarah Henderson (@SenSHenderson) February 28, 2021
It comes as former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull calls for a coronial inquiry into the death of another woman who claimed to have been raped in 1988 by a man who is now a federal cabinet minister.
Mr Turnbull has also revealed the woman wrote to him in 2019 with details of the allegations and he had since passed that correspondence to the South Australian police.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Labor senator Penny Wong and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young received a letter on Friday alleging the sexual assault took place against a woman who has since died.
That letter is in the hands of the Australian Federal Police.
Speaking at a Writers’ Week event in Adelaide on Sunday, Mr Turnbull revealed the woman had written to him and his wife Lucy in December 2019 seeking their advice.
“She described a pretty horrific rape that she said had occurred at the hands of this person, a person she said is now in the cabinet,” Mr Turnbull said.
“One of the things she noted, I might say, is that she’d kept extensive diaries.
“She mentioned that she had a lawyer and was talking to the NSW police.”
Mr Turnbull wrote back expressing sympathy and concern for her and told her she was doing the right thing in going to police.
The former PM said after learning of the woman’s death in South Australia in the middle of last year it struck him there would likely be an inquest.
“I got in touch with the police commissioner here and I sent him the correspondence she sent us and our reply,” Mr Turnbull said.
“I don’t know whether there will be an inquest or not. Frankly, there should be.
“The allegation is incredibly serious.
“In the circumstances, a woman who has got a complaint ongoing about a senior public figure, taking her own life.
“There clearly needs to be some form of inquest.”
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) February 28, 2021
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said it was up to the PM to consider what to do with the cabinet minister at the centre of the allegations.
Mr Albanese said the allegations needed to be investigated appropriately and not politically managed.
“The prime minister must confirm to himself that it remains the case that the minister, who is the subject of these allegations, that it’s appropriate for him to stay in his current position,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program.
But government leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham on Saturday pushed back against suggestions the minister alleged to be involved should step aside and that the police should be allowed to get on with their job.
Also on Saturday, Senator Wong issued a statement revealing the complainant, who died in June 2020, had made the allegations to her face-to-face in November 2019.
“The complainant made an allegation that she had been raped many years earlier by a person who is now a senior member of the federal government. She indicated she intended to report the matter to NSW Police,” Senator Wong said.
This development comes after a parliamentary sitting fortnight that was dominated by an alleged sexual assault on a former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins by a male colleague.
Other women have also come forward accusing the same man of attacks on them.
Four inquiries are under way, including a multi-party investigation aimed at ensuring parliament is a safe working environment.
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