Western Sydney Labor MP Emma Husar has told Parliament she “is not a bully, not a thief” in an emotional speech revealing she has launched legal action over sensational claims published by BuzzFeed.
In her speech on the last day of Parliament for the year, Ms Husar told MPs she was never asked for comment before sensational allegations were published on August 2 that she exposed herself when not wearing underwear to another MP while his infant son was playing on the floor of his office.
Both have denied the allegation.
“Mr Speaker, I am not a bully. I am not Sharon Stone. I am not a thief. And I did not deliberately misuse my work expenses. I will fight for my integrity and for Lindsay, which is full of battlers just like me,” she told Parliament.
In a personal explanation to Parliament after question time, Ms Husar said she had been misrepresented “most grievously and on many occasions”.
During the investigation into workplace bullying, only one staffer publicly put his name to the allegations – a staffer she sacked from her office.
Ms Husar maintains all the other complainants were anonymous and in some cases vague.
But last week, months after the investigation, more staff including a former staffer to former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, came forward to say ‘Ms Husar’s sustained inappropriate conduct made our position untentable’.”
Ms Husar maintains she was unaware of the identity of these complainants until this week.
The internal investigation found she had mistreated her electorate staff, but it did not find evidence to support the flashing claims or allegations of sexual harassment.
The member for the NSW seat of Lindsay announced in August she would not contest the next election, but has changed her mind and has rejected suggestions she is no longer the Labor candidate for next year’s federal poll.
NSW Labor officials will meet on Friday to settle on a preselection process to replace Ms Husar.
In Parliament, she did not declare whether she will stand as an independent for the seat of Lindsay if she is stripped of her preselection.
“Too often during the last six months I have had to bite my tongue and not defend myself publicly while being misrepresented,” she said.
“I will not wait around waiting for someone else to do what is right and show leadership.
“Mr Speaker, there are two sides in every story. It is not time to correct the record. Be my own champion and the battler that I have always been in pursuit of what is right and what is fair.”
Ms Husar announced her resignation from the seat earlier this year and the ALP maintains it has accepted that resignation.
She indicated she would sue BuzzFeed and the journalist who wrote the story, Alice Workman, in the Federal Court.
“Let me be very specific. At 9.33am on August 2, Miss Alice Workman at BuzzFeed published the most damaging article,” she said.
“In it, she claimed she had requested my comment. She had not. This is false.
“At 9.34am, one minute after that publication she emailed me, requesting comment and answers to 48 questions for the article she had already published. I had no chance to refute or respond.
“At 9.35am, she tweeted that I had bragged about who I was having sex with, I had sexually harassed an employee, and I had exposed myself like Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct in front of a colleague and his infant son.”
Ms Husar said the articles had forced her resignation in an environment where she was legally bound not to defend herself publicly.
“Within 36 hours of this gross misrepresentation, and the slut-shaming smears going viral, I was asked to resign as the Member for Lindsay,” she said.
“Mr Speaker, let me correct the record. BuzzFeed and Alice Workman knew that the confidential letter which contained untested and contested allegations was in their possession. They also knew that I was bound by confidentiality.
“But they went ahead and published their slut-shaming article anyway.
“I have launched proceedings for defamation in the Federal Court against BuzzFeed and Alice Workman, who were involved in this shameless misrepresentation.”