News State NSW News NSW Greens locked in a bitter civil war over ‘harassment’ claims

NSW Greens locked in a bitter civil war over ‘harassment’ claims

NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham
NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham denies the allegation from 2011. Photo: AAP
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NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham has once again denied an allegation of sexual misconduct after a member of his own party raised the issue in state parliament.

Speaking with the protections of parliamentary privilege in the lower house on Tuesday, Greens MP Jenny Leong told Parliament Mr Buckingham should not contest the next election – or be expelled from the party if he refused to resign.

Her comments relate to an incident alleged to have occurred in 2011 and raised with the party by former staffer Ella Buckland in April this year.

The incident was independently investigated by Workdynamic Australia, which found there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation.

“Let me say on the record, that I believe you,” Ms Leong told Parliament, referencing Ms Buckland.

“I am no longer going to be a part of a system that runs a protection racket for badly behaved men in this place or in society. It has to stop.”

Federal leader Richard Di Natale also stepped in on Tuesday to suggest Mr Buckingham should stand aside at the next election.

“This is ultimately a matter for the Greens NSW, but in light of the serious issues raised in NSW MP Jenny Leong’s statement today, I believe the most appropriate course of action is for Jeremy Buckingham to stand aside as a candidate for the next election,” Senator Di Natale said in a statement.

“I have communicated that to Jeremy today on behalf of the federal party room.”

Ms Leong also alleged Mr Buckingham had been aggressive towards her on two occasions this year.

“I am sharing this information because I think it goes to character.”

The Greens in September noted the investigation did not find the accusation was false, vexatious or made for political reasons.

The allegations are made against a backdrop of factional infighting within the NSW Greens.

Mr Buckingham resisted the call to resign and said he would not withdraw from the Greens’ upper house ticket.

“The allegations raised today were investigated by independent workplace investigation specialists Workdynamic – as per NSW Greens policy – earlier this year and there was no finding of any wrongdoing,” Mr Buckingham said in a statement.

“I reject Jenny Leong’s characterisation of a couple of conversations we’ve had.

“I’ve been democratically elected to the parliament and to the NSW Greens legislative council ticket by a ballot of all members.”

NSW Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi joined Ms Leong’s calls for Mr Buckingham to resign on Tuesday.

NSW Greens member for Newtown Jenny Leong
Ms Leong raised the allegations under parliamentary privilege on Tuesday and called for Mr Buckingham to resign. Photo: AAP

In a joint statement, they claimed the Greens and party processes had failed Ms Buckland.

NSW Green MPs Jamie Parker, Tamara Smith, and MLC David Shoebridge have all backed Ms Leong and Senator Faruqi.

Former senator Lee Rhiannon had called for Mr Buckingham’s resignation on Monday.

Mr Buckingham was knocked to the third place on the Greens ticket for the Legislative Council at the upcoming election after a factional fight against Mr Shoebridge and will struggle to be re-elected in March from his position on the ballot.

Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann, on Mr Buckingham’s faction, on Tuesday claimed the allegation had been used as a political weapon.

“As a woman, I am angry at the way this complaint has been used as a political weapon,” Ms Faehrmann said in a statement to AAP.

“This risks making it harder for all women who have experienced sexual harassment and assault to feel safe and supported to come forward.

“Women’s complaints should always be taken seriously, believed prima facie and investigated professionally and independently. However, this does not mean we are all then at liberty to act contrary to the findings of the subsequent investigation.”

Ms Buckland on Tuesday thanked Ms Leong for her public support.

“I feel deep gratitude to Ms Leong for her words. Particularly that she believes me,” the complainant said in a statement to The New Daily.

“I feel Ms Leong’s courage, albeit belated, sends a message that women are not going to allow these behaviours to continue.”

The speech comes just days after former Labor leader Luke Foley resigned and threatened to sue the ABC for publishing a sexual misconduct allegation from 2015, which he denies.

Readers seeking support for sexual assault should call 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732.

-with AAP

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