Sharri Markson: Alright, let’s return to our exclusive that I revealed at the start of the show at 5pm that Linda Reynolds has sent a concerns notice to Labor minister Tanya Plibersek over comments that Tanya Plibersek made on Sunrise on Monday morning. The concerns notice from Linda Reynolds claims that Tanya Plibersek said or implied that she had covered up Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape and had known about it for years. Joining me now to discuss this and how this story played out in the Senate in parliament today is Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson. Sarah, thank you very much for your time. Now your colleague Linda Reynolds has made you aware of the legal letter, the concerns notice, that she has sent to Tanya Plibersek. Why has she sent this?
Senator Henderson: Sharri I can’t really speak on behalf of Linda Reynolds other than to say that I’m very concerned by the comments made by Tanya Plibersek which suggests that Linda was somehow involved in the cover up. This is disgraceful conduct by the Labor Party. We saw some adverse comments being made by Katy Gallagher again in the Senate today, reflecting on Linda Reynolds in a way which was frankly, false and defamatory. We know that Linda Reynolds and her chief of staff, Fiona Brown, did everything correctly. They followed all of the Department of Finance recommendations in relation to how to manage these very, very serious allegations when they were made back in 2019. And for the Labor Party to drag that up again now is absolutely disgraceful. Of course, we saw Labor pepper Linda Reynolds with questions day after day in the Senate, in Estimates, the most disgraceful conduct. This, of course, also traumatised Linda’s chief of staff. And we’ve learned the saddest of story involving Fiona Brown where she contemplated suicide. So I say to the Labor Party, stop this disgraceful conduct, stop these disgraceful allegations, stop weaponising this terrible story, the alleged rape. It really is, frankly, disgraceful.
Sharri Markson: And just to mention there that the former prime minister, Scott Morrison, did make a statement in the House of Representatives today clarifying conversations that he may have had with Fiona Brown at the time relating to this. Sarah Henderson, you’re in the Senate, Katy Gallagher made a statement to the Senate today claiming that she didn’t mislead Parliament, she didn’t mislead that Senate Estimates hearing when she said no one had any prior knowledge. We’ve now been able to very clearly lay out on this program evidence, text messages that proves not only did she have prior knowledge, but she had a meeting with David Sharaz the week before this story broke, where he provided her with a transcript of the project story that was going to air. What do you think of her claim that she didn’t mislead the Senate?
Senator Henderson: Well Sharri this is an open and shut case of Katy Gallagher misleading the Senate and for her to make the statement that she did today in the Senate is absolutely nonsensical. The facts speak for themselves. She said no one had any knowledge back in 2021 and we now know that she had plenty of knowledge. In fact, she had so much knowledge that she received a transcript of The Project interview, she met with a Brittany Higgins’ partner and as you’ve revealed on your program tonight, other Labor operatives, including Ryan Liddell, also knew what was going on. So it now is becoming clearer by the day, Sharri that Katy Gallagher was at the center of attempting to politicise these very serious allegations of rape and that, frankly, is disgraceful. And the fact that she didn’t make those appropriate admissions in the Senate today reflects very, very poorly on her so-called integrity.
Sharri Markson: And just to point out that Ryan Liddell, Bill Shorten’s former chief of staff, his involvement, as we understand it, came later when he was advising Brittany Higgins ahead of her meeting with Scott Morrison. Sarah Henderson, I want to ask whether you are planning to pursue Penny Wong and others about whether Katy Gallagher did tell them about this story that was going to break on The Project and in News.com?
Senator Henderson: Well, I won’t forecast any of the planned questions that we have in mind, but there is certainly no doubt, Sharri, that the Labor Party has more questions to answer, including Katy Gallagher and including Penny Wong. I mean, we haven’t even had any admission from Katy Gallagher that she met with Mr. Sharaz, days before The Project interview. And yet for her to try and characterise this as you know – we know that she said she knew nothing initially – and now she’s tried to sort of blow this off. It’s really very concerning. This is a scandal and she needs to be accountable for that.