The details surrounding an unlawful dismissal claim by Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie’s former chief of staff remain hidden, following a hearing in the Federal Court.
Rob Messenger is taking the senator and the Commonwealth of Australia to the Fair Work division of the court.
“Despite the media headlines, my wife and I were dismissed from Senator Lambie’s employ and we’re taking action in the Federal Court to ensure that we receive justice,” he said.
Mr Messenger’s wife Fern was employed as Senator Lambie’s office manager.
In May, Senator Lambie said Mr Messenger had “moved on to bigger and better things” and cited disagreements over the direction she was taking as a politician.
But Mr Messenger claimed his dismissal unlawful.
“We’re going a submit a number of documents, I’ve submitted a document for unlawful dismissal, my wife will also submit a similar document,” Mr Messenger said.
“Essentially, what we’ll be asking the court to consider is not an unfair but an unlawful dismissal, and obviously the damages associated with that unlawful dismissal.”
Mr Messenger has filed an lengthy statement of claim with the court but at an administrative hearing at the Federal Court in Hobart, Justice Duncan Kerr made orders to restrict the publication of the document for the time being.
The restriction order will remain in place until the Commonwealth submits contact details for the case, known as a Notice of Address for Service, but it could be extended further.
In a statement, Senator Lambie said the law prevented her from commenting.
Rob Messenger is a former Queensland MP and ran as a Palmer United Party candidate in the 2013 federal election.
The following year he joined Senator Lambie as chief of staff while she was still with PUP.
Mr Messenger said he also was also taking separate legal action against the senator in the Burnie Magistrates Court over a dispute about payment for writing her book.
‘PM should be subpoenaed’
After leaving Senator Lambie’s office, Mr Messenger sent a nine-page complaint letter to the Commonwealth.
In June, details of the letter were published by News Corp.
The letter reportedly claimed Senator Lambie took staff shopping for sex toys and complained about needing “a root”.
It also complained about her “angry mood swings” and claimed the Messengers were the “brains behind the message”.
Senator Lambie responded to say there were “a lot of false claims” in the letter and Mr Messenger was a “disgruntled former employee, lashing out for reasons only he understands”.
On Tuesday, Rob Messenger used social media to hit out at the leaking of letter, calling for Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate.
On Wednesday, he said since the letter was circulated among politicians, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other ministers may be called to give evidence during his unlawful dismissal hearing.
AFP considers death threats dealt with
He said following details of the letter being published he received “strange and menacing” phone calls.
Mr Messenger said Senator Lambie’s office had received multiple death threats and the response from the AFP to his complaint had been “very poor”.
“They won’t run basic criminal background checks on the people who left these menacing messengers on my phone,” he said.
“I just asked that they just give us a guarantee that the people who made these calls weren’t in any way associated with those death threats and they failed to do that.”
The AFP said it received two referrals about the alleged threatening phone calls.
“The AFP undertook an evaluation of the matters referred and, based on the information available, has not identified any breach of Commonwealth laws,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement said complaints about the leaking of the letter were referred to Commonwealth ombudsman.
“The AFP now considers these matters finalised and will be making no further comment,” they said.