Pictured: Brittany Higgins on her first day of work at Parliament House
Brittany Higgins lifts the lid on alcoholic culture at Parliament House in a leaked draft of her book: naming several ministers in the group ‘the big rocking idiots’ and exposing the raging Christmas party when one poured whiskey into staffers’ mouths.
Ms Higgins’ raw and unfinished manuscript, obtained exclusively by Daily Mail Australia, was supposed to describe the moment Bruce Lehrmann allegedly raped her at Parliament House in 2019. He strongly denies the allegations.
However, a series of vignettes and chapter summaries contain a number of pointed observations and comments about colleagues and federal MPs during her time as deputy media adviser in the Liberal Party.
In draft form, the book, tentatively titled #NotJustADaughter, reads like a diary as the then-young Liberal staffer tried to get through each day in the nation’s highest office.
She has an entire chapter devoted to the holiday season, discussing the privileges granted to employees, which largely seemed to include free drinks, question time rituals, and a stern warning from a former colleague not to “go to bed.”
While the finished book may not look like her original manuscript (its bullet points are not contextualized in the draft), it still provides valuable insight into what Ms. Higgins planned to cover.
the memory was it was meant to hit shelves in 2022, until Penguin Random House put it on indefinite hold due to legal issues, primarily because the criminal trial against Mr. Lehrmann failed and he was never convicted.
The $325,000 advance on Ms Higgins’ book was negotiated by author Peter FitzSimons just a month after his interview with his wife, Lisa Wilkinson, on The Project in February 2021.
Brittany Higgins first made her accusations against Bruce Lehrmann in an interview with Lisa Wilkinson (left). Her husband, Peter FitzSimons (right), negotiated her book contract.
‘The Great Swingers D**ks’
A bullet summary of chapter five, called ‘the sitting week cycle’, refers to Mrs Higgins’ first meeting with an ‘infamous’ group known as ‘The Big Swinging D**ks’ in the office of former MP Steven Ciobo.
Ciobo was Ms Higgins’ boss when she was Defense Industry Minister in 2019; she described him as “laissez-faire, boring… charismatic, youthful in quality”.
Higgins identified three federal ministers who were part of the group with Ciobo and recalled the time she was serving them drinks and they invited her to a bar after working with them on a Wednesday.
He also talked about how watching Question Time is more of a ‘tribal sport’, how he got to work every day at 6:45am and didn’t leave until 8pm, and the impressive moment he was introduced to then Home Affairs Secretary Julie Bishop.
“Being introduced to Julie Bishop, my former idol, just being in awe of this world,” she wrote.
Christmas party shenanigans
Chapter seven, titled “the most wonderful time of the year,” outlines the booze-fueled holiday celebrations of 2018.
One section was labeled: ‘Team Ciobo’s Office Christmas Party’.
Ms Higgins recalled former minister Ciobo ‘lining up his staff and pouring whiskey straight into our mouths’.
The ‘charismatic’ Ciobo was Ms Higgins’ boss when she was defense industry minister in 2019
She said the event was ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ in style, referring to Leonardo Di Caprio’s 2013 film about a financial broker, Jordan Belfort, known for his wealth, lewd partying and eventual imprisonment.
In a series of cartoons, he claimed that Ciobo received Christmas cards from the Rothschild family and the Prince of Qatar, and that his position as a ministerial staffer meant he could attend News Corp’s Christmas party.
At that party he met prominent journalists Peta Credlin, Laura Jayes and Michelle Grattan.
There were also a number of bullet points under the ‘coalition Christmas party’ subheading: her memories included crying over work pressures.
Ms Higgins also said there was a tradition of ‘ministers/senators/members serving drinks to staff’, recalling former indigenous Australian minister Nigel Scullions making his ‘infamous mango daiquiris’.
Passes, Privileges and Separations
Throughout the draft, Ms Higgins invariably spoke about the privileges afforded to people working in Parliament House, including what she called unofficial free passes to drink with lobbyists inside the building.
He also said employees were able to pet native Australian animals, meet local celebrities and sports stars, hold the Melbourne Cup trophy, “all over canapés and drinks to ‘lobby’ government and staff regarding their specific interests.”
There were also ‘post-question time rituals’ that involved opening bottles of champagne for the office.
Brittany Higgins said she was “astonished” when she met former Liberal Vice President Julie Bishop (pictured)
Ms Higgins also detailed stern words of wisdom from a former colleague who warned her not to get too deep into the ‘Canberra scene’ and not to ‘sleep’.
She vaguely mentioned the time she broke up with her longtime boyfriend on his birthday, and another when she returned home to Queensland for the first time since getting her job in parliament and realized she didn’t want to leave the ACT.
Steven Ciobo did not respond when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
Mr. Lehrmann was charged with sexual assault in August 2021 and stood trial in the ACT High Court in October of the following year. However, the trial was miscarried because a juror brought prohibited research material to court.
The charge against Lehrmann was dropped entirely in December because prosecutors were concerned about Higgins’ mental health.
In March this year, Lehrmann filed defamation suits against Channel Ten and Wilkinson for broadcasting and publishing Higgins’ allegations.
It is also suing ABC over a broadcast in which Higgins made the allegations.
Lehrmann was not named as the alleged rapist in any of the broadcasts, but believes he was identified by former colleagues and parliamentary circles.
A Federal Court hearing is scheduled for November.
Brittany Higgins alleges that Bruce Lehrmann (pictured left, with his lawyer) raped her at Parliament House. He denies the accusation