Former Labor MP Emma Husar criticises ALP’s ‘sanctimonious’ behaviour over Parliament’s toxic culture problem

So often, the trauma of what happens after an horrific episode of assault, abuse or harassment can be as devastating as the original episode itself.

And while much of the focus lately has been on the allegations raised by Brittany Higgins, another woman in politics who understands this is Emma Husar, the former Labor MP who in her own words was “slut shamed” in 2018 with contested sordid allegations of her behaviour.

A salacious article published by Buzzfeed claimed she had bragged about her sexual relations, sexually harassed an employee and exposed herself to a colleague.

Ms Husar sued for defamation and the matter was later settled out of court.

On Wednesday, she wrote an open letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, turning the attention to Labor’s problems with women and criticising the party’s “deadly” silence following the allegations that were levelled at her.


“I have been galled watching my former colleagues speak out, yet were silent bystanders when I endured such horrendous treatment,” Ms Husar wrote in her letter.

“The Labor Party cannot pretend that poor treatment of women exists on only one side of the political divide.”

7.30 reached out to Mr Albanese for a response but did not receive a reply.

A problem on both sides

“The Labor Party have ridden their sanctimonious high horses like it’s not happening on the Labor side — but were absolutely complicit with their silence in 2018,” Ms Husar told 7.30.

Emma Husar
Emma Husar was the member for Lindsay.(ABC News: Shaun Kingma)

The experiences of both Ms Higgins and Ms Husar are reflective of the employment structures used in federal politics, including the Member of Parliament (Staff) Act, which leaves staff under the control of their masters and at risk of being immediately sacked without a reason being given.

Ms Husar also said she was devastated by the lack of support from her party.

Emma Husar sitting in the House of Representatives with a neutral expression.
On Wednesday, Emma Husar published an open letter to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, turning the attention to Labor’s problems with women.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“In terms of their duty of care, there was none, and no support was offered,” Ms Husar told 7.30.

“They were all complicit. They all sat there, they all knew that it was wrong.

“They didn’t want me speaking out and they did everything that they could to shut me up.

“Mostly they were the media unit attached to the Leader of the Opposition’s office … predominantly doing their job on behalf of their MPs, in a way of politically protecting the leader, which again, goes to the point that we’ve talked about the last two weeks.

“Issues against women of mistreatment, sexual harassment, sexual assault are treated as a political issue.”

The aftermath

While Ms Husar is no longer in Canberra, she continues to feel the fallout from the events of 2018.

“Coming forward and speaking out about this, it’s not easy,” Ms Husar said.

“It’s something that … there will be ramifications for.

“You google my name, and there are over 2,000 related articles about that time in 2018.

“That’s the other way that women are forced to stay silent.”

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ROADS: Labor raises spectre of regional job losses

Concern are being raised over the Government’s regional roads scheme as the Minister refuses to rule out the possibility of job losses stemming from their flagship election promise.

The NSW Government’s election commitment to take responsibility for 15,000km of roads was seen as a win for local councils burdened with hundreds of kilometres of rural road maintenance.

There has been significant interest in the scheme with 97 per cent of regional councils attending consultation sessions with an independent panel set up to guide the process, chaired by former NRMA president Wendy Machin.

The most raised topic during those sessions was funding arrangements for transferred roads.

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If councils are able to relinquish ownership, a significant liability will be taken off their books and a priority round opened last year for those deemed eligible by having roads needing urgent attention.

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads Mick Veitch (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

However, there is concern the scheme could lead to maintenance contracts being taken up by the private sector rather than local councils and Labor’s shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Mick Veitch, wants assurances that no council will be worse off.

“The implementation of this decision by the Liberal and National government should not end in job losses in our regional and rural councils,” he said.

READ MORE: Council could seal financial windfall

“The Government has refused to guarantee there will be no job losses,”

“Councils and their employees throughout rural NSW are justifiably concerned about what will happen next.”

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

While Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole refused to answer questions relating to Labor’s concerns, Transport for NSW responded with a short statement.

“The Panel is due to deliver its interim report and priority recommendations to the NSW Government shortly based on submissions received in the priority round,” the spokesperson said.

“No decision has yet been made on the reclassification or transfer of any roads.

“The Panel plans to deliver its full report, which will provide recommendations as per its Terms of Reference, later this year.”

Clarence Valley Council has previously indicated Armidale Rd and Clarence Way were prime candidates for the scheme, while it is unknown if Coffs Harbour City Council would nominate any roads for reclassification.

Tony Judge

Tony Judge

Labor’s Coffs Harbour spokesperson Tony Judge said Council workers who maintained the region’s roads needed assurance their jobs were not under threat.

“Our region needs more secure, fairly paid jobs for local blue collar workers, not greater uncertainty about their future,” he said.

“They need to come clean about their plans.”

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Labor resists calls to reverse bail changes made after youth detention royal commission

Changes to bail laws made following the Northern Territory youth detention royal commission will remain in place for now, as the Labor Government weathers continued anger and pressure over crime and the late-night street presence of young people in Alice Springs.

The opposition Country Liberal Party has ramped up long-running calls for the changes that took effect early last year to be reversed, repeating them in the wake of a public event cancellation this week and action on bail laws in Queensland in response to youth crime.

On a visit to Alice Springs this week, Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the focus on bail laws was misplaced, citing the current detention of 30 young people on remand in the NT as evidence against a “furphy” of near-automatic youth bail.

She said Labor’s focus was instead on new laws for so-called ringleader adult offenders set to be introduced during the year’s first sitting of parliament next week.

Those laws and a potential increase to the maximum penalties for property crimes were flagged by Labor in the face of opposition campaigning on crime in the lead-up to last year’s election.

Ms Manison did not answer questions on whether the Government had or was considering revisiting the bail changes.

“The reason why that’s not where we’re at is because we’ve got a system that does make sure if people have committed a crime where they should not be getting bail and they should be remanded, then they do get remanded.”

Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said the same property crime spikes in Alice Springs were not being seen outside the red centre.(ABC News: Neda Vanovac)

The youth bail changes included the creation of a rebuttable presumption in favour of bail except in the case of more serious offending, and scrapped a 2011 law that created a stand-alone criminal offence for the breach of bail conditions such as curfews.

The measures were among recommendations from the royal commission, based on evidence about the NT’s high rates of youth remand, and the “significant” negative impact of jail time on young people and their likelihood of future offending.

The CLP opposition has cited figures showing half of the 667 young people arrested in the last financial year were on bail but no numbers have been released to measure the effect of the government’s changes.

A remand population of 30 represents 75 per cent of the current youth prison population, which is at its highest level in 12 months, according to published government figures.

Ms Manison said the property crime review was still in the works as well as an expanded community work program covering restitution activities like cleaning graffiti.

“Our priority is about preventing crime and also making sure there are consequences in there,” she said.

Crime spike not matched in Top End: Police Commissioner

While in Alice Springs, Ms Manison met with car hire business owner and long-term local Steve Shearer, who slept in his store on the weekend while it was unsecured following the most recent break-in.

Mr Shearer told ABC Alice Springs the business had been targeted numerous times before and 14 vehicles in his fleet had been damaged over the Christmas period.

Steve Shearer stands in front of a Northern Territory map at his Alice Springs car hire business.
Steve Shearer’s Alice Springs car hire business was broken into over the weekend and had 14 cars damaged over the Christmas period.(ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)

“[The minister] acknowledged that it’s a horrendous cost to business — and we can’t get insurance for this,” he said.

“It is absolutely horrendous and I’m one of the silent majority who’s now become a bit more vocal.”

He said he appreciated Ms Manison’s time but wanted more detail about the Government’s changes, and to see Chief Minister Michael Gunner fronting the public in Alice Springs.

Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker was also in Alice Springs this week and said police were dealing with increased “youth activity” in central Australia, citing internal police data he said showed a majority of young people arrested as part of Strike Force Viper having previous offending on their records.

He declined to weigh in on the question of bail but said analysis was needed of the underlying causes of increased property crime in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, which was not at the same level in the Top End.

He repeated previously-expressed concerns about spikes in family and domestic violence contributing to trouble for young people, as well as the levels of JobSeeker payments.

“That additional money is starting to dissipate, we’re now starting to see break-in’s for food and alcohol and those types of things — we’ve got to decide how do we do those things better, collectively,” he said.

He noted the Queensland Government’s bail changes bring the state’s laws closer in line to what is currently in place in the NT.

The Government has said its ringleader legislation will create penalties of up to 10 years in jail for anyone over the age of 18 “who recruit youth to commit offences”.

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As cases of illegal dumping pile up, Labor calls for kerbside collection

Almost 1300 cases of illegally dumped rubbish and household goods in Brisbane show the mess left since the Brisbane City Council cancelled kerbside collections almost a year ago, the Labor opposition says.

The council cancelled kerbside collections in April 2020 for two years to reduce risk to its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brisbane City Council is cracking down on illegal dumping.

Brisbane City Council is cracking down on illegal dumping.Credit:Fairfax Media

Waste management groups say the decision could lead to an increase in illegal dumping.

Council has put CCTV cameras in known illegal dumping sites and in the past six months issued 100 infringement notices for illegal dumping, totalling $235,518 in fines.

At Tuesday’s council meeting the suburbs where illegally dumped material has been collected since last April was made public.

It showed 1289 cases of illegal dumping in Brisbane suburbs since, with the most frequent cases at Inala (74), Doolandella (36), Forest Lake (35) and Calamvale (29).

Forest Lake ward councillor Charles Strunk – who represents parts of Inala, Doolandella and Forest Lake – said few of his residents owned a trailer, many rented their homes and most relied on the council’s cancelled kerbside collection.

“They don’t have space to store the trailers because the blocks are so small.

“Cancelling kerbside collection has been a major, major thing for us.”

Cr Strunk said most council offices now had staff members phoning the council’s waste collection staff to come out and collect illegally dumped materials.

He said in Inala people dumped in spaces that “were hidden away”.

After the council cancelled kerbside collection, it gave 10 dump vouchers to people who rent.

“First of all, they [renters] have only recently been given dump vouchers,” Cr Shrunk said.

“The comments made by Labor councillor Charles Strunk are politically motivated and factually incorrect.

“An extra booklet of 200 waste vouchers has already been given to the Forest Lake [council office], so they have been issued 400 vouchers since July 1, 2020. There simply is no shortage of waste vouchers.”

Cr Marx said kerbside collection were not cancelled but on hold.

“They will return when it is economically viable to do so.”

But Cr Strunk said kerbside collection should return now.

“I think if you asked anyone on the street, they would say yes, it’s time they came back.”

Fines issued per financial year

  • In the 2019-20 financial year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) council issued 169 infringement notices for illegal dumping, totalling $374,451 in fines.
  • In the 2020-21 financial year to date (July 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021) council issued 100 infringement notices for illegal dumping, totalling $235,518 in fines.

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Banyule Mayor quits Labor Party ahead of branch stacking tribunal hearing

The Mayor of a council in Melbourne’s north-east has quit the Labor party after he was accused of breaking party rules following a major branch stacking probe.

Banyule Mayor Rick Garotti was one of two Labor politicians referred to the party’s disputes tribunal panel last week for alleged branch stacking activities after a major audit of the Victorian membership.

Former State Labor minister Marlene Kairouz was also referred to the tribunal. Both deny the charges.

Cr Garotti told the ABC he had resigned because he did not have the personal capacity to deal with the tribunal process.

He said he resigned “respectfully” from the ALP and with “no ill feelings towards the party”.

No decision has been made on whether the tribunal will continue in his absence.

Banyule Mayor Rick Garotti (second from right) with Labor’s Anthony Carbines, Dr Hussein Haraco and then-state Labor Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews in 2014.(Supplied)

Cr Garotti had served as the secretary for the Heidelberg branch, but the charges do not relate to that branch.

In 2018, an ABC investigation uncovered allegations of stacking in the branch particularly targeted at Somali-Australians.

Both Cr Garotti and Ms Kairouz are from the Moderate Labor faction, a sub-group of Labor’s Right that was led by Adem Somyurek.

Mr Somyruek was sacked as Local Government Minister last May after allegations of an industrial scale branch stacking operation were aired by 60 Minutes and The Age.

He subsequently quit the party ahead of a motion to expel him from Labor.

Ms Kairouz resigned from Cabinet in the wake of the expose, saying she did not want the allegations to be a distraction for the Government.

She remains a member of the ALP and an MP.

The scandal triggered the suspension of local voting rights and the appointment of former Premier Steve Bracks and former federal minister Jenny Macklin as party administration.

The duo conducted an audit of which resulted in more than 1,800 expulsions from the party.

It is understood as many as a third of more than 300 branch members in Heidelberg have been ejected as part of the membership clean up.

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Former Victorian Labor minister Marlene Kairouz to face branch stacking allegations

The fallout from an exposé accusing then-Labor MP Adem Somyurek of running a widespread branch stacking operation continues, with former Victorian minister Marlene Kairouz and the Mayor of Banyule, Rick Garotti, both being referred to the ALP’s disputes tribunal.

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Kairouz accuses Labor figures of pre-empting branch stacking probe

Former Andrews Government minister Marlene Kairouz has accused figures within her party of either “being mischievous” or pre-empting a branch stacking investigation, as speculation mounts she could face an internal Labor tribunal.

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Labor set for climate change shift with architect of emissions target Mark Butler to go

Labor’s long-serving climate spokesperson Mark Butler will be shifted from the portfolio as part of an Opposition reshuffle on the eve of Federal Parliament’s return.

Outspoken backbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has backed the move, saying that taking Mr Butler — a member of the more progressive left faction of the party — out of the role will send the “right message to our traditional base”.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is expected to address the change, confirmed by the ABC, in a press conference in Canberra on Thursday.

Mr Fitzgibbon, a member of the more conservative right faction who resigned from the frontbench in protest at the direction of the party, said on Thursday morning that he respected Mr Butler but the change was a “good thing”.

“It will send the right message to our traditional base, but it won’t be enough alone,” he told RN.

“We also need to recalibrate our policy and our messaging if we are to reassure our traditional base that while we are serious on taking action on climate change — meaningful action — we will do so without risk or threat to their livelihoods.”

Mr Butler will switch places with health spokesperson Chris Bowen, a member of the right faction.

In a statement, Mr Butler said “the job of every front bencher is to serve in the portfolio allocated by their leader”.

“That’s always been my position under the four leaders I’ve had the privilege of serving under Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.”

He said in November that he was prepared to move portfolios if Mr Albanese, his colleague in the left faction, asked.

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese speaks with Laura Tingle as the political year starts to get underway.

Climate differences

Mr Butler has been in the role since late 2013, after briefly serving as climate change minister under then-prime minister Mr Rudd. Labor has failed to defeat the Coalition in the two elections since then, a period of disagreement around the extent to which Australia should be reducing carbon emissions.

Labor took a policy of reducing carbon emissions to 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 to the election in 2019, compared to the Government’s longstanding pledge of reducing emissions to 26 per cent in the same timeframe.

Mr Fitzgibbon suffered a massive swing against him in his Hunter Valley seat at the 2019 poll, beating the Nationals candidate by just 3 percentage points.

A One Nation candidate claimed more than 21 per cent of the vote, and the Labor MP’s first preferences dropped by 14 percentage points.

This week the leader of the National Party, Michael McCormack, supported a push by his colleagues to build a new coal fired power plant in the Hunter.

Despite more than 100 countries signing up for a net zero emissions by 2050 target and many also making commitments before then, Australia is yet to make pledges beyond 2030.

The Government announced this week it had signed up to international efforts to help prepare the world for anticipated climate change.

Parliament sits for the first time in 2021 next week.

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Amazon union election to start in February, U.S. labor board says

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

January 15, 2021

By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) – Inc’s first U.S. union election since 2014 is scheduled to begin with the mailing of ballots in early February and a vote count starting March 30, a U.S. labor board official said in a filing on Friday.

The announcement brings employees at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama a step closer to deciding whether to join part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). A “yes” vote would mark the first ever for a U.S. Amazon facility.

As of Jan. 7, Amazon employed almost 6,200 hourly workers at the warehouse, according to the filing. To win, the union needs a simple majority of those who submit ballots in the election.

While Amazon had preferred in-person voting, the labor board sided with the union on a mail-in procedure “because this is the safest and most appropriate method of conducting an election in view of the extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the filing said.

Amazon did not immediately answer a request for comment. The RWDSU declined to comment.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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Labor faces difficult transition as faction eyes the future

Factional tensions are brewing in the state Labor party, with the Left considering dumping one of its highest office-holders ahead of this year’s state convention as the faction looks to bolster its influence.

Assistant state secretary Steven May – the long-serving deputy to secretary Reggie Martin, the state ALP’s most senior administrator – has not been given an automatic endorsement from his faction to continue in the role.

It’s understood that while the Left PLUS [Progressive Left Unions and Sub-branches] faction may yet throw support behind him to continue, various alternatives are being considered, with a likely view to replacing Martin in the senior role within a year.

While Martin – who has been in the role since 2012 – is expected to seek re-election for another term, he will only serve out a year of his tenure, having been preselected for a Legislative Council seat at the March 2022 state election.

But May has told InDaily he will stand for re-election regardless.

“I’ll definitely be putting my name up again,” he said.

“I was first elected in October 2012, at the same time as Reggie, so I’m obviously pretty experienced – and Reggie and I have been a great working team together.

“In 2014, I was the marginal seat coordinator and we won that election… In 2018, I was responsible for the Legislative Council campaign that saw a swing to us.

“Since I’ve been assistant state secretary, Reggie and I have worked well together in regards to increasing membership as well, and I believe I’ve got broad support of the membership of the party.”

May, who was previously a long-time staffer for Left-faction figurehead Penny Wong, acknowledged there were “discussions in regards to whether I’d be supported again” but declined to comment on the faction’s position, saying only he believed he had “broad support amongst the ALP membership”.

“I believe I’ve got the experience to continue on and we’ve got two elections coming up, federal and state,” he said.

PLUS convenor Karen Grogan told InDaily: “We have not opened nominations yet but I anticipate Steve will be running again.”

However, asked whether the faction would endorse him to do so, she replied: “We will run a process within PLUS prior to the ALP nomination process [and] it would not be appropriate for me to pre-empt this process.”

The PLUS faction has had a shake-up since Labor lost Government, with former long-serving convenor David Gray stepping down and the faction conducting a broad review of its operations and approach, with a view to bolstering its influence on party policy and processes.

PLUS has long been the smaller of the two factions, with the Right’s Labor Unity, comprising the Labor “machine” that accounts for the vast majority of party business, including a stranglehold on preselections.

Recent convention dictates that the state secretary role will switch to the Left when Martin stands down, with some in the party speculating PLUS wants to install their presumptive state secretary in the assistant’s role now, to garner experience before taking the reins.

Others have told InDaily May is considered by some in his faction to be too close to Martin and the Right – an indication the factional détente that marked much of Labor’s tenure in office may have ceased.

One source told InDaily the faction had several options, including “retaining the status quo” until Martin moves to the Upper House, but that the decision will be considered in the broader context of “what it means for the broader machine deal”.

“There are definitely real live options here,” they said.

The dynamics in the state ALP have shifted in recent years with the election of Peter Malinauskas, the party’s first Labor Unity leader since the factions were formalised, with one insider noting the Right had demanded PLUS pay “a very significant price” when it backed Left-winger Jay Weatherill as Premier in 2011.

“All that stuff is being discussed [and] all the negotiations are deeply complex,” they said.

However, with little more than a year before the state election, any discord is unlikely to escalate in the short term.

“I’d be surprised if there’s any significant movements before the election,” the insider said.

“I don’t see any great argument that’s been put about for shaking things up too much between now and then.”

However, others in the party have suggested the Left’s refusal to give May an immediate endorsement ahead of the convention has created unnecessary division and bad blood.

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