Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized to a former political staffer who said she was raped in a ministerial office after a review found half of the parliamentary staff had experienced harassment, bullying, or sexual assault.
“We are sorry, I am sorry to Miss Higgins for the terrible things that took place here,” Morrison said on Tuesday, adding that a place that should have been safe “turned out to be a nightmare.”
The apology marked a rocky start to an election year for Morrison as anti-vaccination protesters gathered outside Parliament and his conservative party argued over a religious freedom bill.
On Tuesday, as Parliament sat for the first time in 2022, the speaker read a statement apologizing for “an unacceptable history of workplace bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in parliamentary workplaces.”
Brittany Higgins, who last year went public with details of her alleged rape that set off the review, watched from the public gallery three fellow former staffers who had also gone public with their allegations, as well as two women’s rights advocates.
“This has to change. It is changing. And I believe it will change,” Morrison said.
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