The cabinet minister who is the focus of a historical rape allegation is likely to break his silence on Wednesday.
Sources within the government say the man is likely to make a statement and possibly take questions from journalists.
The cabinet minister has sought advice from eminent defamation lawyer Peter Bartlett, a partner at MinterEllison, who is very highly regarded within the industry.
The sexual assault allegation has dominated national media attention and loomed large over the 16 men in the Coalition government’s cabinet ever since an anonymous letter was sent to several members of Parliament last week.
It alleged a woman was raped when she was a teenager in 1988 by a man who is now a minister in the federal government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Minister “absolutely rejects” the sexual assault allegation, and insisted it was a matter for police.
In a statement, they said the woman contacted officers in 2019 but did not detail her allegation in a formal statement before she took her own life last year.
Police sought legal advice after receiving a document “purportedly made by the woman” before she died.
However, they said there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to proceed.
Separately, police in South Australia have prepared a report into her death for the coroner.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had called for the cabinet minister to speak publicly, arguing it would be the best thing for the government and his colleagues.
“He knows who he is, everyone knows who he is, he may have known about these allegations for a long time,” Mr Turnbull said.
Several Liberals currently serving in the government have been torn about the best way forward.
Some worry the man will face trial by media and will be denied natural justice, while others recognise that the crisis, which comes after a fortnight of intense discussion about the workplace culture in Parliament House, has the potential to damage the standing of the cabinet in the community.
Friends of the woman who made the historical allegation have urged Mr Morrison to hold an inquiry into the allegation, arguing there was always almost no likelihood of a criminal prosecution.
They believe it should be similar to the investigation commissioned by the High Court into allegations of sexual harassment against former Justice Dyson Heydon.
- For confidential support and services around sexual assault, contact 1800 RESPECT online or by phone on 1800 737 732. If you or someone you know needs help contact Life Line on 13 11 14