Australia Anthony Albanese calls for 'common decency' to prevail as letter's historic rape claim hangs over Cabinet
Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister
The AFP have been notified after Prime Minister Scott Morrison and two senators received a letter detailing an allegation of historical rape against a Cabinet Minister.The letter requests urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the alleged rape, which occurred in 1988 before the accused man entered politics.
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.
Australian Federal Police were notified aboutwhen 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.
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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.
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"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.
"This is a real test, and the Prime Minister must confirm to himself that it remains the case that the Minister, who is the subject of these allegations, that it's appropriate for him to stay in his current position," he said.
When pushed on whether the Minister should be stood aside, Mr Albanese said that decision rested with Mr Morrison.
Former PM Malcolm Turnbull says Minister involved in historical rape allegation should 'front up' amid calls for independent inquiry
The historical rape allegation against a Cabinet Minister is posing an existential threat to the Morrison government — and former PM Malcolm Turnbull says the man at the centre of it all should come forward.His comments come amid growing calls for an independent inquiry into the matter and as confusion reigns about whether a police investigation or coronial inquest into the subsequent death of the woman involved will go ahead.
"This now will be very much a dark cloud over the Parliament and over the Cabinet," he said.
"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.
"We can't have a situation where such an horrific allegation of rape is levelled against a member of his government, and no-one does anything," she said on Saturday.
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.
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