The president of the West Australian Nationals Party was warned by a state politician there could be an “avalanche of allegations” relating to “10 complaints” against former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, ranging from “inappropriate behaviour” to “more serious allegations”.
Barnaby Joyce has strenuously denied the only public allegation against him, from prominent WA woman Catherine Marriott
Details of the claim are included in an internal Nationals document obtained by the ABC.
When it was first published by Fairfax on Wednesday night, Mr Joyce said the suggestion of 10 complaints was “patently absurd”.
“These allegations are spurious and defamatory,” he told Fairfax.
Allegations of wrongdoing should be immediately referred to the police so that the veracity of the claim can be properly tested.”
A complaint of sexual harassment and misconduct by prominent WA woman Catherine Marriott was made to the Nationals just days before Mr Joyce resigned as deputy prime minister and Nationals leader.
The WA Nationals conducted a review into the handling of Ms Marriott’s complaint, and how it was made public against her wishes.
A copy of the review of the process by WA Nationals president James Hayward has been obtained by the ABC, and sheds light on the internal processes undertaken by the Nationals in dealing with complaints concerning Mr Joyce.
He wrote that during a conversation with WA Nationals MLA Terry Redman, they discussed concerns about the process.
“Terry [Redman] told me there would be an avalanche of allegations made from this group against Barnaby and that there were as many as 10 complaints which ranged from inappropriate behaviour to more serious allegations,” he wrote.
Denial of a ‘conspiracy’ to bring down Barnaby Joyce
WA Nationals party leader Mia Davies has denied suggestions she or her branch were involved in a conspiracy to bring down Mr Joyce as federal party leader.
The report says Ms Davies contacted the federal party’s president, Larry Anthony, to warn him that “the issues with Barnaby were not new”.
The report indicates Ms Davies asked Mr Anthony whether there were other women who had made similar claims against Mr Joyce, and said the party needed to address its cultural issues.
“I recall the words “complicit” being used in the context that people in the party knew of his behaviour, but had not acted to intervene,” the report said.
According to the report, Mr Redman told James Hayward the WA Nationals “wanted Barnaby to step down as leader of the party and if he did that then it might settle things down for a bit”.
Mr Hayward wrote that he was “very concerned that our MPs were brokering on behalf of the alleged victim and that their involvement could be seen as conspiring against the federal leader”.
“I was also alarmed at the apparent blackmail situation that might be read into the ultimatum.
“Barnaby resigns, or it go (sic) public and that particular message was being delivered by our parliamentary leader.”
The report concluded that actions by members of the party had “deprived the Federal Leader the opportunity for a fair hearing”.