Senior cabinet minister 'vigorously denies' rape allegations: Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not read documents detailing an historical rape allegation against a senior cabinet member, who Mr Morrison says has "vigorously denied" the claims.

Mr Morrison, as well as Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor's Penny Wong, were sent a letter detailing the complaint last week.

The incident is alleged to have occurred in 1988 when the woman was 16.

The woman went to NSW police last year, but the investigation was suspended when she took her own life after telling authorities she didn't want to proceed.

Speaking to media on Monday, Mr Morrison said there was no "immediate" need for his office to take action on the matter which he said should be left to the police.

He told reporters he raised the issue with the minister who "completely denied" the accusation.

"The individual involved here has vigorously rejected these allegations," Mr Morrison said.

"And so, it's a matter for the police. And in my discussions with the [AFP] Commissioner, there were nothing immediate that he considered that was necessary for me to take any action on."

Mr Morrison side-stepped questions over whether the minister should stand aside while an investigation takes place, as has been called for by lawyers and politicans.

"We can't have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicised through the media is grounds for governments to stand people down," he said.

He said in a discussion with Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw, "no issues" were raised to take that action.

"I'm aware of other allegations and I think similar principles apply. We've got to be careful to ensure that we still follow the rule of law in this country.

When asked whether he had read the documents, the Prime Minister said he was "aware of the contents" and was advised by Commissioner Kershaw to refer the allegations to police.

"That is the way in our country, under the rule of law, things like this are dealt with. It is important to ensure that we uphold that," he said.

"That is the way our society operates. Now, these are very distressing issues that have been raised, as there are other issues that have been raised in relation to other members in other cases.

"But the proper place for that to be dealt is by the authorities, which are the police. That's how our country operates. That systems protects all Australians."

The Australian Federal Police does not have jurisdiction over such claims, and NSW Police have said it won't be re-opened because the complainant is no longer alive.

Senator Hanson-Young and Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the woman when she took the complaint to police, have both called for the minister to stand aside during an investigation.

"It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire cabinet," Senator Hanson-Young told ABC radio.

"Sitting around that table erodes the trust the integrity and belief that this government takes sexual assault seriously."

- With AAP

More to come

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This story Senior cabinet minister 'vigorously denies' rape allegations: Prime Minister first appeared on The Canberra Times.