Scott Morrison – Anthony Albanese calls for ‘common decency’ to prevail as letter’s historic rape claim hangs over Cabinet
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the Prime Minister must weigh up whether it is appropriate for the Minister at the centre of a historic rape allegation to remain in Cabinet.
- Anthony Albanese said Penny Wong did the right thing when she first heard about the incident in 2019
- He added that it was up to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as to whether he stood down the Minister
- He called for “common decency to shine through here”
Australian Federal Police were notified about a historic rape allegation against a member of Cabinet when a letter was sent to the AFP, as well as to the offices of the Prime Minister, Labor’s Senate Leader Penny Wong and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
The letter requested urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the alleged incident, which is alleged to have occurred in 1988, before the man entered politics.
Speaking to Insiders this morning, Mr Albanese said he had been aware of the claim surrounding the Minister for some time.
“There have been rumours around Parliament House for a considerable period of time … I had heard rumours about it,” he said.
Senator Wong revealed on Saturday that she had known about the allegation for some time, after she “ran into” the complainant, who told her what had allegedly occurred, in November 2019.
In a statement, Senator Wong said she advised the woman to speak to police and “facilitated her referral to rape support services”.
However, she did not inform Mr Albanese or the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Albanese said he supported Senator Wong’s actions.
“Penny acted appropriately, she provided support services to the woman involved,” he said.
“She checked that it had been reported to police as the woman said she would do, and she also contacted Adelaide police around the coronial inquiry that’s taking place to offer her support and what she was told at the time.
“These were historical allegations and Penny Wong I think acted appropriately.”
Senator Wong then spoke to police in South Australia when the woman took her own life last year.
What should the PM do?
While the Minister at the centre of the allegation remains in his job, Mr Albanese said the Prime Minister needed to ensure the issue was not politically managed.
When pushed on whether the Minister should be stood aside, Mr Albanese said that decision rested with Mr Morrison.
“The Prime Minister — it’s his responsibility — he solely appoints the Cabinet — he must assure himself that it is appropriate, that the current make-up of the Cabinet can continue. That really is a matter for him.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has called on Mr Morrison to launch an independent investigation into the allegation.
Mr Albanese did not call for an independent investigation, but said police were best-placed to look into the allegation.
But he said the Prime Minister’s actions would be watched closely.
“Australians will be looking for, after what has been a very difficult fortnight, common decency to shine through here, and for an appropriate response that isn’t about political management, that is about transparency, it is about making sure that processes are respected, but then, I think, people will be looking for a resolution,” he said.
“This can’t just stay in the current position where it is.”
The ministerial code states a Minister should be stood aside if that Minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.
New South Wales police suspended their investigation when the woman died last year. South Australian police are looking into her death and say a report will be prepared for the coroner.