Defence minister Linda Reynolds appears to have tripped herself up on the Brittany Higgins case.
As we reported earlier, Reynolds told the Senate not long ago that she had met with the AFP twice, once with Higgins and her chief of staff on 1 April, and a second time on 4 April.
Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong says she is advised Higgins has never been in a meeting with the minister and the AFP at the same time.
Reynolds takes the question on notice and says she will need to double check her records and recollection.
I will check what I said yesterday and what I said today against my recollections and I will come back at the first opportunity to clarify.
Wong gives Reynolds a chance to stand by the answer she gave “10 minutes ago”.
Reynolds says she will “go back and I will check my recollection and my records”.
Clear as mud.
The Senate has just heard that the alleged rapist of Brittany Higgins was not issued with a sponsored pass to re-enter parliament house after his termination from Linda Reynolds office in March 2019.
There has been some speculation that the alleged perpetrator may have been allowed back into the building in association with his jobs post-politics. Greens senator Larissa Waters has been asking the government for clarity on the issue. Senator Simon Birmingham says he has checked with the Senate president and no such sponsored pass was issued to the man.
But he says he cannot guarantee that the alleged perpetrator was not temporarily signed in at some other point to enter the parliamentary building. That’s because one-off sign-ins to parliament are manual and handwritten, making it difficult to check the system for individual names.
Linda Reynolds is asked about her meetings with the AFP on the Brittany Higgins matter.
Labor accuses her of misleading the Senate in previous answers about the meetings.
Reynolds says she has been clear. She says she had two meetings. The first was on 1 April.
That meeting involved her then chief of staff, Fiona Brown, and Higgins.
During that meeting, Reynolds says, it became clear that the incident was more serious than a security breach.
Higgins then met with the AFP on her own, Reynolds says.
Then, on 4 April, Reynolds met with an AFP assistant commissioner, initially by herself.
Her chief of staff then joined her for the last part of the meeting, Reynolds said.
She has previously said she met with the AFP on that occasion by herself.