Brittany Higgins book draft identifies MPs as ‘big swinging dicks’ and outlines Parliament’s drinking culture

Headshot of Katina Curtis
Katina Curtis
The Nightly
2 Min Read
WATCH NOW: In tonight’s show, Harvey targets Australian politicians behaving badly and explains why a new standards commission has its work cut out cleaning up Federal Parliament. Who belongs in the naughty corner? Plus, the blot on newbie Gove

Former staffer Brittany Higgins identified a group of Liberal ministers known as the “big swinging dicks” in notes that have been newly published by the Federal Court.

The grouping included her former boss Steve Ciobo, West Australian Liberals Christian Porter and Michael Keenan, and Victorian Alan Tudge, according to the notes that formed part of a draft book.

She describes them as “the infamous group known as The Big Swinging Dicks” and writes that she served them drinks in Mr Ciobo’s parliamentary office, then was invited to join them after work at a Canberra bar.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop revealed the existence of the informal group in an interview in 2021, although she did not name the male MPs involved.

Ms Higgins signed a book deal with Penguin Random House in April 2021, shortly after the March 4 Justice movement.

The Federal Court exhibit, titled Excerpt from Brittany Higgins’ Book Draft, sets out notes for 35 chapters along with draft excerpts for some of them.

It has been tendered as part of the defamation case Bruce Lehrmann brought by Bruce Lehrmann against Network Ten after he was accused of raping Ms Higgins. He has always denied the allegations.

The claims contained in the book draft have not been independently verified nor tested in court.

Sections of it contain more fully written recollections and anecdotes, however the chapter outlines are only given as dot points without going into details of the claims made.

Ms Higgins’ notes for the book also mention a “post Question Time ritual of breaking out a bottle of wine/champagne for the office”, a Christmas party involving “Minister Ciobo lining up his staff and pouring whiskey directly in our mouths”, and other aspects of the drinking culture within Parliament.

After Ms Higgins went public with her allegations of rape, then-Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins reviewed culture within parliamentary workplaces.

Ms Jenkins found there was a “work hard, play hard” culture combined with isolation and non-existent work/life balance in which many people used alcohol as a coping mechanism or as a way of socialising with colleagues.

The parliamentary leadership taskforce charged with pursuing the changes Ms Jenkins recommended is still consulting MPs and staff about an alcohol policy.

Its update last month said it anticipates the policy will be finalised in the first half of 2024.

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 21-05-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 21 May 202421 May 2024

The PM, the terrorist and the A-list barrister demanding war crimes charges.