CANBERRA, March 26 (Xinhua) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that two ministers on leave amid a sexual assault crisis will remain in cabinet.
Morrison said on Thursday night that Attorney-General Christian Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds would “continue to play a very important role” in the government ministry.
It comes amid reports that Morrison is set to demote both ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle.
On Thursday night he did not rule out moving the embattled ministers to new portfolios.
“I’m working through those issues now. I mean, both of them, as you know, one is on mental health leave and the other one is on physical health leave,” he told Network Nine television.
“When I make judgments about those things I will announce them.”
Both ministers have spent most of March on medical leave after they were caught up in a sexual assault crisis engulfing Morrison’s government.
Porter earlier in March took mental health leave after identifying himself as the minister accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988. He has strenuously denied the allegations.
Reynolds announced she would be taking medical leave on Feb. 24. It was revealed she called former staffer Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped by a colleague in Reynolds’ office in Parliament House in March 2019, a “lying cow”, for which she has since apologized.
Morrison has sought legal advice from the solicitor-general about a potential conflict of interest after Porter launched legal action against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for its reporting of the historical rape allegation.
“So I’m working through those issues with the Attorney at the moment. He’s not returning to work for some another week or so yet and that will be done in time for his return,” he told the ABC earlier on Thursday.
ABC has reported that it is expected Michaelia Cash, the Minister for Employment, will take over as Attorney-General and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as Defence Minister. Enditem