The ongoing effort to discredit Higgins persists, driven by the release of leaked texts and intense resentment over her audacity to expose influential institutions.

Even within the context of Coalition-News Corp campaigns against Labor, the conspiracy theory surrounding Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz allegedly collaborating with Labor to “weaponize” Higgins’ sexual assault allegations against then-defence minister Linda Reynolds in 2021 appears notably unsubstantiated and hypocritical.

Upon closer examination, the accusation that then-opposition Senator Katy Gallagher misled Parliament seems to have originated from a heated exchange in Senate estimates, sparked by Reynolds implying that Labor instigated Higgins’ allegations (“I know where this started”). This prompted a heated response from Labor’s then-foreign affairs spokeswoman, Senator Penny Wong, and Gallagher. This stands in contrast to instances such as a prime minister delivering a prepared, blatantly false response during question time about the “Gaetjens review” and the awareness within the prime minister’s office regarding the allegations.

In the broader context of Coalition-News Corp campaigns against Labor, the conspiracy theory regarding Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz supposedly collaborating with Labor to “weaponize” Higgins’ sexual assault allegations against then-defence minister Linda Reynolds in 2021 appears lacking in substantial evidence and carries a notable air of hypocrisy.

Upon closer scrutiny, the assertion that then-opposition Senator Katy Gallagher misled Parliament appears to have arisen from a heated exchange in Senate estimates. This was triggered by Reynolds insinuating that Labor played a role in initiating Higgins’ allegations (“I know where this started”), provoking a strong reaction from Labor’s then-foreign affairs spokeswoman, Senator Penny Wong, and Gallagher. This stands in stark contrast to instances where a prime minister delivered a prepared, overtly false response during question time regarding the “Gaetjens review” and the level of awareness within the prime minister’s office concerning the allegations.

Since then, especially with the unauthorized disclosure of her private communications, the campaign to discredit her has intensified.

The individuals behind this effort— an aggrieved political party and its operatives, bolstered by supportive media outlets, and a federal police force marred by compromise and politicization—have now been joined by other media companies. Notably, both Seven and the Daily Mail, owned by right-wing billionaires, have coincidentally become part of this alliance.

Within the recent onslaught, which relies on leaked texts to politicians and staff, there’s a persistent claim that there was something inherently improper about Higgins and Sharaz seeking to garner political attention for her pursuit of justice and the exposure of Parliament House’s toxic culture. The insinuation within these attacks suggests that genuine victims of assault should rely solely on the criminal justice system, rather than attempting to involve politicians, especially those in opposition.

As every woman in Australia is acutely aware, relying solely on the criminal justice system in cases of alleged rape often leads to the perpetrator walking free. Despite increased reporting of sexual assault and a heightened commitment from law enforcement and prosecutors to take these crimes seriously, the national conviction rate remains a matter of disgrace, estimated to range from 3% to 12% of cases. It appears that justice for sexual assault victims is elusive within the very system designed to provide it.

If Higgins and Sharaz are to be faulted for anything, it’s essentially engaging in a common practice in Canberra—seeking to influence politicians to achieve a desired outcome. In their case, the outcome is one they should rightfully take pride in—the Commonwealth Parliament finally taking measures to address the toxic working environment for political staffers and offering more avenues of recourse for victims of assault, harassment, and bullying.

While it’s deemed acceptable for large corporations, media entities, and the affluent to influence politicians, the same courtesy doesn’t seem to extend to a woman alleging sexual assault—an assertion that sparks outrage. The implication is that Higgins somehow deserves to have her private texts leaked for participating in such advocacy. In other words, she was, unjustly, inviting this intrusion.

Interestingly, there’s no clamor for the release of texts exchanged between lobbyists, corporate executives, tycoons, politicians, and journalists—an exposure that could arguably reveal more about the dynamics of power in Australia than the leaked texts of Higgins.

As many observers have pointed out, the message conveyed by the recent attacks on Higgins discourages women from reporting sexual assault, instilling fear of a massive invasion of privacy as a consequence. This is not just an unintended side effect but rather one of the deliberate objectives.

Higgins’ ordeal serves as a punitive example within a power system, intending to communicate to all women that accusing a man of sexual assault will expose them to severe repercussions, extending beyond the pain of watching the perpetrator go free.

For women who dare to make such accusations, especially when it inconveniences those in power, the repercussions are bound to be profoundly distressing.