Minister at centre of historical rape allegation should ‘out himself’, Turnbull says

By Shannon Jenkins

March 2, 2021

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull head shot in focus between two out of focus mens' heads
Hot potato Malcolm Turnbull (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Malcolm Turnbull has raised questions over the circumstances surrounding the death of the woman who alleged she was raped by a current cabinet minister in 1988, when she was 16.

Speaking to the ABC’s Radio National on Tuesday morning, the former prime minister called for an inquest into the woman’s death last year. He said that if the woman did take her own life, as reported, then the reasons why should be uncovered.

“We don’t know for sure that she took her own life, we do know that she’s dead, and there needs to be an inquest,” he said.

“I have a question mark in my own mind because the timing of it seems counter-intuitive.”

He noted that the woman had died around the same time that an independent investigation found retired judge Dyson Heydon had sexually harassed six associates. She had approached New South Wales Police prior to her death.

Over the weekend Turnbull revealed that the woman had told him of the allegations in 2019. The woman had also reached out to Labor senator Penny Wong and Labor MP Daniel Mulino that year.

Read more: MPs reveal they knew of historical rape allegations as Morrison faces calls for independent inquiry

The allegations were made public on Friday, when the ABC’s Four Corners reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Wong, and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young had received an anonymous letter detailing the alleged events last week.

On Monday Morrison said he had spoken to the minister, who “vigorously rejected” the allegations. Morrison hit back at calls for an independent inquiry to be conducted into the matter, insisting that it was “a matter for the police”.

Turnbull said Morrison’s response was “not good enough”, and urged the accused minister to “out himself”.

“If he’s vigorously denied the accusations to the prime minister, he should vigorously deny them to the public,” he said.

Speaking to ABC’s 7.30 on Monday, the former prime minister argued that “everyone knows” the identify of the minister at the centre of the allegations, so he should come forward “for the sake of his colleagues”.

“He may well have known about these allegations for a long time. One of the things we don’t know is whether he’d had any communication with the woman who’d made the complaint, right? So there’s a lot of questions to be answered,” he said.

Read more: Callous one minute, charming the next. Do you recognise this alleged predator?


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