Ex-Aus FM ‘unspeakably sad’ about parliament rape allegations

Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Sunday urged the incumbent government to introduce independent counselling for parliamentary staff amid claims of mistreatment of women.

Bishop, who served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2018, said she was “unspeakably sad” about allegations of sexual assault in Parliament, Xinhua news agency reported.

Brittany Higgins, a former government staffer, in February went public with allegations that she was raped by a colleague in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in 2019.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is recently under pressure to resign after he was identified as the government minister accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988, allegations that he has strenuously denied.

“The last few days have left me unspeakably sad,” Bishop said on Sunday.

“I have so much sympathy for women who are victims of sexual abuse or other illegal, violent acts and the physical and emotional trauma that surrounds it. It’s just so terribly sad,” she said.

The former Minister called forParliament House to introduce new inductions and workplace standards training for politicians and their staff.

It came after the government on Friday announced that Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins would lead an independent review of parliamentary workplaces.

Bishop, who is now the Chancellor of Australian National University, in 2019 slammed the “gender deafness” in politics.