News ‘Imagine hating women so much’: Liberal staffer quits after allegations of abuse resurface

‘Imagine hating women so much’: Liberal staffer quits after allegations of abuse resurface

Cassy O'Connor says her initial complaint against Andrew Hudgson was not taken seriously. Photo: AAP
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Liberal Party staffer Andrew Hudgson has stepped down after Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor revealed she was verbally abused by the media advisor.

Ms O’Connor had accused Mr Hudgson, a Liberal adviser to federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, of calling her a “meth-head c***” as he and his colleagues walked past a press conference in 2019.

She said her media adviser Alice Giblin had been doing an interview nearby when she overheard the alleged vile insult.

“I was doing an interview at the time and didn’t hear the insult but Alice did. I believed her without question because in the decade I’ve worked with Alice she has never lied to me,” Ms O’Connor, using her parliamentary privilege, told the state’s parliament on Wednesday night.

“Others who were with Mr Hudgson at the time heard it too,” she continued, adding that Ms Giblin had made detailed notes of her recollections.

“Imagine hating women so much you’d say that audibly about a woman you don’t know, who also happens to be an elected representative?”

Andrew Hudgson quit shortly after Cassy O’Connor’s speech to Parliament. Photo: Twitter

She proceeded to make a formal complaint to the Premier’s then-chief of staff, Tim Baker, who launched a formal investigation, which found the allegation was “not substantiated”.

The investigation concluded Mr Hudgson “did not yell out or direct profanities” at her. The case was closed within two weeks.

The gendered nature of violence against women in politics and broader society has been at the forefront of national conversation the past few months.

Ms O’Connor’s speech came just two days after more than 100,000 people seeking justice for women attended marches across the nation, forcing Australia to confront its issues with violence against women.

Ms O’Connor told Parliament she felt her allegations had not been taken seriously.

“Andrew Hudgson’s story was believed. He went on to work for the Morrison government,” she said.

Mr Hudgson had also worked for former Victorian Liberal premier Denis Napthine and federal Cabinet minister Michaelia Cash when she was employment minister and minister for women.

“It reminds me a bit of the Catholic Church of old — shuffle people around, but keep them on the books,” Ms O’Connor said.

“The take home from this is that Mr Hudgson has been protected by the Liberal party, state and federal.

“Madam Speaker, this is the standard our current Prime Minister walks past because, it becomes more clear by the day, he accepts it.

“The women and girls of Australia have long memories, Mr Morrison. We see you, we hear you, and we believe you are a big part of the problem.”

A government spokesperson confirmed Mr Hudgson was asked to resign following Ms O’Connor comments in Parliament on Wednesday.

“After several historical allegations surfaced, the staff member was asked to resign. Which they have done,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Hudgson then quit his role as media adviser to Mr Sukkar.