Senator Abetz denies ‘slut-shaming’ Brittany Higgins

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday March 24, 2021

Eric Abetz
Caption this. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Senator Eric Abetz has rejected accusations that he suggested Brittany Higgins was “disgustingly drunk” and “would sleep with anybody” the night she was allegedly raped by a colleague in Parliament House.

Liberal MP Sue Hickey on Wednesday told Tasmanian parliament that on March 1 she had asked Abetz if Attorney-General Christian Porter was the minister facing historical rape allegations.

According to Hickey, Abetz confirmed that it was Porter, but assured her “not to worry”, because the woman was dead and the law would “protect” Porter.

“He then said, ‘As for that Higgins girl, anybody who is so disgustingly drunk, who would sleep with anybody, could have slept with one of our spies and put the security of our nation at risk’,” Hickey said, according to Guardian Australia.

Hickey said she had told Abetz that Higgins hadn’t consented to the alleged sexual assault, and questioned why security guards hadn’t intervened on the night in question.

“He responded abruptly that if any security member dared to question the validity of access to the parliament by anyone who held a security pass, they would be sacked,” Hickey told parliament.

“I felt sick knowing that the last line of protection for this young woman was not able to be provided due to the practices and protocols of that parliament.”

Hickey argued that the community would view Abetz’s comments as “slut-shaming”. She called on the “select group of Liberals” who undertake the selection process for senate positions “not to reward poor behaviour”.

Abetz was chairing a senate estimates hearing while Hickey was delivering the accusation. He told estimates that the suggestion he would “make light of a rape allegation” was “horrendous”, and categorically denied the accusations.

The senator added that Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein had recently told Hickey that “she was no longer welcome or wanted in the Liberal Party”.

In a later statement, Abetz said Hickey’s allegations were “defamatory”, and accused her of “trying to destroy the [Liberal] Party”.

Gutwein has reportedly written to the prime minister asking him to “consider the matters raised” by Hickey. He revealed Hickey had told him of the incident a few weeks ago, “but not to the level of detail” that was in her statement to parliament. She also hadn’t made a formal complaint, or a request for action to be taken, he said.


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