Federal Labor MP Emma Husar, who represents the Western Sydney electorate of Lindsay, has said she is “horrified” to learn of complaints she had bullied staff at her electorate office.
The accusations include calling staff “c**ts”, “f***wits”, and that she told a male staff member to do the dishes to “learn about white male privilege”. Ms Husar, a single mother of three, is also alleged to have used her taxpayer-funded staff for household chores such as babysitting her children and walking her dog. It is even alleged a staffer moved into her house to perform domestic duties.
Ms Husar’s office has experienced an enormous turnover of staff since her marginal election win in 2016. As a backbencher, she is entitled to four electorate staff, but has reportedly lost 20 in 2 years.
An investigation commissioned by NSW Labor and led by barrister John Joseph Whelan into the misconduct has been ongoing since March. The scope of the investigation includes allegations of bullying, harassment, verbal abuse, intimidation and misuse of staff. At least 20 witnesses have given evidence in the investigation so far, almost all anonymously out of fear of repercussions.
The allegations have been known to Senior state and federal Labor figures for over a year, but an investigation was not launched until a former staff member pressured NSW Labor by threatening to go public. According to Buzzfeed News, Labor leader Bill Shorten has been aware of the allegations since last year, but his office denied this.
As Buzzfeed News reported:
A number of former Husar staff told BuzzFeed News they have cancelled their membership with the United Services Union (USU) after the union refused to represent them at the investigation. The secretary of the union, Graeme Kelly, is a powerful member of the NSW Right, closely aligned to Murnain, and sits on the state branch’s administrative committee.
Ms Husar has denied the allegations, and many prominent Labor members such as Anthony Albanese have come out to defend her character. “These accusations don’t reflect who I am or how my office operates,” Husar said in a statement. “My office is a professional and respectful workplace, it should not be perceived in any other way and of course I’m sorry if any person has been given reason to think otherwise.”
One must ask the question — if Ms Husar is so sure she has done nothing wrong, then why would she apologise?
Ms Husar was elected in 2016 and launched into the public eye when she made an emotional maiden speech about her personal experience with domestic violence. She was also heavily praised in the mainstream media for taking offence to a comment by Pauline Hanson about autistic children and their significant special resource needs in the classroom.
Buzzfeed News reported that Whelan’s report will find that there is evidence to support the allegations, and will make a number of recommendations to the NSW Labor party office. At least one former staff member has told investigators they are considering taking further action against Ms Husar for her conduct.
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