Embattled Senator Linda Reynolds apologised to her former staffer Brittany Higgins over her handling of an alleged rape in her office. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Embattled Senator Linda Reynolds apologised to her former staffer Brittany Higgins over her handling of an alleged rape in her office. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

‘Her career is done’: Call for Minister to quit

Embattled Defence Minister Linda Reynolds is facing fresh calls to resign after reports she called alleged rape survivor Brittany Higgins a "lying cow".

Scott Morrison on Thursday slammed the "offensive remarks" as inappropriate, adding he did not condone them.

Senator Reynolds, who did not deny making the comment, has since apologised to staff in her office who overheard the comments.

The Morrison government cabinet is in turmoil with two senior figures, Senator Reynolds and Attorney-General Christian Porter, on medical leave over the handling of shocking rape allegations.

Outspoken senator Jacqui Lambie told Sky News the Defence Minister would be "finished today" because of the comments.

"She will have to come out and she'll either have to defend herself or say whether or not she made those comments," Senator Lambie said.

"If she did, she'll have to resign at the same time.

"I think Reynolds is gone. If she's not coming out and denying that and now she's trying to smooth it over … her career is done."

Senator Linda Reynolds has previously broken down in tears while giving a statement to the upper house about the handling of the alleged incident. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Senator Linda Reynolds has previously broken down in tears while giving a statement to the upper house about the handling of the alleged incident. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

Senator Lambie said previously Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was her first choice for defence minister if Senator Reynolds stepped down.

But in an attempt to get Australians to extend an olive branch, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Senator Reynolds was a "human being" who was under "significant stress" at the time.

"She deeply regrets it, they were offensive remarks," Mr Morrison said.

"She should never have made them.

"I would simply ask you, given the comment was made in a private place, that you offer the same generosity to how you perceive something you might have said and perhaps apply the same standard to Linda."

Brittany Higgins was 24 years old when she alleges the incident occurred.
Brittany Higgins was 24 years old when she alleges the incident occurred.

Senator Reynolds will return from medical leave next week after hospitalisation with a pre-existing condition.

Her absence follows former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins breaking her silence, claiming she had been raped by a colleague in Ms Reynolds' office in March 2019.

Ms Higgins also claimed she was later called to attend an employment meeting in the room where the alleged incident occurred.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, Senator Reynolds said: "I have never questioned Ms Higgins' account of her alleged sexual assault and have always sought to respect her agency in the matter.

"I did, however, comment on news reports regarding surrounding circumstances that I felt had been misrepresented."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has also defended Senator Reynolds, saying she had not challenged Ms Higgins' version of events.

"Linda has told the parliament previously, and at every stage, she has thought that she has been acting in the best interests of Brittany Higgins, providing the support that is needed," Mr Frydenberg said.

Senator Reynolds last month apologised to her former staffer over her handling of the alleged rape in her office.

Ms Higgins has also reignited an investigation with the Australian Federal Police over the alleged incident.

Originally published as 'Her career is done': Call for Minister to quit



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