Allegations that federal Labor MP Emma Husar engaged in lewd conduct, sexual harassment and misled Parliament are “not supported”, an internal investigation into her behavior has found.
The NSW Branch of the ALP released the details of the investigation into the western Sydney MP by barrister John Whelan on Friday afternoon.
The first-term member for Lindsay announced earlier this week that she will not recontest her seat at next year’s election. Whelan’s assessment concluded there was there was no basis for her resignation from Parliament, and condemned leaks of the allegations against her as “reprehensible”.
“It had served to elevate tensions in an environment in which many have reported the stress this matter has placed on their mental health,” the NSW ALP said in releasing a summary of the finding.
Where concluded that several complaints, mostly involving Husar’s management of staff, were worthy of further investigation, concluding that claims that they were subjected to unreasonable management have merit.
The report into Husar’s behaviour was launched by the NSW branch earlier this year following multiple complaints by staff. More than 20 people have worked for the MP in the two years since she was elected.
The ALP says the full report will not be released to protect the confidentiality of those involved.
The party released the following summary of the findings:
● The allegations of misuse of public entitlements should be referred to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) for audit, noting that Ms Husar has advised of a self-referral;
● Allegations of sexual harassment on the balance of probabilities and Briginshaw Standard were not supported;
● Allegations of lewd conduct in the office of a fellow Member of Parliament were not supported;
● Allegations of misleading the Commonwealth Parliament were not supported;
● Complaints that staff performed non-work related and personal duties for the Member, even accounting for the particular nature of political offices have merit and should be referred to the Department of Finance’s Ministerial and Parliamentary Services for advice regarding the appropriate employment guidelines issued to all Members of Parliament.
● Complaints that staff were subjected to unreasonable management including, unreasonable communication, demands, practices and disciplinary methods have merit;
● In general terms there are two contrasting perceptions which have been expressed to the Assessment:
o The Member expressed that she manages appropriately to achieve higher standards of performance and loyalty. And does so under a heavy workload, intense personal stress and a desire to serve Western Sydney and in particular the cause of victims of domestic violence.
o Whereas male and female complainants perceive and allege they have found much of the Member’s management offensive and unreasonable.
o After considering all sides of the relevant issues the Assessment has generally favoured the complainant’s perception of events.
● It would be prudent for Ministerial and Parliamentary Services to review the accessibility of the current electorate office staff complaints resolution process.
● The Member and the Department of Finance’s Ministerial and Parliamentary Services should be requested to develop a ‘return to work plan’ considering issues of timing, training, staff needs and office support, mindful that the Member is currently on extended leave.
More to come.
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