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PM checks in with Reynolds’ doctor, says illness ‘quite serious’

Scott Morrison has personally spoken to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ doctor about her extended medical leave.

Mar 09, 2021, updated Mar 09, 2021
Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash. Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash. Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Reynolds has taken leave until at least April 2 as she faces intense scrutiny over her handling of rape allegations raised by former staffer Brittany Higgins.

The prime minister described her condition as “quite serious”.

“I have, at the minister’s permission, spoken to her doctor about this issue and it is a serious issue,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“And so we are supporting her in getting the physical health treatment that she needs over this period, that doctors have advised that she needs to take.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter has also taken indefinite leave after being accused of an historical rape allegation, meaning two of the eight national security committee members are absent.

Morrison said both ministers were being temporarily replaced by highly competent cabinet colleagues, and he was also maintaining “a very close watch” over their portfolios.

Morrison has indicated his government will proceed with its industrial relations bill when parliament resumes next week, even without the presence of Porter, the Industrial Relations Minister.

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“The great thing about my team is if one of my team, in this case the attorney-general, or indeed the defence minister, if they are unable to do their duties currently for health reasons, then I have wonderful people I can turn to,” the prime minister told the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash is acting industrial relations minister and attorney-general in Porter’s absence.

“(She is) a very accomplished lawyer in her own right and a former industrial relations minister who has got some experience getting important industrial relations reforms through the Senate on other occasions when she previously held that portfolio,” Morrison said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne is standing in for Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

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