Under-fire senator Linda Reynolds has been admitted to hospital and cancelled a highly anticipated appearance at the National Press Club in the wake of the Parliament House rape allegation scandal.
The Defence Minister was set to face a grilling from journalists on Wednesday over her handling of Brittany Higgins’ rape claim.
Ms Higgins, a former staffer to Ms Reynolds, alleged she was raped in the Minister’s office by a colleague in 2019.
A statement from Ms Reynolds said she would take a period of medical leave.
“This follows advice from her cardiologist relating to a pre-existing medical condition,” the statement read.
“As a precautionary measure, Minister Reynolds has this morning been admitted to a Canberra Hospital.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison phoned Ms Reynolds to “express his concern and sympathy, and wish her a quick recovery”.
Health Minister Greg Hunt denied the revelation was an attempt to dodge the Press Club grilling.
“Linda was desperate to appear before the national Press Club today, desperate to appear,” he said.
“And it was only on the strongest medical advice that she took the reluctant decision not to do it.”
Ms Reynolds has faced a week on intense scrutiny over the rape allegation, after failing to disclose the information to the prime minister.
She has consistently cited Ms Higgins’ privacy to dodge questions over her timeline of events.
She broke down in the Senate question time on Friday, asking to take an unrelated question on notice.
Mr Hunt said on Wednesday Ms Reynolds was “a good person” and called on reporters to show “compassion … (and) focus on the needs of others”.
“We have to remind ourselves that this is the most intense, arguably, environment in Australia,” he said.
“There are many intense environments, and all of us need to be aware of the pressures and pains, the impact of each of us on each other.
“She is a good person and so she needs our support. She has our support.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will act on her behalf until she returns to work.
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