Diggers erupt over hypocrisy of Brittany Higgins' $2.4m payout (2024)

Military veterans and advocates have lashed out at Brittany Higgins' $2.4million compensation payout related to an unproven sexual assault claim, saying it took them years to receive a fraction of that amount for their trauma.

Daily Mail Australia revealed on Thursday that the Albanese Government has admitted that no veteran or dependent has received compensation of more than $2.3million or more for impairment or injuries suffered fighting in battles.

Veterans Affairs Minister Matt Keogh confirmed to Parliament that 'no single veteran or dependent has received compensation totalling $2.3million or more' in response to questions posed byNationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce.

Ms Higgins, a former political stafferwho alleged she was raped in Parliament House, received her multimillion-dollar payout from the Federal Government in December 2022 after one day of mediation.

Her claims have never been proven in court.

On Thursday morning, Radio 2GB host Mark Levy told listeners it takes an average of 391 days for military claims to be processed.

He quoted from a serving army officer, Jason, who served for nine years and had a pending compensation claim in the system for months.

Brittany Higgins is pictured with her fiancé, David Sharaz

'[Compensation claims] may be assigned within two weeks, but they sit in limbo for months,' Levy said.

'Other veterans have told us they're still waiting for claims to be processed. Claims lodged in May 2020, October 2020, and June 2021.'

Levy said there seemed to be 'one rule for veterans who risked their lives on the battlefield' who receive 'hundreds of thousands of dollars at best', and another rule for political staffers who work in Parliament House.

He also spoke with a man named Andrew, who works with a veterans advocacy group and accused the government of 'shifting numbers on a spreadsheet'.

'The government's been playing with them for years,' Andrew said.

'The wait time that they have for their claims to be processes and actioned by the department is just unacceptable.'

He said the department had 75,000 claims at the end of February, but said the number hasn't changed within the last three years.

'They keep changing the way they provide those statistics on their website, so now they're saying they have 73,700 claims with an officer, but that just means that it's been someone's walked through the office and dumped [on desks].

'When veterans call back or respond to the delegate they they're told that they probably won't be picked up for a year.'

Andrew said the department always says it is grateful for the service of armed forces members, but is unwilling to process their claims within a timely period.

Barnaby Joyce (pictured) fired four questions at the minister for veterans affairs

Ms Higgins had alleged then fellow political staffer Bruce Lehrmann raped her in Senator Linda Reynolds' office in Parliament House in March 2019, which he strongly denies.

Mr Lehrmann was tried in the ACT Supreme Court in October 2022 but the hearing was discontinued due to misconduct by a juror introducing outside materials.

The ACT's top prosecutor then decided not to re-prosecute the case, citing concerns for Ms Higgins' mental health.

Ms Higgins sued the Commonwealth over the way she was allegedly treated by her former bosses, Coalition senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash, after she disclosed her rape allegationsto them.

Ten days after the charge against Mr Lehrmann was dropped in December 2022, Ms Higgins was awarded $2.4million dollars from the Labor government.

The matter was filed in December 2021, but the matter was finalised after a single day of mediation a year later.

Ms Higgins was forced to divulge the value of her payment in the Federal Court on December 7, 2023, while under cross-examination in Mr Lehrmann's defamation trial against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

That same day, Mr Joyce asked Mr Keogh: 'For each month, how many veterans or dependents received compensation since the current government took office? How many veterans or dependents received compensation or other forms of payments totalling at least $2.3 million?

'In each case, what was the timeframe from the lodgment of the claim, to approval for payment? Without requesting identifiable personal information, to what injuries, conditions or circ*mstances did each payment relate?'

Veteran's Affairs Matt Keogh is pictured with his wife, Annabel

When Mr Keogh's office responded to those questions in February, he revealed'nosingle veteran or dependent has received compensation totalling $2.3million or more' between June 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023.

This week, Mr Joyce told Daily Mail Australia: 'The idea that you can go into a meeting and walk out a few hours later with upwards of $2.4million is just incredible.'

READ MORE: Brittany Higgins' $2.3million compo payout after a single mediation meeting comes under scorching criticism: 'Never justified'

Pictured: Brittany Higgins

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'A lot of veterans find it incredibly galling that a payout can be made so quickly for such a large amount for an alleged event in Parliament House, while they wait years and don't receive an amount within sight of anything like that.'

He said some of those veterans include those who have seen active service and have crippling and life-changing wounds.

'What's been brought up to me over and over again by servicemen and women is that the government shows it can move quickly when it chooses to,' he continued.

'Why is working in Parliament House different to serving our nation in uniform on the battlefields?'

The number of compensation claims by military veterans between June 2022 and December 2023 was also listed. Within that timeframe, there were 4,170 veterans receiving defence-related compensation and 64,934 veterans receiving compensation for military rehabilitation.

There were also between 77,967 and 77,025 veterans per quarter who were receiving a fortnightly disability compensation pension.

In December 2022 alone, the month Ms Higgins' $2.4million claim was settled, there were 169 veterans on defence-related compensation and 3145 veterans who were on compensation for military rehabilitation.

Mr Joyce had also asked, in the event that any diggers did receive a payment akin to Ms Higgins, what their injuries and circ*mstances were, and what the timeframe of approval was.

However, those questions were not applicable because no veteran has received that much.

According to Ms Higgins' settlement deed, her $2.445million payment included $1.48million to cover lost earning capacity; $400,000 for hurt, distress and humiliation; $220,000 for medical expenses $100,000 for past and future domestic assistance; and $245,000 for her legal costs.

Senator Reynolds and Senator Cash were barred from mediation talks, despite Ms Higgins' claims that they didn't support her in the aftermath of her alleged rape.

Diggers erupt over hypocrisy of Brittany Higgins' $2.4m payout (2024)
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