Brittany Higgins to make formal police complaint about alleged rape at Parliament House

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped inside a minister's office in Parliament House in March 2019, says she will make a formal police complaint.

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped inside a minister's office in Parliament House in March 2019, says she will make a formal police complaint.

Key points:
Ms Higgins says she wants a comprehensive review into what allegedly happened to her
She alleges that a colleague raped her after a night out in March 2019
The former Liberal staffer says she hopes her story drives change to the workplace culture at Parliament House

In a statement released this afternoon, Ms Higgins said she would proceed with the complaint about the alleged incident in a place she said should be "the safest building in Australia".

"Firstly, I want a comprehensive police investigation into what happened to me ... and for my perpetrator to face the full force of the law," she said.

Ms Higgins told earlier this week that a man working for then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds took her into Parliament House after a night out in March 2019 and allegedly raped her inside the minister's office.

Ms Higgins was just four weeks into her role at the time.

"The Australian Federal Police have made assurances to me that they will handle this matter thoroughly and transparently," Ms Higgins said.

"I would also ask that they handle it in a timely manner as to date, I have waited a long time for justice."

ACT Police previously confirmed they spoke to a complainant in April 2019 but the complainant chose not to make a formal complaint.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologised to Ms Higgins for the way her complaint was handled.

But he, Senator Reynolds and other government MPs, repeatedly said they respected Ms Higgins's decisions to report or not report the rape both at the time, and now.

"The Prime Minister has repeatedly told the Parliament that I should be given 'agency' going forward," Ms Higgins said in her statement.

"I don't believe that agency was provided to me over the past two years but I seize it now and have advised the Prime Minister's Office that I expect a voice in framing the scope and terms of reference for a new and significant review into the conditions for all ministerial and parliamentary staff.

"It is important that the reform is real and drives change beyond dealing with just what happened to me, and how the system let me down.

"From the outset, I have [been] driven by my desire to ensure that no other person would have to go through the trauma that I experienced during my time in Parliament House.

"I was failed repeatedly, but I now have my voice, and I am determined to use [it] to ensure that this is never allowed to happen to another member of staff again."

Ms Higgins also said she was "determined" to be the driver of change to the way Parliament responds to similar issues and how it treats staff who come forward.

"I believe that getting to the bottom of what happened to me and how the system failed me is critical to creating a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff," she said.

In the wake of Ms Higgins's allegations, the Prime Minister announced three separate investigations that will look at what support is available to staff and the processes in place for dealing with complaints, as well as the broader workplace culture issues and what can be done to bring Parliament House into line with other institutions.

As well as those, Mr Morrison has also asked the head of his department to investigate when the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) learned about the alleged rape.

He remains adamant his office first found out about the allegation last week, a claim Ms Higgins rejects.

But text messages first published by News Corp Australia show what it said to be an exchange between a male Liberal staffer and Ms Higgins in April 2019, the month before the federal election.

The former adviser, who asked not to be named, told the ABC he called a member of the PMO in April 2019 to inform him of the alleged incident and seek more support for Ms Higgins.

He said he called the PMO with the support of Ms Higgins, and was particularly keen to escalate concerns about the delay in making counselling support available.

The ABC has also obtained a text message, first reported by The Australian, in which the former adviser told Ms Higgins he had spoken to the Prime Minister's Office.

Ms Higgins also reiterated her calls for a "significant review" into how ministerial and parliamentary staff are employed.

"Political advisers have very few protections, resources and confidential reporting mechanisms to address any workplace issues," she said.

"They are not public servants and work in an extremely high-pressure environment. Too often, a toxic workplace culture can emerge that enables inappropriate conduct and this is exacerbated by the disparity in the power dynamics.

"How ministerial and parliamentary staff are treated is a bipartisan issue that impacts staff from across the political spectrum and must be treated as such."