Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly apologized to a woman who alleged she was raped in the country's parliament by an anonymous colleague, and promised a thorough probe into the government's workplace culture.
A second woman has come forward with allegations she was raped by the same male accused of assaulting Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House in March 2019.
Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped inside Parliament House, is expected to make a formal complaint to police within days.
Morrison called the allegation "a wake-up call" for the treatment of women in the parliament.
The second woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by the man in 2020, after he had been sacked following Ms Higgins's allegations and while he was working in the private sector.
"It's very clear that in 2019, Ms Higgins was made to feel, according to her own account, was made to feel that there would be consequences for her career if she pursued the matter", he said.
Mr Morrison said he was made aware of the new allegations when they appeared in the media this morning.
The second alleged attack occurred at the woman's home after the two had been out for dinner, she was quoted as saying.
The second alleged victim told the Weekend Australian she had made a decision to share her story to support Ms Higgins, claiming her assault - which allegedly took place in late 2020 - may not have happened if the earlier incident had been dealt with properly.
In a statement released earlier this week, Ms Higgins accused Mr Morrison and other senior parliamentary staffers of failing to provide her with the necessary support following the incident.
The Prime Minister also insisted that all ministers who had knowledge of Ms Higgins' allegations had sought to refer the matter to police, while welcoming the recent referral of it to the AFP. "I started crying. I told him to stop".
"This has been a challenging issue for many, many years".
"I think we've got a problem in the parliament and the workplace culture that we have to work on".
"These events sicken me, they truly sicken me", he said.
"Frankly there have been issues in all of these areas before".
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the text messages completely contradicted Mr Morrison's claim that his office wasn't informed until last week.
Mr Morrison's former chief of staff, the current Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens, has been tasked with leading a review into departmental communications regarding the incident.
"The idea that the Prime Minister's Office found out about this last week is simply not credible. The Prime Minister needs to say exactly what the real timeline is", he said, casting further doubt over Mr Morrison's recollection of when he found out about the incident.
If you or somebody you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, the Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.