Australian ex-politician alleges sexual harassment while in office

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – An Australian former politician said she endured sexist comments by fellow members of the ruling party and inappropriate touching by a senior minister during her three years in office to 2019, the Sydney Morning Herald said on Saturday (July 3).

In a book excerpt published by the newspaper and an accompanying article, lawyer and former Liberal party member Julia Banks was also quoted as saying Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office sought to paint her as an emotionally weak woman, overwhelmed while in office, when she left the party to run as an independent.

The newspaper quoted a Morrison spokesman as saying he was unaware of any alleged sexual harassment Ms Banks faced and that he rejected any claims of bullying.

Mr Morrison’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Ms Banks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday evening.

In the excerpt, Ms Banks alleges that an unnamed male senior minister and Cabinet member, whose breath smelled of alcohol, slid his hand up her thigh while she sat at a coalition function in the prime minister’s wing around 2017.

“I kept thinking to myself over and over: ‘If he was prepared to do that to me – a 50-something corporate lawyer MP – in that room, what must he do to women he has real power over?’,” the excerpt said.

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