Gunsmith gives evidence at Domenic Perre NCA bombing murder trial


National Crime Authority bombing accused Domenic Perre went into business with a self-taught gunsmith to convert semi-automatic firearms to be fully automatic in the year before the 1994 explosion, a court has heard.

Allan “Gadget” Chamberlain is giving evidence in the Supreme Court against Mr Perre, 63, and is expected to be on the witness stand for the next two weeks.

Mr Perre has pleaded not guilty to murdering Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Bowen and attempting to murder lawyer Peter Wallis in March 1994.

It is alleged that Mr Perre sent a parcel bomb to Sergeant Bowen at the Waymouth Street headquarters of the National Crime Authority (NCA), which killed the officer and injured the lawyer once it was opened.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Perre’s hatred for the NCA and Sergeant Bowen started when Northern Territory police seized a $20 million cannabis crop at Hidden Valley Station in August 1993 and started investigating organised crime within the Italian community.

It is part of the prosecution case that Mr Perre handed his cache of weapons, bomb-making books and detonators to Mr Chamberlain for “safekeeping” ahead of the blast.

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The aftermath of the NCA bombing.

Mr Chamberlain today told Justice Kevin Nicholson that he first met the accused while working at Central Firearms, in Prospect, when he asked to buy body armour in January 1993.

The 66-year-old said Mr Perre was part of a group of regular customers called “The Backdoor Boys” and he would restore firearms for him.

He said by late 1993, Mr Perre had told him about the police raid at Hidden Valley Station.

“He brought the subject up and he was essentially telling me that he was under pressure — I believe, financial and mental stress,” he said.

Domenic Perre in handcuffs in custody.
Domenic Perre (left) is accused of sending a parcel bomb to the victim.(ABC News)

Prosecutor Sandi McDonald SC asked Mr Chamberlain if he and the accused discussed “going into business together”.

Mr Chamberlain told the court that he gained the skills and knowledge to convert semi-automatic firearms to be fully automatic by using a small plate as a “drop in”.

“I agreed to that. He would arrange to have these items laser cut. For doing that, we would effectively go 50/50 on the profit of the conversion.

“At that stage, I was charging $100 for a conversion on a SKK — it was a very easy conversion.”

Witness imported body armour from US

He told the court that he was nicknamed “Gadget” by the owner of Central Firearms because he was “always tinkering with something” and his firearm conversions were considered “magic”.

A shop with a green and yellow colourway called Central Firearms
Central Firearms in Prospect is where Domenic Perre and Allan Chamberlain met in 1993.(Supplied.)

On Wednesday, Mr Chamberlain told the court that he was a volunteer in the Country Fire Service during the 1980s and became an agent for US companies so he could import fire-fighting and rescue equipment into Australia.

He said over the years, he branched out and was in contact with corrections and police about importing other items, including body armour.

“In all, over the years, I think I was an agent for 167 American companies,” he said.

Geoffrey Bowen was killed by the bomb
Geoffrey Bowen was killed by the bomb at the NCA office in March 1994.

He told the court that in 1990, he reached out to a company called Second Chance — that was based in Michigan — about whether he could have the rights to import body armour to Australia.

“To me, it was exclusive and at that stage, they were higher-priced items than what I was used to,” he said.

He said he was given approval to do a demonstration at the now defunct Hindmarsh police station in front of officers in December 1990.

“I used an officer’s pistol to highlight the fact that, in their job, probably their greatest threat was their weapon being taken and used against them.

“It was pre-arranged that I would demonstrate the vest, but I had not informed them that I was going to shoot myself.”

Mr Chamberlain told the court that the demonstration was “dramatic and successful” because he sold 22 vests worth $28,000.

The trial continues.

Debris from the 1994 National Crime Authority blast on Waymouth Street.
Debris from the blast on Waymouth Street.(Supplied: SA Supreme Court)

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Growing colony of fruit bats causing more power outages in Adelaide


A growing colony of grey-headed flying foxes are causing increasing numbers of power outages in Adelaide.

The number of flying foxes has declined in recent years amid searing heatwaves, but SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts said numbers have rebounded to about 20,000.

Mr Robert said the animals had caused about 25 power outages in the northern and eastern suburbs in recent weeks.

“It looks like some of the bats are following the Torrens River valley, so to speak, and we’ve had about 25 hour or two-hour long outages,” Mr Roberts said.

He said in the latest outage, nearly 2,000 homes at Klemzig were without power after one became entangled in powerlines.

“We’ve also had a number of momentary outages where the lights flicker, because of bats flying into lines, or getting hooked up across lines or hitting other infrastructure and sadly either getting badly injured or electrocuted,” he said.

“We’re trying to deal with the issue but there’s no real magic solution because these bats have a very random pattern of foraging across the metropolitan area to look for their food.”

Fauna Rescue SA volunteers help SA Power Networks care for the animals when they get injured by powerlines.(ABC News: Brittany Evins)

He said that bats had a unique physiology which puts them at greater risk than birds on powerlines.

“These bats have a wingspan of up to 1.5 metres — the typical spacing between our powerlines are either half a metre or a metre.

He said animal guards were installed when there was evidence of repeat outages caused by the bats in certain locations.

The removal of older surge arresters which can ensnare bat wings was also an ongoing project.

“We have millions of them out there on the network and it will take years to replace those,” he said.

SA Power Networks has been in discussions with Adelaide University researchers and the Department for Environment and Water about a permanent solution.

Mr Roberts said that was still a long way off, with no schemes known to fix the issue.

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Fringe review: Disco Wonderland – InDaily


Disco Wonderland: Dancing ’Til Dawn is heralded by its creators – local boutique company Release Creative – as a celebration of New York nightclub Studio 54 and all the glamour, hedonism and celebrity associated with the “short-lived temple of disco”.

Entering the Peacock tent in Gluttony with a small week-night audience, the usual frisson that accompanies Fringe shows like this seems absent, but as soon as the music begins and the lighting wizard bathes the stage in a purple haze, everyone is on board the disco train.

Headlining the show are singer and former Australian Idol finalist Paulini (most recently seen on Channel 10’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here) and singer and dancer Timomatic (you might remember him from Australia’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance). They’re joined by South Australian singer-dancers Philippa Lynas, Mark Stefanoff and Amelia Sanzo, along with local band Er@ser Description.

There’s charisma and vocal talent aplenty on display as the cast deliver a string of ’70s hits, from “I Will Survive”, “Stayin’ Alive” and “That’s the Way (I Like It)”, to a raunchy mash-up of “Love to Love You, Baby” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.

Highlights include Paulini’s powerhouse rendition of “MacArthur Park” and a Jacksons medley by Timomatic that showcases his impressive falsetto. Equally noteworthy is Stefanoff’s ability to sing while performing on an acrobatic ring hanging from the ceiling.

Photo: Saige Prime

If that’s not enough to make you want to join the party, Disco Wonderland also features some sexy disco dancing (choreography by Brendan Yeates) and an array of sparkling costumes including hot pants and sequin-covered gowns, mini-dresses and ankle boots (the latter worn, fittingly, by Stefanoff, who starred in the musical Kinky Boots).

The only thing lacking, on this night, was audience mass. This is a show that deserves a full house, and having a larger crowd to absorb and reflect the performers’ energy would add to the atmosphere, so hopefully word-of-mouth will see the numbers grow.

COVID-19 times also means there is no dancing off-stage – except for a bit of “YMCA” in the comfort of your socially distanced seat. Still, there’s nothing to stop you digging out your own mirror ball and disco records and dancing ’til dawn when you get home.

Disco Wonderland is playing in Gluttony until March 21.

Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews  here.

Photo: Saige Prime

 

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Dancing back on the cards as South Australia relaxes coronavirus restrictions


The decision to allow dancing amid Adelaide’s busy festival season has prompted expressions of jubilation from dance-starved revellers, even if many venues will not necessarily benefit.

Dancing had been effectively banned at dozens of events and venues throughout South Australia for months because of the risks of coronavirus superspreading.

Opposition to the ban intensified with the start of the Adelaide Fringe festival, which was forced to introduce “no dancing” signs at its Garden of Unearthly Delights.

Security guards had to break up a group of people dancing at the venue on Saturday night, because its COVID-19 management plan prohibited dancing.

An online petition to reinstate dancing across South Australian music establishments has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

But the state’s transition committee has now decided to significantly relax restrictions from Friday, albeit at small-to-medium-sized venues.

“Dust off the dancing shoes,” one person wrote on social media, while another declared: “This is the best day ever”.

“Dancing is back, what more could you want?” another said.

It is unclear which Adelaide Fringe venues will benefit from the eased restrictions.(Instagram: Royal Croquet Club)

While dancing will remain off-limits at large venues, SA’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the change in the state’s COVID-19 directions would provide an opportunity for those who “want to let their hair down”.

“[The change] does not allow a large nightclub to be operating in the way that people have experienced those sorts of venues in the past. That really is the danger — it’s not dancing itself that is the problem,” Professor Spurrier said.

“If I stood here and did a bit of dancing, I’m at no more risk to you than standing here and talking.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said authorities would carefully monitor the impact of the relaxation “with a view to moving back to normality down the track”.

He said venues with more than 1,000 patrons would still need COVID-19 management plans and be subject to restrictions on dancing.

“But if you’ve got a smaller venue, a venue of under 200 patrons, dancing is permitted, as long as you can abide by the normal restrictions, QR codes, COVID marshals, one [person] per two square metres,” he said.

“In venues between 200 and 1,000, dancing is also permitted on a dance floor, a designated area, for up to 50 people at a time, and again, they will need to abide by those restrictions.”

Festival welcomes end of travel ban

Health authorities also revealed today that border restrictions with Greater Melbourne would be removed on Friday — a move that has been welcomed by Adelaide Festival executive director Elaine Chia.

Ms Chia said the hard border had left some Melbourne-based artists in limbo, but that there was “great excitement” because they would now be able to attend.

“We’ve been working with SA Health for a number of weeks now, as soon as the lockdown came down in Melbourne.

“We have been [doing] rehearsals already and having a number of Victorian artists come through and, especially for us, this announcement is a huge relief for Adelaide Writers Week because a number of authors can also now come through and be free to enter.”

The Premier said he suspected “a lot of people” were also going to be “quite relieved” by the move to permit dancing.

A group of people gathered in Adelaide's east end celebrating the start of the Fringe festival.
The Fringe Festival is currently in full swing in Adelaide’s east end.(Instagram: Adelaide Fringe)

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said police would work with individual establishments to avoid breaches, but “the ball is in the court of venues to do the right thing”.

Adelaide Rock ‘n’ Roll Club president Barbara Hahn said she was “quite elated”, while Jive bar owner Tam Boakes said the decision would have a hugely positive impact.

“We’ve been having to wrangle with poor patrons coming to have a fun time at a live gig and be told to ‘stop dancing and stop having too much fun’, so it’s really really good that we can now enjoy a live gig for what it’s meant to be,” Ms Boakes said.

But not all Mad March events will benefit or be able to boost their patronage as a result of the change, including the WOMADelaide world music festival.

“It won’t change what we have in place with our COVID management plan … which is that dancing is permitted at WOMADelaide provided that people remain in the immediate vicinity of their seat,” WOMAD Director Ian Scobie said.

“This year it’s a reserve seated event — we’ve got 6,000 seats … and they’re all spaced apart.”

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Worker dies after steel tank falls on man at Riverland business



A young Riverland man has died in a workplace accident that occurred in the regional town of Monash on Tuesday afternoon.

Police and emergency services were called to a business on Jury road just before 3.30pm, following reports that a steel tank had fallen on a worker.

A 27-year-old Renmark man died at the scene and SA Police said they will prepare a report for the Coroner.

Safe Work SA attended the site yesterday afternoon and investigations into the incident are ongoing.

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Facebook to reinstate Aussie news after government amends code


Facebook will reinstate Australian news on its platform after the Morrison government agreed to further amend its mandatory media bargaining code.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the last-minute legislative changes this afternoon after days of negotiations with the social media giant.

“These amendments will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated,” he said.

“The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days.”

The amendments will give parties more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter binding arbitration.

The changes also clarify the government’s role in considering commercial deals struck between parties, and give digital platforms one month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code.

Facebook said it was pleased to have reached an agreement with the government after discussions with the treasurer and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.

“After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,” the company said.

“As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.”

It comes after Facebook removed all news from its Australian pages last Thursday, with some key government agencies – including SA Health and the Bureau of Meteorology – caught up in the news ban.

Facebook has since reinstated the pages that were “inadvertently” impacted, and said the mix up occurred because the “law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content”. 

Earlier today, key crossbench senator Jacquie Lambie tore strips off Labor and the Greens for supporting the code.

Lambie says the code, which will require digital platforms to pay for linking to Australian news, will make media organisations even more dependent on the success of Google and Facebook.

Lambie argues the money generated will simply shift from one set of corporate titans to another.

“Shareholders of News Corp and Nine will be delighted that their dividend is about to be fattened up on the back of shareholders in Facebook and Google,” she told parliament.

Lambie said businesses wanting to advertise online would end up bearing the cost of tech giants paying for news.

“This is a bipartisan shakedown delivered by a consensus of absolute stupidity.”

And she savaged a Greens proposal to ensure money that flowed from the code was spent on journalism.

She said taxes were the best way of pumping money into journalism but argued the money shouldn’t go to media companies but journalism itself.

“If we want more money for journalism, let’s tax companies making heaps of money and put that money into supporting journalism, put it directly into journalism,” Lambie said.

“If we want Google and Facebook to pay more tax, let’s make them pay more tax.”

The bargaining code is expected to pass the Senate this week with support from Labor and the Greens, who will seek some minor amendments.

Lambie said both parties should be embarrassed about supporting the legislation.

-With AAP

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Adelaide public transport ticket inspector’s ban upheld after child sex allegations


A ticket inspector who worked across Adelaide’s public transport network for more than two decades despite posing an “unacceptable risk” to child safety has lost his bid to keep working with children.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was employed by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport as a passenger services assistant on the Gawler railway line.

According to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), the 48-year-old was served with a prohibition notice in March last year banning him from child-related work.

The ban was imposed after child protection laws were strengthened in 2019, and the man underwent a working with children check which uncovered a history of child sexual abuse allegations.

The allegations included that the man had abused six children as young as two years old in 1996.

SACAT said the man was charged with three counts of indecent assault and four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 12 years of age, but that “no explanation has been proffered” as to why the charges did not proceed to trial.

It said the man denied the accusations and “was never convicted of any criminal offences arising from these very serious allegations”, which he described as “inconsistent and untrue”.

SACAT said the man was also accused of committing “acts of physical and emotional abuse” towards his daughter in 2003 and his young son in 2005, and of filming his children in the shower.

“It is highly unusual that he would take it upon himself to make a video of his two young children bathing when his wife was not present,” the tribunal found.

The man was banned from working with children by the Department of Human Services’s Central Assessment Unit.

He later challenged that decision but, in recent findings, senior tribunal member Neil Rainford upheld the ban.

The tribunal said while the allegations of child abuse were “untested and untried”, it was not the tribunal’s role to make a determination about the allegations against the man.

“The consequences to any child if such behaviour does occur would clearly be very serious and the risk would therefore be unacceptable.

“It cannot be overlooked that the applicant does not dispute that he did engage in certain conduct including: offering to take three young females on a camping trip [and] offering to bathe a young male child.”

Man’s employment terminated

The tribunal said the man had started working in the public transport system as a bus operator in 1995, and had been redeployed several times before taking up his current role in 2001.

“I am well satisfied and accordingly find that [he] poses an unacceptable risk to the safety and protection of children such that he should be prohibited from working with them.”

Mr Rainford said the ban imposed by the Central Assessment Unit was the “correct or preferable decision”.

A transport department spokesperson told the ABC that once the department became aware of the prohibition notice against the man, he was “immediately directed not to attend the workplace”.

“Subsequently, this individual’s employment with the department has been terminated.”

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Jamie Maclaren speaks out about A-League officiating, calls for referees to face questions over calls


Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren has hit out at the standard of refereeing decisions and VAR in A-League games, calling for officials to face the same public scrutiny as players and coaches.

Speaking on The Grandstand Football Podcast, Maclaren was asked for his thoughts about the consistency of officiating in the league.

“As a player, if I was to miss a chance or if I was to get a red card — players are in the spotlight — you get the magnifying glass [out] and people start to pinpoint things,” he said.

“At post-match interviews you get asked the harder-hitting questions, like you’re asking me now …

“Now I have a question for the officials… they finish the game and they can just hop in their car and drive home without explaining their decisions.

“So coaches just lose their job because of these sort of decisions; players, their futures are [affected by them]. It’s a tough one to speak about because it does annoy me.

He pointed to last weekend’s match at Hindmarsh Stadium, where Adelaide United were given two controversial penalties in a 3-2 win over Central Coast Mariners.

“For me, the first two [penalties] the other night at Adelaide United, I can’t see how VAR has given Mauky’s (skipper Stefan Mauk) first one,” Maclaren said.

“And I’m the same, I try to milk penalties sometimes, but that was beyond [what’s acceptable].

“Mauky copped some abuse which he shouldn’t have and he did rightfully put that stuff on his social media. It’s uncalled for.

A striker spreads his arms in celebration after scoring a goal in the A-League.
Jamie Maclaren says players are questioned about their performance, but A-League officials escape scrutiny.(AAP: Sean Garnsworthy, file photo)

Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said after the game his players probably felt they had been “robbed”.

Referees boss Strebre Delovski later reportedly stated officials were wrong to award two penalties to Mauk.

Delovski told Nine referee Adam Fielding should not have given the first penalty because Mauk initiated contact with the defender, and the video assistant referee should have called on Fielding to review the decision.

In the other incident, Mariners midfielder Josh Nisbet was penalised for bringing down Mauk — but Delovski said both players were holding each other.

“You need to have these referees to come out, face the media, face the questions from you guys and say this is why we gave these penalties,” Maclaren said on the podcast.

“At the end of the day, if I was Alen Stajcic … rightly so, he walked off and declined to speak to Fox Sports and probably speak to Robbie [Cornthwaite].

“Because he would have said something he regretted and … it’s not good enough.” 

Maclaren said he had friends watching the A-League from the UK, who were messaging him saying they were turning their TV off, because the VAR and officiating were “embarrassing”.

“So if guys are like that in the UK watching that, I can only imagine how bad it is for people at home and our fans.

“We want to grow this game but it’s killing our game.”

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Birmingham didn’t meet with former staffer after hearing of assault allegation


The Morrison Government minister tasked with overseeing a cross-party review of parliamentary workplace culture in the wake of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation admits he declined to meet with a former member of his own staff despite knowing she had made “serious allegations” of sexual assault.

SA senator and federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has responded to an opinion piece published in InDaily today, in which his former staffer Chelsey Potter calls for swift cultural and procedural change in Canberra, demanding “new robust, clear processes for complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and assault”.

Potter went public in the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2019 with an allegation she was sexually assaulted by a Liberal colleague, who was reported at the time to “strongly deny” the allegation.

In InDaily today, she writes that she approached her former boss Birmingham, in whose office she had worked at the time of the alleged assault, in the days before the article was published.

“I felt it was important that he knew why I was speaking out years later… I wanted him to understand the processes – along with the culture I experienced – that discouraged disclosure or complaints,” she writes.

“Moreover, I needed him to hear what happened to me, as an employer, party powerbroker and my friend.”

She said Birmingham declined to meet with her, despite having been made aware of her allegations.

In response to questions from InDaily, Birmingham today confirmed the pair exchanged text messages on Friday July 26, 2019 – almost four days before the Sydney Morning Herald article was published.

He told InDaily in a statement that “Ms Potter contacted me via text message saying: ‘Hi Simon, I meant to text earlier but if you’re around Adelaide this weekend, it would be great to grab a quick beer. I know how insanely busy you are so I completely understand if you can’t. It’d be good to catch up. Cheers, Chels’

“I responded to Ms Potter on the same day stating: ‘Thanks Chels. Unfortunately I am not in a position to catch up this weekend. I understand you have made some serious allegations to media about an incident that you claim occurred during your time working in my office. I encourage you to talk to professionals about such matters and suggest that the Women’s Information Service (https://officeforwomen.sa.gov.au/womens-information-service) or 1800Respect (https://www.1800respect.org.au) may be appropriate options.’”

Birmingham said that “at no other point has Ms Potter raised these claims with me or anyone else in my office, or sought to discuss them with me”.

“Sexual harassment or assault of any kind are completely unacceptable in all circumstances,” he said.

“I share Ms Potter’s publicly stated wish to see cultural changes that help to prevent such incidents and improved handling practices.

“I encourage past and present parliamentary staff to participate in the multi-party, independent review that is being established to achieve fundamental change on these matters.”

In Potter’s InDaily article, she writes that since that exchange, and after the publication of her allegation, she was “yet to receive a call” from her former boss.

“We haven’t spoken about it at all,” she said.

Today, Birmingham said: “I will be getting in touch with Ms Potter to discuss the establishment of the review and to encourage her to engage with it.”

“The allegations made by Ms Potter that were first reported on the Sydney Morning Herald website on Monday 29 July 2019 are serious and are deeply distressing,” he said.

“I was first made aware of these serious claims when my office was contacted by a journalist in the week prior to the article being published.

“The Sydney Morning Herald story made clear that the alleged incident had never been raised with me by Ms Potter.

“The 2019 article related to an alleged event in 2015. By 2019 neither of the individuals involved were employed by me or any other Member of Parliament.”

On July 31 2019, Birmingham was asked about the allegation, and another by an unrelated complainant in the same article, in an interview on ABC Radio Adelaide.

At the time, he said the allegations were “all news to me”, and did not disclose that one of the complainants was a former member of his staff.

“It came as a surprise when I heard that journalists were asking about it in the last couple of days,” he said at the time.

“What I would say to anybody, whether they work in government or elsewhere is… you know, obviously these allegations themselves are deeply concerning and distressing but anybody in those sorts of circumstances should use the type of proper processes that are available to them.

“They should obviously… contact police.

“If they need additional assistance, they should reach out to government-funded organisations like 1800RESPECT or the Women’s Information Service in South Australia.

“In terms of dealing in the workplace, they should use, again, the processes that are there, raise it with their employer.

“I do note, in this story, that in both cases the individuals state they did not raise it with the Member of Parliament they were employed by.

“They should raise it with their employer.”

He said there were “very clear processes” within the Department of Finance, which he now oversees, for federal staff to “seek advice, request counselling, lodge a complaint [or] request a formal investigation… so we do have quite clear processes that are in place and I would urge anybody in any of these circumstances to reach out and to use those processes”.

In the wake of a rape allegation last week by Brittany Higgins, a former staffer to defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, Birmingham was appointed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “work with all political parties and independents across the parliament to establish an independent multi-party review into the way in which workplace matters are managed around parliamentary staff, how we can provide for a culture in an environment that reduces and minimises the risk of such terrible sexual assaults or any other harassment or wrongdoing occurring”.

Birmingham told ABC radio this morning: “We are clearly admitting the inadequacy of what is there.”

“That is why this process is being undertaken, because the stories told by Brittany Higgins and by others over the last couple of years are a clear demonstration of the fact that too many people don’t feel that they can go through with police complaints,” he said.

Asked this morning whether there had ever been a similar complaint of assault or harassment in his own office, Birmingham replied: “Never that has been brought to me, but I am aware of a former staff member of mine who has, subsequent to leaving my office, raised allegations.”

“The issue was never brought to me or my office – it was taken to the media some time after [Ms Potter] had ceased employment in my office,” he said.

“I think we can all learn how to try to create an environment for better support.”

He said if a staff member came to him with similar allegations today, he would “try to bring the police in and urge those discussions” and “encourage the individual involved to seek independent counselling, support services and advice there so that they can be supported”.

“And I would give them my absolute commitment in undertaking that they had my full support, that their job was secure, and that I backed all of the decisions that they would make in relation to pursuing such a horrific instance through the appropriate channels with police while also getting all of the emotional support that clearly anybody in those circumstances needs,” he said.

Asked if he felt his office dealt with Potter’s claim using “best practice”, he said: “Look, I don’t know… I think we can all learn how to provide even better support and assistance on these things – and that is why we’re having an independent review.”

Meanwhile, more women have come forward to allege sexually assault by the same political staffer accused of raping Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House.

After a second woman came forward over the weekend, a third has told The Australian she was assaulted while working as a coalition volunteer during the 2016 election campaign.

She was barely out of school at the time of the alleged attack, which she said occurred after a night out drinking with the then-political staffer.

Later today, a fourth woman also came forward to allege inappropriate sexual behaviour by the same political staffer accused of raping Brittany Higgins.

The woman alleges the former Liberal Party staffer reached under the table to stroke her thigh at a Canberra bar in 2017.

She has filed a report at a police station in Canberra and will make a formal statement later this week.

The woman came forward to the ABC after Brittany Higgins last week alleged she was raped by the man in 2019.

The allegations come as Higgins, who says she was raped inside a parliamentary office in 2019, prepares to make a statement to Australian Federal Police.

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