Mr Morrison declined to attend the rally in person, but offered to meet a delegation from the protesters in his parliamentary office. They turned down the offer, arguing issues of sexual assault had for too long been dealt with in secrecy.
Mr Albanese demanded the Prime Minister take notice of what Ms Higgins had said.
“I say to the Prime Minister: listen to it. Listen to what Brittany Higgins had to say. But because he wasn’t there, I’ll help him out,” the Labor leader said.
Mr Albanese read out Ms Higgins’ quote: “I watched as the Prime Minister of Australia publicly apologised to me through the media, while privately his media team actively undermined and discredited my loved ones.”
Labor MPs cried “shame!” at the PM.
“The idea that, as the Prime Minister has said, we can just move on, that what has been happening over recent days and weeks can be unseen and unheard is just not fair dinkum,” Mr Albanese said.
The comments were part of a scathing attack on what he said were Mr Morrison’s attempts to stymie progress.
“Not so much a tin ear as a wall of concrete,” he said.
“(Women are) crying out that this is a moment that requires leadership, and it requires leadership from this prime minister. And we are not getting it, Prime Minister,” he said.
Every Labor question was asked by a female MP and directed at Mr Morrison, who has faced increasing pressure over his handling of Ms Higgins’ story, and an historical rape allegation levelled at Attorney-General Christian Porter, which he denies.
When pressed on whether a claim his office had backgrounded against Ms Higgins’ now-partner was true, Mr Morrison said he had “no knowledge” of the incident.
“I would never instruct such a thing; I would never do that,” he said, to an outcry from Labor MPs.
“The apology offered to Brittany Higgins in this place was sincere, was genuine, and I’m happy to restate it.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was also forced to settle a defamation suit and apologise to Ms Higgins, after labelling her former staffer a “lying cow”.
Mr Morrison has refused to sack Ms Reynolds, saying the comments were made in private.
When pressured, Mr Morrison said he was “pleased” Ms Reynolds had settled over what he labelled a “disgraceful slur”.
“Which you put up with!” yelled a Labor backbencher.
“If those opposite want to provide a Hansard of what is said in their offices on a daily basis, they may be in a position to cast stones,” Mr Morrison said.
“But I would simply say this: this was a statement that should never have been uttered, whether in a private office or elsewhere.”