‘Silent bystanders’: Ex-Labor MP slams party culture
Labor and leader Anthony Albanese are "no better" at treating women than other political parties, former MP Emma Husar says.
In a scathing assessment of Labor's handling of complaints, Ms Husar told The Daily Telegraph she was appalled her former colleagues were attacking the Coalition over how former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was treated - but had not spoken up in her case.
Her comments come after a dramatic day in which Defence Minister Linda Reynolds - whose office is at the centre of the rape claims involving Ms Higgins - was admitted to hospital on the advice of her cardiologist and will now "take a period of medical leave''.
It also comes as Ms Higgins yesterday attended a meeting with the Australian Federal Police to lodge a formal complaint alleging she was raped by a male colleague in Ms Reynolds' office in March 2019.
Ms Husar, who was forced to resign her western Sydney seat amid bullying accusations by multiple staff members - claims she maintains are false - said of the latest scandal: "Everyone deserves to be safe in the place they work, and it doesn't get worse than what has happened to Brittany (Higgins)".
"My story and her story are not the same, they are very different, but there is still a fundamental issue of the vested power of the men and old boys club in Canberra," she said. "If the Labor Party were interested in fixing (workplace culture) they would have reached out to me in the last two years and asked how to fix it and tried to better understand how this could happen."
Ms Husar penned an open letter to Mr Albanese on Wednesday telling him it was "galling" to watch her former colleagues speak out in the wake of Ms Higgins' claims, given they were "silent bystanders" when she "endured such horrendous treatment".
While Ms Husar was cleared of sexual harassment and lewd conduct, an inquiry found she subjected staff to unreasonable management, including disciplinary methods. Her criticism of Labor is the latest twist in the Canberra rape allegation scandal.
As Ms Higgins met with AFP officers yesterday, Ms Reynolds abandoned a planned speech in Canberra, with a spokesman revealing she had been hospitalised.
"This follows advice from her cardiologist relating to a pre-existing medical condition," he said.
"As a precautionary measure, Minister Reynolds has this morning been admitted to a Canberra Hospital."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison phoned Ms Reynolds to "express his concern and sympathy, and to wish her a quick recovery".
It was also revealed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was briefed on Ms Higgins' case on February 11 - four days before her story went public. Guidelines require such matters to be reported to the relevant minister.
"I was advised on 11 Feburary and I received updates last week and this week," Mr Dutton told parliament during Question Time yesterday.
Originally published as 'Silent bystanders': Ex-Labor MP slams party culture