Embattled MP Emma Husar might lose her preselection as soon as next week if Labor’s NSW candidate review committee opts to hold a special meeting to disendorse her.
Ms Husar is being investigated by NSW Labor for allegations of bullying and harassment of her staff.
Details of the investigation, published by BuzzFeed News on Thursday, included claims she flashed Labor frontbencher Jason Clare, as well as allegations of sexual harassment and diverting Labor funds into her personal bank account.
Other claims are of bullying, aggressive behaviour and using taxpayer money to hire a nanny who couldn’t work a computer.
The Australian reported on Friday that Ms Husar’s status as preselected candidate for the western Sydney seat of Lindsay – which she holds by a margin of 1.1 per cent – could be overturned quickly.
The candidate review committee, which can disendorse candidates and call for fresh preselections, is expected to receive a report by barrister John Whelan on the allegations from ALP head office next week.
If Mr Whelan’s report finds Ms Husar’s behaviour unacceptable, the response will be quick, sources told the newspaper.
I have done my best to cooperate with the investigation and clear my name, but it’s clear these people will stop at nothing to destroy me.
— Emma Husar MP (@emmahusarmp) August 2, 2018
Ms Husar, once considered a rising star in the ALP, says the claims are “absolute lies” aimed at ruining her career. Mr Clare also said the allegation she flashed him three times in his office was “categorically untrue”.
“This smear is completely and utterly untrue, unfair and hurtful beyond belief. 100 per cent false,” Ms Husar tweeted in response to the BuzzFeed article.
She has publicly named and accused a former staffer of fabrication, saying they would stop at nothing to destroy her.
“These are absolute lies that have been fabricated by [the ex-staffer], who’s working with his father to leak against me and ruin my reputation,” she said on Twitter.
On Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanded Labor leader Bill Shorten state his knowledge of the investigation, attacking the Opposition Leader’s credibility.
Mr Turnbull said the leaking of details of the internal investigation showed divisions in Labor, labelling the claims against Ms Husar as “very, very serious”.
“It shows there’s enormous enmity, there’s like a civil war going on in the NSW Labor Party,” he said.
He called on Mr Shorten to outline what he knew about the investigation and when he was aware of it.
“His claim that this has all come as a surprise to him is simply not credible,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Shorten’s office insists he was first told of the investigation on July 18.
Albanese tries to deflect attention
Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese tried to deflect attention on the issue on Friday, raising questions about a $443 million grant the government has given to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
“What is extraordinary, I find this week, is the amount of coverage that rumours and unfounded allegations at this point are getting,” Mr Albanese told the Nine Network.
He said commenting on NSW Labor’s independent investigation wasn’t fair to Ms Husar or people making complaints about her.
NSW Labor said on Friday that continued public speculation about the investigation was a significant concern and was causing some delay.