Labor MP Emma Husar announced she was taking personal leave on Tuesday after it was revealed that she was being investigated over claims of alleged workplace bullying and harassment.
Now new claims have come to light suggesting that the 38-year-old member of parliament also used a taxpayer-funded Comcar limousine to get to appointments with her divorce lawyer. The cars are only intended to be used when pollies are travelling on official parliamentary business.
Husar is alleged to have used the Comcar limousine service to visit the lawyer dealing with her divorce and The Australian reports that former staffer Blake Mooney, who moved into another role after rows with Husar, questioned her use of the Comcar for private business when he worked for her.
Mooney is also believed to have questioned her booking a flight to Melbourne on parliamentary entitlements to attend a function by progressive political group Emily’s List.
It emerged last week that the representative for the NSW seat of Lindsay has been accused of forcing taxpayer-funded staff to perform personal tasks for her, including picking up her dog’s poo and carrying out household chores.
She is currently facing an internal NSW Labor inquiry, led by barrister Jack Whelan, which has gathered statements from 20 former staffers. Other complaints include Husar giving her nanny a position in her office and having a staffer living with her, performing domestic duties. Allegations have also been made that she referred to staffers as “c**ts” and f***wits”.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Husar said: “The past few days have been incredibly difficult for my family. I’m a single mum and my first priority is the safety and wellbeing of my children. I have received threatening messages, including threats of violence and have referred them to the Australian Federal Police.
“The best thing for me and my family right now is for us to be out of the spotlight so I can access support.”
However, I do think people are entitled to respectful workplaces.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 25, 2018
Labor leader Bill Shorten said he will allow the internal investigation to “get to the bottom” of what happened. Speaking in Queensland on Wednesday, he said: “I’m genuinely not aware of all of the circumstances. I’m not going to leap to any conclusions. It’s respectful to all of the claimants, to Emma Husar and to her family to let the independent investigation get to the bottom of it. It’s fair to all parties that we respect that process.”
Shorten also referenced the dog in question and confirmed the animal is a registered therapy dog for Husar’s young son, who has been diagnosed with autism. However, he did add that he “wouldn’t ask you or anyone else to pick up my dog’s poo”.
While Workplace Minister Craig Laundy told Sky News: “Workplace relations are things you take seriously and bullying in the workplace, no matter who you are, shouldn’t be tolerated. The appropriate place for claims of this sort to be considered is by the Fair Work Ombudsman.”
A NSW party spokesperson told the ABC that no public comment would be made during the course of any independent assessments, but said “comment may be made at the conclusion of the independent process”.