Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has raised concerns over the death of the woman who accused a serving Liberal of a historical rape, revealing he has “questions in my own mind” over how she died.
Demanding the minister “out himself” in respect for his colleagues and the country, Mr Turnbull said it was untenable for the man to remain in the ministry.
Despite the woman having made previous attempts on her own life in the years leading up to the suicide, Mr Turnbull admits it’s “counterintuitive” but is now calling for a full coronial inquiry and police investigation.
“All I know is that she is dead. It certainly has been reported in the media as a suicide. I have a question mark in my own mind about the timing of it because it seems counter intuitive,’’ he said.
“There is an allegation of a rape, a horrific rape,’’ Mr Turnbull said.
“The complainant woman alleged that the man, who is now a cabinet minister, brutally raped her in 1988. She went to the NSW Police with a lawyer.
“And then, in 2020, just as she was about to sign the final witness statement … she takes her own life. She does so in the week that Dyson Heydon’s conduct is exposed in a report done by the High Court.
“Now it’s said that she suicided. Did she?”
Scott Morrison on Monday revealed the Liberal minister accused of rape, who has not been identified, “vigorously” denies the allegations and categorically refutes that he ever raped the Adelaide woman when she was a 16-year-old teenager.
Mr Turnbull told ABC’s Radio National that there needed to be an investigation and the minister needed to “reveal himself.”
“He should out himself and he should provide a comprehensive statement,’’ he said.
“He should describe when he knew the woman, how he knew the woman, what dealings he had with the woman after the event. We need to know what he knew about the complaint and when he knew about it.
“Frankly, it’s not good enough for the Prime Minister to say “Oh, it’s a matter for police” The Prime Minister cannot outsource his responsibility for composing his ministry to the police.”
“He should require the minister to speak up. He owes it to his colleagues and the country.”
Mr Turnbull said the matter needed to be brought to a head before Parliament
“It is impossible for him to function in that cabinet,’’ he said.
“I mean are we seriously going to have a question time where the opposition asks every single minister whether they are the minister in the complaint,’’ he said.
“It’s not tenable. This minister has to have the courage … to out himself.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the minister involved in the allegations categorically denies they are true. Picture: Jenny Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Mr Turnbull made no suggestion of who might be involved in her death if it wasn’t suicide but is calling for police and the coroner to examine the matter. The complainant wrote to Mr Turnbull about the rape claims in 2019 and he urged her to go to police.
Legal sources in South Australia have told news.com.au that a coronial inquiry cannot be conducted into the woman’s death in Adelaide until police had completed their own investigations.
While there is no active investigation into her rape claims – it was paused by her just days before her suicide – the AFP, SA Police and NSW Police are going through the material provided by her and friends who were with her on the night of the alleged rape to ensure all the documentation goes to the correct authorities.
NSW Police have told news.com.au that although rare, it is possible to conduct a rape investigation when the victim is dead. It would be done on a “case-by-case” basis and the prospects of anyone being charged, let alone convicted, is regarded as slim.