Politics Analysis

The Katy Gallagher Higgins witch-hunt: Australian media's cognitive dissonance

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

Suffice to say, if Katy Gallagher needs to resign over Brittany Higgins’ sexual assault allegations or “misleading the parliament” over this issue, she would need to take a number and join the queue.

*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape

And Senator Gallagher should take along a book or two to read, as the waiting line of people who apparently knew about the allegations but remained mute is comprised of, though not necessarily limited to, a long list of Morrison Government representatives and staff members, and Parliament House staff who were initially informed of the alleged crime.

However, instead of the mainstream media cabal harassing any or all of the above like crazed paparazzi on Princess Di duty, demanding to know what they knew and when, and why they chose not to act upon that information, before calling for their resignation and/or their heads, as they have done with Senator Gallagher, there was ne’er a peep for years.

Certainly, there were no magic “leaks” prior to the 2019 Federal Election, when such information may have come in handy for voters.

Now, following the dismissal of Lehrmann’s rape trial, this same media entourage, the one that turned a blind eye to the role of Morrison Government members and staffers in this matter – not to mention the already established times both Morrison and members of his Cabinet misled parliament – would have us believe that it is the new Government, in opposition at the time, that is responsible for the way in which an allegation of rape in Parliament House was “politicised” and diminished. That it was somehow the Labor Opposition and not the Morrison Government by whom Ms Higgins was employed, that failed the victim of alleged workplace sexual assault.

You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

These allegations were serious…and they became political … the moment it was decided to call in the cleaners, rather than the ambulance or the police.

~ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

It is important to note, once again, that Lehrmann’s trial was dismissed due to juror misconduct and not due to a not-guilty verdict.

Nonetheless, the media is now awash with self-righteous Coalition members and sympathetic commentators rambling on about vindication, calling for blood from the Labor Party and so-called “Lefty” Higgins sympathisers.

Such is the Australian media's cognitive dissonance where the Coalition is concerned.

Meanwhile, Ms Higgins has shared via social media, transcripts of an exchange with former Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, seemingly contradicting the latter's timeline of events, which claimed no prior knowledge of the alleged crime ahead of the initial media coverage — as fed to us via the compliant media at the time and since. Senator Cash, of course, has been one of the loudest voices gunning for Gallagher’s scalp. 

We have Morrison’s version of events – likewise fed to us via the compliant media at the time and since – that he wasn’t told until Higgins went to the media a full two years later, a position he increasingly stutters and stumbles to maintain.

And we have Bruce Lehrmann’s own version of events – also fed to us via the compliant media at the time and since – changing faster than Melbourne’s weather, with at least three separate accounts from him as to what transpired on the fateful night of the alleged rape.

But it's not like the Coalition or the mainstream media to let the facts get in the way of a salacious story, especially when that story might embarrass the new Labor Government plus open up new avenues for possible defamation lawsuits, which are appearing at an alarming rate.

By the way, Independent Australia has also been threatened with a defamation suit by a person entangled in this saga, which for legal reasons we cannot yet divulge.

But back to the Gallagher witch-hunt.

It is Katy Gallagher – as opposed to any of the Morrison Government representatives who, as her employers, actually owed Ms Higgins a duty of care – who is being accused of “making the story public” and “misleading parliament”.

Nonetheless, Senator Gallagher rejected the allegations and raised the issue of all the "unanswered questions" in her statement to Parliament:

...We cannot lose perspective on the questions that remain unanswered by people in this place who had a responsibility – a direct duty, to this young woman. 


Unanswered questions around when they first became aware some two years before this matter was made public. 


Unanswered questions around what actions they took some two years before these allegations were made public. 


Unanswered questions about who did they share this information with? 


For example, the secret Gaetjens Report, commissioned by former Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, that still hasn’t seen the light of day.


It does seem strange to me that I am providing a statement to the Senate but those that were much closer to the events in 2019 have not done so.  

As Greens Senator Hanson-Young summed up on Afternoon Briefing:

A young woman alleged to be sexually assaulted in her workplace, she claims that when she went to her bosses, that she wasn’t supported, that she felt dismissed, that she felt silenced.


These allegations were serious…and they became political … the moment it was decided to call in the cleaners, rather than the ambulance or the police.

Ms Hanson-Young added:

…Years later, now her private text messages with her partner are being reported across newspapers and are being quoted in the parliament as part of a political game.


The message that this sends to other women right around the country is dangerous. It is going to have a chilling effect and every politician, every policymaker and every leader in this country should be concerned of what is going on here.

If you would like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

You can follow IA managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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