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Australia’s national parliament has been hit by another scandal, with reports that government staffers filmed sexual encounters in the building and brought in sex workers to see MP clients.
Channel Ten and The Australian newspaper reportedly obtained videos and images of sexual encounters filmed inside Parliament House, involving four Liberal-National staff members.
In a statement late on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed one staffer who allegedly committed a lewd act on the desk of a female Liberal MP had been sacked.
“The reports aired tonight are disgusting and sickening… It's not good enough and is totally unacceptable,” he said.
A number of women who have been political staffers in Canberra have come forward to speak out about the toxic, misogynistic culture in Parliament House.
The Prime Minister and his government had already come under fire for their handling of the alleged rape of a ministerial staffer in a minister’s office, by a colleague, in 2019.
Brittany Higgins went public with her allegation last month. She recently said she broke her silence in the hope it would force a change to the treatment of women in politics.
Also in February, it was reportedly publicly for the first time that a woman who had since taken her own life had told New South Wales police she was raped in 1988 by a Government Minister, later revealed to be Attorney-General Christian Porter.
He has strongly denied the claim.
Close friends of the woman have continued to push for an independent inquiry into the alleged historic rape – which the Government has refused to allow.
On Monday, one of the Parliament security guards, who was on duty the night Higgins was allegedly attacked and who found her afterwards, spoke out publicly for the first time on the issue.
Nikola Anderson, who has been a Parliament security guard for 12 years, said another guard told her the man who had arrived with Ms Higgins at Parliament at 1.50am early on a Saturday morning had acted strangely when he left.
“My colleague had tried to make conversation with him and he seemed to be in a hurry… That was when my colleague and I decided that we needed to push it up the chain and notify our night shift team leader that there might have been something a bit strange going on.”
Ms Anderson subsequently went to Minister Linda Reynold’s office, where she had previously allowed the two staffers access because the male claimed he needed something from the office that couldn’t wait until Monday, and found Ms Higgins naked on the couch.
Also on Monday, it was reported that a former housemate of the man accused of raping Higgins had told police he made unwanted sexual advances towards her.
Kriti Gupta gave statements to New South Wales police and to the Australian Federal Police, who are investigating the Higgins case.
She is the fifth woman to raise allegations against the man. A second woman alleges he raped her in 2020, a third that he assaulted her in 2016, and a fourth that he groped her under a table in 2017.