Jacqui Lambie goes on offensive over ex-staffers’ unfair dismissal claims


Senator Jacqui Lambie has told a court two of her former staff members were trying to “belittle” and “shame” her when they sent a letter to then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, detailing their list of grievances with her.

The senator’s former chief of staff and office manager, Rob and Fern Messenger, have taken her to the Federal Court, alleging they were unfairly dismissed in May 2017 after raising workplace health and safety issues.

The pair worked for Senator Lambie for about three years, covering her time as a Palmer United Party senator and eventual transition to independence.

Giving evidence on Monday, Senator Lambie told the court it was not until her second term in Federal Parliament that she began to suspect there was “something going on in the office”.

She said the catalyst was a conversation with the Messengers who told her “staff were walking around on eggshells” and had “made complaints about [her] mood swings”.

She said it was “really upsetting” to find out her staff felt that way and had not talked to her about it.

“I wasn’t crying profusely, but there were certainly tears coming down my cheeks,” she said.

“I had a lump in my throat. It was just awful. Something awful to sit through.”

But she said she later began to suspect she was not the problem.

‘They might as well have been microchipping me’

It was a few months later, during a road trip, that Senator Lambie said two of her staff members found the “courage” to tell her they were having issues with Mr and Ms Messenger.

“They felt like they were being bullied,” she told the court. “If you upset them [Mr and Ms Messenger] then they didn’t speak to you for weeks on end.

“[The staff] were terribly concerned about their jobs and they’d wanted to speak to me for some time.”

Jacqui Lambie with Rob Messenger in happier times.(ABC News: Emily Bryan)

Staff had earlier told the court the Messengers had asked them to report Senator Lambie’s movements, including who she met with, back to them.

Senator Lambie repeated this and claimed in court the duo had been able to track her through her phone and shared diary.

“They might as well [have been] microchipping me,” she told the court. “If there were phone calls coming through, they knew.

“They knew exactly where I was at any time. They were gathering a lot of information from my own phone.”

In the weeks that followed, Ms Lambie described her relationship with Mr Messenger as “coming unstuck” and “at breaking point”.

She also repeatedly said “there was no trust left” between her and the Messengers towards the end of their employment.

“I was finding my feet in Parliament and didn’t need to rely on Mr Messenger. He was struggling with that because he was losing control,” she said.

Complaint to Turnbull ‘absolutely disgusting’

Ms Lambie told the court she feared staff would leave and she “couldn’t see a way [to] possibly resolve this”.

“This office had become dysfunctional and it was starting to hurt other employees,” she said.

Rob Messenger and his wife Fern arrive at court
The Messengers say they were unfairly dismissed by Jacqui Lambie in 2017.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

In March 2017, the Messengers sent then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull a letter detailing some of their issues with the senator.

They claimed she swore excessively, regularly discussed her sex life in the office and minimised “a terror attack” on her office.

“I was quite upset. I was quite angry,” Ms Lambie said.

“I thought: ‘Why would you send it to a prime minister?’ That’s absolutely disgusting! What was he hoping to get out of it?

“It was a letter to get out there and air how he felt about me, and that’s it.”

The Messengers claim it was because of this letter and their decision to copy Mr Turnbull into further correspondence that they were dismissed.

But Ms Lambie has denied this.

The hearing is scheduled to finish on February 17.

Thank you for stopping by and checking this article involving Tasmanian and Australian news named “Jacqui Lambie goes on offensive over ex-staffers’ unfair dismissal claims”. This article was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national news services.

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Former Jacqui Lambie staffers at centre of unfair dismissal case ‘bullied’ and ‘abused’ staff


A staff member for Senator Jacqui Lambie has told a court that workers felt like they were “bullied”, “manipulated” and “mentally abused” by the senator’s former chief of staff and office manager, who are claiming unfair dismissal.

Rob and Fern Messenger’s hearing before Federal Court Judge John Snaden is now well into its second week.

The Messengers claim they were unfairly dismissed by Senator Lambie in May 2017 after complaints about workplace health and safety.

The husband and wife, who are representing themselves, have both taken the stand, giving evidence regarding Senator Lambie’s use of “vile, profane and vulgar language”, her tendency to discuss her sex life in the office and a heated exchange in which Ms Messenger said she feared for her physical safety.

Senator Lambie’s electoral officer Tammy Tyrrell was called as a witness by the Messengers on Wednesday, but much of her evidence has related to the behaviour of the Messengers themselves, with Judge Snaden at one point cautioning them that the questions they were asking were damaging their own case.

On that day, under questioning from the Messengers, Ms Tyrrell revealed Mr Messenger “could be overpowering and intimidating” and once asked her to hang up on “a gentleman who was suicidal”.

When cross-examined on Thursday by Senator Lambie’s lawyer Nick Harrington, Ms Tyrrell said she and another staff member first raised concerns about the Messengers with the senator while on a road trip in Tasmania.

“We were waiting for the right opportunity to speak to Jacqui,” she said.

“Prior to that date, Jacqui was still very bound by Rob and Fern — what they said, how they instructed, where she should go, what she should do.

“We felt that if we hadn’t waited for the right time it’d probably blow up in our faces in that we’d be performance managed.”

Ms Tyrrell told the court she started off by saying, “you’re not going to like this, but I’m going to have to tell you something that the staff are feeling”.

Ms Tyrrell clarified that she herself had no problem with Ms Messenger and considered her a friend but other staff members did have issues.

The case is now into its second week and will likely enter into next year.(ABC: Emily Bryan)

She said Senator Lambie was shocked to hear their concerns and asked them why they hadn’t come to her earlier.

“She said, ‘You’re shittin’ me?’ She had a look of amazement on her face and then she started asking us questions,” Ms Tyrell said.

Staff asked to ‘spy’ on senator

Ms Tyrrell also told the court staff had been asked to report back “any meetings, conversations that Jacqui had that would or could be perceived as off the radar or where they [the Messengers] weren’t present”.

“We felt like we were spying on her and doing something wrong,” she said.

“They felt like they were lying to her. They didn’t want to do it.”

The definition of spy had earlier been challenged by the Messengers, who read out a definition they had found on Google.

The question was rejected by Judge Snaden and dismissed as “nonsense” by the counsel for Senator Lambie.

On two occasions, across her two days of evidence, Mr Messenger asked Ms Tyrrell to “take her glasses off” under the assumption she was reading her evidence.

The Messengers also produced three birthday cards as evidence of Ms Tyrell’s good relationship with them prior to their dismissal.

The cards included affectionate messages, such as “happy birthday sweetness you’ve become an important part of my world, my life” to Ms Messenger.

Mr Messenger then questioned how she could send him a nice “monkey birthday card” when at the same time she was looking into complaints about him.



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Political staffer Fern Messenger felt scared for her safety when Senator Jacqui Lambie ‘screamed’ at her, court hears


A former member of staff for Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has told a court she and her husband wrote to then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to detail their complaints about the senator because they believed he was their “ultimate supervisor”.

Fern Messenger, who was Ms Lambie’s office manager, and her husband Rob Messenger, Ms Lambie’s former chief of staff, are claiming they were unfairly dismissed by the senator in 2017.

The pair worked for Ms Lambie for about three years — covering her time as a Palmer United Party senator and eventual transition to independence.

Their case is now before Justice John Snaden in the Federal Court, where the Messengers are representing themselves.

Ms Messenger is the second person to give evidence in the case, following her husband, whose time in the witness box ran across four days.

She teared up as she told the court about a meeting with the senator that became heated to the point where she felt “scared” for her physical safety.

“Senator Lambie started screaming at me. She stood up so I stood up and she got in my face,” she said.

“I became very afraid. (She said) ‘I don’t give a f**k what you think’. ‘They don’t effing know what they’re doing.’

This moment was later challenged in cross-examination by Ms Lambie’s lawyer, Nick Harrington, who said Ms Messenger was equally culpable.

“You say you felt like you were almost assaulted and you waited [for about a month] to do anything about it,” he said.

“You made no further complaint because you know it was to be laid at the feet of both you and Senator Lambie for getting into an argument that day.”

The thing she eventually did was send a nine-page complaint letter, with her husband, to Mr Turnbull, which would later be published by News Corp.

Senator Lambie was “clearly upset” the Messengers had raised their complaints with the PM, said Ms Messenger.(Supplied: Rob Messenger)

It reportedly claimed Senator Lambie took staff shopping for sex toys and complained about needing “a root”.

It also complained about her “angry mood swings” and claimed the Messengers were the “brains behind the message”.

“We thought the only way we could get our complaints heard … was to write to the prime minister who we thought was our ultimate supervisor,” Ms Messenger said.

“[We] stood by everything we sent in the letter. We had serious concerns about the safety of staff and we thought we had to make sure the Prime Minister knew.”

Ms Messenger said the pair were then issued with show cause letters and they copied the prime minister into their correspondence.

She said they then received second show cause letters.

“Clearly Senator Lambie was upset that we had included the prime minister,” she said.

“We said we were going to continue sending it to the prime minister because we believed it was within our legal rights.

“We understood then and there that Senator Lambie wasn’t going to take us back.”

Days later, they were sacked for serious misconduct.

Senator Lambie is expected to give evidence at a later date.



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Save Our Voices: Senator Jacqui Lambie says regional Australians can’t afford to lose their local voices | Goulburn Post


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Regional media needs help to continue telling the important local stories that no-one else will, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie says. The crossbencher – fresh from a widely applauded speech in the Senate passionately condemning legislation which would result in university fee hikes – reckons local media beyond the big capital cities has to be supported or it risks going out of business. Asked to comment on the Save Our Voices campaign launched by key regional media companies, Senator Lambie said: “I’m with you that regional media needs help”. The fiercely independent Senator struck a public chord last week when she spoke against the Morrison government’s changes to university funding. Her emotional speech about the impact on disadvantaged kids from regional areas like her home in North-West Tasmania went viral. “It’s essential in this country that we have really broad media voices,” Senator Lambie said. “What we do know about the local newspapers is they get out and about, and they do their job; they don’t sit behind a bloody desk and do it from there and get it off the internet, which is rubbish. “They need to stay out there in their local community to get those stories, and if they are not out there doing them, we won’t get those stories which are really important to all of regional Australia. “I can tell you now you can’t have it all right or all left, and the last thing most of us want to see here is to have the Murdoch papers running the country. Sorry, not into it. “If the regulations around it are making things worse, then it’s common sense to say we have to look at them. But if there are other ways to keep things ticking, I’d want to look at those first.” She did not want to see local media outlets being swallowed up by a few big players. “You can’t protect media diversity by clearing the way for big players to gobble up little ones,” Senator Lambie said. “You can’t look at companies going bust and say that’s a win for media diversity either. “Whether a small player gets bought out or goes belly up, we’re still losing them, and regional audiences get a raw deal no matter what. The goal’s got to be finding a way for the sector to stay afloat, and it’s something nobody’s been able to fix yet.” Five-time Gold Logie winner Ray Martin is the face of the Save Our Voices campaign led by broadcasters Prime Media Group, WIN Network and Southern Cross Austereo, as well as publisher ACM, the owner of this masthead. The campaign calls on the federal government and regional MPs to move urgently to overhaul 30-year-old regulations preventing traditional media outlets in regional areas from competing fairly with the metropolitan media and global digital giants like Netflix using the NBN to reach regional audiences.

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Jacqui Lambie threatens to reveal details of secret medevac deal if Scott Morrison does not


Senator Jacqui Lambie has warned Prime Minister Scott Morrison she will reveal the details of a secret deal made in order to win her support for the repeal of the so-called medevac law if he does not do so himself by the end of the year.

The medical evacuation law was passed against the Government’s will in the last sitting week of 2018.

It shifted the power to determine whether sick refugees should be moved to Australia from offshore detention away from the Government, to two treating doctors.

But the bill was overturned after the independent Tasmanian senator voted with the Government and One Nation.

She told the Senate at the time she had made a “really hard decision” to support the legislation’s repeal, but had done so because the Government had agreed to an “outcome” that would improve medical treatment for refugees held in offshore detention.

The Government has consistently denied a deal was made.

To date Senator Lambie has refused to disclose details of the negotiations, saying there are national security concerns, but pledging to do so at some point in the future.

In an interview with 7.30, Senator Lambie said the nature of the deal would be made clear by the end of the year.

“And if the Prime Minister doesn’t do it, I will,” she said.

“So he can go and threaten me with jail or whatever he likes on a piece of paper. I don’t care. But if he doesn’t tell you by the end of the year, I will. How’s that for you, right? He’s had long enough.”

Senator Lambie said she had “very regular updates” from “the person that is heavily involved in … trying to move those refugees”.

“Go and put that on your bloody TV show. That’ll give them a warning. Yeah, I will.

“We wore enough from that — me and my office — and we wanted to come out and tell the truth.”

She said there were “a couple of things, in fact” that “need to be told” by the end of the year.

Scott Morrison and the Government needed Jacqui Lambie’s vote to repeal the medevac laws.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

From a political novice to crucial crossbench vote

The last survivor of the original group elected as part of the Palmer United Party in 2013, Senator Lambie has been an independent since 2014 and, with the shape of the crossbench waxing and waning, has become not just a crucial vote in the make-up of that crossbench, but a much more seasoned parliamentary operator.

And she has a talent for cutting through with her message.

She made a particular mark last week in a passionate speech against the Government’s proposed university funding changes, talking about her own lack of university education.

“As a kid, you’re asked what you want to do when you grow up. Your answer is based on what you see around you,” she told the Senate.

“But if none of the adults in your life went to university, you just don’t know how to picture yourself there.

“For me, I never thought I’d make it to uni. I always saw university as being for someone else. The sorts of people who went to uni in my eyes were the ones on TV. They were the politicians making decisions a world away.

“I refuse to be the vote that tells poor kids out there, or those sitting on that fine line, ‘No matter how gifted and no matter how determined you are, you might as well dream a little cheaper because you’re never going to make it. Because you can’t afford it.’

“I won’t take that from them. I won’t be a part of that.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Jacqui Lambie delivers her emotional speech condemning last week’s uni fee increases.

For a novice, Senator Lambie has proved herself politically adept. She was re-elected to the Senate in her own right in 2016 and again in 2019, despite having had to resign in 2017 during the dual citizenship crisis.

But she has also become much better at dealing with the pressures of being on the crossbench, particularly when you consider that, as she admits herself, she didn’t even know “what the difference was between the Upper and the Lower House” when she came to Parliament.

“I just had no idea. You know, you just had no idea, no idea whatsoever.”

‘You should be intimidated by me’

Being an independent crossbench senator is also a particularly tough path.

You are required to have a position on everything that goes through the Parliament, yet have fewer staffing resources to help you consider your positions.

But she has learned a few tricks of the trade.

“You take a step back and you think … This little bugger’s really trying to put the pressure on me and rush this through, that’s always a red flag, right? Always a red flag,” she said.

When it came to last week’s education bill, she said: “I’ve been in the game a little bit longer and I could see … when in doubt, throw it out.”

Jacqui Lambie walks into Parliament House, lit from behind, she walks past journalists yelling questions at her
Jacqui Lambie arrived at at the 46th Parliament last year with a key position on the crossbench.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

And she has become more confident and decisive in the calls she makes.

“I think what benefits us now is when we say no, they don’t keep coming banging at my doors,” she said.

“They know now from years of experience when I say no, I mean bloody, ‘No, it’s over. So go do your bargaining with someone else.'”

She used to find the experience of Parliament intimidating, given the university education of many parliamentarians.

“Now I think, ‘You should be intimidated by me.’ [They have] got no life experience,” she said.

What people who find themselves in Parliament almost unexpectedly will always tell you is about how much you learn — and in most cases, how much it opens their eyes to the complexities of life.

“It’s learning over time, but it’s also the different people that you meet out there, that’s — I really liked that bit,” she said.

‘Nothing’s black and white’

Senator Lambie drew criticism in her early years for advocating a contentious, but sometimes eclectic series of positions, from expressing her admiration for Vladimir Putin to calling for pre-emptive pardons for defence personnel accused of war crimes.

But it was when she pushed for banning the burka and criticised sharia law (without really knowing what it meant) that she found herself in particular hot water.

She has subsequently distanced herself from these positions as divisive, and suggested they were the subject of bad advice.

Once a critic of the Greens, she has sided with them on political donations, and passionately defended Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young for standing her ground on asylum seekers.

She’s recently rejected a Government move to stop people in immigration detention having mobile phones.

Senator Hanson us flanbked by Jacqui Lambie and Labor's Don Farrell, as she sits at the front of the crossbench.
Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie joined forces to defeat the Government’s signature union crackdown legislation last year.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

“I just feel, you know, that I’m, really, really blessed to be in this sort of position … just meeting all those different people out there. And it’s learning something new every day, not just one thing, you’re always learning,” she said.

“Nothing’s black and white.

“You know, things can change overnight. You’ve only got to look at COVID-19. But what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to be able to run with it. Life is not black and white. “

Senator Lambie still thinks that the culture is all wrong, that voter mistrust has only increased further in recent times, and that the country needs a federal anti-corruption commission.

“These people up here think they’re untouchable, that there’s no discipline, there’s no penalties. When they do something wrong, they put them on the sidelines and they bring them back in and make them ministers again.

“They’ll give them jobs for mates when they leave Parliament. And I find that really sick to the gut. I’d really like to see an ICAC up here. Because quite frankly, they need policing up here. And I think that would start to get some trust in people out there.”



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Here’s why Jacqui Lambie must reject university fee hike


Jacqui Lambie is in a special place to derail the government’s proposed college payment hike. Here is why she must.

Strolling in my head by way of Rome’s Tivoli Gardens, musing on Chapman’s Homer I… oh seem, this article is just a immediate communique to Jacqui Lambie (and to the weird DLP-Trendies mix — the Centre Alliance — a little bit) but the relaxation of you can read it if you want.

Jacqui, here’s why you really should vote versus Instruction Minister Dan Tehan’s better-ed funding proposals, and not even do that peekaboo horse-trading, get a new playground for Ulverstone in exchange for abolishing the Wellness Department stuff

1. The proposals limit higher schooling possibilities for middle and minimal income households

Dan Tehan’s improvements are introduced as increasing position-ready uni destinations by cutting down the charges for study course these kinds of as nursing, scientific psychology and engineering.

But they do so by rising expenses on classes such as enterprise, humanities and economics — to $15,000 a year — which are now needed for job paths in administration and admin employment. The purpose is to load folks who have to have these types of levels — numerous from very low or middle profits backgrounds — with up to $50,000 personal debt that will cross-subsidise nationwide advancement.

This works by using average workers’ occupation improvement as a hard cash cow for anything the federal government really should be paying for.

2. The plan can make minimal- and center-profits family members pay for upper-profits education

Engineering, veterinary science and dentistry are all to have their pupil costs minimized to $4000 a year (nicely underneath charge), though the other courses increase to $15,000 a calendar year. Healthcare and engineering courses remain dominated by elite non-public faculty graduates, and modifying that will only materialize through reform of secondary training and college entry treatments, not by means of fee variations.

In the present setup, the new payment structure will suggest reduced-middle earnings tertiary learners will be subsidising the schooling of the upper-center course.

3. The scheme helps make individuals pay out much more for programs that will gain them less when they get out

The present funding model matches service fees to equally the revenue graduates can count on in the workforce, and charge of training (increased for engineering than for arts or organization for example).

The new proposals reverse that, which signifies graduates on lower incomes shelling out off fifty thousand dollars of college student financial debt will be cross-subsidising the absence of university student financial debt of hugely-compensated gurus. It’s staggeringly unfair.

4. The scheme will make mature-age entry pupils subsidise school-leaver elite professional students

Quite couple mature-age students enter dentistry, vet science or engineering. Several analyze arts, business enterprise or law, both for professional improvement or to increase their head.

The new cost structure will make that impossible for numerous, particularly people with families and mortgages, simply because it will load them up with financial debt. All those who do do it will be cross-subsidising 18-year-aged students who are entering classes leading to substantial-paid professions.

5. The new proposal restricts the opportunity of research for its possess sake to those on higher incomes

Since the arts and humanities will be billed at (mostly) $50,000 for a 3-yr course, the option to research for its own sake, to pursue curiosity, to learn about our background and lifestyle, will as soon as once more be much much easier for those people from superior-profits, large-asset family members, who can pay the costs up front for their kids (or by themselves, as experienced learners). 

6. The proposals are an assault on the arts and humanities, which is how our society is transmitted

The Coalition states that universities are just an anarchist commune of woke statue destroyers. Yeah, effectively, ok, there is a handful of of these.

But most of the humanities consists of people today who have devoted their lives to teaching and exploring the literature, artwork and considered of Western civilisation. In the new proposals, it will price a college student $3000 dollars a yr to study gum flossing (dentistry) swampland (environmental science) or Mandarin (languages) but $15,000 a year to research historic Greece and Rome, the art of the Renaissance, or the record of Britain and Australia. That’s an assault on what would make us who we are, and our greatest achievements.

7. The proposal is badly built, not based mostly on audio investigate, and will not accomplish even the favourable things it wants to do

The proposal’s assert that rate discounting will persuade pupils to choose courses with extra post-graduate task options is not backed up by evidence, which demonstrates that the reasonably lower savings on offer really do not make a big difference, and students choose courses in phrases of interests and aptitude, individual to payment price.

The proposal will merely make over-all accessibility to increased education and learning additional unequal than it currently is.

8. The proposal distorts publish-graduation work info to get the outcome it wishes

By judging work readiness as immediate transfer from area of review to the exact industry of perform, the proposal wilfully ignores the employment sector need for “generalists”, people who have learnt numerous techniques of learning, investigate and adaptation by doing humanities or fundamental science courses.

Employer teams have repeatedly claimed that they favour generalist graduates who are capable of getting versatile and adaptive in the quickly-shifting present day workplace.

Why is this currently being dismissed? Because the Morrison federal government would like to wage a lifestyle war from humanities departments, and it is prepared to overlook great proof of their value to Australian economy and modern society in purchase to do so.

9. For the reason that of the hypocrisy

The Morrison govt is stuffed with ex-scholar politicians — which includes Dan Tehan — who went to elite private educational institutions, obtained legislation and humanities levels when they were being absolutely free or pretty low-cost, and who used individuals degrees to achieve political electricity.

They now want to deny low and middle-cash flow people obtain to the type of levels that would make it a lot easier for them to get obtain to politics. It’s a way of restricting political electricity to the higher-center class.

For all these causes, and…

10. Mainly because Education Minister Dan Tehan is a instrument

 …you ought to reject the proposals out of hand.

Peter Fray

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