Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced on Sunday (7 March) that she will extend her medical leave to 2 April 2 because of heart problems and on the advice of her cardiologist.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. (PHOTO: Government Photo)

On Tuesday 2 March Reynolds was re-assessed by her cardiologist in relation to a pre-existing medical condition, which had earlier required her to take a brief period of leave. The day after that consultation Reynolds was issued a medical certificate which extended her leave until 2 April. Reynolds has advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison of her doctor’s assessment and will continue to consult with the prime minister as required, according to the statement. Foreign Minister Marise Payne has also been advised of the situation and will continue to act as defence minister until Reynolds returns.

In Australia, analysts are saying the continued medical leave and the controversy surrounding Reynolds’ handling of an alleged rape of one of her former staffers are raising questions about Reynolds’ political future.

Reynolds has has faced growing questions over her handling of the rape allegation, especially after The Australian revealed last week that she had described the victim as a “lying cow” in remarks to staff in her office when the allegations became public. Reynolds has since apologised to the woman for the comment and indicated her off-colour remark was not in relation to the rape allegation but to reports in the media.

A source close to the Defence Minister said the medical certificate extending Reynolds’ medical leave of absence was issued before the “lying cow” comment was made public. That source, who asked not to be named so that they could provide additional context about her condition, said the minister had been given new medication by her cardiologist, who wanted to delay her return to politics in order to judge the efficacy of the new treatment, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.


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