Brittany Higgins breaks down on The Project speaking about alleged rape at Parliament House

A former Liberal staffer has broken down as she spoke of how she was allegedly raped at Parliament House in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds ministerial office by a colleague.Brittany Higgins spoke in a powerful interview on The Project after broke the explosive story on Monday morning.
She told The Project that when she went for help to deal with the trauma, she was essentially to she was going to have to “suck it up” or leave the party.
In a further slap in the face to her, and other survivors of sexual assault, she revealed the Liberal staffer who allegedly attacked her now has a “good job” in Sydney and “just kind of got to keep going”.
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The alleged sexual assault occurred in the early hours of March 23, 2019, just weeks before Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election on April 10, 2019.
Ms Higgins was just 24 at the time of the incident and only months into her “dream job” of working at parliament.
After a night of drinking with colleagues, she alleges she was assaulted in her own office by another Liberal staffer who she says was regarded as a “rising star” in the party.
She remembers the man buying “lots of rounds of drinks” at the event before it was suggested he lived in the same direction and his taxi could drop her home on the way.
Instead, he took her to Parliament House, where the Liberal staffer signed her in as she didn’t have her security pass.
She began to feel unwell and lay down on the couch. It was then she claims she woke up to the Liberal staffer having sex with her.
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In her interview with The Project, which aired on Monday night, Ms Higgins revealed more heartbreaking details from the night of the alleged rape.
She said she had no intentions of hooking up with the young staffer, saying she had another date at the start of the night.
She revealed how he got her to Parliament House, saying he had to swing by to pick something up.
“I remember we went through the ministerial entrance which is the back entrance and it’s the only entrance you can get into Parliament out-of-hours and then you go through to another checkpoint where the physical security guards are,” she said.
“It’s like airport security, take off your metal things, shoes and go through. I think at this point I remember him saying something to the effect of, ‘just be quiet’.”
She then explained what she felt when she woke up after passing out on the minister’s couch.
“The first thing that awoke me was, I was in a pain. My leg was kind of being crushed. The senior staffer was on top of me. He was clearly almost finished,” she said.
“I woke up mid-rape essentially. I don’t know why I knew he was almost finished but I felt like it had been going on for a while or that he was almost done, he was sweaty, I couldn’t get him off of me. At this point I started crying.”
She was asked how many times she asked him to stop.
“It felt like it was on a loop endlessly. At least half a dozen. I was crying the whole way through it,” she said.
“I mean, he didn’t speak to me the entire time, I just remember him eventually stopping. He got up and looked at me and I kind of looked at him. And I couldn’t get up. And then he left.”
Ms Higgins broke down as she revealed how she felt as she continued working for the Liberals — saying she felt the party intentionally isolated her.
She said she was given the choice to either go home and see out her remaining six weeks or join minister Reynold’s WA-based team.
She went for the latter, saying she didn’t want to give up her dream job.
“I had worked my entire life to get here. I wanted this future. I wanted to be a part of it, for my entire working life. So I went to WA,” she said.
“We were sort of working seven days a week. I was pretty suicidal to be honest at the time. Because you are just alone. It was really hard.”
Host Lisa Wilkinson asked her whether she thought it was a “curious option” to send someone who’d just alleged rape to the other side of the country with no support network.
“Yes. I thought it felt intentional,” Ms Higgins responded.
She said she “absolutely” felt pressured to not to proceed with the case with the police
“There is a strange culture of silence in the parties,” she said. “The idea of sort of speaking out on these sorts of issues, especially around a campaign, is just like letting the team down, you are not a team player.”
After the election, Ms Higgins accepted a job from Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, and by that point she was “having difficulties coming through the entrance of Parliament House”.
She claims Ms Cash — whose office says only recently found out the specifics of the alleged rape — told her to “suck it up essentially”.
“I felt every time I walked through it I would get panicky and I sort of, I said I was having difficulties just coming in,” Ms Higgins said.
“At that point she was like ‘well you are just going to have to suck it up essentially’ and it was, it’s that same idea of, you deal with it or you leave.”
While she suffered, she said her alleged attacker was doing well for himself inside the party.
“He’s fine. He’s working in Sydney, he’s got a good job,” she said.
“People don’t know why he left and I don’t think he’s suffered any consequences for it at all. I think he just kind of got to keep going.”
She told that while the whole ordeal was horrifying, it was made worse when she was told to attend a meeting just days later in the Defence Minister Reynolds’s office — the same room where she says the assault occurred.
She still could not believe she was called into that room to discuss the incident.
“I think the weirdest part is when Linda decided to talk about the incident she decided to bring me back into her ministerial office,’’ Ms Higgins told
“That was the first time I had been back there. So I was sitting having this meeting about my choices, about what had just happened to me … I barely even remember the conversation on the basis of, ‘Oh my God, it was the couch’.
“She was saying words. I am sure she was saying very many lovely words. But all I knew was the couch. I kind of thought that maybe they just hadn’t considered it?”
In a statement, a government spokesman said Senator Reynolds now accepts that was an error.
“During this process, the Minister and a senior staff member met with the staff member in the Minister’s office. Given the seriousness of the incident, the meeting should have been conducted elsewhere,’’ a spokesman said.
Ms Higgins also told she felt forced to choose between reporting it to the police or keeping her job after the incident occurred.
Despite reporting the incident to the Australian Federal Police within days of it occurring, Ms Higgins ultimately chose not to make a formal complaint, a decision she said was driven by her desire at the time to protect the Liberal party and her “dream job” on the eve of the election.
She had only worked for Senator Reynolds four weeks.
“So she didn’t know me. I was just this sudden problem for her. That’s what I felt like,” Ms Higgins told “I felt like they were ticking a box. That they had to have this conversation with me in order to say on the record ‘We told her she could go to the police’.”
Senator Reynolds is based in Perth as a WA Senator and the option was to essentially work out of Western Australia for the duration of the election.
“But as soon as Linda Reynolds had that meeting, she never brought it up with me again. And then everyone else (in the office) just started kind of going, ‘Well, you can go to the Gold Coast? You can go home. You can take a payout and go home or you can come with us to WA’,’’ Ms Higgins said.
With an election looming the pressure was building to make a decision. Ms Higgins said she felt those decisions were to go back to the Gold Coast where they would continue to pay her until the election or stay and keep her job.
“And I asked them. I said, ‘Well if I got to the Gold Coast, opposition or we win, what happens then?’ They said, ‘You won’t come back’.
“You just don’t question it. Everyone is kind of broadly your boss. You know how easy it is to get rid of you.”
After the election, Ms Higgins went to work for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash who also learned of the incident after concerns a journalist had lodged questions about the incident.
Despite several meetings over this and how to handle it, Senator Cash says she never knew it was a sexual assault until recently.
The Morrison Government has expressed its “regret” to Ms Higgins over the handling of her alleged rape.
In a statement issued today, the Prime Minister’s office has confirmed its involvement in managing the case and described Ms Higgins account of the alleged sexual assault as “deeply distressing”.
“It is important that Ms Higgins views are listened to and respected. The Government regrets in any way if Ms Higgins felt unsupported through this process,’’ a spokesman said.
“Reports today of an alleged sexual assault in 2019 in a Minister’s office are deeply distressing. Throughout the entire process the overriding concern for the Government was to support Ms Higgins’ welfare in whatever way possible.
“We understand this matter is under consideration by the police. This is an important step that the Government has consistently supported from the outset and we will await the outcome of this process.”