13 June 2023

Embattled Gallagher goes to ground as Coalition prepares to ramp up attacks over Brittany Higgins texts

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Katy Gallagher

Finance Minister and Public Service Minister Senator Katy Gallagher. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Federal Minister for Finance, Women and the Public Service Senator Katy Gallagher is reportedly stepping back from a number of public sector meetings this week as she prepares to defend against an expected parliamentary onslaught by the Opposition over what she knew about Brittany Higgins’ sexual assault claims and when she knew it.

The government has been accused of colluding, when in Opposition, with Ms Higgins and her partner, David Sharaz, over the claims in the lead-up to Ms Higgins going public with them in an interview with Channel 10 in February 2021.

The accusation comes after the leaking of text conversations between Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz, their publication in The Australian last week, and an audio file of a pre-interview discussion between the couple and Channel 10’s Lisa Wilkinson.

In June 2021, Senator Gallagher was accused by former Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds – in whose office the alleged assault took place – of having prior knowledge of Ms Higgins’ claims before the interview and of weaponising them, a claim Senator Gallagher vehemently denied in Senate Estimates.

READ MORE Bruce Lehrmann’ not ruling out’ suing Brittany Higgins personally for defamation

“I was told by one of your senators two weeks before about what you were intending to do with the story in my office – two weeks before,” Senator Reynolds said in the committee, to which Senator Gallagher responded, “No one had any knowledge – how dare you, it’s all about protecting yourself”.

But on Saturday (10 June), Senator Gallagher told media on the sidelines of a conference in Perth that she had been made aware prior to Ms Higgins’ Channel 10 interview that a claim about an assault in a minister’s office was about to be made public.

“I was given some information. I did nothing with that information,” Senator Gallagher said. “I was clear about that to Senator Reynolds when she raised these concerns in the committee.

“When she raised it. I explained what had happened, but I categorically rejected — and you see that in the footage of the committee – I categorically rejected the assertion she was putting, which was that we had chosen to weaponise that information weeks ahead of being told about it,” she added.

Brittany Higgins

Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz, seen outside the Canberra courts last year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Four days before Ms Higgins’ interview, an exchange between her and Mr Sharaz said, “Katy is going to come to me with some questions”. They also suggested Senator Gallagher was sent a transcript of the interview before it went to air. Other texts suggested Senator Gallagher was an “old friend” and that she “wants to help”.

Senator Gallagher said, “Mr Sharaz provided me with information. I think we’ve seen that in the paper in the last couple of days. I did nothing with that information and I was clear about that at the time”.

Despite Senator Gallagher pushing back on the Coalition’s claims, Region understands she has postponed some planned public sector meetings while Patrick Gorman, the new Assistant Minister for the Public Service, is taking her place in others.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has stood by his Finance Minister, denying on Friday’s Sunrise program that Senator Gallagher had misled parliament and rejecting a suggestion that Labor had “carefully orchestrated” Ms Higgins’ allegations to its political benefit.

“You had allegations by a Liberal staffer that another Liberal staffer had a sexual assault in a Liberal minister’s office, and somehow Katy Gallagher has some responsibility for what was going on here. Like, this is bizarre,” he said.

READ MORE Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold extends temporary leave period

Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong has also disputed claims the assault allegation was weaponised.

“I did not know the full details of the allegations before the story became public,” she said. “There are others who did know a lot of detail, including Morrison government ministers, and they have still failed to account for what they did with that information.

“I’d ask people to consider the impact on Ms Higgins of all of this commentary,” she said, adding, “I’d ask people to recall that when the [Director of Public Prosecutions] discontinued the prosecution, they discussed, and I quote, that ‘the trial represented a significant and unacceptable risk to her life’.”

Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence over the assault, and the trial against him was aborted in October 2022 due to juror misconduct. Prosecutors decided against a retrial as they were concerned for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

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Must be time for Albanese to take an unannounced overseas trip to study climate change in Southern France

Adults are back in charge on Capital Hill8:16 pm 13 Jun 23

Utter rubbish from the Pro Conservative media and the coalition. They failed in their duty when in Govt to not look the otherway. They are now trying to point fingers in other directions, Crooked and Corrupt Conservatives.

You’ve missed the point entirely.

HiddenDragon7:25 pm 13 Jun 23

Strange to say, there is a difference between the levels of scrutiny and accountability in the London Circuit Soviet and the big house on the hill – when you’re on a righteous roll, it must be easy, at times, to forget that and get just a little bit loose in the snarky rhetoric.

Peter Herman5:02 pm 13 Jun 23

No it’s not plain to see that Katy Gallagher us telling porkies
This stuff happened 2 years ago and it was under the Morrison regime, so why blame someone who wasn’t even in the sitting government
So Miss Fallsgher was given ( in conference) so information, buthey the Libs just swept this under the carpet
Why should LNP voters blame ALP…suggest that Center right look at their own people before blaming others

Peter go and have a cold glass of milk and calm yourself down, trying to write a pro Labor phd here in the comments section will serve no purpose.
Gallagher was asked a question, her response wasn’t the truth, she even did a little impromptu Home & Away spot of acting “how dare you”.
All quite comical really.

Peter Herman4:37 pm 13 Jun 23

@ Robz…did you listen to Ms Gallagher in the Senate today
It appears to me that LNP are really trying to make Political mileage at someone else’s situation
It’s a situation that the previous government swept under the carpet, but You LNP voters just believe that it’s political
Think again…it’s a woman’s life here…not political mileage
Both sides if politics are a disgrace with this

So Senator Gallagher says “Mr Sharaz provided me with information. I think we’ve seen that in the paper in the last couple of days. I did nothing with that information and I was clear about that at the time”.

But in February 2021 when asked she stated Gallagher said: “No one had any knowledge. How dare you. It’s all about protecting yourself.”

But Katie you did have knowledge. Whether it was weaponised or not YOU DID HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF IT. And that is misleading the Parliament.

merakoinahin3:26 pm 13 Jun 23

Isn’t it plain and clear that Katy Gallaghar is a liar, a pretty good one at that!
No amount of juggling words will change the facts.

Such people are currently in the government and I shudder to think of young men out there who might face a similar situation .. pronounced guilty and hung out to dry.

I wouldn’t say Gallagher is a pretty good liar at all. A liar, yes, but not a very good one.

She is part of the mean girls

Peter Herman12:50 pm 13 Jun 23

Just watched ABC24 in which both and Gallagher and also Mr Morrison have stated that the have never misled parliament and that the newspaper reports by The australua s incorrect and also that they both have stated what was said was incorrectly reported
It’s really time that the Editor in chief at these newspapers ead the reports and got their facts in order before making ‘accusations’ that they can’t substance
It’s really time that the newspapers pulled their heads in
I am aware that they need to sell papers but these rags are getting as bad as The Daily Mail and also the old Truth ….Just rags to sell papers

Did you hear the taped recordings involving Wilkinson, her producer, Higgins and her partner ??? … what dont you understand of what was said ???

Peter Herman11:48 am 13 Jun 23

After hearing what the shock Jocks have stated…thru Google and also Ms Cash from the LNP
I believe that they (LNP) should look in their own back yard, before criticising any one….they are the specialists in ‘telling porkies to the public
There were so many porkies coming outa that mob that it’s amazing that they could appear in parliament….thisLNP have very short memories
As far as the ‘shock jock Mr Fordham…. Just listening to you on this ‘Google’ platform…Ms Gallagher answered your question
What do you want ….blood..
To you lot…the question was answered…go find someone else to haste
You are both an insult

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