An extraordinary steam-cleaning of the office of Minister Linda Reynolds was ordered by the Department of Finance in the hours after the alleged rape of staffer Brittany Higgins.
The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) says it was “a routine office clean”.
But the Department of Finance, which is the administrator for ministers’ offices, told 9News it arranged “for an additional clean” after being advised by DPS “staff had accessed Minister Reynolds’ office after hours”.
Both departments deny any knowledge of the alleged rape, but have failed to give a detailed explanation why the clean was considered necessary.
The Department of Finance said in a statement: “Following this after-hours access by staff, Finance requested and arranged for an additional clean of the office to take place that weekend.”
9News has asked the Department whether it is routine procedure for the “additional clean” to take place after someone has accessed a ministerial office outside of office hours and there has been no response.
“At that time (of the clean) police enquiries were not being made and Finance had no information suggesting that an alleged assault may have occurred in the office,” a department spokesperson said.
“Finance fully co-operated with subsequent police enquiries regarding the after-hours access of Minister Reynolds’ office and the subsequent clean.”
The Department of Parliamentary Services, which oversees Parliament House, said the AFP conducted enquiries into the “initial handling of the incident including whether there was any criminality identified, such as attempts to conceal or interfere with a suspected crime scene”.
“The AFP advised that there were ‘no disclosures of sexual assault made by the complainant on the day of the incident and therefore actions taken by them (DPS) were not in response with a suspected crime,'” a spokesperson said.
“DPS has had extensive consultation with the AFP on this matter.
“The relevant security camera footage relating to this incident was viewed by the Australian Federal Police in April 2019 and has been stored on an ongoing basis at the direction of the Presiding Officers and with the agreement of the AFP for their access as required for any investigation.
“The relevant reports of the incident were handed to the AFP at their request in April 2019.”
The suite was cleaned on March 23, 2019, hours after Ms Higgins was found by a security guard.
She has since alleged she was raped by a government staff member, who was sacked days later.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he has happy for issues around the cleaning to be “fully investigated”.
“To suggest that something had been done to interfere with the environment, I don’t think that’s established either,” Mr Morrison said yesterday.
“But I’m very happy for those matters to be fully investigated.”