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“He said, she said”: How Dutton is attempting to control the narrative

One of the greatest challenges for a political commentator in recent years has been keeping track of the Morrison government’s lies and obfuscations.

These have escalated considerably in the last couple of weeks, since former media advisor Brittany Higgins revealed she had allegedly been raped in Parliament House by a senior staffer.

Since then, ministers, MPs, Senators, their advisors and staffers have devoted an inordinate amount of their taxpayer-funded time to covering their backsides about who knew what and when. According to estimates by the ABC’s 7.30 program last night, there appear to be thirty or more people with knowledge of the so-called “serious incident” in 2019, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison conspicuously excluded from the circle of knowledge.

The latest government member to speak up is Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton. Dutton is, among other things, the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police, as well having once served as a police officer in the Queensland Police sex offenders’ squad.

You need this background as context for what comes next.

In keeping with the government line that neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Prime Minister knew anything about the alleged rape before February 12 2021 and February 15 2021 respectively, Dutton claims he was only informed of the alleged crime by the AFP on February 11 2021, and only because they had been alerted that the matter was about to be revealed by the media.

AFP guidelines require that “politically sensitive” matters such as this alleged crime be reported to the Minister as soon as possible. The AFP first became aware of the allegations on April 4 2019, when informed by Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds. The AFP did not inform Minister Dutton at that time. Indeed, according to Dutton, the AFP did not inform him of this “politically sensitive” incident, despite being required to do so by their guidelines, for another two years.

One might be forgiven for risking the observation that “politically sensitive” and “politically embarrassing” might be interchangeable concepts in this instance.

Amazingly, Dutton also failed to inform the Prime Minister that the excrement was about to hit the ceiling fan, not alerting his office until 24 hours later. The PMO didn’t like to disturb Morrison over the weekend, we know weekends are sacred to him, so they didn’t inform their boss until Monday.

Dutton then went on to describe the rape allegations as a “he said, she said” affair.

Some reasons why this gratuitous comment from the Minister appears to be an attempt to influence both the AFP and the public:

  1. The AFP, who is investigating this alleged crime, is answerable to Peter Dutton. Their Minister has just signalled through the media that he considers the alleged crime to be not crime at all, but a “he said, she said” affair. In other words, Dutton is telling the AFP how to frame and deal with this alleged crime.
  2. “He said, she said” is one of the most invalidating dismissals possible of allegations of rape and sexual assault. It implies, as it is intended to, the unworthiness of a woman’s word and description of her experience. “He said, she said” intentionally minimises the experience of rape and sexual assault, and explicitly favours the narrative of the alleged perpetrator. It is appalling that a former police officer, who worked with victims, would hold and voice this opinion.
  3. The AFP has not yet questioned the alleged perpetrator. Nobody knows what “he said” because he hasn’t said it yet. Unless of course Minister Dutton has had occasion to speak with the alleged perpetrator and knows his side of the story.
  4. Dutton is also, despicably, dog whistling to the demographic that is his base & the base of the Liberal Party more generally, that women lie about being raped. It’s a “he said, she said” affair, and nobody should take it anymore seriously than that. You’re only actually raped if you’re killed as well.
  5. A woman cannot consent to sex if she is falling down drunk, as Ms Higgins claims she was, and as, apparently, both CCTV footage will confirm and the security guards involved will verify. In his “he said, she said” attempt to control the narrative, because that is exactly what he is trying to do by using this phrase, Dutton is attempting to subvert the power of this evidence, prior to the AFP investigation.

The infamous Steve Bannon, among other things a former advisor to former US President Donald Trump, liked to talk about “flooding the zone with shit.” This is the strategy of saturating the media with disinformation and misinformation, in order to bamboozle both media and the public, to the extent that nobody knows anymore what is real and what is fake.

Make no mistake the Morrison government has adopted this tactic in the Brittany Higgins situation. They are flooding our zone with shit, attempting to confuse and exhaust and gaslight, with the ultimate goal of controlling a complex narrative about power, women, sexual assault, and cover ups.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Pete Petrass

    And so the cover-up continues. We can only hope, unless he is unsuccessful at the upcoming election, this and his other acts of pure grubbiness finally puts paid to any aspirations he has of being PM.

  2. paul walter

    Amazing how incisive Dr Wilson’s writing can be.

    I can’t add, except to say that I’m being smothered under a Kafkaesque pea-souper fog as the IPA dictatorship strengthens its hold over this community and its population of refugees from the fifteenth century. This pea souper has a malign odour of ominous redolence.
    All the nastiness, under cover of a neutered media. The looting continues in a myriad of forms, from parochial pork barrelling in the interests of a crass squattocracy to the unimaginable extent of graft involved in Security, Surveillance, Foreign Affairs and Defence procurements, all of this now vanished from the genuine scrutiny required for the survival of a democracy for fear of the grey ghost Dutton.

    And in the shadows, continue the machinations of the Dark Lord who actually runs the place but is immune from criticism from the servile, such is the fear and awe expressed in the behaviours of the now unaccountable security police.

    All hail repressive tolerance.

  3. Kerri

    The LNP just keeps going lower and lower. When you didn’t think they go go lower than Abbott along comes Morrison. And now the heir apparent, at least in his own mind, Dutton. He doesn’t even involve scraping the bottom as he is well under the barrel. Thank you again Jennifer Wilson for your usual insightful and “to the point” assessment of LNP behaviour. The other interesting aspect is the backgrounding of Ms Higgins partner as exposed by Peter Van Onselen. Given Morrison’s history for backgrounding and his probable reverence towards it (given the importance of backgrounding in his entry to politics) I have no confusion as to who is behind it.
    And of course Morrison knew!
    He has well earned the moniker “the liar from the shire”

  4. Kaye Lee

    We also have Jane Hume saying the “politicisation of this issue against Linda Reynolds has been disgusting”.

    All of a sudden, Linda Reynolds is the victim and any criticism of how this has been handled is just to score cheap political points.

    These people so remind me of the parents of some kids I taught who thought their kid could do no wrong and if they weren’t performing up to potential or were misbehaving it was ALWAYS someone else’s fault.

  5. Phil Pryor

    If a whole government, a whole party chain system, allows itself to be brainwashed into silence over insider criminality, it is a horde of sleazes, sluts, slags and silent co-conspirators. The federal police have had to say, “politely”, that covering up crime is not right, not legal, not moral, not honest, Contrived bullshit stinks and the whole conservative parties and connections are lower than a flea’s fanny, lower than a worm’s willy (Joyce?), lower than any imaginable level of tolerability. From the top down it is dogshit behaviour, even the deliberate closing, silence, evasion, feigned ignorance and desire to survive in a bent extractive taxpayer leaching career.

  6. paul walter

    The penny dropped as to meself for that, Kaye Lee.

    Kerri, they could be what is IN the barrel.. remember Snowtown!

  7. New England Cocky

    @Phil Pryor: Such eloquence!! Have you considered a career in political commentary?

  8. Gangstas Paradise

    I know its nigh on impossible but lets just put aside the total & complete hopelessness of the AFP.

    As in the Authors number 3 reasoning ….. “Nobody knows what “he said” because he hasn’t said it yet.”.

    And then we move onto the CCTV footage …… why would Dutton be making the statement he has made unless the tapes have been deep cleaned just like the Ministers office was after the alleged criminal event, or have the CCTV tapes been “accidently” erased or taped over.

    Of course Dutton could always have “misspoke” when he made the “he said, she said” statement and the CCTV tapes are safely locked away …… probably in a place that the only person who knows, died last year.

    And the coverup is complete and the PM in the clear, and the alleged perpetrators name will never be known.

  9. Williambtm

    Given that the grubby L/NP are not governing for the best interests of the Australian people (the applicable principle will be found in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution as an absolute imperative) a class action must be commenced on behalf of the Australian people.
    Better to an out of Australia legal firm to launch the litigation
    Why not from England, as they are the precedent nation referred to in so many of Australia’s legal case precedents?

    The decision handed down must incorporate the revoking of their legitimacy… for all times future… must be added to the sentencing regimen, that the L/NP are forbidden their candidature to challenge all future State and Federal elections.

  10. Brozza

    I’m surprised spud didn’t order the afp to raid Ms Higgins abode for disclosing sensitive information that is damaging to the gummint, and yes I do believe it could go that low.

  11. paul walter

    Went through her knickers, you mean Brozza?

  12. paul walter

    Draws, that is. How’s life, Annika!

  13. Gangstas Paradise

    And of course the reporting by the holey moley of Australia’s media is ignorance from GA …… which is exactly what the Murdoch’s expected when they convinced the govt to extort Google & FB for the greater good of journalism in Australia & GA couldn’t sign up quick enough.

    Quick …… dump your subscription/donation to GA and send to those websites who believe in the greater good of journalism in Australia.

  14. Jon Chesterson

    Dutton – Trump.
    Two words one thought – Deconsecrated shit.
    Judgement – Time for their comeuppance.
    Morrison – Joined the party a long time ago.
    Mission – Abuse of power, sex and religion.
    Motto – When on holiday in Hawaii, screw the people and deny everything.
    Ministry and narrative – The procreation of lies, deception and injustice at all costs.
    Party machine – Liberal
    Politic – Fuck with democracy
    Species – Inhuman
    Sub-class – Sociopath

  15. Cool Pete

    They say that whenever one mentions Hitler they’ve lost the argument, but in this case, you have definitely won it. The Nazi Party held the most seats in the Weimar Parliament, but it didn’t hold enough seats to form government in its own right. The aristocrats, like Franz von Papen, asked Hindenburg to let Hitler be Chancellor on the belief that he wouldn’t last six months, without understanding that someone who holds a tenuous grip on power will use external means to solidify it. The Australian Constitution is not the Weimar Constitution, that much is true, but let’s not forget many things. We are talking about a politician in dutton, who believes that Parliament is a hindrance to government. Therein gives an insight into his character. And dutton’s unparliamentary language towards Adam Bandt gives an even more sinister insight into his character.
    The evil dutton is an influence that this parliament must be removed of and the sooner the better.

  16. paul walter

    “He said, she said”…wtf, the more I think about that the more it grates.

    It grates coming from people who destroyed a crime scene where evidence could have been gathered and is Morrison at his arrogant, banal worst, isn’t it?

    Juvenile. So like a bin smashed in a park and someone questions a delinquent, who sneers back, “prove it”.

    The Wilson thread starter just keeps growing on me as a top critique for all that the sick LNP governments have been about for the last near decade.

  17. Henry Rodrigues

    And come the election, the dopes, the greedy morons, the grey haired numbskulls with investment properties and dividend imputation foremost on their minds, the captive residents of the nursing homes and aged care facilities, the idiots who can’t read a ballot paper, the youthful imbeciles who can’t see beyond the allegiances of their smug parents and grandparents who still pay homage to the memories of Menzies and the little lying rodent Howard, and long for the return of the days of one god one nation, homogenous and true, will vote for these bastards again and again, no matter how corrupt and criminal they are proven to be.

    And then there is the bunyip aristocracy and the so-called custodians of the farming tradition who continue to blindly pledge their all to idiots, philanderers, adulterers and drunks of the National party, who they are convinced, will uphold the rights of ‘people on the land’.

    Aided, supported and backed by the most corrupt, compromised media in a free’ democratic’ country.

    This is a reincarnation of America, Trump and the 75m who voted for him.

  18. Terence Mills

    We would do well to heed the words of the AFP Commissioner in his letter to the PM :

    “Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing any subsequent police investigation.

    “Any delay in reporting criminal conduct can result in the loss of key evidence, continuation of the offending and/or reoffending by the alleged perpetrator.”

    In this particular case we have been very close to trial by media with a lynch mob not far behind. In his own clumsy way Dutton may be saying that in this matter we have only an allegation from one party over an event which occurred some two years ago; we have yet to hear from the other party.

    The very nature of rape requires very specific things to have occurred and if proven, the consequences are severe. Normally tests, photos of bruising and swabs taken shortly after the assault will determine much at the subsequent trial, on which the jury will rely. To have now lost that opportunity to gather forensic evidence at the time makes the task of establishing a case of rape to a standard beyond a reasonable doubt very challenging.

    As Dutton crudely puts it, it will inevitably come down to ‘he said, she said’ when and if the matter goes to court.

  19. Gangey1959

    “He said. She said.”
    Makes me want to vomit. What a fucking cop-out. As if it didn’t really happen.
    Release the “alleged” criminal’s name (no, not dudone, reynolds or scotty, we already know they are guilty) and let god sort it out. Or the people of Australia. We seem to have enough common sense, and I reckon Brittany Higgins has been in the spotlight enough.

    Release his name, try him by media and public opinion, and hang him out for the crows. It’s called brutal retail politics.
    Then lock the bastard up.

  20. Vikingduk

    Unfortunately we are all well aware of this dutton thing, its rotten to the core being, its repulsive way of being, just the sort of revolting, sickening, disgusting life form common to the lnp/ipa crime syndicate.

    Who is the high ranking “government” minister with the recently released rape allegation from a now deceased woman. She was 16 at the time. Will we ever know who the minister is? Fare chance as the info has been well shared. Jeez, life getting hard for these misogynistic scum suckers, poor bastards, they may have to practice respect for women and other associated peasants. Oh, woe is me.

  21. Michael Taylor

    Vikingduk, my apologies but I had to remove your first sentence. We could both find ourselves in hot water over unproven allegations.

  22. Gangstas Paradise

    Terence Mills

    You do know that it has been reported ….. and not denied …… that Parliament Security guards saw something on the CCTV that required them to investigate on the welfare of the young woman who has made these allegations, and the security guards checked on her welfare not once but multiple times.

    I am not in the habit of correcting Comment here, but your defence of Dutton is so patently wrong, I felt I had to.

  23. Vikingduk

    Sorry, MT, thought you might, wasn’t too sure after Shane published on his site.

  24. The AIM Network

    All good, mate.

  25. Terence Mills

    Gangstas P

    I am not defending Dutton !

    I have read that the security guards from the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) not only signed the two in without security passes but opened the door to then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynold’s office. They checked on the young woman several times during the night and even considered calling an ambulance but in the end they left her to ‘sleep it off ‘ and ultimately asked her to move on at ten am on the Saturday morning.

    It has also been reported that The former director of security operations at Parliament House quit his job in the wake of the “tragic” alleged sexual assault of Ms Higgins after raising concerns over how the matter was dealt with in the morning when steam cleaning of the suite was ordered.

    There is much to be explained and I’ll leave it at that.

  26. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, I still like to act on the side of caution. Most of those media organisations can afford top lawyers if they get something wrong. Our legal advice is that unless a person has been convicted in a court of law then claims or suggestions of guilt are to be avoided.

    I see it in Facebook groups all the time, such as “Morrison is a murderer.” “Really,” I reply. “When was he charged and convicted?”

  27. paul walter

    Yes, it all smacks of a myopic, knee-jerk reactive denialist, false consciousness mindset.

    Something very wrong when the imperatives of cover up as default, de rigueur almost for its own sake, dislocated from any real world concerns can trump basic, rational procedures and goals in a case involving the harming of a human person. The control freaks rule and are utterly nuts and dangerous for the future.

  28. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, my apologies, but I think I had my wires crossed. It just dawned upon me that you were talking about a different case. My bad. ☹️

  29. Gangstas Paradise

    Kaye Lee

    Thanks for that Link.

    Cormann was Finance Minister at the time of the alleged criminal event.

  30. Michael Taylor

    NEC, there’s a difference between saying “the accused rapist” and “the rapist”.

    Yes, it’s a grey line. He may well be the rapist, but at this particular point in time it still remains speculation.

    Our lawyer demands that we tread carefully. Quite often we make little changes at her recommendation. For example:

    We might change “Who else could it be? Of course it was Tom who stole the money” to “some have suggested it was Tom who stole the money” and provide a link to claim.

    We’d change “John Howard is a war criminal” to “it is argued that John Howard should be tried for war crimes at the ICC.”

    And another example, “Tony Abbott was bonking Pete Credlin” to “Tony Abbott has been accused of being in a relationship with Peta Credlin” and provide a link to where the accusation was published.

    As I said, it’s a grey line. Sometimes just by changing one word it could be enough to save us from getting a nasty letter from somebody’s lawyer. Or worse still, being sued for defamation.

    I hope I’ve explained it well enough. My apologies if I have not.

    Fortunately, in our eight years we’ve only had to remove one post and make changes to about four others – two of which were mine. 😁

    And we’ve only ever received one nasty letter, but as it turned out it was over a misunderstanding and the author of the guest post resolved it with one phone call.

  31. Michael Taylor

    Further, by having this approach we are content with the knowledge that we are saving the commenter or author from any legal nasties. And as Carol and I are the publishers we’d also be implicated.

  32. Michael Taylor

    And please don’t think we are defending the accused rapist. We are just defending ourselves and our commenters/authors.

  33. DrakeN

    The revised RAF motto, Michael: “Per Ardua ad Asbestos” – By hard effort stay fireproof 😉

    There are many times when “Discretion is the Better Part of Valour.”

    Those who have never experienced the heavy handed use of wealth, priviledge and dodgy Law might not agree – until they become victims themselves.

  34. Gangstas Paradise

    If Commenters can’t bebothered or are to ignorant to put “alleged” before any accusation they may make then they fully deserve to have their Comment scrubbed.

    Of course if they are like G. Norman and can take photos of themselves and post it online to have a laugh then he deserves everything he gets.

    MT ….. I certainly understand the rules.

  35. Gangstas Paradise

    GA couldn’t stay further away from the Brittany Higgins allegations if they tried.

    Congratulations on taking the Murdoch money they the govt to extort from Google.

  36. Lambchop Simnel

    All this relationships…Berejiklians, any one?

  37. Florence Howarth

    Dutton is wrong in this one. Being an ex-policeman in this field, he knows he is lying. It is not he said, she said case. There are too many witnesses for that. If the government didn’t attempt a cover-up there would be much more evidence. I would be very surprised the security would have at least suspected rape had occurred long before the victim did. What had not been asked, was it usual to see couples come back to the offices late at night. Security should have called both police & ambulance. It was dangerous leaving her in a comatose state. In the hospital, the victim would have had blood tests, even a sexual assault examination. Helped to sort out her confusion. None of this occurred.

  38. Lambchop Simnel

    It seems a current cabinet minister is now accused of the rape of a girl, 16, back in the late eighties.

    Finance minister Birmingham was questioned and dared speak of “natural justice” for the cabinet minister involved, but it is a pretty hollow position to adopt when considering the “natural justice” involving the woman, who suicided recently.

    Now, the media is “keeping mum” on it, but police in SA and NSW have become involved through a letter sent by the woman, including to two influential SA Senators. Does this indicate that the alleged attack occurred in NSW or SA , but my list of SA and NSW current male cabinet ministers is very small.

    I’d wonder if the minister involved remaining silent is not of harm to ministers not involved, given the speculationas to who the minister might be.

  39. Terence Mills

    Lambert S

    Correct procedure would be for the minister in question to steep aside while police investigations proceed.

    Anticipate an announcement imminently, I would think.

  40. RichardU

    The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are near the top of the responsibility tree when it comes to what happens on the hill. Yet we don’t see many fingers pointing in that direction in the last two years.

    And what marks do former PMand elder stateman John Howard give to how matters have been handled?

  41. Henry Rodrigues

    Since you asked RichardU….. The little lying rodent is curled up in Wollstonecroft getting ready for deep hibernation; soon it’ll be winter.

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